Enter Blogging 4.0| Strategies to Achieve Success in the Age of All Things Online

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Blogging 1.0 and 2.0 is over.

Sad but this is a fact. Read it, research it, accept it, swallow  it, and get over it.

If you are thinking of creating a passive income from your blog and you are starting now, you are entering into a very competitive domain. That said, let me show you a few things that you need to do to be successful at your online business built around a central blog.

 

Blogging 4.0 Defined

Blogging 4.0 basically means an online business centered around a blog since 2014. This is not a new concept but a new strategy and new perspective to look at the world of blogging and online business in general.

 

Enter Blogging 4.0

Blogging is competitive and it takes lots of hours. You need to research, you need to write, you need to post consistently.

Building a readership from scratch is tough (read: not worth the time investment). Building a large readership who engages with your content is even harder.

Today, you need to think beyond blogging. This is where blogging 4.0 comes into the picture.

There are over 250 millions active websites, over 8 million blogs and almost as many vlogs (video blogs), and about 115,000 podcasts (audioblogs).

 

Blogging 4.0 includes (well, more than just a blog):
1. Blog (for long form content + introducing your product/services)
2. Podcast (this is the least competitive domain)
3. Social Media Platforms (for short form content)
4. Videos (Youtube, Vine, Vimeo, Periscope, etc)
5. Repurpose Your Content (Quora, Medium, LinkedIn)

 

1. Blogging
To start, here are few tips:

  • Blog long form content. Save the short quotes and daily muse for social media. If you want to succeed in blogging, go long and detailed.
  • Try to solve a problem. Try explaining a situation from a new perspective. Tell a good story that most people can relate to.
  • Write and then offer free eBooks.
  • Collect emails so that you can email to your group when a new blog post is up.
  • Guest blog and cross promote each other.
  • Encourage your blogger friends to leave a comment. Reciprocate the generosity.
  • Provide incentives to your readers for commenting. For example, reply to your comment and answer their questions. Or simply just acknowledge them.

 

2. You need a Podcast
As I mentioned above, podcast:blog ratio is very low. Podcasts integrates with both blogging and social media. Podcasting is technical and intense. And that’s why you have less competition there.

You must explore this medium to connect with millions of 9-5 job going workers when they are commuting to work, exercising at gym or taking a long walk.

Example: Podcast Launch | The Naked Soul Talk Show | Full Human Potential | Daily Growth | Lifestyle Design

 

3. Build Your Tribe
In the past, your blog was your platform. Not anymore.

You need to build your online tribe on various social media platform as that’s where your readers are already gathering. Social media is usually the best free source to send traffic to your blog.

Read my 4000 word long detailed blog post on building your platform:
How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status| Hacking Instagram Growth |10 Tips on More Followers, Likes & Comments

 

4. Go Video
You are writing. You are researching and inserting catchy images in your blog posts.

You are building your social authority and building your platform on each major social media.

Now go full circle. Go video.

Make videos. Make SlideShare out of your blog posts and turn those SlideShare into YouTube videos.

Make video of some of your audio recordings (podcasts) and push it on Youtube.

Make videos out of images and add music to it. Publish them.

Remember, rather than waiting for people to find your blog, you want to find your tribe. You must go where people are already gathering. Then broadcast. Let your lost tribe members find you.

Bring them home (to your blog). Reward them for following you.

5. Repurpose Your Content
Just as if you have a book to offer, you’ll most likely sell it on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble rather than your own website, similarly, you must blog on platforms which are already trusted by millions of users.

There are studies done that vast majority of readers prefer (read: trust) to buy a book (or a product) on Amazon than directly from a blog or website. And the reasons are simple.

Return. Refund. Shipping options. Trust. Existing account, etc.

Likewise, rather than publishing your posts just on your blog, be mindful that there are millions of users on Medium and LinkedIn and Quora who would not go to your blog because they spend a vast majority of their online time on these platform. They do not have any need to go to your blog.

 

So what can you do?
You repurpose your content. Change a few things and tweak it to the like of the target readerships and re-publish. Leave a link to your blog.

Those who would resonate with your content and find value in your offering would become your reader.

What do you do then? What do you do in the end after all is said?

Publish. Be Original. Be Consistent.

Consistency is the key.

Strategies & Steps to Achieve Success

Creating and Curating The Best Content
Yes, how many hundred and thousands of people create and curate the best content on Internet but eventually give up and FAIL because there were no eyes looking at their blog. There were no readers and no money coming in.

 

The Truth Behind the Expenses
I am listing the minimum that you would be spending if your blog is going to be a an online business.

You need to attract visitors, you need them to sign up for your mailing list, you want to offer them something of value in return, you want your website to load on mobile and computer, be fast and responsive to devise site and browsers.

Okay, okay. But, wait.

You also need to spend enormous time (= opportunity cost) to develop your product, market your product, engage with your customers or fans and handle customer support.

Let’s take a look at the dollar-and-time investment.

Domain name/renewal: $15/year
Website hosting: $300-$500/year
Website upgrades: $100/year
eBook creations: $500/year
Equipments (lights, camera, mike, recorder, et al.): $1000 – $2000
Podcast hosting: $120/year
Social Media promotion: $500/year
Time: between 40-100 hours/week
and a bunch of other things…

The 4.0 Strategy
What can you do? First, you know that you are a serious blogger. You are committed to take your blog as a mini online business.

Your first goal should be to break-even. Here is the 6 phases of it:

  1. Spend the minimum that you can afford and sustain.
  2. Then work your best to recoup your investment.
  3. Invest in upgrades and expansion.
  4. Invest and building a brand that attracts readerships on its own.
  5. Offer products and/or services to recoup your additional investment.
  6. Break even on quarterly basis and achieve a state of financial balance
  7. Grow your blog-business like a rockstar.

 

The caveat here?

The CAVEAT Rule
Caveat stands for:

  • Consistency
  • Authenticity
  • Value
  • Enthusiasm
  • Attitude
  • Theme

Consistency
Read my Quora answer on “Consistency”. Consistency is the most important rule for blogging to succeed.
(What are you struggling with as a blog writer?)

 

Authenticity
You have to be authentic. You have to present your true self before your audience. Your voice should sound genuine. No mimicking, no imitation, but your voice, unfiltered, afraid, naked yet true.

 

Value
Provide value. Provide Quality. Look how can you improve the quality of an information, service or product out there. It took me hours to write this answer and then organize the content in such a way that is easy to read.

Did I increase the quality of my post by spending time on it? You be the judge. Was value added by me to the blogging community as a whole by spending over 8 hours of my time) on this post?

If the answer is Yes and Yes, then I have to do the same on my:

  1. Blog
  2. Podcast
  3. Social Media Platforms
  4. Weekly emails (newsletters)
  5. Books that offer for free
  6. Books that I write to sell
  7. The products that I am building to market
  8. The services that I provide

On Quality
Quality content is integral part of providing value.

Make sure, in terms of Quality, your videos and pictures are high-resolution, clean and clear. Make sure your podcast is noise-free. Make sure the background of your videos are neat and organized.

Likewise, your blog posts should be clean, neat and organized. Add pictures. Edit the post before you publish. If you notice an error after publishing, edit and fix immediately.

Treat your blog as Apple treats its product packaging.

 

Enthusiasm
Energy is the raw material for enthusiasm. You have to stay fit, exercise and be healthy. Read What is the easiest way to live a very healthy lifestyle?

Apply the 80/20 here to get your base covered.

Now you have the energy it takes to be a real-life blogger who actually makes a living or decent passive income from her/his blog. Great! You must feel good to have all this energy to work so hard. Not 4 hours a week but 100 hours.

How do you use this raw energy to create a positive, uplifting enthusiasm that motivates your community and wants them to come to your content again and again?

Simple.

Follow these 3 Simple Rules

1. Do not engage with haters, spammers and negative people, comments, or content out there on Internet. Save your energy, every ounce of it and use it for your blog. If someone makes you angry or frustrated, instead of fighting, turn that emotion into a blog post. (Remember, everything is a material for a writer).

2. Present a positive solution, scenario and interpretation to a negative problem, scenario and story. Go deep. Go long content. When you are trying to cover a topic or an issue, get to the heart of it. Again, look at this Quora answer as an example. It is pain to type such long answer… my back is hurting; I want to drink coffee; it’s Saturday and sunny, I rather go out… but damn! my answer is not complete yet! But I am going to write until the question is completely answered.

3. Engage with your fans, readers, customers, whatsoever you call them as if your life depends on it. And it does. They pay for your services or books. They use your products. They send you thank you emails and talk good about you. These all makes your life more meaningful and makes you feel fulfilled. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are replying to all comments, even if they in hundreds. Reply to as many emails as you can. Again provide value. Be energetic. Be a lion. Be a cheetah. Be a deer. Be a rabbit. Be whatever it takes.

 

Attitude
Attitude is your mentality, your personality. How do you interact with failures? How do you take losses? Attitude is very important.

Even if you do everything right as I ask you to do in this post, there are chances that you will fail ten times. May be you wont see readership or visitor growth for 6 months or a year.

May be you are having hard time coming up with new ideas. Perhaps, it will be hard for you to allocate this much time to build a great blog.

What will do? Because, I can tell you, this will happen.

And if you are mentally not prepared, you will quit or settle for a mediocre blog which no one reads and then you will ask a question on Quora, how to get more traffic to my blog in hope of as if some magic answer will you fix your attitude problem.

Are you a sheep? Or are you a lion? Are you a giver, quitter and loser? Or are you made for hard battles and fighting until you win or die? Ask these questions before you wet your feet in the murky waters of online blogging-businesses.

Successful blogging business is not for the faint of heart. But if you think, this is You, then welcome. Start today. Hit me an email or comment. Create a network of other successful bloggers.

Share ideas, exchange tips. Help one another. Create a mastermind group (online or in your city). Create a Facebook group and share your daily wins and fails. Have fun. You have to make this process fun because it is incredibly time consuming and difficult. But can it be done with laughter while having a good time? Oh yeah, that’s what I am having.

Guest blog and mutually support one another.

I am sure, thousands of other bloggers can say the same.

Welcome to the club! Bloggers 4.0.

 

Theme
Stick to a theme (a topic). If you want to cover a slightly bigger niche, break down your blog posts into various topics or categories. Check out my blog (Naked Soul Blog | The Blog of Salil Jha) as an example. Tim Ferriss (author) does the same thing.

On the other hand, another popular blogger Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) focuses on books, art and life advice. James Altucher focuses on writing, books, and online business building.

On social media too, you would notice the biggest accounts or pages are those who stick to one theme or context such as fitness, bodybuilding, jokes, poetry, etc.

Start with a sub-niche. Then cover your niche to which your sub-niche belongs. If you are successful up until here, go broader.

That said, it is always better and more effective to cover a single theme or semi-related, overlapping ideas. Both Tim Ferriss and I, for example are doing the later.

We cover more than one topic on our blog and social but all of them are overlapping with a single goal of improving our self.

Hope this helps!

Now go build or do something meaningful!

 

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If there are aspects of this important topic that you would want me to cover in-depth or an area you think I have missed and should have touched, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post or write a new one. What do you think? Tell me and share with us your thoughts on blogging 4.0. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

How to Become a Millionaire Before the Age of 30?

Today, I am going to tell you my story. Well, not everything but a small chapter of it.

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I always thought I would ever find a job. As a kid watching my dad go to work and do office work was beyond my intellectual capacity and therefore I mistakenly believed that I can never do a job. I am just not qualified.

One night I wrote a letter to my Dad. I think I wrote something like “Papa, please never stop working. I don’t think I will ever get a job.”

My mom and brother asked me to show what I have written. I was so embarrassed by the fact that I admitted I am totally unqualified that I tore the page.

I had to struggle with them to do it. My brother and Mom wanted me to show it to them. It was kind of cute from their perspective that I wrote a letter to Dad. I ended up crying.

Well, this is when I was in Mihijam, a very small town in the eastern part of India. Years later I moved to the US to continue my education in Computer Engineering.

I took a small bank loan to fund my education. My family was middle class and I knew that I am accountable to every single dollar. The success or failure of my American Dream was in my own hands.

I learned and accepted early on that I am 100% responsible for my own future success or failure.

I started working part-time in College and building relationships with people in positions. I was a regular churchgoer during my college years. This saved me hundreds of dollars and hours by staying out of drinking and partying.

In hindsight, spirituality saved me both time and money and it helped build a rock-solid foundation for my future growth.

I used to read a lot. I was big-time into documentary films. But what really used to motivate me was writing and thinking about starting my own business someday. I used to come up with business ideas and discuss them with my friends.

I was a hungry young man ready for any challenge. One day, a young man in his mid-thirties came with a Business offer and I was in awe. It was like God sent.

It turned out to be the Amway MLM business. I joined and worked hard at it. At my peak, I was almost halfway to Platinumship, the first step of Amway’s success ladder.

Well as most MLM stories end, Amway did not work for me and I went back to focus on reading and writing.

A year later, I started an IT company with one of my college friends, and part-time I was also teaching new graduates healthcare and information technology.

Around the same time, I got a high paying full-time job offer with Dell as Senior Software Quality Advisor.

For three years I worked at Dell and in parallel ran my own side IT business. I made some money that allowed me to buy two real estate properties in Noida, India for $150K USD during the Indian real estate boom.

Since I carried no debt at this point in my life, I was also able to invest heavily in the Stock market.

I bought Apple shares when they were below $400 mark per share (before the stock split).

I bought tons of Medical Marijuana stocks at $0.02 and later sold at $0.30 a share.

Fast-forward to today, I am still working as an Independent IT Consultant, and I continue to write.

Earlier this year, I published my first book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems which surprisingly turned into a big success in the Love Poems category on Amazon.

I have two more books coming out soon (they are currently being edited). I also offer one-on-one book marketing consultation.

I have no debt, my car is paid off and between my current stock portfolio, real estate investments, other investments, and savings, my net worth is approximately $1.03M USD (if I liquidate everything).

Having said it all, I also must add that I do not feel accomplished yet. Most of this money is tied to non-liquid assets such as Real Estate and Gold. Moreover, my goals are higher and I know this is just the beginning.

Hope my story provides hope and inspiration to some of you who may be thinking out loud that if they can make it.

Keep working hard where your heart is. The rest will come to you on its own.

 

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Do you want to become wealthy? Are you working on your goals or are you gonna give up? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Productivity 101 Explained | 80% Result with 20% Work (Pareto’s Law)

Productivity 101 (80% result with 20% work)

You do not have to do all 10 of them. Even if you implement just one tip, it will greatly enhance your personal productivity. And, if you are able to implement all 10 of these in your life, you’ll become a Super-Human MACHINE! 

Are YOU ready? Let’s begin. 

  1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minutes of your day).
  2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
  3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
  4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
  5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
  6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
  7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
  8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
  9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
  10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think? Tell me and share with us your top productivity secrets? If you have questions, please comment and I’ll try to answer. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Thought Experiment: Can the End of This World Start a New Beginning

An interesting philosophical question is a question “Is the end of the world a new beginning?”

Scholars have pondered this question for centuries and it served as the focus of a 2000 documentary by PBS’s frontline program “Apocalypse! The Evolution of Apocalyptic Belief and how it shaped the Western World.”

In the above-mentioned documentary, the biblical book of Revelation was explored in detail. The book of Revelation is one that has sparked the interest of readers more than any other book in the Bible and recounts how the end times will play out including the reign of the man referred to as the Antichrist.

James Tabor, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, wrote of the book of Revelation:

“If you open the Book of Revelation and simply begin reading it as an unfolding scenario, it goes something like this. There will be wars and famines and disease epidemics and heavenly signs that will alert the world to some sort of crisis. Then will come an Antichrist as he’s called, or a political ruler, that will establish control over the whole Earth. He’ll be backed up with a religious ruler, who’s called the false prophet. They together establish a unified social, economic, and religious system that dominates the world. The only thing opposing them is the people of God and these two prophets, they’re called the two witnesses, who appear in Jerusalem, and begin to speak against this power. The rest of the book, really the last half of the book is about the overthrow of this system. The beast, the false prophet, who has the number 666, the Antichrist, is overthrown with judgments and plagues.”

The book was written by Saint John the Apostle who visualized the events of the end times in a series of visions while he was imprisoned in a cave towards the end of his life for his testimony about Jesus Christ.

God banished the nonbelievers to hell while the believers would live with God in a peaceful and secure kingdom. This new world was described in verses from the book:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

The apocalypse was depicted in a popular Christian fictional book series, Left Behind, in which the end of the world occurs and all of Jesus Christ’s believers vanish and are sent off to paradise in heaven while the non-believers or doubters of his teachings remain on Earth under the reign of the Antichrist.

By the end of the series, the husband of one of the believers begins to have an awakening in his faith in God and along with his daughter is reunited with his wife at the end of the series. The Antichrist meanwhile was banished to the depths of hell.

How will the world end?

That is still an unknown question but an article published in The Good News recounted the ways that politicians, educators, and scientists predicted how the world would end. The causes included nuclear warfare, environmental disasters, planetary pollution, overpopulation, killer diseases, and collision with a comet or asteroid.

A professor of theoretical physics, Michio Kaku, at City College of New York described what the aftermath of an asteroid collision would be like when he said, “An asteroid only a kilometer across would create cosmic havoc by impacting on the earth. The shock wave would flatten much of the United States. If it hits the oceans, the tidal wave it created could be a mile high, enough to flood most coastal cities on Earth.”

One such collision actually occurred in 1908 when a meteor or comet exploded over Siberia and flattened 1,000 square miles of forest which equated to 80 million trees. The energy released by the collision created tremors that were reported as far away as London.

The most likely scenario for an apocalypse according to scientists and scholars is a nuclear war. Austrian theologian Ulrich Kortner stated:

“The nuclear threat constitutes not a temporary, but rather an irrevocable global threat. The actual possibility of an end to all life is now a constituent part of our reality.”

Before his death in 1996, one of the world’s most recognized scientists, Carl Sagan, wrote,

“The development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems will, sooner or later, lead to global disaster.”

Modern Day Theories & Events

It remains undetermined though when the world will end. Astrologers had long held that the world was expected to end in 2012 and companies capitalized on this by having “End of the World” sales.

Events were posted on Facebook in commemoration of this momentous occasion. The day the world was expected to end was December 21, 2012, which of course did not come to pass.

However, in October 2012, many New Jersey residents did experience a major shift in their universe due to the intensity of Superstorm Sandy. Homes were destroyed and several residents left the state due to issues with insurance companies regarding the rebuilding of their homes.

The aftermath of Sandy is still widely felt throughout the state as there is still uncertainty about when everyone will be able to return home.

It was truly the greatest storm I had seen in my lifetime and I remember volunteering afterward to help organize clothes, canned food, and lunches for those who had been forced to seek shelter elsewhere.

It is now evident that the apocalypse has been a major topic for discussion for centuries. Many refer to the Bible for its prophecies of when and how the end of the world will occur.

My Personal Thoughts

I personally do not believe that the end of the world will play out in any of the above-mentioned scenarios.

I am of the opinion that the world will keep on going, well, until we either destroy it ourselves or a man-made conscious, super-intelligent, powerful A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) takes over the planet earth.

But, whatever be the case, the end is never truly an end but only a new beginning. For now, I sincerely hope that we can end global conflicts so that we can become a unified global civilization and do not aim to destroy each other.

It will be easier to fight an alien civilization or man-made machines if we are one than if we have our nukes pointed out to each other.

Peace to all. Enjoy your day.

Read Next

 

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This post was written from a spiritual/religious perspective but there can be many other scenarios that I have not discussed here. What are your thoughts on the end of the world? Do you think the world as we know it will end? Or, will there be only a forward journey? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

How To Grow As A Person When You Work A Long and Boring Job?

I was there and I am thankful for my fate to endure such long hours.

My life completely changed when I was forced to work in an environment with long hours and a long commute.

I realized I have to do something about it. (I was sleeping earlier but it woke me up.)

How To Grow As A Person

When you have a 10-11 hours long workday, how do you grow as a person? Spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and financially. This is a fair question and an important one.

I used to asked this question to myself and my colleagues. Sometimes this question used to scream at me at night. My job was very technical (debugging code and sql stored procedures) and I was learning and growing as far as my technical skills were concerned.

But, the focused screen time was taking a toll on my eyes and after my job, I did not want to look at any screen which emits light. I was done for the day.

That said, it was also true that I am not a kind of person cut out for a 9-5 or 8-6 job! I am a person cut out for 7-7 (irony?) but as an entrepreneur.

How much do I make an hour? About $200. Will spending one hour to write this blog help me make my hourly rate? Nope, not even a single dime… but here I am. (Because I like doing this and therefore do not mind the hours.)

It’s not about hours, it’s about passion and growth

Why do I do what I do and make my day 7-7? Because, I am passionate about my mission in life and I have the freedom to work on whatever project I want, whenever I want.

It’s Monday, 10:30 am. No problem. I am going to spend an hour writing this blog.

My heart is in answering questions, writing blogs, writing books, running my own company, and investing. I am learning every day. I am growing every single day. On all fronts. Spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and financially.

I try and tend to accomplish at least 20 hours of productivity each day (during my 7-7). I structure my time to do this. I have a routine (even though I work from home). And, I read a lot.

What can you do in your situation? How to grow financially, intellectually, physically, and mentally?

The 5 Point Solution

1. First celebrate yourself
Celebrate the fact that you have a 8-6. A lot of people do not have a job or they have an underpaying job for their skills. You may not realize this but you are in an advantageous situation over many other (reading this answer right now).

May be you are commuting 2 hours daily for your job. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. That is your 2 hours of daily reading. Powerful.

2 hours daily x 5 days a week = 10 hours of reading/week
i.e. 40 hours of reading/month
i.e. 3-4 books each months + dozens of self-development, business, entrepreneurship podcasts

Imagine, after 6 months of doing this how powerful your mind will become! How much knowledge you will have!

2. Meditate, Visualize and Affirmations
When you wake up in morning, spend 10 minutes (not too much to ask for) to meditate (if that’s your thing). If not read a spiritual book (again depending on how you define spirituality and what is spiritual for you).

If nothing comes to mind and meditation is not your thing, just practice deep visualization of how you would want to shape your life. Visualize clearly that everything that you desire have come to the fruition. Visualize them as vividly as possible. Feel the emotions.

You can also read aloud your self-affirmations. An example would be:

“I am a positive person who is happy for my long commute so that I can listen to uplifting audiobooks and podcasts.”

“I am a happy person who likes to learn as much as I can on my work. I am happy for my job because it provides for my family.”

And so on..

3. Meal and life planning
Since you have time consuming job, I would assume it is also stress inducing. You should cook on Sunday evening for your next three days of lunch. On Wednesday evening, you should cook lunch for Thursday and Friday.

If your team eats out on Friday, join them. Make connections. Build relationships.

Stick to your lunch box on the rest of the days. Try to eat on your own (if possible). Or, with other folks. It’s up to you.

Take a small walk. Let new ideas come to your brain whenever you take a break from your work. Be it small tea or coffee breaks or be it a small walk.

Spend these moments alone. Atleast try to. That is when your inner fire will transform your passion into great ideas.

Besides, the above benefits, you are also saving money on lunch dollars if you are currently eating out. This small saving will pay off in big ways in terms of self-discipline, routine, structuring your life and allowing yourself the luxury of having the free time during lunch hours to think hard and come up with ideas that will make your life better.

4. Exercise and evening ritual
If you are in a relationship and have kids, spend time with your family. If you have to drop your kids for classes or gymnastics, you should participate with them as well.

Swimming? How about you and your partner swim as well with your kids. Music lessons? How about you train yourself in music too. Pick up an instrument that you always wanted to learn.

Gymnastics or dance? How about you start training your body just as you are training your mind.

If you are single, you are lucky. Eat light dinner. Go straight to the gym and workout. Give your best. Lift heavy weights. Challenge your body to its maximum limits. Run as if you are preparing for a coming zombie apocalypse.

This is how you grow your physical self. This is how you become mentally tough. This is how you show to yourself, you are serious. That you are committed to transforming your lifestyle.

5. Weekends are yours to keep
Weekends are sacred. Use those 48 hours as if your life depends on it because it does.

Let’s say you are single. (People with family will have a somewhat different structure on weekends. I can cover them in an another quora question.)

Talk to your friends who are equally motivated and positive as you are. Cut off from people who are negative and time-money-and-blood suckers. By now, you probably know who they are in you life.

Limit your Facebook and social media time to 30 minutes each day on weekends.

Take a trip to somewhere new or go for a hike. When you walk, your brain thinks smarter and faster. When you are moving, your brain gets stronger.

During afternoon or in the morning, (depending on your schedule), sit down and come up with ideas on how you can make some passive income.

Think: How can you save more money? How can you cut your overhead cost by 10% and invest that money? How you can earn more money?

Spend some time learning about money, investing and the world economy.

Think about all the hard questions about your life and try to come up with answers. If you do not have the answers, it’s okay. Ask questions to others and find the answer. Your goal is to just explore possibilities at this time.

I can promise that if you do this for just 6 months, you will be transformed into a new soul in a more youthful and stronger body.

 

Now that you are smarter, get a new job
Now, you are ready to look for a new job and start a business on the side. If you are not a risk taker, then you would come up with ideas on smart money management and smart investment techniques and strategies. Business is not for everyone and it’s okay to accept that.

In such case, you would simply want to improve a skill that you have. Assuming, you are already happy with the money.

Or perhaps, you would just like to relax and take things as they come. Whatever you wish or want, you have the mental and spiritual toughness to face it with grace and gratitude.

Don’t forget to cook your meals on Sunday night. Respect money and it will serve you. Learn discipline and it will take you to the next level.

Have fun in the process. Life is too short to spend figuring out everything when all the beauty of this creation is right in front of you. Take it easy and enjoy the process.

Good luck!

 

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So are you ready to take control of your life, your finances and your future? What challenges are you currently facing? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions.  I would like to help you with your situation. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Naked Soul Meaning: What Does It Mean To Be A Naked Soul?

 

Naked Soul Meaning

As an observer, writer, wanderer, and storyteller, I believe that to be naked is to show up, to be present, to express my truth in life. It’s to overcome my own self-imposed limitations and to transcend external influences that are often authoritarian or fear-based. To me, this expression of truth can become a sacred romance.

Therefore philosophically speaking, being a Naked Soul is a sacred romance between one person and the world around him.

When we love, we unguard our hearts. We disarm and disrobe ourselves down to the core. Whether we love to travel, to write, or to wrap our arms around another, we only love authentically. That is being truly naked.

How can you be totally naked? It’s not undressing your body. To be naked is to undress and be naked with your heart’s truth. It’s the only way to uncover what resonates with your own soul.

 

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Also, please check out our upcoming podcast. As we speak, a lot of interviewing and recording is going on in the background.

 

The Naked Soul Podcast Series

Hosted by Salil Jha and Neha Rizal

The Naked Soul Podcast is an extensive series of over 200 timeless conversations from the popular authors, bloggers, health and fitness coaches, spiritual mentors and successful entrepreneurs.

Sign up here on the blog, iTunes, and please subscribe on YouTube channel to stay in the touch whenever a new episode is released.

Tune in for wisdom and insights from the leading thinkers, writers, adventurers, and explorers of our modern time.

 

Topics Covered on the Podcast and as well as this blog

  • Addiction and Overcoming Addictions
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Authorprenuership
  • Aging and Longevity
  • Altered States of Consciousness
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Astrology, Human Design, and the Enneagram
  • Self-Awareness
  • Biofeedback and the Quantified Self
  • Body Awareness & Bodywork
  • Zen
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Compassion
  • Consciousness
  • Cosmology
  • Creativity & Creativity Process
  • Dance
  • Death and Peaceful Dying
  • Dreams and The Dreaming Mind
  • Enlightenment & Evolution
  • Feminism
  • Futurism
  • Gaia
  • Global Awareness
  • Healing
  • Holographic Model of the Universe
  • Hypnosis
  • Imagery and Mandala
  • Intuition
  • Jungian Psychology and Archetypes
  • New Language Learning
  • Leadership Theories and Best Practices
  • Literature & Arts
  • Magic and Cults
  • Best Management Practices
  • Metalearning (Learning How to Learn)
  • Martial Arts, Budo, and Tao
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Memory Enhancement
  • Metaphysics
  • Mind-Body Connection
  • Music and Creative Expression
  • Mysticism
  • Mythology
  • Personal Paradigm Shift & Individual Transformation
  • Parapsychology
  • Peak Performance
  • Personal Development and Self Help
  • Personality Types
  • Poetry
  • Psychedelics and Drugs
  • Psychology & Psychotherapy
  • Quantum Physics
  • Relaxation Techniques (Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul)
  • (Morning, Evening) Rituals and Positive Habit building
  • Science and Deep Space
  • Sexuality and Eroticism
  • Shamanism
  • Social Awareness
  • Spirituality
  • Stress Management
  • Sufism
  • Synchronicity
  • Tantra
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Transformation and Self Growth
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • The Unconscious, Super-conscious and Sub-conscious
  • Yoga, Health and Fitness
  • Writing Life, Writing Tips
  • Self-publishing, Book publishing, Book Marketing
  • Author Brand Creation, Platform Building

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Are you a Naked Soul? How would you define one or yourself? The first 5 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts. Any other questions or comments please feel free to share below.

Read Next

The Best Meta Learning Infographic

Meta Learning is about how we learn. Learn a new skill. Learn it fast. This Infographic is a guide to Rapid Learning and “Learning about Learning.”

Meta Learning 101

Read: The Best Meta Learning Methods, Templates, & Tools (Blog Post)

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried the Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Secrets to a Long and Happy Life: Live Day by Day





Today, I am going to tell you a secret. The secret was known to few people since the ancient times. In our modern age, the secret is well known to the researching scientific community. But do we really know it?

My guess is you have heard of it but probably not aware of how to bring the changes in your own life. We are going to look into some of the practical steps that personally worked for me and you can give them a try as well.

The secret is:

Live Day by Day

Positive thinking results in development of good habits. Good habits and having an optimistic, positive mindset creates a happy, feel-good emotions. A happy person lives in the moment and is able to enjoy life deeply.

Positive thinking is the result of building good habits. So what are these good habits? Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1. Looking for the big picture.
Life is short. Before you were born the Universe existed for 13 billion years and after you will be home the Universe will keep on going for equally long time. The fact that we are here for a short period of time makes us think of time in a unique way. Life is short. Try to make the best out of it. There is no gain in fighting and arguing. In any adversity, look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself: will this thing still matter 5 years from now? 20 years from now? If the answer is “No”, don’t stress yourself.

2. The attitude of gratitude.
Whatever you have and whoever you are as a person, father, leader, daughter, employee, anyone who you think you are is the product of countless people and their miniature help and support to you. Sure you have done the hard work and the bulk of it but remember the phone you are using is built by someone in China, designed by Apple in California and uses chips and hardware a made in Germany and Japan. We all are living well because hundreds of thousands people are contributing to each other. There is plenty to be thankful for.

3. The Law Of Self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is true that what are you think is what you will attract in your life. This is not magic but science. By dwelling on a thought you are focusing on it. If it is negative and about despair, your brain will automatically give more importance to matters related to despair and hopelessness. Likewise, if you think of learning and education, your brain will automatically start spending brainpower (energy and focus) on things that you want to learn. You will begin to self educate yourself.

4. Association.
A lot of what we eat, do, watch and talk are highly dependent on who we hang out with. If you are into fitness but five of your closet friends (with whom you spend most time) are into pizza and unhealthy food and lifestyle, there is no way you can be fruitful in leading a fit lifestyle. That said, if you start associating yourself with positive people, you will pick up their habit and start thinking positive, talking positive and living a positive life.

5. The Power Of Spoken Words.
The spoken words have tremendous power. Whatever comes out of your mouth shapes your thinking in a major way. Also what you speak (in front of others) crates an image of you. And by your image you shall be reared and judged. If you have set up an image of no-nonsense, cool and happy person, your peers and surrounding will start treating you in cool, fun and positive way. Chose your words carefully. They literally carry the power of life and death.

6. Books.
Read a lot of great books. Read whatever you can afford and get your hands on. Good or bad, all books are helpful. I would add read mostly good positive books but also read a few bad ones. On purpose, but why? The good books will feed your soul. The good books will uplift your soul and will motivate you, inspire you, teach you and tell you how you can become skilled and great yourself. The bad ones on the other hand will teach you what not to do.

Now, let’s talk about living in the moment.

Living in the Moment


Observing life is the key. An active act of observing occurs when you are mindful. Thoughts will arise and vanish on your mental plane, you should just watch them. Dwelling on any thought or chain of thoughts is the root of anxiety.

Buddha’s journey to enlightenment started right after his acute observation of the world around him. People get sick. People get old. People die. Life is short and full of trials and miseries. Happiness is but for a moment. Time is fleeting.

The Big Picture in the Small Moment
Once you get some perspective about life and your humble position in this vast Universe, you’ll begin to appreciate what you have and you will begin to calm down and take things easy.

For example, your friends got an A+ in each subjects; your neighbor married a hot girl; your uncle won a million dollar lottery — yes, so what! Isn’t it good for them? If these would have happened to you, wouldn’t you be happy? If yes, then why are you not happy in other’s happiness? This is a big lesson. Those who learn it early, win it bigger, while smiling all the time.

The lesson is:

It is not other’s life that you should be concerned with but yours own. Be cheerful in other’s success and weep with those who are hurting.

Be a madman. Be mad in love. Be fully present in the moment, so present that you are one with the reality. Be madly in love with seeking wisdom. Workout, love your body. Above all, love this short life. The days may seem longer on some occasions but trust me, you only get to be in your twenties once.

Make love with another human being.

Kiss under a beautiful sky when the sun is touching the horizon.
Let the winter breeze pinch your face.
Have your hands ready for hugging others.
Sometimes cry, you will fall in love with yourself.
Be nice to others, everyone is in some sort of pain.
Above all, be nice to yourself.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think about the connection of positive thoughts with your internal biology? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts. Any other questions or comments please feel free to share below.

Female Vs. Male Perspective On The Erotic Visual Art | The Nudes, The Paintings, The Photographs

Maja by Goya (ca. 1803)When we think of representations of the erotic in the art, the first thing that comes into our minds is the classic nudes which were an object of fascination for many male painters throughout history. It’s not accidental that I made a clear gender emphasis here. When talking about a male perspective on the erotic in art, we cannot help but ask what about the female perspective on artistic eroticism.

In this post, I will be stressing these two main valences of the nude in art. The reason is fairly clear: the nude was a major theme even in more traditional and less daring artistic trends such as the Renaissance, Romanticism, and even Greek and Roman art.

Erotic Visual Art

Female Beauty or Female Body

To begin, let’s start with a question. What can we say about such a generalized masculine take on the erotic in art? First of all, it centers on corporeality. The female body is the object of fascination and delight.

Secondly, in the works of many male artists, we find a somewhat detached perspective that is meant to show us physical qualities without much subjective involvement.

The eye of the artist (as well as the eye of the beholder) is free to add eroticism to the nude. However one cannot help noticing the feeling of distance that makes the body itself the foreground of the art rather than whatever excitement and feelings of pleasure the nude may produce.

 

The Male Perspective

Male erotic art focuses on beauty and objective physical features, while eroticism is supposed to be extrapolated from the whole endowment of the body that is painted naked. It’s understood that a gorgeous body incites and arouses; however most male painters who approached the nude intensively in their work prefer leaving this aspect in an implicit form.

You may notice that many famous nudes play with light and elaborate contrasts to intensify the beauty of the female body. It is thus fairly easy to say that light variation and games were also used as a means of conveying erotic feelings.

If subjective perspective was usually deemphasized while pure carnality stayed in the foreground in an attempt to objectify the body to a certain extent, at least intense contrasts and shades could offer a more sensuous experience to the viewer. It’s as if light and shadow touched the female body, isn’t it?

For certain artists, the female body is treated as a sacred object that was only half-eroticized. Just think of painters such as the Spanish romantic painter, Goya (click to see their paintings),

Or, Botticelli, an Italian renaissance painter;

Or, Ingres, a French neo-classical painter;

Or, Waterhouse, an English pre-Raphaelite painter.

 

Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque (ca. 1814)

In more classic art you notice a form of veneration of the female beauty. Thereâ€s almost always the same (almost respectful) distance that paradoxically creates a cunning form of erotic tension: the farther away the womanâ€s body is, the more desirable it appears, doesnâ€t it? We all know how well this can work in real life. The classic nude plays precisely on this touch of “unavailability” of the naked woman.

Eroticism arises out of variation and a feeling that the body is unattainable, not close enough, not visible enough in all its details and angles. If you pay attention to more traditional paintings, the woman is either lying on a sofa/bed/another vertical surface in the most frivolous and nonchalant posture possible, or reveling in the beauty and freshness of nature, sometimes among other people.

The most significant and appealing parts of the female body are highlighted with a focus on curves, breasts, and belly area. Another striking element is usually the hue of the skin whose variations can have highly erotic effects.

 

What About Male Nudes?

You are probably wondering this. Well, sometimes you find the male body depicted in sculptures such as Michelangelo’s David or The Age of Bronze by Rodin. However the erotic aspects of the male nude are slightly deemphasized.

In earlier centuries the stress fell on the female body as an object of erotic pleasure. The male nudes represented alone in sculptures or paintings are rather images of bravery, physical beauty, perfect posture etc.

The Age of Bronze (ca. 1877)

You rarely find the male body fetishized to the same extent as the female nudes. Shape and muscle tonus are more important than curves, intimate body zones, or sexualized postures. It is the female body that contains an aura of powerful fascinating eroticism which is intensified by extreme variations on the same theme.

How many nudes were painted during the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Rococo, or later? Probably over ten famous paintings. You surely know Goya’s enigmatic Maja or Botticelli’s Venus (see below).

Obviously each artistic trend had its own notions of what was most erotic. The Renaissance praised exquisite, serene, undisturbed beauty and harmony of forms, while the Baroque claimed that full-figured bodies with sensuous and smooth flesh are quite appealing and erotic. For example, look at The Three Graces (click).

 

Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

 

Late 19th -20th Century

Male painters who lived in later centuries approached the nude and the erotic by reproducing patterns that were already familiar against the background of a whole new stylistic imprint. For instance, Edvard Munch was one such Norwegian expressionist painter known best for his anxiety-filled dark paintings which suggest alienation, confinement, anguish, and other negative emotions.

However even with such an emotional palette he also approached the female body in a rather challenging way. For instance, he painted his famous Madonna (click to see) which eroticizes the religious icon of the Virgin Mary.

Munch’s Woman in Three Stages

Not something insignificant at all! Munch keeps his gloomy and somewhat disturbing painting style while approaching a subject that is so delicate and yet so arousing. It is especially the male public that responds to this eroticization of the religious figure; however itâ€s safe to assume female viewers are also quite permissive towards good art and a provocative attitude.

Picassoâ€s Les Demoiselles

Another amazing example of the erotic as transfigured through the lens of a modern artistic trend is Picasso’s Les Demoiselles. This famous painting introduces us to a cubist take on the female body.

What does it tell you? Isn’t it highly erotic? Of course it is, especially due to the free spirit and bold aggressive sexuality of the woman in the painting. Their bodies are depicted in sharp angles and stylized shapes, but they still maintain the provocative beauty of the female nude. The color of their skin is also extremely alluring, especially when you are free to indulge in contrasts and comparisons.

Obviously cubism is pretty abstract art and the female faces may seem a bit mechanicized and devoid of feeling….but in this painting itâ€s the bodies and the exhibitionistic postures of the women that matter. The woman is no longer represented as a big cat lying gently and idly on a sofa while exposing her beauty to the viewer. Female sexuality is now raw, harsh, active, mobile, insinuating of real sex due to the women’s aggressive and ostentatious positions.

To sum up, the male perspective on the erotic focuses on the female body as an object of pleasure and artistic transfiguration. The emphasis falls on form, color, games of light and shadow, and capacity to enter ingenious contrasts either with a darker room/wall/piece of furniture, or with the lively colorful nature, if the women are outside. What is eroticized is the body itself while the face and expression are deemphasized. It’s physicality as well as an ability to appear somewhat distant that are in the foreground in the male (and rather traditional) take on the erotic in art.

 

The female perspective

When it comes to the female perspective on the erotic, one must mention right from the start that it was far more limited in former centuries due to the position of the woman in the whole society and culture. Even if a woman painted (which was not very frequent), her themes were much more quiet and decent. A woman couldnâ€t afford the same freedom to approach the body or other aspects of the erotic. Thus female painters whose art does delve into sexuality are quite close to the 21st century.

 

Georgia O’Keefe

Let’s look into the most prominent one. How could we not talk about Georgia O’Keefe? She is probably the embodiment of the female erotic in painting. Extremely fascinating and sexual as a woman, Oâ€Keefe herself led a life that praised female power and complexity. Her face retains an aura of mystery and quiet strength. She was also quite daring as a woman and posed naked for various photos.

Obviously she was a woman in full touch with her sexuality who was not afraid to use her body as an object of art and public pleasure. But what about her own paintings? Thereâ€s something totally different going on in female erotic art. Oâ€Keefe didnâ€t paint nudes. She painted the female erotic itself. Many of her paintings depict flowers in elaborate vivid colors from a rather close angle.

Georgia O Keeffe ca. 1915

Some of them are quite overtly evocative of the female genitalia. But itâ€s not only the shape and sexual symbolism that strikes us in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. Thereâ€s a distinct emotionality conveyed at the same time. You can feel exuberance and love of life in almost every petal of the flowers in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. Thereâ€s a sharp vibrant vitality screaming through all her paintings that you cannot not associate with sexuality.

Georgia O Keefe

 

The Use of Natural Imagery

Sometimes floral or other kind of natural imagery is depicted for its own sake … as an eulogy to the beauty in the environment. However thereâ€s something distinctively feminine in her whole style and perspective. You could hardly picture a male artist painting all that floral and flowery sophisticated imagery. Thereâ€s a finesse of lines that embody femininity and an eye for the right angle and distance that also suggest a female perspective. It doesnâ€t feel like a detached or objectifying look or lens.

For example, as you have seen above, there is definitely that living emotionality in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. The close-up to simple wonders in the natural world which also evoke female sexuality in a more or less explicit way convey a typically female dexterity in playing with distance and seeing deep inside of things. Strong vibrant colors, ingenious intimate floral shapes, visible emotional undercurrents in most of her paintings … all that speaks more than one hundred nudes, donâ€t you think so?

Oâ€Keefe didnâ€t paint human figures, but she did paint the female erotic itself. Actually her art doesnâ€t limit itself to suggestions of female eroticism; however even when she alludes to male genitalia, the perspective remains a feminine one. For example, look at this painting, called Yellow Calla.

O Keefe’s Yellow Calla

Itâ€s already fairly obvious the female erotic is tightly connected with emotionality in visual art. If Oâ€Keefe is the epitome of colorful vitality, thereâ€s another famous female painter whose life was marked by different events and whose art reflects another kind of emotional landscape, namely Frida Kahlo.

 

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a very sexual and independent woman who acted according to her own feelings and listened to the beat of her own drum instead of paying too much attention to social or cultural convention. Her art is also typically female in a very intimate, very sentimental way. As you probably might know, Frida had a quite tragic life after a severe accident. Her paintings reflect her tormented internal life as well as her powerful sexuality, although in a more twisted form. Her paintings represent the female body in a distorted and suffering-bound form while still being eroticized. Look at her The Broken Column.

The Broken Column

Frida Kahloâ€s paintings emanate a specific sadness and darkness and are remarkable through a combination of the natural and the erotic. The body is often presented in association with the natural environment. Itâ€s as if earth and nature were sexualized, while the body itself feels at home in a natural setting among trees and leaves.

What is striking in Kahloâ€s paintings is the fact that sexuality is communicated primarily through the body, but the face of the figures who are represented are still important. Itâ€s not the expressionless and coldish face in traditional nude paintings that almost fades in the background as the body is fetishized and objectified.

Frida Kahlo’s Two Nudes Painting

Kahloâ€s art also lends emotionality to the erotic through the faces she paints which are often sad, deep, wrapped in thought, melancholy etc. What may have well been pure love of life in Frida Kahlo turns into deep grief and confined, restrained sexuality in her paintings. It is nonetheless a typically female perspective which enriches the erotic with very complex emotional nuances.

 

Eroticism Emotionalized

Is the female perspective on the erotic always emotionalized? You may think it is, but letâ€s not fall in the trap of generalizations. Modern art allowed for a wide array of styles and during the 20the century it was fairly easy for a woman to play an active part on the cultural scene. Her style didnâ€t have to closely respect existing trends, originality and purely personal views were more welcome, and she could even challenge men through a bold and unconventional approach, if she wanted to.

In this context some female artists chose the path of high emotionality and subjectivity in which the erotic was treated as a part of their more encompassing vision. Others preferred walking the more common road of “en vogue” styles and didnâ€t intend to distinguish themselves as particularly feminine through their perspective.

 

The Grey Zone – Tamara de Lempicka

Such an artist is Tamara de Lempicka whose art deco style is so neutral and dry, yet impressive, that you can easily forget sheâ€s female. And yet she did approach the erotic in her own way. She painted many nudes whose harsh and slightly coarse lines and angles remind us of Picassoâ€s style.

Tamara de Lempicka, portrait photograph, Paris, ca. 1929

There is a sharpness and an aggressive impulse in her paintings that almost seems male. Look at this one for example. Does that lower the value of her art? By no means. Sheâ€s just a very interesting case. She is a female painter who chose to “ungender” herself as an artist and approached the classic figure of the nude in a novel, even daring way without resorting to emotionality or allusions of feminine sensitivity.

Tamara’s approach to physicality and sexuality are straightforward, exhibitionistic, and provocative through a slightly ironic tinge. Quite wonderful for a female painter! She is an interesting example that suggests an escape from femininity into a grey area in terms of gender imprint.

I will end my post with a more “casual” form of art, but not less valuable – photography. I wonâ€t get into what male photographers (and perspective) does with the human body and sexuality. Especially in modern and contemporary times the erotic often becomes NSFW when it comes to this very accessible and less demanding art. However letâ€s not consider it easy!

Sally Mann’s Black and White Work

Sally Mannâ€s Photography

Photography can be highly sophisticated and meaningful when weâ€re talking about an extremely talented artist. To illustrate what both photography and a female perspective can do with the erotic I decided to look into Sally Mannâ€s work a bit. She is one of the most gifted photographers ever alive and sheâ€s a woman! Why am I stressing this aspect now? Itâ€s precisely because of the nature of her works. Had she photographed only landscape, buildings, or fashion models, her gender wouldnâ€t have been so significant. But she had her personal pet figures and motifs, namely children.

Sally Mann is incredibly creative and ingenious. She has an extraordinary eye for detail, she senses light and shadow as the air that one breathes, and she has a gift for very inventive, provoking, and ambivalent scenes and images that stir contradictory reactions. On the one hand, you notice her refinement and her use of subtle and even graceful expressions, postures, and facial features; on the other hand, you canâ€t help responding to the challenging and thought-provoking side of her photographs.

Some of her works arouse mixed emotional responses. Yes, the children she photographs are very special and itâ€s obvious she chose unique looks, a strange convincing gaze, a fragile body. At the same time she juxtaposes this allusion of innocence and spontaneity with a few bold provocative images such as a dead doe, a fire that breaks out during a picnic …and last, but not least, an erotic feeling.

Well, as you probably already know that Sally Mann eroticizes some of her children. It depends on the photograph. Sometimes you get an ambiguous image in which atmosphere and vibe seem to prevail and a naked body looks accidental. The gymnast girl on the table is a great example.

Other times Sally Mann pushes boundaries full force as she literally represents a child dressed in adult clothes and embellished with make-up while displaying a naked upper body. The girlâ€s expression is serene, confident, unflinching, adult-like.

Whatâ€s even more provocative and edgy is the way she sometimes overtly sexualizes children when she places them in clearly sexual postures whose realism is amazing. Look at this girl sitting on a wooden fence.

 

Conclusion

As you could see, the female perspective on the erotic can range from a rather classical emotionality or sentimentality typically associated with this gender to highly daring and even slightly transgressive approaches that somewhat defy and even overthrow gender conventions.

Does it make a clear difference if the artist is male or female when it comes to the erotic? As you could see from this post, the answer is affirmative: more often than not the artist will let their own gender have a say in their imagery, vision, and approach to the erotic. This difference is by no means meant to create a boundary though; it is only about fascinating distinctions and fine nuances that derive from a gendered perspective on the erotic.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What is your perspective on the erotic art? Do you think man and woman view and approach it differently? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email (sort of like buddies). So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

Stop Blogging and Start Writing | A Case Against Blogging

The first ever blog post I wrote took over three weeks to put together before I somehow found the courage to hit ‘publishâ€. Iâ€m not kidding, for several weeks, painstakingly Iâ€d write most nights (and during the day too if time permitted) optimistically hoping that, that particular day (or evening) would be the one when Iâ€d feel courageous and confident enough to cease editing or writing and finally unleash my ‘naked†self out into the blogosphere. This was back in 2007.

I have been blogging since my college days. I have blogged on Tumbler, WordrPess and Blogger.com. I have written blogs and have abandoned them completely. Not until recently, I finally took blogging a step further and bought a domain name and started to blog one more time, but this time with a professional touch to it.

The Lessons (2007 – 2014)

I learned three simple and valuable lessons at the end of of my blogging apprenticeship period.

1. Writing. The first being that writing is just the half of it. Even after youâ€ve written what you believe to be a half-decent blog post, patting yourself on the back is not an option just because youâ€ve finished writing it. The hard work is just beginning – with plenty of other stuff needing attention. Like working on how your blog looks for starters and (more importantly) promoting it – getting people to actually read your blog also requires serious perseverance and commitment.

In short, the art of completing just one blog (in my case anyway) actually takes twice as much time and effort as you think it will. I realized that if this was going to be a regular venture for me, it would need careful planning and an immense amount of on-going hard work and conviction.

2. Fresh Unique Content. Interesting blog topics and ideas would regularly have to be thought through and planned in advance, with time set aside for researching, and writing the (hopefully) engaging copy. For each blog, Iâ€d also need to source rights-free images, add all the clickable links and find someone to proof read my copy. Blogging needs much time and attention, seemingly for little or no financial return. It is mostly a labor of love.

3. The Economics. It cost me money to have a website (where I post my blogs). It has cost me money to build my website and pay for maintenance and domain name renewal. Itâ€s hard enough for writers to make a decent living from writing anyway, so instead of blogging, given the fact that itâ€s the love of writing that brought me to creating my first blog post in the first place, maybe my efforts nowadays would be better concentrated on trying to make money through just writing instead of blogging.

 

Main Point
In this post Iâ€ll be mulling over the arguments for and against my continued involvement in the blogging world. After all, people are quitting blogging all the time these days; usually informing their readers why theyâ€ve decided to call time on their blog, through one final post. Once daily blogger from The Dish, Andrew Sullivan, did just that, quitting earlier this year – deciding he wanted to return to the ‘real world†(after blogging for fifteen years). I totally empathize. You can read his final note to his readers.

Other bloggers decide to quit for different but still understandable reasons. Writer, Sara Hepola blogged for five years before informing in her last blog: “Blogging wasn’t helping me write; it was keeping me from it”. Her post This Is My Last Entry explains a little more.

Both these authors quit for valid reasons but neither encouraged others to do the same. Below, writer L.L Barkat pitches a strong argument against experienced writers blogging, in this post that she guest-authored for Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago.

 

Other Arguments against Blogging
One fundamentally important argument against continued blogging is that the role of the blogger on the social media spectrum has changed hugely over the last decade.

Back in the day, sharing the latest installment of your life on a weekly or even a daily basis, to an ever increasing amount of subscribers (if you were lucky) would (hopefully) bring comments, shares, likes etc. Giving the blog author new-found confidence; perhaps kudos too, and, quite possibly, an inflated ego as well.

 

True Creativity? Honest Voice?

If your readers liked what you were writing, youâ€d put concerted effort into not letting them down, which meant working to please them, not yourself. At that time, blogging (although still hard work) became, arguably, more of a rewarding pastime than it is nowadays.

It gave published and unpublished writers with something to say an equal platform to get their voices heard. Some lucky posters even became well-known and popular in certain fields or amongst certain groups. Young or old; pro, or non-pro, company based, media or non-media outlets, anyone and everyone could (and often did) use their voice to spread their message across the blogosphere (actually even writing this word now does feel kind of dated).

Twitter

These days, itâ€s not that people arenâ€t still blogging – thatâ€s simply not the case. Blogging is still popular but not across as many different groups as it once was. Itâ€s become a lesser counterpart to the more widely used, instantaneous, sometimes quirky social media and micro-blogging tools available today.

However, writers will continue to blog because writers love to write, but with so many new (ish) kids appearing on the social media scene during the last decade: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (to name a handful) itâ€s blogging by those under thirty that may have had its day now!

This ties in with another extremely important thing I havenâ€t mentioned but probably should have earlier, mobile technology.

 

Mobile Technology

Sharing your life with followers through your blog on a regular basis, using, letâ€s say a smart phone would be a more drawn out and a tiresome business these days; but status updates, picture uploads or sharing whatâ€s on your mind to your group of followers in less than 140 characters, well, thatâ€s easily done through the technology we carry in the palm of our hands today.

Smart phone use for accessing social media is on the increase and the newer methods of social media communication reflect that. Blogging doesnâ€t. Mobile technology advances have changed the blogging spectrum but this definitely doesnâ€t mean that blog writing is over.

avoid writer’s block

Blogging can be anti-Writing

One last point that I want to make is blogging can become a chronic habit to avoid real writing. Writing for book or publication requires decisiveness, discipline, and mental focus. You can be relaxed with your conversational style writing when you write a blog post but if you working on a book project, your words and sentence structure matters.

Our human body is optimized to avoid stress and work and therefore your mind will do anything to avoid the real work – writing. If you feel that you are spending 80% of your writing time on writing blogs and 20% on your book, probably you should take a break from blogging and practice writing in the journal until you can reverse the ratio. Remember, blogging is to supplement your crystallized thoughts that you put into a book or other print/digital publication, not to replace it. Don’t let your blog become a form of writer’s block.

 

Arguments for Blogging

When writer, Dan Blank also guest authored Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago, he delivered some compelling reasons to continue blogging, and gave his take in this post on when itâ€s the right time to kill off a blog and move on.

A lot of what Dan says makes sense, despite the growth of new social media mediums and mobile technology ensuring that blogging takes a back seat in terms of production, follower growth, shares, likes etc. there are still some great advantages to be had by creating and regularly updating yours (whether youâ€re over thirty or not!)

Blogging is adding to the credibility

Employment

Most potential employees that Iâ€ve come across love it when candidates provide a link to their own blog or website, especially if its subject matter is linked to their company in some way. An example, if you blog about health and well-being and youâ€re attending an interview at a sports club, it will probably serve you in good stead, so long as it is written well.

Actually even if what youâ€re blogging about has nothing to do with the position youâ€re applying for, itâ€s still a quick and easy way to showcase your writing talent. For example, if youâ€re applying for a job as an Online Content Producer but you blog about, letâ€s say, Bee Keeping as long as your blog is well-written, free from grammatical errors and interesting, it will show that youâ€re already familiar with producing online content, putting you one step ahead of candidates who donâ€t blog or have a website. You canâ€t really say that about having an Instagram or Twitter account.

A blog is out there on the web, itâ€s easily accessible and will be for a long time to come. Also, if you notice youâ€ve made any grammatical errors etc. once your blog has gone live, you can always go back, make corrections and re-publish, you donâ€t have that kind of investment with Twitter or Facebook publishing and feeds.

 

More reasons to continue blogging

Letâ€s say, youâ€ve always wanted to write a book, but the prospect of writing one has always been a bit daunting (the amount of time, focus, and research it requires has never felt achievable) depending on what youâ€ve been blogging about. You may well have the makings of a best-selling e-book hidden within all those blog entries youâ€ve been posting over the last few years.

For example, if, over the last ten years youâ€ve been blogging weekly about the latest happenings in the Hip-Hop world, collating what youâ€ve written could well be turned into an ebook entitled The Changing Face of Hip-Hop since 2005.

Similarly, if youâ€ve been writing about gluten free healthy eating, or your secret life as a dominatrix, why not go over your posts to see if you have enough material to create an ebook or impress a publisher.

Blogging is not dead

Blogging doesnâ€t always have to lead to followers, comments, etc. some writers care little about these things because theyâ€re truly writing for themselves. Letâ€s say, youâ€re going through a hard time health wise, and you need to learn more about certain conditions, if someone else has had the same experience or diagnosis as you and has shared what theyâ€re going through on a blog, that blogger has fulfilled their need to write and created something valuable to you and future readers, no doubt paying little regard to the amount of likes and shares etc.

 

Business Blogs

Blogging can be good for business, done properly it can direct business to your company website e.g. if a savvy DIY store owner posts several ‘how to†blogs, such as – how to unblock a drain, how to unblock a pipe, etc. Their blog may help users fix stuff themselves without the need of an expensive professional if you own a plumbing shop or DIY store, sharing one or two tips about common problems, could lead people to your site and increase sales and materials. Making it a win, win situation for both parties in an instance like this.

 

Conclusion

I can understand why people need to stop blogging if itâ€s not working for them anymore (as in the case of Andrew Sullivan and Sara Hepola) if stopping feels like the right thing to do, then itâ€s the right thing to do!

But for me, continuing blogging feels exactly like the right thing to do, contrary to some of the arguments Iâ€ve included, I plan on blogging more. Why? Because I blog for pure pleasure, I am also a book writer and when I donâ€t feel like working on my manuscript or writing something new, I still want to sit down and write something and blogging helps me in reaching my daily 1000-2000 word count. Itâ€s also an easy way to answer questions that I get on social media (from my readers) or to share with others, things that I learned the hard way. By blogging I am revising my own lessons and crystallizing it into specific topics.

When I write a blog it still feels like itâ€s about my needs rather than other peoples, and I know other bloggers out there who feel that too. People will always need to share their stories and experiences, not just for egotistical reasons either, whether theyâ€re professional writers or not.

Blogging works for me because Iâ€m a fairly new author, therefore my website is not ranked high in Google. So blogging good content is my way to earn that right to show up on Google’s first page of search results for certain keywords. Iâ€m also lucky that I have a team of friends who help me generate ideas for my blog posts and a Virtual Assistant who handles my social media and saves me some time.

In spite of all my arguments for my continuing to blog, I must also add that once I get busier with my book writing, the blogging will slow down. If it ever comes down to choosing between book writing vs blog writing, I will pick book writing over blog writing any day, hands down to be honest. Iâ€m not expecting that to happen any time soon and Iâ€m also not sure that I could ever bring myself to write that final ‘goodbye and thank you†blog and have the courage to press ‘publishâ€.

 

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What do you think about blogging? If you think there are more compelling reasons for or against blogging that I have not mentioned here, please feel free to comment. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email (sort of like buddies). So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

The Pain of Perfectionism | Writer Anxieties, OCD and Coping Mechanism

This perfectionism is driving me crazy

It’s getting late, you’ve been working on your article for days now, thankfully, after several “final” drafts and edits, as well as the umpteenth reread, you’re now feeling confident enough to submit your work to your client or ready to hit the publish button.

Moments after you’ve hit “send”, you let out a heavy sigh; you are relieved, elated; and it feels good because the deadline has been met or the project is now complete.
Adrenalin is kicking in, you’re actually even feeling slightly emotional, but happy.

This should be where the chapter ends; the beginning of your mind focusing on something else, or at least, as it’s late, you should be turning in for the night. But when you do, you can’t sleep.

Instead of enjoying some satisfying well-earned slumber time, your mind is slowly succumbing to niggling self-doubt. You let out another sigh, this time it’s one of dread. What if the client hates what I have written? Oh, why did I press “publish” tonight when I could have revised it one more time? I should’ve waited until the morning before submitting.

The Pain of Perfectionism

And so it goes on and on until you finally manage to get to sleep, just as the birds are beginning their chorus. And when your alarm goes off a little while later, the article (or the blog post) is the first thing on your mind. At this point you want to scream out loud and groan, you do both, annoyed and angry at yourself for caring so much.
Sound familiar to you?

Have you ever felt: I am so unhappy with what I sent yesterday, so today I am going to spend time correcting all the things I’ve been feeling unhappy with. In whatever free time you have, you focus on editing until it’s time to take a break, but then the next time you pick up you have lost your flow.

So you re-read the entire thing again before once more, you painstakingly begin deleting words, adding sentences, removing paragraphs and adding other smaller details and arguments to polish your work, word by word, paragraph by paragraph. One page at a time.

Zen and The Art of Writing

Writing well is the formation of thoughts in coherent topics and subtopics. Think of your grand idea as a big house. And your subplots as various rooms in the house. You start with the boundary or the overall description of the house but then you move inside.

You talk about the lawn and the backyard and the fences. Inside each room, you describe what is present there. You do these things until your hands give up due to being tired.

Next time you pick up, you remember the grand plot and move on to the next room and talk about it. You then go on to the kitchen and to the bathroom. But once finished, usually depending on:

1) the completion of the main story,

2) word count goal,

3) time, you edit it

You read your edited work and again find several holes. You find tangential stories which are not really driving the main plot or main argument that you are making. You remove them.

Similarly, you find holes where you are missing information so you find phrases that act like glue, joining the two chains of thoughts or paragraphs into one story. As you find these holes, you re-write and complete your story. You edit it again. Sometimes re-inserting a lot of what you have previously deleted!

You keep working on it until you have no time, energy or emotional interest left in the project. This is when your work is complete. It is not perfect yet, and you realize it will never be.

Creative by nature is anti-perfection. “What is imperfect is complete,” says Zen wisdom. Finally, you re-send the piece, hoping that your client hasn’t been anywhere near the article you have sent previously.

Work-Related Anxieties

I am devoting this blog to this topic because while I am sure many of us feel it, I haven’t seen too much written about it. Anxiety-like this is perfectly natural. It is a working style of the creatives, I believe.

First, you have to let your idea come out. You watch it from a little distance, then the draft is written and corrected. We don’t polish when we create, nor do we know how to complete the full story. Only after 80 percent of it is laid out, do we go on to finish the remainder.

I am not as crazy as those “other” writers

 

My first book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems was written and published this way. I sent a manuscript with 150 poems and finally selected 95 for publishing. Then I later added 13 more poems (during various rounds of editing) and made changes to the Introduction and book’s back matter.

I sent the book for editing a third time (with my second editor). That’s how the book came out nicely. But ask me today, I can tell you, if the book still exists as a manuscript, I would replace certain words and leave out a certain poem and I would add another one and then rewrite some lines, and so on and so forth.

A book really never ends. There is always something more that you can do to make it perfect, a masterpiece.

 

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong

Courage to Write

The “courage” in the above quote is highly important. I think us writers are actually too hard on ourselves at times, but the very nature of the beast dictates that we will be judged.

Writing invites judgment; judgment from others and judgment from ourselves, but we are probably our own harshest critics when we should really be kinder to ourselves.

I believe that writing takes commitment, skill, patience and most of all, courage. We need to remember this whenever any hint of self-loathing or the confidence-wrecking gremlin kicks in.

“A lot of writers believe that the trauma and the angst that you feel is an essential part of the craft.” – Amy Tan

If it leaves a writer in a negative state then I don’t know if I would agree with Amy Tan‘s “essential” part, but normal yes! Is it essential? I am not so sure. It depends (writer to writer).

However, in his book The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, writer, Ralph Keyes documents many of the anxieties that writers feel and acknowledges that fear and anxiety are both normal. But he, like Amy Tan, also believes that anxiety is an important and essential part of the writing process.

His book includes anecdotes and strategies from other writers (naked writing anyone?) and offers useful suggestions for his readers such as scheduling your writing time into your most productive time of day.

I know that this isn’t always possible, but not writing during your least productive time of day (in my case, late at night), is, and in my opinion, should be avoided at all costs.

Fear is the Opposite of Courage

Other famous writers have spoken about their coping strategies too. In an interview writer Jonathan Franzen confesses that, in the past, he has feared fame and reproach continually. And the way he has taken refuge from himself and transcended his fear?

Well, through writing and trying to create good sentences, which he feels loyal enough to continue with. So, basically, he overcomes his writing anxieties, with, more writing! As he is a bestselling author, this strategy has obviously been working well for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter how little or well known a writer you are, similar demons seem to manifest in so many of us. Author, Cynthia Ozick has also confessed her fears in this quote from brainyquote.com:

“I am afraid that the act of writing is so scary and anxiety filled that I never laugh at all. In fact, when people tell me that such and such a scene or story is comical, I tend to gape. I did not intend comedy ever, as far as I know. It’s probably all a mistake. I am essentially a lugubrious writer.”

She explains how she overcomes her fears stating, “I have to talk myself into bravery”. Cynthia acknowledges that she does fear-setting before she writes, with every sentence and sometimes with every syllable.

In Dan Halpern’s publication: Who’s Writing This?: Fifty-five Writers on Humor, Courage, Self-Loathing, and the Creative Process, an outspoken critic, Susan Sontag, outlined her discomforts and admitted: “the writer is me: not my double” making me both Frankenstein and the monster.

I totally get that. For me, writing is my soul mate but can be my nemesis too, it’s love and hate, success and failure, but I’ve come to understand that the good parts always weigh heavier than the bad.

The more I read up on writer anxieties, the more I come to understand that all writers feel this way at times. Knowing that even extremely well-known writers have felt (and still may feel) the same feelings as we do, can bring some comfort to an anxious author.

Actually, it’s not even just authors I should be addressing here as what I am talking about isn’t only something that affects authors or other creative types (although we might be the ones to beat ourselves up a bit more about our work, etc.)

Even composing something as simple as an email or text message to a person we are trying to impress can encourage negative/self-deprecating feelings no doubt to a lesser degree, but maybe enough to bring on those gremlins.

Work without anxiety or be ready to be punished

What Can Writers Do

What can writers do about their writing anxieties? I’d be lying if I said a “one size fits all” cure was in existence to alleviate every writer’s anxieties. Using a combination of strategies can go a long way when it comes to steering us poor creatives into a better place.

Know Yourself as a Writer

Be aware of the warning signs and distress triggers before your anxieties build up and take you to an impossible place. e.g. If you know you get anxious near deadline time worrying about whether you’ll make the deadline at all, set yourself a deadline one day before the piece is actually due.

Moreover, get a friend to look at your work with fresh eyes one day before you submit it as well, to ensure that it’s grammatically correct, etc. when it’s finally time to hit the “submit” you’ll hopefully feel less stressed.

Tiredness is not your Friend

I mentioned earlier that writing during your least productive time should be avoided. Rise early to complete a piece if the morning is when you do your best work.

If you know that the last time you submitted your work to client during the evening, you lay awake worrying about it, submit during the day instead, that way if you feel low about it afterward, re-writing or re-reading in the day is more productive than feeling overwhelmed at night when the gremlins can take over.

Be Rational

If you don’t hear from a client, see your work on their website or in their publication when you were expecting it to go in, it does not necessarily mean they hate it.

The client may be busy dealing with office catastrophes or scheduling your work to fit into a different magazine issue etc. Or she/he could be at lunch or on vacation. All manner of things could be occurring, so hold fire on beating yourself up. I know, it’s a cliche, but sometimes, no news really is good news!

Step Away from your PC

We all know that things can get more than frustrating when you’ve been working on something for a long time. Fresh air is your friend, go get some then surprise yourself on your return the Frantzen way, by creating some kick-ass sentences to ignite your confidence and lessen the frustration.

Love and Laugh

Ok, forgive me for rounding this off by getting a little sentimental, but writing can be like love in some ways. The reason why we become consumed by love is because we have an overwhelming desire for someone. We let writing anxiety consume us because we care so much about doing a good job once we’ve had the guts to expose ourselves within the writing arena.

And like the love arena, you feel so bad about your work when you don’t know where you are with the client, the same way as being unsure of how things stand with a loved one exposes vulnerabilities. But being elated in either arena can make everything okay (which is why we love and which is why writers write; love is a worthy risk despite its torture.)

Being a writer is a worthy risk despite its torture too. It takes courage to love and courage to write, be proud of yourself for caring so much, despite the pain.

Take it easy, boy

On a final note, try not to take yourself too seriously, laugh lots and enjoy your craft. Whenever you or any of your writer friends need something to ignite a smile, read this edition of the Pessimist about writing:

It will most likely turn every single coping mechanism I’ve written about on its head, but if it’s humorous anxiety obliteration you’re after don’t hesitate and click on the link.

If you’d like to share any coping strategies that I haven’t mentioned here, be sure to get in touch.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you suffer from trying to be perfect? If you have relatable thoughts or experiences of having or dealing with the pain of perfectionism, please share. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email. So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

What is Meta Learning? Strategies for Teaching Meta Learning or Learning It

Our brain, perception, and learning

For those who might not know the meaning of meta-learning, it simply means, “learning about the learning.”

Meta is a root word that comes from the Greek, which generally means beyond. (An example would be, metaphysics). Meta also means something that is “self-referencing”. (An example would be ‘meta-learning’.) It is almost symbolic as in where a Zen haiku says “the ocean is in the drop of water and the drop of water is in the ocean”.

The word “meta”, when used with a noun, takes the meaning of a simple object or process to a whole new level. For example, consider these two words: Meta-Data (data about the data) and Meta-learning (learning about the learning). Or, consider this: Meta-physics (beyond physics).

4HC Method

Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Chef (4HC) talks about DiSSS and CaFE. This is his prescribed formula and it is quite good. I have tried it myself and it works well for any skills (be it computer programming or martial arts).

DiSSS stands for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence, and Stake.

CaFE stands for Compression, Frequency, and Encoding.

 

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, “Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.”

Teaching Meta Learning

Learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin. When you learn, you are actually teaching yourself something. Likewise, when you teach something (to others), you learn the material in new ways. Your nerve cells make new connections and new reference points which helps you in recalling the learned material faster at later a time.

I would break down the principle and process of Meta-Learning into 3 various phases.

1: The 80/20 rule

I am fascinated by the 80/20 rule. 80/20 rule basically reduces the learning material and shortens the learning curve of any skill. What this means is to attain mastery of any new skill, it may take a student 6 months to 2 years instead of a standard 10 years of practice.

An example:

The power of the human mind. Meta-learning is actually natural.

 

2: The Flow State

I am also endlessly fascinated by the process and mechanism of the creative-flow-state. I try to ask questions such as: How to achieve Flow state intrinsically? How to take creativity beyond the reach of few naturally gifted people to everyone by transforming creativity into a learned skill?

How to make education and learning process more fun, practical and approachable for most people? Questions like these keep me awake at night once a month or so. I then go on to research, experiment and apply the answers that I come up with or learn from others. Whatever sticks, I make that in the toolkit for daily/weekly/monthly practice.

3: Meta Learning

The last step is to follow a structured approach to meta-learning.  It is a more refined method of learning new skills at a much higher rate and with faster results.

I call it: DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT, BiTS

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.

 

In short, it means (the steps are):
D = Deconstruct

R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

You first work on DR. BevO.

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)

Then learn while practicing, and practice when learning by engaging in Dad, Me, MoM & our CAT.

DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it

Consider this example of a mind-map:

Mental map for memory. Look at the use of various colors.

In the last phase, you can do all three or just one, it doesnâ€t matter. You get to pick. Pick one, two or all three of BiTS.
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)?  If you have tried Naked Soul method or The 4-HR Chef’s (or Tim’s method) DiSSS and CaFE, please share your success stories. Any other comments or questions, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

A Definitive Guide to Defeat Seasonal Pollen Allergies: Tips On How To Soothe Your Eyes & Nose

This is a mix of various pollen

I hate allergies. I have never been allergic to anything in my life (up to age 29), until last year. Then suddenly, one fateful evening in early May 2014, my eyes were red and itchy, my throat was sore and I was feeling feverish, flu-like symptoms.

I went home, ate a light dinner and went to bed. Next day I woke up and my eyes were still red and itchy. I did not have a fever but my nose was slightly dripping and I was sneezing all day long.

This went on for a couple of days. At night, it used to get worst. I had trouble sleeping due congestion in my nose. I just could not breath form my nose anymore. Night time was the worse. I had to breathe from my mouth and in the morning I will wake up pain in my throat due to the dry air. Damn! This was getting worse.

My job was affected, so was my focus and concentration. I was not able to do anything properly. I was irritated all the time and used to get angry at the slightest of anything trivial, benign or frustration-worthy. Life was suddenly hell and I had no idea how did I get here and how to get out of it.

After a week or so, I finally took the lesson home that this is not the seasonal flu and I am having seasonal allergies. People at work started to tell me, I am having seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies? 

What in the world is that? I have never heard of pollen allergies before? Really. I am allergic to something in my environment. But, I have been living here in Boston for almost four years and I never had allergies before. Before Boston, I lived in California, Arizona and North Dakota (in all seasons).

I never had any allergies there as well. I never had any allergies in India where I was growing up and lived until age 22. How can I be allergic to pollen or whatever is causing me allergies? I needed to find out the answers.

Two Types of Allergies

Allergies can be:

a. Seasonal

b. Perennial

There are two types of allergies: seasonal, which are more common, and perennial that happens throughout the year for no particular or specific cause but due to any number of variable causes, for eg. dust mites, dust, change in temperature, etc.

Seasonal Allergies (Pollen Induced)

In this blog post, I am going to talk about only the seasonal allergies that are caused due to an allergen (eg: pollen) during the spring season or early summer (May and June).

If you get itchy, watery, red eyes and drippy nose during a specific time of the year, you are like me and this post is for you. (For others, this post may serve as informational but this is not written for any other kind of allergies.)

Also, this post is not medical advice by my own story and how I cured my seasonal allergy problem. (This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.)

I have been suffering from both Eye Allergy and Nose Allergy for the past 2 years. I was waiting to find out what happens this year.

Around May 7th or 8th, I started to get the symptoms and I was, oops, I am indeed really allergic. Took me two seasons to accept the truth. I am going to share, what I did (immediately) to get rid of my allergic symptoms and problem.

First Thing First

If you are having the same symptoms as I have (as described above), first, however, you must see an allergist to find out if you truly have allergies before making drastic changes at home or starting a medication.

You may be unsure about the cause of your allergy symptoms, get a skin test or a blood test to identify the allergens that cause your problems.

The bigger red hives means I am allergic to that particular allergen.
Here you can see I am not really allergic to anything from this batch.

All insurance plans cover allergy checkup and tests and these tests are simple and can tell you a wealth of information about your body. Here, you can see what a typical skin allergy test looks like and what results you get at the end of it.

The test is about 30 minutes long. You can easily schedule the test during one of your lunch breaks.

In total, I was tested for 36 most common allergens.
The last batch of test, my both arms fully covered with needle pricks.

After the test, I found out that I am not allergic to pets (dogs and cats), dust mites and mold, thank God! Sorry, folks, I won’t be covering the allergies caused by pets in this post.

But after your test, if you find out you are allergic to pets, the simplest thing to do is not have pets and avoid contacts with them. For more information, you can google and learn more. If you do good research and find something new, please share in the comments below.

 

Watch Out for April – June

Seasonal allergies happen only at certain times of the years, usually early spring through summer and into autumn. They’re caused by exposure to allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.

When a person has seasonal allergies, the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to substances like pollen or mold as invaders. These substances are called allergens.

An allergic reaction occurs as the immune system tries to fight off the allergen. These pollen induced seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone. As you can see, you and I are not alone. This is a big issue. I hope there is a better cure for this. For now, let’s keep reading on.

 

Myth: If you are not allergic to pollen, you are safe and you won’t have it.

Truth: You can become allergic to particular pollen or substance later. Look at my test results above. This is called “acquired disorder”. [6]

What are Pollens

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the micro sperm cells of seed plants, which produce the male sperm cells. These sperm cells. Need I say more.

Pollens are protein that seem like an intrusive foreign substance to the body’s immune (defense) system. Our body does not accept any foreign proteins (amino acids) without a grain of salt.

And this is a good thing and this is how we fight bacteria and viruses but this self-defense mechanism gets bad when it starts fighting a natural, non-harmful substance such as tree pollen.

 

Forms of Seasonal Pollen Induced Allergies

Eye Allergy is an allergic reaction to pollen that affects the eyes. Eyes may become watery, itchy, sore, red and/or swollen.

Nasal Allergy is an allergic reaction that gets worst at night with nose congestion, dry throat and thus resulting in sleep deprivation.

Hay Fever is an allergy to pollen that is present in the air at certain times of the year. Symptoms include itching in the nose, the roof of the mouth, throat, and eyes; sneezing; stuffy nose; runny nose; and tearing eyes.

Usually, your eye allergy will happen along with nasal allergy symptoms. Likewise, you can have all of them at once or only one prominent one.

 

Two Common Allergy Triggers

Your Overactive Immune System

Many things can trigger an allergic reaction. That’s when your body’s defenses attack a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. The reaction can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. About 1 in 5 Americans have allergies. 

Pollen

Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. You might be sneezing and have a runny or stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes. Treat these with over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. To prevent symptoms, stay inside on windy days when pollen counts are high, close windows, and run the air conditioning.

 

Nasal Allergies

Let’s move on to nasal allergies, understand it and then defeat it for good. With nasal allergies, there are five things that happen when an allergic reaction occurs:

There’s sneezing, itching, runny nose, mucus formation, and nasal congestion (swelling of the mucous membranes).[1]

As an example, as soon as you crawl in bed prepared to get a good night’s sleep, you realize that you can’t breathe through your nose. So, you position yourself differently on the pillows and just as you get comfortable and find a good breathing position, postnasal drip (thick mucus) starts to collect in the back of your throat, causing you to cough — and cough.

The more you cough and try to breathe through your congested nose, the more miserable you feel.

Thus, all night long, you toss and turn and cough and snore instead of sleeping. The next day, you awaken feeling exhausted and irritable because your allergies have wreaked havoc with normal sleep.

Gravity is to Blame

Sinuses are small airbags, found in the bones of the face. When they cannot drain properly, it is very difficult to breathe through your nose. This problem can worsen at night when you lay down.

Gravity plays a role in sinus drainage. While in a lying position, the sinuses may drain down the back of your throat, causing irritation. If you lay on one side or the other, the sinuses will drain to that side, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.

 

Allergens

Allergies could cause nighttime stuffiness. If the night is the only time you appear to have problems breathing out of your nose, you may be allergic to the material and or stuffing, that is contained in your pillow. Allergens cause an influx of histamines, which lead to a stuffy nose.

An allergic reaction may be caused by laundry detergent and the direct contact your face has with the sheets and pillowcase as you sleep.


Nose Allergy Medications

Two types of allergy medications may help nasal allergies.

Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help with sneezing and postnasal drip.

Decongestant: Decongestant medications help with stuffiness and nasal congestion. A better and more effective approach to treating allergies might be the inhaled nasal steroids and intra-nasal antihistamines.

These inhaled nasal puffs and sprays address all four allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose, and mucus formation, and nasal congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes.

If you try the inhaled nasal steroids, it’s better to start taking it two weeks before pollen season begins to prevent allergy symptoms. You may plan on staying on inhaled nasal steroids for months, if needed, to keep allergies at bay and avoid sleep deprivation.

I am using Nasacort Allergy 24 HR. That’s all and I am doing perfect.

 

DIY Nose Allergy Relief

Drink More Water
Another thing that you can do is drink more water, which works to thin mucus. Thin mucus does not stick to the back of the throat and cause postnasal drip. You’ll know that you’re well-hydrated if you’re hitting the bathroom frequently.

 

Closed Windows
Keep the windows closed in the bedroom to keep out pollen and nighttime dampness.

 

Pillow Height

Raise the head of your bed a few inches. The higher the head, the less the nasal congestion with allergies. (This works well for me).


Exercise

Exercise for 30 minutes daily, inside a gym. Do not walk outside (even if it is sunny and bright outside). Wait until mid-June. It is not that you cannot go outside, you can on proper medication but go out only when it is necessary. 

Talking about exercising, your blood will flow easier, you’ll have superior posture (on account of stronger back muscles) and also your sinuses will shrink, eliminating the stuffy nose during the night concern.


Herbs

Herbs like Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Mint/Peppermint oil, Ginger, and Olbas oil, all have the skill to soothe and also cure aggravation and also swelling in the nasal lining.

Ginger is actually used to make a powerful nighttime herbal tea, that clears the sinuses and also throat. It seems to have the additional advantage of stopping nausea. Ginger tea might end up being through boiling fresh ginger roots, or perhaps using packages of dried ginger.

Use these herbs by adding the essence oil to a bowl, and position it near whenever you rest, to inhale in the vapors. One may likewise place a couple drops of Eucalyptus essence oil, or even Olbas oil to the pillowcase, to add in the calming vapors while sleeping.


Steam therapy

To use steam therapy, boil various ounces of the free of moisture herbs, and also pour the boiled water in a ceramic bowl. Place a towel over the head, covering your head and the bowl completely, to ensure that absolutely no steam escapes. Take deep breaths of the herb water throughout your nose to soothe the nose lining.

 

Why Allergies are Worst At Night (When I go to Sleep)?

There can be several reasons for this (and this seem to be a common ailment for most allergy sufferers, including myself). This is what I researched and did in order to sleep well at night.

1. Allergen could be in your face or hair – wash your hair and body right before you go to sleep.

2. Shoe outside – Pollen can enter your bedroom through your shoes, so keep your shoes outside.

3. Change your bedding daily – all of the pollen and other allergens that accumulate on your bed during the day are collected in your pillow and bedding. Wash them and change them every two days. You can also place a clean towel on your pillow.

I bought two allergen-impermeable (allergy proof) pillow covers from Amazon.

Eye Allergies

Now, let’s understand eye allergies and then defeat it for good.[2For many seasonal allergy sufferers, pollen irritates their eyes the most. They suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the white part of the eye, the back of the eyelids and front of the eyeballs.

Allergic people may become especially miserable in spring and early summer as grass pollen season kicks into high gear. Grass pollen are especially irritating to the eye. So are ragweed pollen, which will begin spreading later in the summer. (In my skin allergy test, I found out that I am not allergic to Ragweed pollen, Halleluljah!)

Even though people blink an average of 15,000 times a day, pollen still gets in their eyes.[3The good news is that the same treatments and self-help strategies that ease nasal allergy symptoms work for eye allergies, too.[4]

Allergic Pink Eyes

 

Symptoms of Allergic Pink Eye

The five major symptoms of allergic pink eye include:


Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid, Increased amount of tears, Itchy eyes, Blurred vision and Swelling of the eyelid.

Eye allergies can be annoying but they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. Remember, like all allergies, eye allergies are caused by a glitch in the body’s immune system. There is nothing wrong with your eyes or vision.

The allergy starts when the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes) comes into contact with something that, while actually harmless, is seen as a threat.

In a mistaken attempt to fight off the threat, the immune system makes antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine and other substances. That, in turn, makes eyes red, itchy, and watery. The most characteristic symptom of eye allergy is itching.

 

DIY Eye Allergy Relief

The first approach to controlling eye allergies should be to limit your exposure to allergy triggers. Here are several steps that people can take to reduce pollen’s irritating effect on their eyes:

Stay Indoors

Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores).

 

Outdoors

If you go out, wearing eyeglasses or big sunglasses can help block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.

 

Pillows
Limit your exposure to dust mites by encasing your pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one. Old mattresses are often teeming with allergens.

 

Clean floors with a damp mop

Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. So use damp mop. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains.

Clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution.

 

Humidity
To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%. That might mean using a dehumidifier. Clean the dehumidifier regularly.

 

Eye Cold Compress
Don’t rub your eyes. That’s likely to make symptoms worse. Try cool compresses instead. A bag of frozen peas or a moist washcloth that has been placed briefly in the freezer can reduce itching when put over the eyes.

Allergy Medications for Eyes

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. Remedies include:

1. Sterile saline rinses and eye lubricants can soothe irritated eyes and help flush out allergens.

2. Eye drops containing ketotifen can relieve allergy symptoms for up to 12 hours. They won’t cause rebound redness even with long-term use. Refrigerating eye drops may help in providing additional relief of allergy symptoms.

3. Oral antihistamines can also help. Walgreens, CVS or any pharmacy will have medicines from well-known brands. These tend to be less sedating and most of them will provide you long-lasting relief.

I am not taking anything specific for eyes. Your choice of medication will depend on what is more severe for you: eyes, nose, fever or throat, etc.

Summary

I have included here everything that I have tried. Also, I have removed anything that is confusing (words or language). There are other methods of course but they either did not work for me or they are not convenient enough to practice. 

If your allergy symptoms are severe or only getting worse or not improving despite trying everything that I have mentioned, you should definitely consult your doctor and ask for Immunotherapy.

 

What did I buy?

Allergy Control Pillow Encasement (two of them) – this is #1 bestseller from Allersoft

 

Medicines?

1. Nasacort Allergy 24 HR (1 unit) – works for multi-symptom

2. Wal-Zyr, 10 mg Antihistamine (Cetrizine) (1 unit) – from Walgreens

 

Most Important

Monitor daily pollen forecast. If pollen counts are high, try to remain indoors or at least limit outdoor trips to rural areas.

I monitor daily pollen forecast on Weather.com.

 

That’s all. And, I am back to life like a normal person I used to be, with no major symptoms, peaceful night sleep, and open nostrils. (The only mild symptoms I still have is itchiness in my eyes, that too occasionally).

I hope my research and story help you if you are suffering from seasonal allergies. If you happen to know someone who is suffering and have watery, red eyes. Do her a favor. Share this post with a person affected by allergies. Her vision is already blurred, and this will save him countless hours of google search time and conflicting information and confusion.

 

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Are you suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you have it since childhood or you developed it later? If I have missed some simple solutions to treat allergies, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use the tips from my experience, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other questions, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Hacking Instagram Growth: How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status

I have been using Instagram for only 8 months now and observing the very successful and unsuccessful IGers, I have some thoughts to share. The following post is my crystallized tips on how you can experience explosive growth (like me) and gain very high user engagement on Instagram. This post is all about hacking Instagram. Ready?

I am going to do this blog post a little different. First, I’ll give you the main course. Then I will serve you the dessert (i.e my own growth story and timeline) and then finally I will serve the appetizers (what I am going to do in the next 6 months).

You should chew on the main course and try to apply them to your own strategy. Then you can move on to the appetizers and try to do the same and match results after 6 months.

 

Hacking Instagram Growth

1. Engagement Rate

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, shares, mentions, tags, etc. Remember, engagement with your fans is much, much higher in importance than your number of followers. Or even the total number of Likes.

For example, @The.Naked.Soul has a little over 44,000 followers but our average Likes is somewhere in 300-400 range and average comment per media is 20ish something. That’s not a lot, but that’s not bad either. However, I would like to increase my engagement score.

Now, consider doing this exercise. Go to Instagram and find out at least two accounts (that are your size, +/- 20%) that get a lot more comments and/or likes than you. After you have found them, follow them (try to build a relationship with them). If they do not follow back, it’s okay.

Your main job is to study their post, timing, the way they write their caption and how they interact with their fans. Â Study them and try their techniques, one at a time. See what clicks with your audience. Stick with the best and leave what doesn’t work.

the.naked.soul Instagram account

 

2. Account Age

The longer you have been posting on Instagram, the more likely is that the people those who follow you will remember you (your name or your brand name). Over time, seeing your name regularly in their homepage feed, your followers will begin to trust you more, read more from you and perhaps even begin to connect with you more.

How long have you been Instagram matters! If you are reading this, my guess is you are a (relatively speaking) new account. Don’t worry. Keep patient.

Know that Instagram has only ~700 million users and at least a good 10% of them are dupes and scam accounts. My guess is the real “active” users must be in the range of 500M. So what does this mean?

This means that as more and more people join Instagram, your account will be considered older in due time. So remember, account age – it matters and over time, this factor will get in your favor as you are here for a long haul.

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

3. Post Frequency

The more frequently you post, the more you are going to stay in people’s short term memory. The world today is an overcrowded place with too much information flow out there. People have a very short attention span.

To be remembered and trusted as a reputable brand name, you have to be constantly out there. You can not afford to not have an active presence. Besides, the more frequently you post, the more new people you reach out to. People live in different time zones and new people find you using hashtags. Each time you make a new post, your use of hashtags makes you reach new potential fans.

One more point, the more frequently you post, you increase your chances of being read by your followers. Remember, your average fans are also fans of many other things. They have several things to read at any given time. When you post frequently, you can hope that they notice you and actually read your content. And no engagement can occur unless someone feels connected to your words.

I suggest you post 3-4 time per day. This should be a cardinal rule, not to be broken at any cost.

4. Post Good Original Content

Okay, so this comes right after the point made above that you should post frequently. But you should not post recycled and boring content.

Try to post original content if they are not world class. Occasionally, you can throw in a good quote or a sweet little poem or a cute puppy picture or a half-naked selfie but try to post interesting, never seen before, new content. It could be an artsy view of the street lamp in your city or it could be anything as long as it’s artful and interesting.

Also, when you post original content you tend to get more quality followers who really enjoy your Instagram gallery. These people are priceless since they really enjoy you.

What to do if you do not have tons of good, original content? Well, in the beginning, keep to one post a day and build from there. Also being under the pressure that you got to make a new quality post will also spark your creativity. Post one original, and one daily quote.

As you can see, I have come down from 1000 new followers a week to 376 new followers last week.

 

5. Alliances

No man or woman can achieve much on their own. You need help from other people. It is crucial to build relationships with other similar accounts (early on) to gain additional visibility. Everything at the end of the day comes down to “trust”. When you build partnerships and alliances, you gain instant trust in the eyes of the fans of your partner. Use this strategy effectively.

Action Item: Find alliances you can partner with other accounts (your size) for the long term. Do not do blind shout-4-shout, as doing this a lot will make your account look “too promotional”. When I started @The.Naked.Soul account, I did some S4S (perhaps ten in total) but only after I had gained at least 1000 followers. And I never did s4s more than once a week, and rarely twice per week.

Tip: Post a lot of great content first. Gain followers. Aim to cross 1000 followers mark, or 500 (depending on your goal) and only then engage in #S4S. 

 

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

6. Free Giveaways & Challenges

Do free giveaways based on some sort of challenge, lucky draw or even better create a competition. Plan on doing something in the next 7-10 days. No worries, trust me, give it a try. Once you have created some giveaway and/or challenge, track your performance. Write your case study and then share here in the comments.

Also, by doing these sort of thing you will get comfortable doing any future promotional event. If you are a writing account, consider organizing 8 words or 9 words poetry contests or week-long poetry challenge. Try anything new and creative. Give it a twist.

This will not only engage people but also propel words about your account. Moreover, people always love free stuff. Remember, “free” is an effective marketing strategy. The more people participate, the more new followers you gain.

7. Ton Comments and DMs

Okay, so this is the last armament in our arsenal, but very important. Without this nothing will happen. To grow on Instagram you will have to expose your account (your media be it pictures, videos or even written quotes) in front of a large audience. This is humanly not possible. This is where steps 7 – 9  comes into play.

First, you need to start engaging with real people out there. Nothing happens until you meet a few right people.

A few right Instagram friends and your comments start soaring which in turn draws other people and comment and engage in a conversation. You start commenting and building a relationship. Doing this consistently will get you cross 1000 followers mark easily.

However, if you are aiming for 100,000 followers or 1 Million followers, read on.

Next, you need a tool that you can automate to send Likes and comments on your behalf. Automated comments mostly come as spammy and therefore I do not recommend it.

Sending mass Likes is one easy way to expose your username to thousands of users on a daily basis. A lot of these users (whom you have given Likes) would check you by clicking on your username. On your profile if they find that they like your gallery or if you are an interesting person, they will follow you. Some of these people will be themselves interesting and you can follow them back.

There are three tools that I have used in the past to achieve this goal. They all work but the best two are:

1. Instamacro

2. Instagress

In this step, also remember to geo-tag your pictures as well as it will help people looking for users or pictures from a particular place find you. I used to geotag places around Boston but now I simply put my website in location.

This is another way users can see your home address without having the need to go to your bio page. (Please keep in mind, only a fraction of your followers will be checking your bio after they have followed you. So if you have a website, make sure to take advantage of geo-tagging.)

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account. % of pictures with geolocation

8. Engage with your Competitor’s Followers

Next, as mentioned above, you need some power users. Users those are actively engaging with the content similar to yours. One of the best ways to find such active users is by looking at the comments on the pictures of your closest competitors. Read the comments, reply to a few of the commenters.

This strategy works best when the account is so large that they ignore all the comments/commenters all together. But people ask questions in the comments all the time. This is your opportunity. Answer the unanswered questions. Â Actively engage with these audiences.

Remember they are the power users. These people have already shown interest in the niche that you are part of. Turn your competitors’ followers into your followers.

How do you do this? There are four things that you can do:

a. Follow some of these users

b. Like their photos (if they are public accounts)

c. Comment on their photos, ask questions, appreciate, talk

d. Send a Direct message (talk about why you think you guys are similar)

 

The more you engage, the more output you’ll get. Above all, never forget that you are dealing with human beings with feelings and emotions. In execution of any of these strategies, do not do anything rash. Keep patient, go slow and keep reasonable goals. Over time your account (business or personal) will grow.

9. Sponsored Posts, Product Reviews, Shout Outs

Now we come to the most important strategy. All the above-mentioned strategies will bring you the result but not at a pace which can make your account cross 100K followers in 6 months or 12 months. To really create a big Instagram follower, you would need a shout out from a big account or better many big accounts.

These endorsements, or call it sponsored post can be free or paid. The way you can have a big account give you a shout out is by sending your product for their review. They get a free gift and they post a picture of your yours or your product with your account name in their caption and boom! There you go!

This is where you start making a measurable impact. You need to DM and/or email to other, larger accounts in your niche, exposing your brand to their audience.

So how do you do that?

First, make a list of all the large accounts in your niche. (Usually 10K-300K). Leave accounts with millions of followers for now as they will most likely not hear to your request or their cost will be beyond your humble budget.

Second think beyond your niche. If you are a flower business, think of gardens, love poetry and other flower related domains.

Third, make sure you are already following these accounts, if not, follow them before you reach out to them.

Fourth, find their email address and email them. If email is not available, DM them and also comment and ask your question that you have a question how can you contact them.

When you finally do get a hold of them, ask them if they would like to receive your product for review. Tell them that you think they will like it and you have following them for some time now and you can guess if this would be a nice thing for them to try, read, apply, review, etc.

Second, ask them their sponsored post pricing. This is to be asked even if you are giving away a free product. Especially, if the account is above 100K followers, ask them. Smaller accounts will give you a shout out for no cost but larger accounts might charge you since they might be getting similar pitches from other people as well.

Third, depending on the size of their audience, stick to $19-$49 per post shout out/endorsement.

10. Instagram Tools for Productivity

There are hundreds of tools out there that can help you and your Instagram strategy. In this post I mentioned five key ones help you build your audience and engaged them.

1. IconoSquare (formally Statigram)- An app that provides analytics and insights into your account, followers and much much more. (All the screenshots and pictures inserted in this post is taken from IconoSquare)

2. Schedugram – Schedule your Instagram post for the most engaging times. If you have trouble finding times to make posts on Instagram, this tool is your savior.

3. Webstagram – A tool to find the best hashtags for your posts and people for your sponsored/endorsement posts. When you do a search for particular keywords, Webstagram will also show you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.

My Plans for the next 6 months

Okay, so what’s next for me personally. As I said earlier, all the above-mentioned strategies are the tested ways to grow your followers count or to grow your brand engagement score.

However, as I have started to give more time to this blog, I have become more passive towards my Instagram growth. But, I want to change that. I do want to blog more frequently but not at the cost of slowing down my Instagram growth rate. So this is what I am going to do in the next 6 months.

1. I have not taken advantage of Sponsored posts (even though I have seen it since day one). I am going to make a list of big accounts (50K – 400K) and them send them a copy of my book and artworks and will ask for a free or paid shout out.

2. I am going to restart using Instagress/Instamacro. I used them for the most part of my earlier growth but then stopped using it. So, I will be reusing the auto-Likes feature. I am not so sure about the auto-comments at this time.

3. I am going to blog more frequently. This way I am gaining exposure that is beyond Instagram. This will also lead to further growth on my Instagram.

4. I’ll start pre-scheduling my Instagram posts. My goal is to post more frequently. My current average post frequency is 1.5 posts a day. I want to increase it to 4 posts a day.

5. I’ll keep following and taking advantage of all of the above 1-10 steps, tools and techniques.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Have you used any of the tools mentioned in the post today? If you know of any other strategies to hack Instagram super growth that I have missed here, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use my strategies, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

The Future Of Publishing & Two Free Audiobooks For You

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of publishing. Indie authors and traditionally published writers talk about this all the time.

The future of publishing is one of the favorite dinner table talks for anyone related to the business of ink and white papers.

Today you cannot read a single interview of a big name author and not having seen the overly used question, “..according to you, what is the future of publishing? Where do you see it going by 2020?”

Print and Digital

Well, first of all, there is no denying that a great shift is happening towards digital publishing and the landscape of publishing is changing dramatically. But there is also another fact, that it is almost impossible to predict the future.

We can correctly guess a few things that are going to happen but we cannot say for sure if the printed books will die or if the printing business will change completely. After reading almost anything (and everything) on this subject matter, here is my short summary attempting to answer the million dollar question.

Also, below the bullet point summary, I also present the powerful tools from Amazon that you should use (if you are not already using it).

The Future of Publishing & Books

Besides the obvious things that we all can guess, here are my 29 specific observations on the future of ink, book, and publishing.

1. Self-publishing will continue to rise as the de-facto route to publishing new content.

2. We’ll see more highly specialized books mainly as eBooks (for example, a book dedicated to just one insect, or a book on “Sailing in the Bay of Bengal”, etc).

3. Book pre-orders (both print and eBook) will now determine the authors those who would hit the Bestseller Lists.

4. After a few years, once a lot of people have flooded the bestseller lists of some sort, bestseller lists and that tag will mean less and less. Consumers will buy books from authors they love or topics they want to explore or read about. Best seller name tag would mean somewhat but it will lose its charm.

5. eBook retailers will embrace self-published authors. (this is already happening)

6. Book Size (page, dimension, print run, etc) will no longer matter in the book publishing world. One size will, however, will matter most — the size of one’s audience.

7. Amazon’s power and reach will keep growing. Today, almost 70-80% of all eBooks sales happen on the Kindle platform. The more people read books in the electronic form, the bigger the Kindle and the Kindle app business will get.

8. Amazon will offer free books but will charge for the book recommendation. Amazon already knows a lot about its customers and what kind of books people buy. The recommending engine (and A.I) will be the key, notifying a customer when a new book by a favorite author comes out, and so on.

In an era where the consumer is the king, Amazon gets it and is clearly winning by a huge margin. Traditional publishers won’t even come close.

9. Audiobooks sales will increase. Audio books will become popular as more and more people have less time and more books to read. People are commuting long distances for work and as more and more people are getting into the gym, audio books are gaining big time. Plus, audio books (when produced well has its own charm).

10. Also, as more and more people grow tired of reading on screen and feel tired in their eyes they will switch to audio books. As you get older or during your peak years, you would like to spend the time building something instead of sitting with a thick book. People age between 25-45 will be the biggest Audio-book customers.

11. Podcast will see an increase (for the same reason as mentioned above). Most people listen to Podcast on their phone when they drive to work or at the gym.

12. Traditional publishers will begin building relationships with their loyal readers. They will start offering gifts, giveaways, and will lower the book prices to match up with the competition.

13. Traditional publishers (just like the Indie writers) will enter into Podcasting, TV, Blogging, and radio.

14. Hybrid self-publishing (or smaller vanity press) will be a whole new market. Although Vanity press has been in existence for as long as publishing has been flourishing. But the hybrid businesses we are talking about are the ones which will prove on-demand customized services, for example, help with marketing or help with cover design and artwork/illustrations only.

15. People will slowly, slowly being to think Piracy is good. Some piracy will be advocated and will be a sign of demand of a certain sincere voice. Authors will take piracy as testing the waters and as positive signals from the masses.

16. The print books will not die. They will sell less (because of the increase in eBooks and Audio books) but print will remain in demand.

17. College text books will become cheaper and more students will start publishing eBook format of guides, exam papers, text book solution guides, etc.

18. Big name authors will sell their books directly from their website. (Often as an eBook and Print-on-demand (POD).

19. Free books will no longer bring you new readers. There will be a ton of great free books already flooding the market. The number one thing for all writers will be developing a sincere authentic voice and building their platform (their tribe).

20. Many fiction writers will publish their novels as chapters first on their blog. If by chapters 4 or 5, readers show interest, the author might turn the rest of the book as an eBook and offer up for sale. If the readers are lukewarm, the writer may just publish his entire novel for free on his/her blog as a way to attract new visitors.

21. Developing countries and African countries will become a big market for books published in the English language – good fiction, self-help non-fiction, medicine, technology, business, etc will be the most in demand.

22. Smart writers will start taking advantage of the subscription model and this will drive more people to read more books in the years ahead.

23. New copyrights laws will be made regarding print and digital books or any content for that matter.

24. More books will be written as joint-projects involving two or more writers (including fiction). This will be mainly done to gain more exposure in order to sell more books. Multi-authorship will become the norm.

25. Word-of-mouth will become the only channel that will actually sell any book (in decent volume) as consumers get flooded with thousands of new books published every day.

26. More people will read. Contrary to the belief, more people will read and consume some sort of print or digital text. Whether you are reading a poem on Instagram or a micro-story on Twitter. People who never touched books will be consuming books in bits and pieces. This is good.

27. The biggest authors will have their most money made by selling the film rights and not from the author’s royalties. Similarly, the smaller writer will make the most money from speaking engagements and consulting than from their book sales.

28. Some of the new best selling authors will come from the countries we have not heard of before.

29. There will be a lot more great creative stories and overall the quality of literary fiction will improve.

For example, The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter will not be the only magical books or work of great fiction. We have already seen this shift happen with The Game of Thrones.

The Power of Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest book retailer. These are some simple hacks that you should already be taking advantage of.

   

1. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. Then after the free 30 days, join it. The amazon prime service cost $99 per year and it gives you five unique benefits.

a. Unlimited FREE two-day shipping (no minimum order size) – yes from a single book order to ordering your supplements or anything imaginable.

b. Borrow Kindle books for free (once per month)

c. Instant Film/Video – Prime members can watch over 40,000 movies (and the list is growing) thousands of movies and thousands of TV shows at no additional cost.

Join Amazon Prime – Watch Over 40,000 Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now (Click Here)

d. Music -Prime Music provides unlimited, ad-free access to Prime Playlists and more than a million songs and albums at no additional cost.

e. Photo Storage – Prime Photos provides unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with an additional 5GB of free storage space for active Prime members in the U.S.

One bonus benefit

If you tell your friends about Amazon Prime and if they join and make a $5 purchase, you’ll $5 towards your next purchase.

Once you join, you can refer to your friends via email or simply share on Facebook or social media.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Click Here)

2. Students Listen – Amazon Student FREE two-day shipping for college students.

Best of all try it for FREE for the first 30 days. Then move on to the paid membership. Your student membership program offers special benefits such as:

a. Unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping (with no minimum order size)

b. Exclusive deals and promotions (month to month)

 

Join Amazon Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students (Click Here)

3. Try Audible 30 days FREE and Get Two Free Audiobooks

As mentioned above, these days more and more people are listening to Audio books. It is easy to read more and finish up books faster when you listen an audio book while you drive or cook or are exercising.

Switch between print books and audio version and read a lot of content faster. Also, we absorb information differently when it comes to visual vs. listening.

For maximum retention, it is great to listen to a book and then read it or vice-versa. For example, I loved listening to Stephen King’s book “On Writing” in his own voice. What a delight to listen to someone whom you admire.

Audible offers the world’s largest selection of digital audio-books and spoken word content. You can listen anytime and anywhere to professionally-narrated audio-books across a wide range of genres.  

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (Click Here)

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

If you have an interesting and inspirational story to share regarding how you are leveraging the power of Amazon, please email me. (As I find more pointers, I will add them to my list.) Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

The Naked Soul Podcast: Full Human Potential, Daily Growth, Lifestyle Design

Naked Soul Podcast Launch

Hello friends, Naked Soul tribe members, fans, RSS feed subscribers, VIP email club subscribers, and casual blog visitors! Good morning, happy Friday. What a glorious, sunny Friday it is. How are you doing today?

Today’s post is a great and happy news for everyone because I am starting something which will help us all to connect with one another at a deeper level and take our Naked Soul community and tribe to the next level of storytelling.

After giving it a thought for almost over two years, I have finally decided to start a Podcast of my own. This is an exciting news for me. I hope it will be an exciting news for you as well. Why? For those of you not familiar with the term, “Podcast” simply means a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading or playing just like the radio.

So, when you are driving or doing a long commute for work, travel or business or whether you are in gym or just walking for miles, you have now something substantial to tune into and listen and grow (spiritually, mentally, intellectually and financially).

If you are mentally tired of listening to Pop songs on radio or bored of your music playlist, guess what, we can talk to each other now. That is what a Podcast means. And best of all, 90% of podcast users use podcast on their phone while driving or exercising.

I am thinking of creating these Podcasts as a series, new installments of which can be received automatically by subscribing on iTunes, etc.

Okay, so what do I want you to know and do next?

To kickstart, I am thinking of doing a lot of interviews to find out what makes a person “successful and happy”. For the first series, I am looking for anyone who started with nothing and is now making a living higher than the national average and is happy with his/her current state of life. I am also looking for people to talk to who are living a non-conventional lifestyle.

Well, success can be defined in many ways and if you have a story to tell, just email me through the Contact page on my blog. Let’s chat and let’s build our community into a strong tribe.

Moreover, if you went through a particular hardship, illness, earth-shattering breakups, were excommunicated from your religious or cultural group, or financially lost it all and re-started, I would love to hear your story as well. Trust me, your story has the potential to help so many who may be in your situation. Your words will spell healing and hope.

Email me and bless your soul for your heroic journey. If you fit the description, please comment, message, or email. I would love to interview you via skype or in person. After the interview, the transcript will be posted on the Naked Soul blog and the audio will be on iTunes.

Now, tell me, is it exciting? It IS to me. Very excited.

I am ready to talk to you. It’s going to be fun.

Here is the Title and Description of our Podcast.

The Naked Soul Talk Show: Full Human Potential | Daily Growth | Lifestyle Design

Welcome to The Naked Soul Talk Show with Salil Jha and Neha Rizal. Learn with us as we dig deeply into ways to initiate breakthroughs in our personal lives in relationships, careers, and body consciousness, discuss the law of success as it manifests in careers and finances, learn how to attain mastery of any skill, share rags to riches stories, and delve into what it means to have a purpose driven life and how to create one via lifestyle design (the 80-20 rule).

We have guests from all over the world from various ethnic, spiritual, educational, and cultural backgrounds. But all of them have one thing in common: the desire to be better than they were yesterday.

In this talk show, we will explore how to realize measurable self-growth and manifest success by turning your dreams into goals and eventual realities. Build your own inner-GPS. Create a map for a success-lifestyle: plenty of time with family, and no bosses, no alarm clocks dictating your day, instead indulgence in creative pursuits and the enjoyment of a free life, passionately lived.

The Naked Soul is a place where we transform our “Daily Grinds” story into a “Daily WIN” story. Our goal is to empower each listener so that they live their full human potential.

Are you ready to kickstart your soul-evolution and become world class?

 

Key Themes (that describe the show):

Arts, poetry, literature, books, sex, aesthetic, peace, prayer, empowerment, education, family, culture, spiritual, evolution, passion, creativity, career, finance, business, skills, mastery, talk-show, chat-show, podcast, goals, achievement, win, soul, manifest, success, dreams, unconscious mind, full human potential, transform, world.

an old microphone for podcasting

 

The Naked Soul Podcast Series

Hosted by Salil Jha and Neha Rizal An extensive library of over 200 timeless conversations from the popular authors, bloggers, fitness coaches, spiritual mentors and successful entrepreneurs. Sign up and tune in for wisdom and insight from the leading thinkers, writers, teachers, and explorers of our modern time.

Topics Covered

  • Addiction and Overcoming Addictions
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Authorprenuership
  • Aging and Longevity
  • Altered States of Consciousness
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Archetypes
  • Astrology, Human Design, and the Enneagram
  • Self-Awareness
  • Biofeedback and the Quantified Self
  • Body Awareness
  • Zen
  • Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Cognition
  • Compassion
  • Consciousness
  • Cosmology and the Universe
  • Creativity and the Creative Process
  • Dance and Self Expression
  • Death and Dying
  • Dreams and Dreaming
  • Evolution
  • Exercises/Fitness
  • Feminism
  • Futurism
  • Gaia
  • Global Awareness
  • Healing
  • Holographic Model of Reality
  • Hypnosis
  • Imagery and Mandala
  • Intuition
  • Jungian Psychology
  • Language Learning
  • Leadership Theories and Best Practices
  • Literature
  • Magic and Illusions
  • Time Management and Lifestyle Management
  • Metalearning (Learning How to Learn)
  • Martial Arts, Budo, and The Tao
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Memory Enhancement
  • Metaphysics
  • Mind-Body Connection
  • Music and Creative Expression
  • Mysticism and Mythology
  • Paradigm Shift
  • Parapsychology and Psychic Abilities
  • Peak Performance
  • Perennial Philosophy
  • Personal Development and Self Help
  • Personality Types
  • Poetry
  • Prejudice and Race
  • Psychedelics and Drugs
  • Psychology and Psychotherapy
  • Quantum Physics
  • Relaxation (Mind, Body, Heart and Soul)
  • Rituals and Habits
  • Science and Space
  • Sexuality and Eroticism
  • Shamanism and Native People 
  • Social Awareness
  • Spiritual Teachers and Mentors
  • Spirituality
  • Stress Management
  • Sufism
  • Synchronicity
  • Tantra
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Transformation and Self Growth
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • The Unconscious, Super-conscious and Sub-conscious
  • Yoga
  • Health and Fitness
  • Writing

 

Please, do not forget to email me via the Contact page if you would like to share your story with the world. It does not have to be grand, it just have to be heroic or interesting or fun. And trust me, don’t compare your story with mass media out there. You DO HAVE a good story to tell. Well, email me. Let’s start there.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

If you are interested in this Podcast and would like to be a guest, please shoot me an email via Contact Page. If you have an interesting and inspirational story to share, please email me. If you are shy and would rather talk via email, no worries, just email your story and I’ll get back to you and we’ll chat. I would love to hear from you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.
 

Read Next

How To Get Out Of $50,000 Debt | Tips On How To Overcome A Large Debt

 

Part One of a Three Parts Series

Every time I have lost money is when I have tried to make more money than what I was already making. ~ Salil Jha

Week 1

I have been hit hard (twice now). I have got an IRS bill for $17,000. This needs to be paid in 30 days. Five months ago, I got a similar tax bill from IRS asking for $8000 in various taxes. I took a loan from my girlfriend and paid $8000 thinking it was a big fat check for an expensive business lesson. I thought to myself, I have already learned a lot in my various business venture. But, unfortunately, this was just the beginning.

This is a story of resilience, positivism and making lemonade out of life’s lemons. This is my story. A true story. A story of an immigrant boy trying to chase his American Dream and the mistakes made on his perilous journey.

I started an IT consulting business in Oct 2011. My primary goal to start Precog LLC (the name of the company) was to generate some side income and possibly grow the business to enough profit so that I eventually sponsor my H1B visa and Green Card through it while making good cash.

The goal was also to help recent college grads to find jobs and help them in whatever way possible. There were a lot of bad and abusive companies in the IT consulting realm and our goal was to purge the abuse of innocent and poor college students.

The company was started by Albert Pen, my good friend and me. The company was incorporated in his name, the same month he got his Green Card. I was the man running the engine. Albert was the legal structure beneath our company.

One thing that I did not mention yet is that Precog was not originally conceived as an IT consulting firm.

The groundwork of Precog started in early 2010 when two of my good friends and I thought of building an electronic stretching machine. Our ideas was to make stretching easier to learn for martial artists, yogis, gymnasts, and any fitness enthusiasts.

But, one of my friends had another idea, a rather big idea to build flying drones and sell the idea to state governments.

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

Look, back in 2010, a Canadian company was in fact building and selling drones (UAVs) to DC police. Their product was in $20,000 USD and we wanted to build something for half the price.

We started to work on the first prototype, leaving the electronic stretcher idea on the back burner. As we got more involved in our overly ambitious project, all of us started to realize that we need more capital than what we had initially planned for.

Together we spent $6500 into the project and as you can probably predict from the story line, we lost it all. One of my friend who has spent into a powerful computer took his computer and factoring that still lost about $1000. I lost about $3000 in this failed venture.

So this was the beginning of Precog. And this Precog was about to be transformed into a service-oriented company where you do not have to invest a lot of cash up front.

The Precog LLC Era

I worked very hard building Precog. I created a website for our company and began to advertise our services. Soon, I had several interested students calling me for IT training and assistance in job placements.

I started to teach classes, often charging $500 for each student per course. Initially, I was mainly working with recent college graduates.

The first 6 months were tough. Not for the business but tough on me. I was working a full-time job and I was running Precog part-time. I used to wake up early at 6 AM, do a training session, then get ready for the job.

During my lunch hours, I used to call and screen my students and answer to new inquiries. In the evening, after returning from my job, I used to take another class, sometimes two classes in a row.

I was working with various vendors. I was working with my students over the phone to prepare them for job interviews. I was talking to clients and other marketers. It was an all-consuming job. I believe I used to work ~16 hours a day, maybe longer on some days.

In the first 10 months, I invested almost $10,000 USD without much return. This was the turning point for Precog. It was “do or die”.

One of my friend, Matt Joy, who was trying to find a job came onboard during this time. Matt took charge for saving Precog. He was Godsent. Precog not only survived but actually thrived after Matt joined the team. Soon, we hired a marketer from India. His name was Daniel. And now we were a strong team of three, making some real cash.

The $750,000 Venture

We placed more than a dozen consultants between 2012-2014. We trained a lot of students. We were making some noise. This was late 2012. Things were looking sunny. We did over $500,000 in revenues in 2013 alone. In total, we did almost $750K in business in two and a half years of Precog’s life.

The business was doing great but my mind and body wanted to give up. I was single and occasionally dating. I thought to myself, business and money can come anytime but this is the time to find my life’s partner. My focus shifted from business and money to relationships.

2013 was hard on me personally. None of my relationships were lasting more than 3months. Matt was getting frustrated with me because he was all pumped up and wanted to take Precog forward. I, on the other hand, was distracted between dating and running a company.

I did not have the energy or interest in doing so. By this time I also began to realize the tax and accounting complications that Precog was facing. We had consultants working in 8 different US States.

All the tax paperwork in itself was 20 hours of work per week. The stakes were high, money was rolling in, and the business was getting complex.

 

Week 2

This past week, I have been thinking of ways to repay my $50K debt. The breakdown of my current debts are like this:

$18000 IRS/Business Dissolving Cost

$14000 – Girlfriend’s loan

$18000 – Credit cards debt

—————————–

$50,000  Total debt

 

This past week, I canceled some small monthly payments (to stop the slow bleeding). Subscriptions such as Spoitfy premium, TU Credit Monitoring and Audible membership were the first three to go.

These small monthly savings will not amount in big numbers but it is for the motivational purposes. These steps gave the mental confidence that “I CAN DO IT.” And I have 2 years to clean this mess up without significantly downgrading my lifestyle.

I am not giving up on music, reading or financial know-how. Instead, I am switching to Pandora’s free account, switching to Kindle eBooks (much cheaper) and Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring. I do not have any upcoming big purchases or loan request so I really do not need any credit monitoring at this time.

Next, I gave ultimatums to all other people I have employed on eLance for blog writing, manuscript editing, etc. This is going to save me $140 per month starting May 1st.

However, I have decided to keep one editor to edit my two upcoming books and one Virtual Assistant to help me grow my public platforms. In total, this is $200 per month expense. It is important to note that these costs are not new addition but the continuation of on-going expenses so I won’t feel a blow but will have to suffer the heat, well at least for now, until I find a better solution for my requirements.

I took advantage of Citi double points credit card offer. This will let me use $1700 credit for next 18 months without any interest.

I applied in my girlfriend’s name and got another $6700 for 21 months at no interest. These two credit cards will give me enough credit to use for the next one and half years.

In the coming months, I will be paying off all my existing credit cards where I also pay interests on purchases and existing balance. This way I’ll be saving $30-$40 in interest each month.

My girlfriend and I also applied to TD Bank’s checking, debit and credit offer which is offering $200 cash back and 5x points per dollar spent for the next 6 months. Together, we both will be able to get $600-$1000 back from TD bank’s offer in next 6 months. In the coming months, we will be looking for similar bank offers where we can earn or save a few hundred bucks.

The $10,000 credit union loan that I applied, I am still waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I applied for a $10,000 loan from my local Credit Union in my girlfriend’s name as well. If she will get a better rate from the Quincy Credit Union, we will take the loan in her name with Direct deposit payments. I’ll be transferring the monthly amount to her.

 

The other things I have decided to do are:

1. Call Xfinity and cancel the service in my name and get the service in my girlfriend’s name. Being a new customer, she will be getting better rates than what I am paying right now. If she gets the same rate, then I will cut the TV in our package and only keep the high-speed internet. This will bring in additional $20 monthly saving.

2. Once the free APR Citi credit card arrives, buy a new router and model through our new credit card and ask Xfinity to take off their rented Modem and Router. ($10/month savings)

3. Ask my employer to take off my health insurance ($397/month). Expected savings $280 per month.

Total monthly savings: ~$350 – $500 (per month)

In part 3, I’ll be focusing on selling old iPhones and other electronic devices that we are not using. Also, how meal planning and bringing lunch from home is saving me additional $200 in foods by not eating out.  My goal for part 3 write up (next week) is to save another $350 – $500 each month.

Week 3

Now, I am at a phase where action means more than planning. I have prepared a very detailed plan and now it is all about execution. The key here is quick action.

The first thing I did was email my website hosting company that I will be shutting down Precog’s website (i.e. $375 per year saving). I also listed both the domain and website for sale and auction on both GoDaddy and Flippa. I hope to at least sell the domain name and recover whatever I can from the sale.

I also listed my other domain names for sale which I am not using or plan on using in the next 2 years. In total, I have put five domain names on sale.

Next, I emailed MyLLC (the registrar for Precog LLC) that I would like to dissolve the business. There are some paperwork and a $99 fee. I am working on it and hope to close the business by April end. I found out that I have not paid my 2014 fee for NV and there were several other interests and penalties. In total, I paid $500 due on Precog since Oct 2014. Another $500 bill added to the debt bucket.

My girlfriend and I went to Quincy Credit Union and signed our loans. I borrowed $12,500.00 at 12.65% interest rate on 24 months repayment term and my girlfriend borrowed $7000 at 11.65% interest rate on 12 months repayment term.

I hope to repay this amount back in 24 months and 12 months respectively. I am setting aside $1200 to pay back these two loans. Starting month 13, I will continue paying $1200/month to QCU towards my $12500 loan to cut the time short and save on interest.

The next day I transferred $14000 to Albert and asked him to deposit the amount in Precog’s account. We have $3000 plus change in Precog’s business account and this will take care of the check that we will write to IRS.

I opened all my Credit Cards account and organized my balances and interest rates. I found an interesting thing. I had Credit Cards ranging in 11.15% – 23% interest. Since my big loans are in 11.65% – 12.65% range, I decided to pay off all Credit Cards which is charging me > 12.65%.

Luckily, my girlfriend does not carry any debt on her credit cards and therefore we do not have to factor in any cash there. After looking at all our credits, this is the summary.

Pay Citi, US Bank, and Chase in full and stick with Capital One (11.15%) and Discover (15%). Since the bulk of my credit card debts are consolidated in my Discover card (~11000), I have no other choice but to keep the debt there for now.

This past weekend, I started to find out all the electronic junk and books that I do not need and gathered a pile of items to be sold. I listed both our old iPhone 4S, two old digital cameras, and 2 books.

I have about 20 more books to put. At the time of writing this, I have already sold both iPhones (within 12 hours of listing on Amazon for $95 + shipping) and one book (The Art of War by Robert Greene) for $8 + shipping. I’ll continue to do this until I am rid of all the things that I do not need, use or have touched in a year or so.

Also, anything that I am not using and does not need and that cannot be sold, I will simply donate or throw away.

Keeping your home and mind clean and organized helps you in better managing your debts. I mean, it is not scientific but it works for me and few others.

I called home and explained the situation to my parents and discussed my options with my elder brother. They were stressed by the news but after talking for about half-hour, everyone got calm understanding that the situation is under control.

We continued the meal prep on Sunday and this is our third week on meal planning. I believe, meal-planning itself is saving us ~ $300-$400 each month by not eating out our lunch and dinners.

Meal planning is not only effective to save lunch dollars but also dinners. And when you do eat out, for most of the nights, you can eat at Panera and Chipotle. Note, you have to avoid restaurants because you pay for the meal and then you pay tips and end up getting drinks. So sticking to Chipotle/Panera type food joints works best.

Last week, I also called my employer and canceled my Health Insurance ($397/month pre-tax dollars). I have been on health insurance from January –  March.

If I go out of it (I understand it is a risk but it is a calculated risk that I am willing to take). By going out of health insurance, I will incur MA state tax penalty in 2016 for 9 months.

This fine will be half of the premium amount of the cheapest health insurance. By paying a fine 12 months from now and by paying it far less than what I am spending on health insurance is a better choice for me.

After taxes, this might increase my paycheck by $300 per month. I will also try to take advantage of 3 months no-penalty gap period between health insurance enrollment periods. This way I will buy cheap health on my own in 2016 and not have 3 months of coverage.

I have always had health insurance and therefore I am up-to-date with my physical, dental, vision, and everything. I feel, going out of health insurance for say 12 months is risky but worth the bet given my miserable financial situation.

I called and email all my friends to whom I have loaned money. I explained my situation and they started to pay back. I got $330 from Norm Matthews and $140 from Sean Attitude.

Tim Robert said he will try to pay me back $1410 as soon as possible and Bill Tequila said he would like to pay me back $800 loan from last year. Â In total, this will bring me $2680 in cash. I’ll use this extra cash to pay off the high-interest credit card debts or my income tax liabilities once I do my taxes for 2014 this coming week.

I have ~ $250 in my OptionHouse stock brokerage account. I have to make a decision whether I liquidate my remaining position and get out or leave the money there. $250 is not a big amount. A hard thinking line for me but I hope to come to a decision very soon.

 

 

Week 4

I started this week with some excitement and joy of paying off three of my low balance (but highest interest rate) credit cards. In total, I paid off close to $3000 in outstanding debts. Doing this is going to save me $50 in monthly interest. I also canceled my PostPlanner subscription from May. This will save me $29 each month. Phew right there, just in one day I have saved myself another $80 each month.

 

I put aside these three credit cards (Citi Diamond Preferred, Amazon Chase Visa, and US Bank Visa) on my card box (and out of my wallet). I deleted these cards from all recurring payments and moved all automatic monthly payments to my Discover Visa and Capital One Master Cards.

As of today, all of my credit card debt now reside in three cards: One Citi Double Cash (0% interest, a new card that I applied and got), a Discover card (holding the biggest portion of my debt, almost $12000 at 15% interest) and one CapitalOne card (11.15% interest, the cheapest card in my wallet).

 

I mailed $10,000 check to IRS by a 2-day priority mail so that it can reach on Monday, 04/13. I wrote a letter, signed it and sent it along with all the forms and supporting documents proving my unintentional mistake.

In my letter, I basically requested IRS to forgive my penalty (~ $2500) and to add back my educational credit of $1415. I’ll call IRS in 10 days and check on its progress. If I receive some financial breakdown, it will help.

If I do not receive any financial breakdown, Albert will take on the missed education credit payoff and I’ll pay off the rest of the balance within 5 business days once we hear back the final word from IRS.

Lastly, it is worthy to note that for the past few weeks, I have been tracking all of my expenses in an excel sheet across 50 different areas. This sheet as I continue to fill in and track my daily expenses has been mind-blowing.

For example, even after doing meal-planning, I have spent almost $500 on eating out while my grocery expenditures have been only $125 so far.

This is 4:1 ratio. This clearly shows that there is a lot of room for cost cutting and improvement. I hope to update on this after 8 weeks of tracking. I am sure, I’ll discover surprising findings.

Money you can earn and spend but time – time is a finite resource. You can’t borrow it, you can’t store it. It moves only in one direction and there is only a finite amount that you have got. To be successful, while in debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. ~ Salil Jha

Week 5

IRS cashed my $10K Precog tax check on 04/15, that’s good news. Who would call loss of $10K a good news? Well, when you have messed up and there is no way out, any little progress (similar to drinking bitter medicine to cure illness).

Now, this IRS bill is not something that I should have paid because, overall, it was indeed a net loss. What went wrong is that during the tax filing, we did not show enough expenses thinking we have already saved on taxes (once our tax due became $0).

We stopped and did not add any further expenses. And now, after IRS did an audit and a match on our revenue, they came up with additional $40,000 in our 2013 income and since we were $9000 in the loss, after doing the simple math, made a decision that our net profit in 2013 was $31000.

This $31K was then taxed at a higher rate (sort of understatement tax penalty) and assessed a Self-Employment tax of 15% (which is ridiculously high). 

Anyways, let’s move forward with our story. I called Discover Personal Loan to check if I can take a loan to pay off my remaining Credit Cards and lower my interest payments.

I qualified for $15K loan at 11.99% and paid off my remaining Credit Cards. After a while, I will seek to refinance this loan again at a lower interest rate, say between 8-9%. How?

Since consolidating your credit card debt into one personal loan often helps in credit score within a few months. This is one reason that I did not try to move my one credit card balance to another credit card with 0% APR.

The goal for me here is to not only eliminate debt (by changing my spending habits) but also to improve my credit score which in turn will open up future opportunity to further lower my interest payments and therefore the overall debt burden.

 

At the time of writing this:

My total credit card debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

My IRS debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

Loan from my girlfriend = $14000

My other loans: $34500

Quincy Credit Union (in my name) = 12,500 ($595 per month x 24 months)

Quincy Credit Union (in my girlfriendâ€s name) = $7000 ($620 per month x 12 months)

Discover Personal Loan (in my name) = $15000 ($690 per month x 24 months)

Quick Maths

So, as you can see from week 2 (above: my total debt amount roughly remains the same. $48500 instead of $50,000 but now at least I have put up a plan to pay it off in 24 months without changing my employment or sacrificing too much on my lifestyles.

However, my game plan has just begun.

Continue Selling

I continue to sell my electronic gadgets and equipment that I do not use. Books sell as well but they bring on a very little amount of change (when we are talking about $50K).

I sold our two old iPhones (4S) for $200. Tim paid back $500 to me (actually just today). Tim still needs to return me $1115.

I have deposited $7500 in Precog’s business bank account just to wrap up Precog and pay off the remaining bill to IRS.

Both I and my girlfriend received our TD Bank cards this last week which is giving us $200 cash back for spending $500 in first 90 days. We have switched all of our expenses (and subscriptions and/or automatic payments) to TD card to meet $500 threshold.

On the flip side, last week, we also did our personal taxes and ended up paying $5000 and $900 to IRS and $52 and $200 in State Tax to Massachusetts (my girlfriend and I, respectively).

She had to pay a lot of federal tax because of how her I9 and W4 was set up with her ex-employer. She has had already anticipated and planned for high tax amount and therefore these taxes did not affect us financially.

Nevertheless, this was a lot of money going out of our bank accounts. At the end of the day, after paying over $6100 in taxes, we felt broke looking at our checking account balance.

Weeks 6-8

This past three weeks I have been selling my older books and other non-necessity items on Amazon and as a Garage sale in my building. I sold a few electronics toys to my friends and colleagues at work.

I am currently enjoying $0 in Credit Cards debt. As I mentioned above as of today my credit score has jumped from 670 to 720. Having a loan is actually a good thing for the Credit report and not having a Credit card debt is also one of the best things you can do regarding your personal finance.

At this rate, I hope within 6 months, I’ll be able to take loan offers at a much lower rate than what Discover is currently giving me (11.99%).

Conclusion & Next Steps

I’ll end the first part of this story here. I’ll have a second blog post on it with more details in 6 months. We’ll revisit my total financial debt and what new measure I am employing to get rid to the single penny.

Hope this post has been inspirational, motivational and educational in some regards.

Remember, to be successful, to get out of your debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. This is a blessing in disguise. You will get to exercise all the creative brain cells if there is such a thing inside the human skull.

You have to make sure that you are not losing time by missing out on good opportunities. Remember there is a thing called “opportunity cost”. You have to keep moving forward with time and not wait until you are out of debt.

I hope to shed some light on this topic in my next blog post as well. See you in six months.

If this blog post has been helpful to you or if you have faced a similar situation in the past, please DO SHARE your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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If you have tried any of above-mentioned methods and/or tactics to successfully get rid of debt (whether a small sum or large), please share your success story. Also if my post has made you laugh or helped you by motivating you or giving you a direction, I would love to hear from you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

7 Tips On How To Connect With Influencers | The Right Way To Introduce Yourself

Do want to know how to influence an influencer? In this short blog post, we’ll talk about 7 simple, easy-to-do, specific tips (and proven tactics) to help you connect with the influential people in your niche or any well-known expert you admire. 

Whether it is a celebrity, currently in the limelight or a fading star, yet impossible to reach out. You can meet and get in touch with almost anyone if you want to. Even the Mr. President (44th).

But first, let’s talk about who is an influencer? For our blog post, we will call a person an “Influencer” if they’re well respected and highly visible in their industry.

These are the highly successful people who have earned the trust of their audience (or readership) through the content they create and provide.

These are the people who have built their credibility as an “influencers” in their niche for some time. They are well known and they have millions of fans on social media and TV.

For example, Seth Godin and Neil Patel in the Marketing space, Maria Popova, and James Altucher in blogging, Tony Robbins in motivational speaking, Elon Musk in disruptive technology, and so on. The list goes on.

My point here is two-fold:

No. 1, there is no shortage of influencers in any industry.

No. 2, they come in all shape, size, and background. Some are well known by more or less anyone in the general public (example, Bill Gates for Philanthropy and Business) and some are well known in their specific niche but are largely unknown by the general masses (example, Pat Flynn in Podcasting on Passive income).

Nevertheless, an influencer’s blessing can take you or your cause to the next level. Be it a charity fundraising event or a new book that you are publishing or a tech start-up.

How To Connect With Influencers

1. Write about the Influencers whom you want to meet. Write in a newspaper, magazine or simply on your blog.
2. Email these Influencers how you have used their teachings and applied their methods and found success. Send them a success case-study.
3. Engage with them/comment/mention/follow when they do not even know you. Communicate with them on their social media. When they ask for feedback, be sure to leave one. If they are asking specific questions, be sure to answer them.
4. Find where these influencers are teaching and lecturing. A lot of the Influencers also guest speak or teach somewhere. Find out and attend their classes, conference or event. You’ll get plenty of opportunity at the event/class to introduce yourself.
5. Reach out to these Influencers (by email first) and tell them how can what you do can help them to solve a specific problem.
6. Volunteer and meet them where their heart is. If the person you are trying to reach out also happens to support a cause that you are equally passionate about, meet them there — where two hearts are united as one.
7. Organize an event and invite these Influencers to speak or present. Even better, tie it to a cause or charity or for education. For example, a college campus or a local town hall meeting. 

Say Yes to fear and Goodbye to comfort-zone.

I have met a lot of great and wonderful people by doing the above 7 steps. The names are not big enough to drop it here in this post but, let me openly challenge myself in front of the internet public and say this: I am going to follow the above 7 steps and meet some of the big names that I have mentioned in my blog.

Once, I have successfully made an introduction to them and have something more solid to show for, I’ll do a follow up blog post.

In the meantime, how about, some of you take my challenge as well. If you think you have a wonderful plan that will make this planet a better place for everyone, why not try to meet some of the Influencers in your field and share what you are doing to meet them.

Please share your thoughts and stories (success as well as failures) in the comment below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

If you have tried these methods and tactics to successfully introduce yourself to an Influencer, please share your success stories and how this has helped you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning | Accelerated Learning Tools, Templates & Methods

Rapid learning is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. Likewise being highly efficient and productive is also a skill and lifestyle habit that can be learned and integrated into one’s life.

Let’s talk about productivity first before we get into the world of #MetaLearning.

How To Learn Like A Machine

Understanding Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Effectiveness is getting greater or equal output for a given input. Efficiency is having a superior process so that for a given input the output is always exponentially greater.

Productivity 101

80% result with 20% work

1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minute).
2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

Meta Learning Explained

As with most things in life (or word), there is no one best thing or way. One technique might works for someone while another may prove helpful to another.

Also, ion our context of methods to learn faster, the best technique will also vary based on the subject at hand. For example, learning music or musical instrument is significantly different from learning investment strategies in the stock market.

The Word ‘Meta’

The word “meta” comes from Greek and it means “beyond” (or after). This is why we have words like Metaphysics (beyond conventional physics). Etc. Meta also means “self-referential”. In Computer Science, metadata means “data about data”. Metacognition means “cognition about cognition”.

 

Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin

Tim Ferriss‘ DiSSS and CaFE is a good method for learning cognitive tasks such as Language learning, Computer Science as well as for physical activities such as Archery and Brazilian Jujitsu.

Tim’s method is external, dismantling and then rebuilding, and effectiveness driven. This is explored in depth in his new book The 4-Hour Chef.

Josh Waitzkin‘s art of learning (meta learning) focuses on integration, transformation and channeling. His method included conscious unlearning (instead of ignoring).

Josh’s method is systematic but creativity driven. Josh explores his ideas in his autobiographical book The Art of Learning.

Best Rapid Learning Tools and Methods

In my own experience, I have learned 5 languages so far and I am currently learning Nepali (my 6th language).

I am a published poet and I’ve worked as a coder and as well as solar panel plasma depositor.

I am a black belt in Shotokan Karate and at the same time a start-up guy. I am a blogger and also work a full-time job. I have traveled to all 50 US States and 32 countries so far (as of 2019). So how am I managing all this within the constraint of the 24 hours that we all have?

I have utilized both DiSSS, CaFE and Josh’s Art of Learning principle. Moreover, what has worked for me is a combination of everything plus my own experiments as outlined below.

I learned SQL and programming from nothing. I learned dancing from not knowing how to move. True that I had a background in martial arts (a form of dance-like art) and true that I studied engineering and took a few computer languages class. But, still, in my own mind, I was a zero. How did I do that?

Learn fast and have fun in the process

An Effective Meta Learning Template

 

DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT BiTS

This can be further broken down into three layers (top, inner, and outer) of organized learning principles.

 

Layer 1 (The top layer): DR. BevO

Layer 2 (The inner layer): DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

Layer 3 (The outer layer): BiTS

 

The top layer: DR. BevO

Step 1: Deconstruct and Dissect.

This step is all about methodically breaking down a body of knowledge in order to study its internal parts and complex interconnection.

What is the minimum useful unit of knowledge? For a foreign language, it would be a word. For a programming language, it would be a syntax.

 

Step 2: Reference framework (to not reinvent the wheel)
Pick a reference framework. To learn a new skill, find out what one you already possess and if you have to teach it to someone totally new, how would you structure your classes and why?

For example, if I have to teach someone Martial Arts, I’ll start with the four most common kicks among the top four schools/styles. Learning most common (& effective) four kicks will put you in top 10% of fighters.

SQL or Programming – Most common functions, syntax and/or statements
Learning most common syntax and statements will make you query work 80% of the time.

Think first and think deep.

 

Find and study the “normal (i.e average)” and the “experts/masters/anomalies”. Ask these questions and write down the answers.

Question 1. What do the average people do?

Question 2. What the experts or master do not do that the average do?

Doing this will help you to determine:
– List for quick reduction
– The goal is to not become a master or mimic a master but to simplify so that you can enter first and then go on to conquer.

 

Step 3: Bird’s Eye View (View from 30,000 ft)
Look at the extreme and center. Do this to filter out whatever intimidates you. You can always come back to the additional learning materials later. Compress the most important 20% or so into a 30,000 ft map (to be used later).

A bird’s eye view map. This step is related to navigation and to correctly size your problem. This step is also to get a reality check. Once you know what you are up against it is easy to fight it by breaking it down into smaller conquerable pieces.

 

Step 4: Order

Order is to sequencing your learning material into modules (linear and later overlapping). In other words, what’s the most effective order for learning these parts that you broke down in step 1 – 3?

 

The inner layer: DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

This is the second layer of learning. Here it is all about putting the pieces together. This is the battleground. In layer one, you have done all the planning and you have made your strategies. Now, time for the action. Are you ready?

 

Step 1: Draw diagrams
Draw as many diagrams as many you can. Connect the dots. Connect the concepts together. Find correlation. Find overlap. Find opportunities for integration. Find the opportunity for improvements. Question and find the gaps.

The more you draw and trash and draw better knowledge diagrams, charts, and maps, the more efficient you will become at the application of your newly acquired knowledge. This will also help you with the next step.

An example:

Memory mindmap

 

Step 2: Memorization
Memorize the map. Memorize 20%. Memorize the syntax. Memorize the kicks. Memorizing in this step is about rapid memorization.

If some of the things do not make sense, still memorize. Slowly, slowly, you’ll learn to connect the dots. Do not worry about understanding the full theory here, just remember the most basic units of your learning material.

 

Step 3: Mental Maps

Creating mental maps is going a step further than drawing knowledge charts and diagrams. Mental maps are where you start to connect the dots between what you have understood so far. Mental maps also take advantage of your 30,000 ft view to help you understand what you need to do next to reach your ultimate goal. This map is the map for your beginning to end the journey.

Note, mental maps will keep refining as you get better in the application of what you have learned and when you start to understand what you have bluntly memorized.

 

Step 4: Cheat sheet (no bigger than one page)
This is to be made by you. Irrespective of how small or big this gets, you alone must create this. Again, as with the whole theory behind this method, you’ll keep refining your cheat sheet.

A cheat sheet is what you have learned. This contains mostly what you have not memorized and the essence of what you have memorized already. You can also prepare CliffsNotes of any books, articles, etc that deals with the skill that you are trying to learn.

An example of using a diagram to organize information

 

Step 5: Action (& Practice)
Action means to practice in real-time. This is where you get comfortable with the hands-on phase of any skill acquisition. This means real-time coding. This means kicking high. When in action phase, you are NOT to learn new things unless and until you have mastered the things that you have broken down so far.

(You can, however, dig deeper into what you are practicing if time permits.)

Remember iteration is the key concept. If you are learning SQL selects (for one database table) with group by, order by, and all the other basic SQL commands then until you are master in all the variations of select, do not jump to joins (selecting data from two or more database tables).

Practice with the diagrams you have drawn and the cheat sheet. Refine your diagram and cheat sheet as you make mistakes in action/practice phase. Also, needless to say, you are also modifying and improving your mental maps.

 

Step 6: Time it (Distributed learning)
Two things to do in this last phase. Time your learning window and then test yourself. By failing to remember or do something you’ll feel that internal kick which will make your brain in super-receptive mode. Remember, sometimes real learning happens when you have failed a test. So fail many times in mock tests before the real test comes.

Secondly, distribute your learning sessions. Rather than sitting whole night or two days straight, split your session. Do something fun in between or you may even play with something totally different. It is better to keep the primary focus on one difficult thing at once but you can surely have fun with something that does not require high cognitive energy.

Note, you learn well when you are enjoying your subject. That’s how you get into that flow state. And to enjoy your subject, you need that mental energy. You do not want to be fatigued.

 

The outer layer: BiTS

This is the third layer of learning. You need only one of the following three. If you can do more than one, even better. But you must have at least one of these to keep you in accountable and interested in the game. Make learning fun, make it a game.

 

Step 1: Buddy system
Having a buddy whether it is programming or martial arts helps you quiz one another, challenge one another and therefore learn faster. The more fun a new adventure is, the faster you master it.

 

Step 2: Teaching
Find someone whom you can teach what you have learned and what you might not have learned. Teaching others is one the fastest way to learn something yourself. If you cannot find someone to teach, teach yourself. Play a mind game with yourself. Quiz yourself and answer to yourself.

 

Step 3: Stakes

This is all about staying in the game long enough to reap rewards for your hard work. Too many people quit a new skill after some trying because they feel it is not worth it. First thing to note here.

1. Are you motivated by negative outcome (fear) or positive outcome (anticipation of reward)?

If you are the fear type then you need to find out what psychological and social mechanisms can you set up for maintaining your inner discipline?

For example, you can publicly share your goal with your friends so that you feel accountable. On the other hand, if you are internally motivated, perhaps, set up a reward for yourself if and when you achieve a milestone (or mini-goal).

 

Summary:

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

Hope this helps in reaching and achieving your goals. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in comments below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us. 

How to Handle Trolls and Haters Online | The Dark Side of Internet

Trolls and haters lurk in the depths of social media networks and their comments and actions can lead to a variety of emotions including anger, annoyance, frustration, and even hurt feelings.

There is a distinction between these two terms that should be clarified. Trolls are often spam artists and input comments to social media posts that are often not even related to the topic at hand. Haters are those who are out to insult the work of other people and inflict their hatred in social communities and forums among other places.

 

Critics Vs. Haters

However, someone disagreeing with you or your online content (even if they are loud and vocal about their differences) cannot be called a Troll or a Hater.

In a civilized society, ideas are discussed, not individuals. The simple rule here is to stick to the “issue at hand” and refrain from making any personal attacks. In summary: critics are not haters.

For example, if someone has an opposing viewpoint than yours and comments or questions on your blog, YouTube videos or social media posts, you cannot (and should not) label such a person as a troll or a hater. Because labeling someone with such derogatory term is also a form of attack. That’s not good, right! Do we all agree here?

Okay, cool. But we are not here to talk about who is a troll or not. We are here to talk about how to protect ourselves from malicious haters and stupid trolls freely roaming out there in the wild west of internet.

The various ways that trolls and haters represent themselves online were explored in an excellent way in an earlier civinomics blog post. The author described the ways that haters represented themselves in a list.

Haters

1. They always find fault and focus on the negative

2. They express themselves harshly and dismissively

3. They often characterize what others say in broad terms presenting a straw man argument which they then cut to shreds

4. They donâ€t acknowledge information to the contrary, they do not give thanks when given what they want

5. They are never satisfied

 

Trolls were described as people who “outrage and then tease the gullible into trying to save them, argue with them, prove them wrong, or whatever.” Their representations were enumerated in the following list:

1. They get personal

2. They insult and attack and provide a direct emotional response

3. They escalate to keep the fun going

4. They will never stop unless something more fun occupies their attention

 

Keep Calm and Be a Flower

There are different methods that can be implemented to reduce the influence of the haters and trolls that infect your social media channels, post reviews about your writing, or affect your personal life.

Keep your cool. Shine bright.

A freelance writer, Andrew Hutchinson, wrote an article, “Bullies, Trolls, and Haters: Dealing with Negativity on Social Media” on LinkedIn that explored methods for resolving issues that arise with these types of individuals. These methods included:

1. Listen to all feedback

a. Analyze what has been said about you and your writing, absorb it, and take from it any useful advice.

2. Seek to improve what you can (in line with your mission):

a. Know what it is that you were trying to accomplish with your writing and be confident if you know that you achieved your goal with your writing

3. Accept that you can’t please everyone:

a. Not everyone will like what you produce and thought it may be difficult, it is important to accept it, live with what they said, and try to move on

b. If you understand the path you’re on and what you need to do to achieve your goals, you’ll be more resilient and able to accept the opinions of other individuals

 Mr. Hutchinson provides good insight into being empathetic towards individuals who dislike or insult your work. He says in his article,

Be empathetic – everyone has issues in their life, complications that affect them in ways you can’t possibly know or understand. More often than not, negativity is not about you, keep that in mind and respond with kindness where possible. But also know that some minds can’t be changed. Sometimes you’re better to cultivate the community you have than expend effort on the resolution you’re never going to achieve.

 

Methods of Positivity

Some propose that the best way to handle trolls and haters is to take a step back and be polite when addressing these people. You should never stoop to their level. Do not confront them but instead respond in a way that shows that you have understood their message and will resolve to address the issues they may have with you or your writing.

Haters and trolls may impact your professional life as well. I have had coworkers that have belittled me and insulted my intellectual abilities and although their words and actions did hurt (in the beginning) I was eventually able to move on and realize that perhaps these were not the types of people I needed to have in my life.

To some degree, we are responsible for who we invite in our lives. I realized that I wanted to surround myself with positive individuals who know how to support me (or my work) and accept me for who I am. In any relationship (where two people know each other), mutual respect is not only healthy but crucial.

It can be very difficult when there are negative individuals in your life but it is important to remember that not everything they say about you is true. Try to be confident and rise above the criticisms and insults they hurl your way.

As it was mentioned previously, try to look deeper and find out where the hater’s or troll’s negativity is coming from and there might be issues that they may be coping with in their personal life.

One excellent quote by Jane Roberts that succinctly summarizes what your approach to handling haters and trolls should be is the following,

You should tell yourself frequently, I will only react to constructive suggestions.

This gives you positive ammunition against your own negative thoughts and those of others.

Negativity is an ugly fact of life that we all must cope with at some point in our lives. The key is to try to refrain from letting it impact you in such a way that it takes hold over how you live your life.

Life is too fleeting to let it overshadow the great things that you know that you are capable of accomplishing. I know from personal experience how words can affect you and have learned from others that you can’t let the haters and nay-sayers affect how you perceive yourself as an individual.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

So how do you fight trolls and haters? Or you simply ignore them. Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts with us.

How To Write Faster? Writing A Million Words In A Year

We all know about prolific writers such as James Patterson and Stephen King that are somehow able to produce anywhere between two to five books or more in a single year.

Are there tricks and techniques that they employ to produce books at such a high rate? This article will enable you to learn how to become like these authors and possibly even write a million words in a year.

Before we begin, let’s do some simple arithmetic:

If your goal is to write a million words each year, all you have to do is write 1000000/365= 2740 words each day.

Considering, you’ll only be able to write five days per week (on average), this brings you at 2740 words per day for (52 weeks x 5 days) = 260 days of writing. Now (260 days x 2740 words per day) =  712400 words.

Now, let’s say, 30% of what your write is omitted (not, re-written, but completely omitted during the revision and editing). This will bring your total word count to (70% of 712400 words) ~ 500,000 (half-million) words.

Writing Million Words

Now, consider for a moment, what can you produce with half million words each year? Let’s do the maths. Say, an average novel is 100,000 words and a book of 10 short stories (each short story approximately 10,000 words long) is 100,000 words. So just with 300,000 words you have published two novels and a collection of short stories. And you will still have 200,000 words left.

Wow, congratulations, at this pace, you will be able to write a dozen of novels and short stories collections and perhaps poetry collection and blog posts in just few years. Isn’t that amazing!

How To Write Faster

So what is my point here?  And more importantly, why not every writer not writing more? The reason is it is not simple to write 2740 words each day, five days per week for 52 weeks straight. You may ask, why so?

Because people cannot write fast enough. It’s not that writer’s run out of ideas but that their thoughts often time run much faster than what their hand can type or write.

So what can you do? Read on and comment at the end. If you are reading this, I challenge you to join me in 1 million words a year mission. If you can do it, it will benefit you more than me. Are you with me?

A blogger, Karen Woodward, summarized the techniques used by one author, Chuck Wendig, who was committed to writing 3000 words a day in a blog post. Read it here on her blog.

In summary, Chuck tips included:

1. Doing your writing in the morning. He wrote, “Writing in the morning has more potential than writing in the evening and hereâ€s why: writing at the end of the day means the candle is burning down. The timer is ticking. Youâ€re watching the horizon eat the sun and with it, the remaining hours before sweet, sweet slumber. Write at the end of the day, youâ€re racing the clock. Write at the fore of the day, you own the clock.”

2. Waking up an hour earlier. Woodward explained that waking up earlier results in greater productivity. You should also make sure to attain at a minimum seven hours of sleep a night.

3. Drinking coffee in moderation.

4. Using your time to write. Wendig stated, “If you’re going to write a lot, you’re going to need to feint and duck, stick and move, and reach in to grab fistfuls of time-flesh and use it for your own sinister purposes: in this case, writing. Got a lunch break? Write. Sitting at a long stop light? Take a few quick voice notes on your phone.”

5. Maintaining a schedule with the amount of work you’ll need to complete each day to meet your deadlines.

6. Outlining the content of your manuscript. Wendig wrote, “If you start the day with a mission statement already in play thanks to an outline, you can jump in, eschew any planning the day might require, and just start writing. The goal is to give as much of your time to actually telling the story as you can.”

7. Asking your loved ones for the time you need to write.

8. Finishing your first draft without editing as you go.

9. Do not doubt your ability to produce a great story.

Writing A Million Words

Write my friends, write
Tell your stories
Write, then write some more

The origin of the challenge to write a million words in a year is credited to Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959) who had the idea that to make a living; pulp writers had to produce a million words a year. A key component of writing this quantity of words is keep track of your daily word count.

One blogger, Alasdair Stuart, wrote though that this method only made him more anxious and finally succumbed to the fact that he could not produce a million words in a year. He wisely stated:

“What’s important is the willingness to try something new that will push you and shape you and make you stronger coming out the other side.”

However, setting word counts did work for one writer, Anthony Trollope, whose goal was to write 250 words every fifteen minutes. His method of writing was detailed by the writer, William F. Buckley, in an interview with the Paris Review, when he stated,

“He had a note pad that had been indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words. He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn’t reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster.”

In an article published on Slate.com by Michael Agger, strategies for writing faster were explored.

He wrote, “Since writing is such a cognitively intense task, the key to becoming faster is to develop strategies to make writing literally less mind-blowing. It’s obviously a huge help to write about a subject you know well. In that case, the writer doesn’t have to keep all of the facts in her working memory freeing up more attention for planning and composing.”

Another strategy for increasing your volume of writing is to write in longhand. An author, Karen Dionne, wrote an article for Huffington Post, describing why this method is so successful.

She wrote:

When an author working on a computer makes a typo, as I just did by typing “Whwn” instead of “When” at the beginning of this sentence, they stop and fix it. Why shouldn’t they? The mistake will have to be corrected at some point, the author has noted the error in the here and now, and it only takes a second to correct it.

When I write in longhand, I don’t write “whwn” when I mean to write “when”. Occasionally, I cross out a word or a sentence, but there are no distracting typos, no time consuming regressions.

Writing Speed Tips

Five tips for improving writing speed were examined in a blog post on the website of Hootsuite, a social media management application, with these strategies:

1. Skip the Introduction – write your piece without the constraints of a planned introduction or lead.

2. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Wording – you have to maintain a rhythm while writing and keep the momentum going. Leave placeholders when you have difficulty figuring out what word to use in a particular context.

3. Keep Your Research in the Document – copy any quotes, information, or statistics at the bottom of your document before you start and put a line across the page to distinguish between your writing and the research you’ve compiled.

4. Write What You’ve Got – be concise and make your writing easy to digest for readers.

5. Talk It Out – ask a colleague for their perspective on your topic as they may offer a perspective that may alter the direction of your article.

 

It is now evident that writing faster is a topic that is has been discussed frequently by writers. The tips and tricks discussed in this article can certainly enable you to become a more productive writer.

An important thing to remember though is to never skimp on the quality of your work when you increase the speed at which you write.

 

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Can An Unlikely Person Transform Your Life? You Never Know

Do you believe an unlikely person can transform your life? This is an interesting question with a resounding answer that a person can absolutely change your life for the better.

Random encounters on streets / The Naked Soul Partners

Can An Unlikely Person Transform Your Life

This article will delve into the stories of people who seem like they were destined to meet each other as well as my own personal experiences related to this.

Story of Emmett

Our first heartwarming story emerged from Farmington, Minnesota last July of a three-year-old boy, Emmett, who became friends with his 89-year-old neighbor, Erling, a WWII veteran who had flown combat missions in Europe.

Emmett was only two when he visited the tomato garden of his neighbor because he loved tomatoes and slowly they began to interact with each other in different ways. Sometimes they would race lawnmowers together.

One day Erling set up a croquet set in his yard so he and Emmett could play together. They continued to visit each other during the winter but sadly their visits were put to an end when Emmett’s parents put their house up for sale so they could have a bigger house where Emmett and his little sister could both sleep on the same floor.

Erling would also be moving to live with his sick wife in a senior apartment.

I also developed a close relationship with someone unexpected. I had always had trouble making friends and sat alone during my lunch period in high school.

A lunch aide, Kelly, walked over to my table one afternoon and began talking to me helping to bring me out of my shell.

Every day we would talk and I visited her often in the kitchen. Her company helped me feel less lonely and she looked out for me when I was finally invited to sit with a group of my classmates and students from lower grades.

Whenever we run into each other now, we still make time to talk. I’ll never forget how great she made me feel about myself at a time when I was very awkward and still developing into the person that I am today.

Story of a Homeless Veteran

Our second story is of a young woman who became friends with a homeless veteran named Tony.

Tony hung out near her workplace and over the course of a few months, they began having lunch and snacks together where he would share his war stories and family while she talked to him about her problems and family.

They developed a deep level of trust with each other and when she was going through a very difficult time in her life he listened to her and pushed her to continue working to fulfill her dreams.

What makes this story even more remarkable is what happened one day when she was still full of self-pity. He gave her a watch head and said, “I don’t have much but I wanted you to know that you have done what many others would not, simply by being my friend.”

She realized that by reaching out to him she had received the incredible reward of a beautiful friendship.

Unlikely Friendship of an Imam and a Rabbi

World Peace / The Naked Soul Partners

Sometimes friendships transcend religious differences. This was evident in the story of a rabbi and a Muslim imam who met each other when they were being interviewed by CBS after Pope John Paul II’s death about his interfaith outreach.

Both men at first hid their quiet ignorant beliefs from one another and the rabbi said, I grew up in an environment as an Orthodox Jew where Muslims were the enemy, Muslims were to be demonized, Muslims were not to be trusted. I clearly brought to the table many biases, prejudices, prejudgments.

The rabbi called the imam several months later extending a gesture of peace and deciding to learn how to foster a better dialogue between the two religions.

They organized the first summit of rabbis and imams in New York in 2007 and began a process where the rabbi would speak to congregants at the imam’s mosque while the imam would speak to worshippers at the rabbi’s synagogue.

They co-authored a book about starting an interfaith dialogue entitled “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide” and “Unite Jews and Muslims” that breaks down misconceptions about both religions.

Story of Friendships

Friends / The Naked Soul Partners

I developed a meaningful friendship with a coworker who has some personality traits that differ from me. She is more assertive and extroverted than I am but has a sensitive side which she expresses when discussing her family and her dog.

We joke around with each other and she always knows how to get a smile out of me even when I am having a tough day. I never would have expected to develop such a significant relationship with a coworker but know that despite any issues we have with each other, she will always be there to defend me if necessary.

There have been many depictions of unlikely friendships that have developed in movies and television.

Toy Story / The Naked Soul Partners

Many have been in animated movies such as Toy Story where one toy, Woody, serves as a boy’s favorite toy for years while the other, Buzz Lightyear, was a birthday present; Up where a boy scout befriends an elderly man and helps him learn to love again after the death of his beloved wife; and the friendship between the young girl, Lilo, and her alien friend, Stitch, in Lilo and Stitch.

These cinematic relationships show that despite differences between each character, they are able to look past them and develop meaningful friendships.

The most obvious example of unlikely friendships can be seen on the classic 90s sitcom, Friends.

The six friends have unique personality traits that elevate the humor found in each episode from the commitment-phobic Chandler Bing and his Casanova roommate, Joey Tribbiani, to the neat-freak Monica Geller and her second roommate, the more laid-back and approachable Rachel Green.

Romantic entanglements even ensue between characters including the occasionally tumultuous relationship of Dr. Ross Geller, Monica’s older brother, and Rachel and the marriage of Chandler and Monica.

Friends has stood the test of time and in its more emotional moments depicts the strength of a group of companions that can always be depended on.

It is clear then that unlikely people can indeed transform your life. Whether it stems from a chance encounter or an arranged meeting, friendships can begin in many different ways.

Be open to meeting new people as perhaps this can lead to an enduring relationship.

 

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Rumi to Lesbian Love to Black Erotica: Erotic Poetry Book Review

Erotic poetry lovers, this book review is dedicated to you all. In today’s blog post, I am going to review and highlight my pick for top 11 books of Erotic Poetry.

You are going to love each and every one. These books span across time, geography, writing style, and theme. 

Erotic Poetry Book Reviews

Skin / The Naked Soul Partners

Erotic Poems

Edited by Peter Washington

This book is a collection of erotic poems from around the world that spans various time periods and locales. It includes such famous erotic poets as Ovid, Octavio Paz, Lord Byron, and John Keats among others.

The poems contained in this anthology are sensual and romantic with hints of erotic love which is evident in verses from poems such as “The Quiet Glades of Eden” by Robert Graves and “Three Poems” by Bharthari.

 

Graves writes:

If it should please you, for your own best reasons,
To take me and flog me with a rawhide whip
I might (who knows?) surprisingly accept
This earnest of affection

 

Bharthari writes in one of his poems:

A hundred times they kiss, and then
A thousand times embrace
And stop only to start again;
There’s no tautology in such a case.

 

Many of the poems contain physical imagery with references to the breasts, lips, and eyes that allow the reader to get a sense of the appearance of the lover. Allusions to sex abound without explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse.

In this collection, the editor, Peter Washington, has compiled a series of poems that allows the reader to truly feel the complex emotions of romantic relationships. The animalistic nature of sex was explored in some of the poems. This allows the book to serve as an excellent representation of the passion and intimacy of loving relationships.

The main critiques however of this anthology are that the poets are primarily male with very few female poets and that many of the poets are foreign. Even the translators of poems by foreign poets generally were male.

There were very few American poets. Peter Washington also did not select many modern poems so some of the references in the poems are not easily understood.

Despite these critiques, this book serves as a good introduction to different poets and may inspire the reading audience to select more works of poetry by these poets.

They are poems that can be read alone or to your romantic partner as they are sensual, romantic, and intensely visual so readers could visualize the settings of the poems.

A thousand lives / The Naked Soul Partners

The Erotic Spirit: An Anthology of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing

Edited by Sam Hamill

This anthology of erotic poems includes poems that as the title alludes to are more in the erotic spirit than being explicitly erotic. These poems are poems that enlighten readers about love and relationships and allow for a greater understanding of the necessities of an enduring and passionate relationship.

In this compilation, the editor, Sam Hamill, has organized a collection of poems that are diverse in voice (both ethnically and gender-wise). What was interesting was the inclusion of poets that are not as well-known.

However, this does not mean that major poets are not included. Some of the more famous poets in this collection include Ovid, Catullus, Sappho, Ono No Komachi, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman.

Several poets have numerous poems included in the book which allows the reader to become more familiar with the differences in their writing styles.

What makes this collection stand out is its abundance of poems by Asian poets and the beautiful allusions in these poems to the physical nature of intimacy, the seasons, and the majesties of nature including references to lotus blossoms and moonlight.

The poems in this anthology are filled with the complex feelings of love including the sense of yearning for a loved one, despair, and loss. It is also a very cohesive body of poems that are organized by time period so readers can see how authors have depicted passionate relationships throughout the years. This is certainly a poetry collection worth recommending for those who wish to have a great introduction to a wonderful variety of poets.

 

The Best American Erotic Poems from 1800 to the Present

Edited by David Lehman

This collection of erotic poems was a well-organized anthology that included a mix of classic and modern American poems including such classic erotic poems as “I Sing the Body Electric” and “Lifting Belly”.

The poems were organized by the author’s year of birth which allowed readers to visualize the evolution of romantic poetry from the 19th century to the present.

David Lehman, the editor, included such celebrated American poets as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings, and Edna St. Vincent Millay and more obscure poets such as H. Phelps Putnam and Emma Lazarus.

The poems in this anthology were more difficult to understand as many were concrete in nature. This led to the subliminal messages to be not as easily comprehended by the average reader. This is the main critique of this collection. However, despite this, it was interesting to read modern erotic poems that told rich stories.

What was unique about this book was that the poems were much more explicit in nature with some veering on the pornographic. The poems in this book were very romantic and personified aspects of the sexual experience. Lehman also included poems with homosexual sexual relationships which showed the diversity of romantic relationships.

There were many poems by women which allowed readers to have a unique perspective on how gender impacted sexual experiences. Other books reviewed previously did not have such a diverse assemblage of voices.

This is a collection of poems worth recommending for those who would enjoy reading modern carnal poems about love, lust, passion, and sexual intimacy.

Black Erotica

Photo by The Naked Soul Partners

Erotique Noire: Black Erotica

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Reginald Martin, and Roseann P. Bell

This was a unique collection of erotic poems, stories, and essays by Latin American, and Caribbean-American men and women of African descent.

It is a very well-organized collection that was divided into sections according to the subject matter of the writing. It provides lengthy and comprehensive perspectives on the everyday intimate experiences of blacks. Intermingled throughout were insightful academic commentaries that helped the reader to understand more about black erotica, music, and culture.

There was a great diversity of voices in this book including a good balance of male and female authors. The authors reflected on the spiritual aspects of sexual experiences; the effects music had on their sexual experiences; and the beginnings of new sexual relationships among other topics.

The poetry in this book was very erotic and explicit with a mix of longer poems and haikus. This was truly a special anthology as the writers were great storytellers who allowed readers to visualize the experiences that were documented within the book.

This was a cohesive body of work that was very carnal and explicit in nature but also sensual and passionate. The writing could be concrete at times and it was interesting to read different interpretations of the sexual experience by the black population. This is certainly a book worth recommending for those who want a close study of the intricacies of black erotica.

 

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems

Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu

This was a well-translated and beautiful collection of ancient Japanese love poems by two court poets that were passionate and full of desire. These short but deep poems were verses that expressed the longing that the poets felt for their lovers. Although the poems were brief, they were very emotional.

The verses contained rich imagery that allowed readers to visualize the settings of the poems. Many of the poems in this book took place at night as the poets reflected on the moonlight and nights spent with their romantic partner.

The seasons played a role in several of the poems as many reflected on autumn and leaves falling.

The depiction of the changing seasons served as an ode to the passage of time in the course of a relationship. Some poems were mildly erotic and many were very intimate. The painful and bitter nature of romance was explored in some poems.

This collection showed that even long ago, the feelings of love have not changed significantly. These poems contain the same emotional weight of more contemporary love poems. This is truly a collection worth reading for those who wish to read meaningful love poems that have withstood the test of time.

Lesbian Love Poems

Two lovers / The Naked Soul Partners

My Lover is a Woman: Contemporary Lesbian Love Poems

Edited by Leslea Newman

This was an enticing collection of lesbian love poems by modern poets. The poems in this book were organized by the author which allowed the reader to read different perspectives on intimacy and the passions of homosexual relationships.

These were very personal poems that enlightened readers on who the poet really is in their most private moments. Some poems were mildly erotic in nature.

What was special about this book was the rich storytelling of the poems contained within. The poems contained descriptive imagery and made even the most everyday moments worth savoring. The poets were very accepting of the imperfections of their lovers and revealed in the beauties of the female physique.

What is worth noting is that the poems do discuss prejudice against lesbianism and interracial relationships which are still issues that pervade our current society. This book was published almost twenty years ago so there was even deeper prejudice back then.

There are some guilt and shame by the female lovers depicted but also a sense of an undying love that could withstand the hatred and oppression that society had for these types of relationships.

Rumi and the Expression of Divine Love

Rumi: The Book of Love (Poems of Ecstasy and Longing)

Translations and Commentary by Coleman Barks

This was a spiritual body of work that contained poems that were filled with longing and very introspective in nature. The poems were beautifully translated by Coleman Barks and before each section began he insightfully commented on each thematic section and included personal anecdotes on the wisdom obtained from speaking to religious teachers.

Rumi’s poems are very abstract and deep with powerful musings on the majesty and beauties of love. They spoke to the healing power of love and the desire and lust that love added to one’s life.

The poems in this book were full of natural metaphors and many Middle Eastern references that were difficult to understand. Despite this critique, Barks was able to compile a wonderful assortment of poems by this great Sufi mystic.

The poems were primarily about the lingering presence of love in one’s life and just how incredible a presence it is.

Rumi was a great storyteller and his stories enlighten readers with the wisdom of his life’s experiences. His poems were very passionate and filled with the enjoyment of spiritual and earthly pleasures. This collection is highly recommended for lovers of more soulful poems that have withstood the test of time.

 

Songs of Love, Poems of Sadness

The Erotic Verse of the Sixth Dalai Lama & translations by Paul Williams

This brief collection was rich in natural imagery and showed just how much love could affect you physically. The short verses in this book were poems that yearned for love. They truly depicted how love could be taken away in a heartbeat.

The young lovers in this book did not always have the fortune of lasting relationships so it was evident that love should be valued when it is possessed.

Paul Williams beautifully translated the verse of the esteemed sixth Dalai Lama and allowed readers to be enlightened by the wisdom of such a holy figure.

Clearly, this Dalai Lama had experienced the many facets of love and had sadly lamented many times a lost love. His intimate reflections allowed the reader to glean great insight into his most personal moments such as his feelings at the beginning of a new relationship.

The main critiques of this collection were that it was far too brief and that some translations were not easily understood by the average reader. In addition, the verse could often be very abstract in nature so the latent meanings of these poems were difficult to interpret. Despite these critiques, this was a deeply poignant and spiritual body of work.

 

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

Translations by Anne Carson

This translated work that compiled all of Sappho’s fragmented verses in one collection allowed the reader to get a sense of the rich life experiences of this renowned Greek poet.

The variety of portions of her verse contained pleas to the Greek gods, goddesses, and muses for the safety of her family and companions. It was evident that Sappho was close to many and truly valued her beloved companions.

What was unfortunate about having only segmented verse though was the sense of losing the deeper meanings of her verse. The translator explained the missing pieces of her verses in her introduction by stating that none of Sappho’s poems existed in full.

The fragments though led to a disjointed reading experience. Another critique was the obscure references to ancient Greek cities and temples that without the help of the book’s glossary were not easily understood.

Despite these major critiques, this was a beautiful collection of verse on many topics but primarily on the love that Sappho had for her romantic partners who were often female. The stanzas revered the female physique and appearance.

Her poetry though was often introspective in nature and full of complex emotions about the women she loved. They were passionate poems full of fervent desire for her companions.

This complete collection is recommended for those who want to read the full range of Sappho’s writings that was made very accessible for modern readers by the translator.

Breakfast / The Naked Soul Partners

Modern Day Erotic Love Poems

100 Love Sonnets

Pablo Neruda

This book beautifully translated from its original Spanish is an intimate collection of sonnets dedicated to Neruda’s beloved wife, Matilde.

It was evident in reading this book that Neruda passionately loved his wife and was very emotional about the thought of her death. The sonnets in this book were numbered and organized according to the time of day the poem was set in.

These poems were full of deep feelings and mildly erotic in nature when he described the beauties of his wife’s physical being.

He loved her not only for her pleasant appearance but also for her imperfections. Many of the poems alluded to the peacefulness of nature and her sense of oneness with the earth.

Pablo Neruda and his wife had both had similar humble upbringings that laid the foundation for their future. He alluded to the poverty of their former lives and how it brought them closer together.

Theirs was a happy marriage bound to last eternally. Although some poems had dark undertones particularly the ones set in the darkness of night, the poems set during the light of day reflected his abiding love of nature.

This book was an eloquently worded ode to the multifaceted aspects of love and is perfect for reading with your romantic partner. There is little to critique about this book except for its mentions of places the reader may not be familiar with.

 

Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems

Salil Jha

Since this my own book, therefore to present an objective review, I will let Kirkus review speak for Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

From Kirkus:

Jha’s collection of concise, warm, and erotic poetry explores the delights of physical love from (primarily heterosexual) male and female perspectives.

The bulk of these poems describe various acts of sexual congress in non-explicit ways while trying to capture the rich emotional tenor of lovemaking as opposed to casual sex. Just feel the words because “these poems are written not to be understood by the mind but to be felt by the heart”, Jha writes.

He switches between male and female perspectives, describing the joys of being taken and taking. Love Fantasies seems to describe a heterosexual woman’s experience: Then I ride it like a cowgirl to reach as far as I can be. / I hustle, I shake, I grind, I wind, I go deep / where there is only one path and one way to be.

Elsewhere, Wake Up has a decidedly more heterosexual male perspective: You slide me down / Into the wetness / Even before / I am awake.

Many of the poems, such as One Soul and Soul Mate, focus on the feeling of love itself, absent any particular physical expression. The text is peppered with simple line drawings of sex, like a slideshow of soft-core Kama Sutra.

Jha manages to sketch the outlines of sex and love without making it too concrete or specific. The poems shifting points of view create a sensual atmosphere that encourages the reliving of fond memories and the ignition of current fantasies. Although the language used to describe anatomy can sometimes be clunky or a little too “fruit-oriented” (the melon family makes many appearances), the spirit of the work is joyful and tender.

Erotic poetry that evokes feelings of joy, happiness, and an overall celebration of the arts of physical and romantic love.

 

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Was this post helpful to you in deciding which books you might want to read next? Do you have suggestions, tips or your own reviews to share? If yes, please feel free to share your thoughts or question(s) with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

Questions About Book Publishing: How to Self Publish a Book?

I am writing this blog post in response to several emails that I get each week. These emails usually start like: How do I get published? How to self-publish a book? How to publish my poetry book?

In this blog post, I am going to attempt to make book-publishing simple for all of you aspiring writers.

The Naked Soul Partners

How to Self Publish a Book

I hope most of you already know something about publishing. In case, if you are a beginner in the publishing game, by the end of this blog post, I hope you will graduate as a publishing champ.
On the other hand, even if you have self-published before, this blog post will add some new information to your existing knowledge base.
I am going to share my own self-publishing journey and experience. Like my other blogs, I am going to be as detailed here as much possible (without getting distracted from our topic here).

Many of you might have heard of “less is more” adage before. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, we are also going to leave many of the tangential topics. I will cover them separately in other blog posts based on your comments.

Let’s begin. If you are someone having a question similar to this one, “I have my manuscript ready, now how do I publish my book?”, you are going to be happy.
I have been asked these questions so many times. These are all great questions (and it should not be mistaken as generic or common sense).
Because what the questioner is really asking is “How did you do it? Where to publish? And why? Tell me more about it from an insider’s perspective? How much will it cost me? How does the publishing process work? What are the challenges that you had to face? How much does it really cost? Is book publishing really for me? What are the steps that you had to take?”
How to self-publish / The Naked Soul Partners

Questions About Book Publishing

I self-published my debut poetry book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” under my own Publishing house “Naked Soul Press”. My Print-on-Demand service was CreateSpace (owned by Amazon and now simply Amazon KDP).
I had $2000 budget and a finished second-draft manuscript. This is what I did.

Get ISBN

1. I bought my own ISBN (through CreateSpace, $99). There are many benefits to owning your own ISBN but the primary one is it allows you the freedom to utilize this ISBN with another publisher should you choose to do so.

Create a Publishing House

2. I created a publishing name (I created Naked Soul Press, $0). I have not registered the name yet but will do in the future. Cost: $250 annually.

Hire Best Editors

3) I hired the best editor(s) to do copy & line edit (I teamed up with two good editors on elance, $175 + $130)
4) I did third full-length line editing, $210

Hire the Best Designers

5) I hired the best cover designer (I used CreateSpace service, $599)
6) I hired someone to format (interior) of the print book (I used CreateSpace service, $349)
7) I hired the best artist to create 30 original images for my book, $150
8) Insert images into the book (CreateSpace custom interior additional charges), $380

Rest of the things

8) LCCN Assignment, $25
10) Kindle Conversion, $79
Total production cost: $2196 ($196 over budget).
For my next book, I will be saving my cost on Cover design. I like my cover but I feel $599 is a lot for it.
The other place I can save money is by having fewer images. You can totally save this cost if your book does not contain any pictures or illustrations.
Note: People often confuse CreateSpace or Lulu as publishers but they are just print-on-demand (POD) services. Among the top three: CreateSpace (KDP), Lulu, and LighteningSource, KDP (CreateSpace) is the best.
Understand, KDP has its own issues and is not one size fits all, but relatively speaking, it is the best option available in the market.

Be Confident. You Can Do It.

If you are seeking external validation and confirmation of your ability to publish, I am here to tell you, yes, you can do it. If you are reading this blog, you have it in you. Eventually, you will make it.

Also, your feelings and fears are totally human. Even self-confident people have self-doubts. We all need some motivations at times and especially whenever we enter into unfamiliar, new territory.

How and Where to Publish

Now we are going to cover all the necessary steps and expense associated with each individual step in the book production process.

But, first thing first, you have to decide which route you want to go. You’ve finished your novel, a poetry book, or work of non-fiction now you need to find someone who will publish it. Or perhaps you want to publish it yourself.

You can go the traditional way and you’ll have three options in front of you. Or, you can self-publish. In total, you got four choices.

You Have A Choice

You have two routes and four choices in front of you.

Route 1. Traditional Route

There are three categories of the publisher under the traditional model:

Route 1, Option A: Non-Paid Large Publishers: The term non-paid large publishers refers to those publication houses which do not charge author at all to publish the book. They pay you an advance (usually, a little sum these days).

They are your big name New York publishers such as:

  • Hachette
  • Penguin
  • HarperCollins
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Macmillan

Word of caution: Many book publishing companies around the world maintain a strict “no unsolicited submissions” policy and will only accept submissions via a literary agent.

This shifts the burden of assessing and developing writers out of the publishing company and onto the literary agents. At these companies, unsolicited manuscripts are often thrown out or sometimes returned if the author has provided prepaid postage.

Underage Authors

Young authors, please also note that if you’re under 18, publishers tend not to bother with all the legal hassle. Since you are not of age to sign the contract and need parental consent, this brings further problems, and publishers tend to avoid young authors for that reason.

Established authors are often represented by a literary agent to market their work to publishers and negotiate contracts. Literary agents take a percentage of author earnings (varying between 10% to 15%) to pay for their services.

Once you have decided on a few publishers (the more the better), start researching about them. Some choose to publish for adults only selected genres, but all information should be available on their websites. Some have different guidelines and word limits, or whether it needs to be solicited or not.

Some also require a summary. However, almost all publishers require a hard copy (printed) version of your story. Usually, they don’t tend to return them so keep your original with you. Also, keep in mind their specifications.

 

Route 1, Option B: Non-Paid Tiny Publishers: The term non-paid tiny publishers refer to those hundreds of small publication houses which do not charge author at all to publish the book but they also do not pay you anything because they can’t.

They are too small and they are usually publishing books in a niche. Some examples of these publishers are: Lectio Publishing (a Christian publisher), Little Red Tree Publishing (poetry and fiction), etc.

 

Route 1, Option C: Paid Publishers or Vanity Publishing: The author has to meet with the total expense to get the book published and the author has full right to set up marketing policies. This is also known as vanity publishing. This is the worst of all in this route. You not only pay to publish your own books but you also share the rights of your work.

Plus, like option B above, they are usually tiny and they are business model to make money from authors and not the book buyers.

A Word of caution

Some big publishers such as Penguin also operates Vanity presses. The Penguin sponsored Vanity Press is no better than a true Vanity Press. Also, notice the use (or misuse) of the word “vanity”. Ironic, isn’t it?

 

Route 2. Self-Publishing (Modern day, DIY)

If you want to self-publish (which I think you should) then you’ll have many options to choose from.

The big ones are, CreateSpace (now KDP and owned by Amazon) and Lulu.

Many popular authors have self-published their books from Lulu. I self-published under Naked Soul Press using CreateSpace as my print-on-demand printer.

 

Route 2, Option D. Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher.

A self-published physical book is said to be privately printed. The author is responsible for and in control of the entire process, including, in the case of a book, the design of the cover and interior, formats, price, distribution, marketing, and public relations.

The authors can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services.

Some writers follow a non-standard route to publication. For example, this may include bloggers who have attracted large readerships producing a book based on their website’s content.

Self-publishing is not limited to physical books. You can self-publish your book only as an ebook. There are a variety of eBook formats and tools that can be used to create them. The most popular formats are epub, .mobi, PDF, HTML, and Amazon’s .azw format.

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords all offer online tools for creating and converting files from other formats to formats that can be sold on their websites.

Because it is possible to create eBooks with no up-front or per-book costs, eBook publishing is an extremely popular option for self-publishers. Some recent bestsellers, such as Hugh Howey’s Wool series, began as digital-only books.

What will you write? / The Naked Soul Partners

Did you know?

Between the Acts (1941), Virginia Woolf’s final novel was self-published by her Hogarth Press. Ezra Pound self-published and sold A Lume Spento (With Tapers Quenched) (1908) for six pence each.

Eleven-year-old John Ruskin sold a book of poetry he self-published with his father. Other authors who self-published include Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Luther, Marcel Proust, Derek Walcott, and Walt Whitman.

Many contemporary authors have also self-published. James Altucher’s Choose Yourself (2013) sold 44,294 copies in its first month, debuted at #1 on Amazon’s top non-fiction list, and is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

J. K. Rowling sold the e-book versions of the Harry Potter series directly from her website, Pottermore.

James Redfield originally self-published The Celestine Prophecy, selling 100,000 copies out of the trunk of his Honda before Warner Books agreed to publish it.

As of May 2005, the book had sold over 20 million copies worldwide, with translations into 34 languages. Celestine Films LLC released a film adaptation titled The Celestine Prophecy (Film) in 2006.

E. L. James first self published her Fifty Shades of Grey novels as an eBook and print-on-demand. Later when the book got viral, the publishing rights were acquired by Vintage Books in March 2012.

Conclusion

Research different publishers. You may choose to self publish, but getting published by a big-time publisher is better for getting a larger audience. Most publishers only choose to publish or even read solicited material (that is, manuscripts have gone through an agent.)

Agents usually also choose to read only material that they are acquainted with or the authors they know. Prices range. However, there are quite a few publishers that do publish unsolicited material, such as Penguin or Allen & Unwin.

But, with the recent changes in the publishing landscape, it is easy to predict that the future of publishing is self-publishing. Most of the large bookstore chains are out of the business or operating on loss. A few remaining ones might not be around in the next 5 years.

Furthermore, note that eBook sales are almost 30% of the total book sales. There is enough evidence to support that people’s buying choices are not related to whether a book is self-published or published by New York publishers.

Lastly, at the end of the day, do what is in your control. If you want to pitch your book to an agent and your book is accepted, cool, if that’s what you want. If not, you can always self-publish.

The Path of Self-Publishing

Assuming, you are going to take the path of self-publishing. Let’s start with the types of self-publishing.

Unless a book is to be sold directly from the author to the public, an ISBN number is required to uniquely identify the title. ISBN is a global standard used for all titles worldwide. Most self-publishing companies either provide their own ISBN to a title or can provide direction.

As a self-published author, I recommend retaining ownership of ISBN ($99 to $125) and copyright instead of using a number owned by a vanity press or POD company such as Lulu or CreateSpace.

Print On Demand

Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing refers to the ability to print high-quality books as needed. For self-published books, this is often a more economical option than conducting a print run of hundreds or thousands of books.

Many companies, such as CreateSpace (owned by Amazon.com), Lulu and Lightning Source allow printing single books at per-book costs not much higher than those paid by publishing companies for large print runs.

Most POD companies also offer distribution through Amazon.com and other online and brick-and-mortar retailers, most often as “special order” or “web-only” as retail outlets are usually unwilling to stock physical books that cannot be returned if they do not sell.

As a general rule of thumb, if you self-publish with Lulu or CS, there is close to 0% chance that your book will be kept in a B&N store. (Do not worry, you will be on their online store)

KDP vs Lulu vs Lightning Source

These are bog three of Self-publishing. They are similar businesses. CreateSpace cream paper is yellowish. So white paper is the only option.

With Lightning Source (even though it’s more work) it has the best options. Lulu is the easiest or as easy to work with as much as CS but they charge a little more than CS for per unit cost per book.

Just so as you know, CreateSpace gets their book printed from the lightning source.

One example could be a book for $3.80 with Lulu can be $2.15 with Lightning Source. Whereas with CreateSpace your unit can be $2.91. For the most part, the quality is the same between the three.

Besides these three there are a ton of other POD companies out there which you can find out by google search.

Read a very detailed article on CS vs Lulu vs LSI here.

Publishing Stages

Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copy editing, graphic design, printing (and its electronic version), and marketing & distribution.

Pre-production Stage

As editing of manuscript progresses, front cover design and initial layout take place and marketing of the book begins. This is the time you get on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al. if you are not already there.

For me personally, this was the time I started an Indiegogo campaign, roughly 8 months before my came out. I also started a Facebook page and Instagram page. I leveraged my existing Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube account. I created this blog.

Editorial Stage

The author works with editors (one or several) and is often asked to improve the quality of the work through rewriting or smaller changes.

The editors often edit the work in two rounds. In round one, they correct the grammar and punctuations. In the second round, they look for the overall flow of the text and coherence. I highly recommend doing two rounds of editing with any editor.

From my experience, editors often choose or refine titles and headlines. The real benefit comes when you take their suggestion seriously and consider improving your manuscript. You do not have to accept all of their changes or suggestions but most of the time they are pointing to a hole in your work.

Editing also involves structural changes and requests for more information. Sometimes you may want to hire an editor to do fact checking for you, particularly for non-fiction work.

Design Stage

After the editing is done, you submit your final manuscript for design. You need to have the book’s interior designed and book cover designed.

Design phase consists of laying out how the page looks, how chapters begin and end, colors, typography, cover design and ancillary materials such as posters, catalog images, and other sales materials.

Since my book also had a lot of illustrations, the design phase was more expensive and longer.

Non-fiction illustrated titles are the most design intensive books, requiring extensive use of images and illustrations, captions, typography and a deep involvement and consideration of the reader experience.

For eBook conversion, the final files are saved as formats appropriate to the target operating systems of the hardware used for reading. These may include PDF files, mobi files, or similar file types. I had CreateSpace do this for me for $79.

Author’s Proof

The first step involves the production of a pre-press proof, which the printers send for final checking and sign-off by the publisher. In the case of self-publishing, this is you.

The author’s proof (or the final proof) shows the book precisely as it will appear once printed and represents the final opportunity for the publisher to find and correct any errors. Some printing companies use electronic proofs rather than printed proofs. Once you have approved the proofs, printing begins.

Book printing process (The Naked Soul Partners)

Printing and Binding Stage

After the end of editing and design work the printing phase begins. Binding follows upon the printing process. It involves folding the printed sheets, securing them together, affixing boards or sides thereto, and covering the whole with leather or soft or hardcover.

In the case of printing-on-demand, the book is not printed until you receive an order for the book from a customer. This procedure ensures low costs for storage and reduces the likelihood of printing more books than will be sold.

Whenever someone orders your book, your book is printed and shipped.

Sales and Marketing Stage

The sales and marketing stage actually starts from the pre-production stage itself. But you need your book cover to really create a buzz.

As front cover images are produced or chapters are edited, you may want to start talking about your book with your ideal readers to build early interest.

I personally tested my poems from Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems on Instagram and Facebook. My original manuscript had almost 150 poems and depending on the feedback from my readers, I would often discuss with my editors.

I removed a lot of poems and finally got down to 97 poems. During this process, I added 12 new poems which were not part of my early editing but were part of the final line editing. The final book came out with 1o9 poems in total.

It is crucial to capture this early interest and also it will help you if you measure your engagement. I also used my reader’s feedback to design my book cover.

The sales and marketing is totally on you. You have got Google ads, Social media, your Blog and Goodreads. You work is to create a buzz around your book and get some early reviews.

For step by step information on how to do this, read my blogs here:

Distribution Stage

The final stage in publication and during Sales and Marketing involves making the product available to the public. The goal is to make your book available to as many places as much possible.

Once a book is printed (or available as POD), you may use a variety of channels to distribute it. You may want to do the following here:

1. Have your book available on Amazon and Kindle store. If you are a first-time author, consider enrolling in Kindle Select.

2. Order some Author’s copy and send to anyone (mainly book bloggers) who would be interested in reviewing your book on Amazon and Goodreads.

3. Try to talk to foreign distributors if you have readers in Australia, New Zealand, and Asian countries. Amazon distributes to USA, Canada, UK and European markets.

4. Talk to local booksellers in your area and offer them the book a commission basis. Offer them 100% return guarantee if the books are not sold.

Resources for Authors

Before we jump into some more Q&A, let me suggest two great books that will really help you.
I enjoyed both of them and learned a lot. These both are a must-read for anyone interested in Self-publishing and future of eBooks.

Questions & Answers

Photo by The Naked Soul Partners

 1. Does CreateSpace (KDP), Lulu, LSI, etc publish poetry books? Children’s books? Non-fiction books? Comics? Fiction?
Technically, CreateSpace or Lulu doesn’t “publish” anything. You publish and they print and distribute your books when a customer orders a copy of your book.
CreateSpace/KDP and Lulu is a printing service. That said KDP or LSI will print just about anything as long as it meets their formatting guidelines.
Note: CreateSpace can print full color, perfect bound, soft cover books. They can do hardcover too, but as author copies only, not for distribution to Amazon or via EDC. If you’re wanting to do your book as a hardcover to sell online, I would suggest looking at Lulu.
2. Should I use the free ISBN? Or $10 ISBN or $99 ISBN?
If you use CS’s free ISBN, CS will be listed as the publisher of record. You may not say, “Published by CreateSpace,” but you may say, “Printed by CreateSpace/KDP.”
 
3. Is it possible to publish a book with a traditional publisher without ending my contract with CreateSpace or Lulu or LSI?”
This will depend on the exclusivity of the publishing contract being offered. If they want exclusive rights which most mainstream publishers will insist on, then you will have to retire the CS/KDP/Lulu/LSI copy of your book
4. Will a publishing company accept on a book that was previously self-published in KDP?
A book once published (even self-published) cannot be automatically re-published elsewhere. Any new version would have to have significant edits and be promoted as a ‘revised and updated’ version of the original.
But truth be told, unless you are a bestselling author, most publishing houses would not want to do this. In essence, a book once self-published is not going to be re-published by a publisher later.
Also, the interesting point is why did you self-publish at all if your only goal was to be later picked up by a traditional publisher. So, let me repeat — if you are only trying to be picked up a big publisher you better become a best seller first.
Alternatively, if your first self-published book is a big hit, your second book can be picked up by a publisher for a good advance.
For example, Amanda Hocking was being picked up by St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan (one of the big five, based on the performance of her previous self-published books.
As a self-published author, she has sold more than 1 million copies of her book before this deal came to her.
5. What are the chances of me getting published by a New York Publisher?
It solely depends on your books sales or your potential for getting book sales. publishing companies are businesses and will take advantage of any opportunity to make a profit. once you can establish yourself as marketable, they’re usually a lot more attentive and responsive to you as an author.

But most likely, it will be hard for new writers starting out to get the attention of a publisher — small, medium or large — but there are small presses around who will working with emerging writers, as well as literary agents who can spot the diamond in the slush pile and will represent them to larger publishers.

If you have a strong platform (eg. a frequently updated blog with a decent following and active on social networks) publishers will be more likely to take a chance because the author is already familiar with some of the work they will be required to do to promote their book.

 

6. After self-publishing with CreateSpace for my personal copies, can I edit my book and publishing and sell-through to another publisher or POD?

Yes, you can (with $99 ISBN). Many authors do the proof copy with CreateSpace and later print and distribute through LSI.

 

7. Can I just order the proof copies without publishing my books at all?

Yes, you can. You can decide not to publish for the public.

 

8. I am considering publishing someone else’s book under my imprint (with their permission). Is this allowed at Create Space, Lulu, LSI?

Yes. There are several such publishers using CreateSpace and LSI in this way. CreateSpace is set up to accommodate small to medium publishers as well as single authors. However, a few things to keep in mind.

If you have your own ISBN ($99) and registered imprint name (eg. Naked Soul Press), CreateSpace will not question your right to publish another person’s work, as there is an expectation you will have formal contracts in place.

But, if you are using the free or $10 ISBN, CreateSpace might ask you for proof that the author has granted you permission. You would want to get an email from the author explicitly granting me permission to publish.

 

9. Can a (self-published) writers make their living by just selling their books? Is it possible or it is just an extra source of income?

The short answer is “No” to both questions. No one can predict if the book will sell enough to supplement a side income. (Even if it is a great book).

To provide a decent income, a book must sell consistently. And this is very difficult. There are millions of books out there and ~ 3500 new books are published each day (in the English language alone). Your competition is fierce.

But what you can do is look at writing as a side-business. You should consider writing more books and the combined sales from all of your books can become your extra source of income if your books are really good and if you have a good fan base.

You may one day be able to earn your living from writing. But, in the beginning, keep the expectations low and work hard.

You’re running a business when you get published, your business is selling your own book to others. Depending on your book and the market, you can also create other merchandise.

Summary: As a whole, most serious writers don’t earn enough to make a living, but earn enough to add to their income. The mediocre writers won’t make much though.

 

10. In the Copyright pages, is it OK to put something like: “Published by XYZ Press?” and does the publishing company mentioned have to be incorporated?

Yes, it is okay to put that. You are the publisher of your book. You can put the name of your publishing company. It always looks more professional. However, you do not have to register a company.

As a single author, your income from your books is taxed. Also, if you do choose to register your publishing company then you can show your book production expenses and other expenses. If you are thinking long term, I would suggest, it is always a good idea to register your own publishing company and run your writing career as a business.

You do not have to establish and register the company (and the imprint name) before publishing the book. But in that case, anyone can claim that business name (by registering it) and can later legally ask you to not use their trade name or logo or whatsoever.

If you are not very serious about writing and may want to publish just one or two books, I guess, you can simply use the Free ISBN or $10 ISBN and mention, Printed by CreateSpace (KDP).

 

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Was this post helpful to you in deciding which route you may want to go? Do you have suggestions, tips or your story to share? Do you have questions on publishing or need more clarification on any specific aspect of publishing stage? If yes, please feel free to share your experience or question(s) with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

How I Am Growing My Author’s Platform? How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

I believe in cultivating a tribe around my writing which resonates with my voice. I write both fiction and poetry.

At some point in time, I want to write a memoir too. I am not a single genre writer. I like to read all kind of things and likewise, I want to write on different subjects.

Growing one’s audience is like growing one’s tribe. My tribe is my “community”. These are my readers, fans, fellow writers, friends, and those who share my values.

Cultivating a tribe is more than creating a community. Cultivation requires constant refinement, intimate communication between me and my fans, encouraging reader engagement, and most of all audience-trimming. Before, we talk about “fan-trimming”, let’s find out what having a tribe does for us?

Your tribesmen are your brand ambassadors.
Your tribesmen are your cheerleaders.
Your tribesmen are your sales agent.
Your tribesmen are your trusted beta-readers, advisers and market feedback.
Your tribesmen are your allies and friends.
Your tribesmen are your supporters and they want to see you succeed.
 

As you can see from the above bullet points, trimming becomes essential to preserve the quality of your support network, your tribe. Your tribe members can be anywhere but they are not your fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Most often they are your email list subscribers and the ones those who frequently comment on your blogs, Facebook and/or Instagram posts. They actively engage with you and your writing. You should cherish them as your real family.

In this blog post, I want to share my journey and the adventure I have had since I decided to publish my work.

I started Naked Soul blog back in October 2014. I published my debut poetry collection “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” on Jan 9, 2015, and the eBook came out on Jan 22, 2015.

I was already having some presence on various social media and promoted my book on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. But if you are new, you can start now. Social media is cool and it helps a little. Note the word “little“.

I sent out emails and contacted bloggers to review my book. I created an email list using MailChimp and started sending out helpful tips and interesting stories from which we all can learn. I started traveling and meeting new people. I found new characters for my second book (coming out soon) based on the people whom I have met on my adventurous journey.

So what is our focus in this blog post? And, why am I doing this all? A 12-14 hours of daily writing, reading tons of books, developing new connections with people – why all this hard work?

If you are a writer or blogger yourself, you may very well be asking these same questions. So what are we trying to achieve here?

My good guess would be — we are trying to grow our audience size. We are seeking outreach to people whom we can touch and impact positively through our stories.

We are trying to tell our stories to those who would benefit from our writing. But, how do we do that? How do we meet our true fans? How do we connect with our readers? How do we grow our network and meet new readers?

I think I have an answer (tried and tested by me previously). Continue reading to take a first-time look at my detailed plan outlined here. As I mentioned, I started this blog in October last year and joined various social media around the same time (+/- a few months). Following my plan outlined here, I grew my Facebook page to 15K, Instagram account to 20K followers, Pinterest account to 3.2K followers, Twitter account to 15K followers, YouTube account to 1000+ followers (with 1 million+ views) and my mailing list to over 300 subscribers.

During this time, I was also able to get on SlideShare with three slides, got over 38K views on my Google+ page, and created my presence on Tumblr, and on top three online poetry portals (Hello Peotry, PoemHunter, Deep Underground Poetry).

I am going to outline my plan to grow my author’s platform further to a target goal that I have set up for myself for this year.

How to Grow Your Author Platform

1. Write More Books

I have these upcoming books in the next three years. God’s Original Psalm is the project that I am currently working on.

  • Naked Soul: The Journey Of Love (Genre: Poetry/Romance)
  • Naked Soul: The Sacred Intimacy (Genre: Poetry/Erotic)
  • Naked Soul: God’s Original Psalm (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Letters By A Young Christian Mystic (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Friendship (Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help/Relationship)
  • How To Travel The World Under $30,000 USD (Genre: Travel)

The best thing a writer can do is to “write more books”. Pretty obvious, right? But isn’t. Majority of the people spend time figuring out one secret technique that will make them an overnight success. I wish magic was real.

The best way to grow your author’s platform is to simply write more books. The more good books you write the luckier you’ll become. Almost like magic.


2. Improving My Organic Search Rank on Google for Greater 
Discoverability
– More quality content and Frequent blogging
– Guest blogging with other bloggers and writers
– Make blog posts shareability easy for your readers.

More quality content and Frequent blogging

I am taking blogging more seriously. I have been blogging since 2005 and have had numerous blog. After years of soul searching and discovering my authentic voice, my genuine voice, I have started this blog and this blog is going to my open diary taking note of my various adventurous journeys.

My second goal is to build a passionate community around the Naked Soul Blog by engaging the blog readers through “Comments”. Often times, what is not answered or covered by a particular blog post is answered by a reader’s comment. Comments help all the readers.

 

3. Building a Huge Email List of Interested Readers
– From blog email sign-up form
– From Facebook page giveaways, quizzes, etc
– From Instagram giveaways, etc
– From new one-on-one connections made online

 

4. Outreach & Connection With My Readers on Social Media

  • Instagram: by words as pictures and good, heartfelt captions
  • Facebook: by poems, blog post links, and videos
  • Pinterest: by pictures
  • Twitter: by tweeting short poems and quotes
  • YouTube: by videos
  • Goodreads: by posting blogs, answering fan’s questions, giveaways

 

5. Growth on Social Media Using Specific Tools

You might not need these but in case if you want more tools to explore. I would recommend sticking to the basic four.

I have used them all and they all are good and the reason you do not want more tools is simple: you won’t have any time left.

 

6. Build a Team of Core People

Your job will be to assign tasks to your team member. If you are starting out, chances are you have a day job and are busy. You may want to hire one, two or more Virtual Assistants (VAs) depending on your needs and present situation.

If you have book launch coming up, I highly recommend getting a VA. For the launch of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems, I hired a VA from Zirtual, a US based company.

In the coming months, I will be working with two VAs from India (at the same cost of one VA from Zirtual). I have not hired anyone yet but hope to do so within a month or so. Once my team is set up, I will:

  • Decide what will my team do vs what I do? (task delegation)
  • Help my VA in outreach to bloggers and other writers
  • Train my VA on using all of the above-mentioned tools (but I’ll be managing the tools, overall strategy, and the setup)

 

7. Be Active in Facebook group for writers and on Goodreads

– Help other writers as much as I can.

– When requested and provided an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), write a book review.

– If requested write a book blurb, book’s back cover material, book’s Introduction and/or a Foreward if our genre overlaps.

– Help and promote similar (overlapping)  writers on my blog and social media

– Share and exchange our experiences and stories from our writing journey (quite an adventure so far)

The more help you provide, the better and effective you will get at using your own advice. Moreover, there is no such thing as “giving too much”. The more you give away for free — the better it is for your long term career.

Make friends, early on. Trust me, this is going to be a long ride. You’ll need a group of friends to keep you motivated in tough times.

 

8. Get Reviews From Reputable Bloggers, Book Reviewers, and Magazines

This is important. After writing your best book, the next most important thing is to get some great reviews and some media coverage. The “media” that I am talking about is not the old school “Press Release” but the presence of your book everywhere on the World Wide Web.

In other words, your book should be present everywhere a book is allowed. Internet mainly.

Getting 2 or 5 good reviews will help you get more reviews. Your initial book reviews will shape your later reviews. Also, remember, once you have collected about 25 reviews, it will be relatively easier for you to pitch your book to mid-size bloggers.

If you manage to cross 100 reviews, you may very well get coverage on The Huffington Post (books) and Amazon’s editorial newsletter and blog, Omnivoracious.

 

9. Find and Connect With the Mavens in My Field

– Keep building quality relationships on Goodreads community with Goodreads mavens

– Keep posting new works and building relationships with fellow mavens on poetry portals such as Deep Underground Poetry, Poem Hunter, Hello Poetry, etc

– Keep discovering and connecting with the mavens everywhere: Social media, Blogosphere, etc.

 

Recap

The above 9 bullet points describes my 80%-90% of activities. Using these methods (and only these 9 methods, eighty-to-ninety percent of the time) I am going to find, meet and build a one-on-one relationship with my 1000 true fans. This will take time, true, but they are all tested strategies proven to work.

 

9 Things That I Will NOT Be Doing

Below is the list of 9 another things that I will *NOT* be doing because I will probably run out of time doing the things mentioned above. (Remember 80/20 rule?) 80% of your results are produced by the 20% of your core work. So, what happens if you use 80% of your time on that 20% of core work that produces 80% of your results? Magic. After all, magic is not completely dead.

But if you have time, energy or capacity to DO these tasks as well, good for you! These are the other things (ideas) that I have tried to some degrees and find them to be useful.

But remember, prioritize your time. As an author you can *also* benefit from doing these. Here you go:

1. Attend writing/books related meetups and build new connections with readers and writers. The goal here is to not overkill it. Attend a few meetups each month. Build quality connections.

2. Join book clubs; or start a new book club in your area (or try one online). This is a low-investment approach to book marketing. The goal here is not promote your book, but be seen as the expert in your domain and/or genre.

3. Try LinkedIn publishing. If you are a full time writer go for it. But, if you are like me doing a day job and writing part-time, then you are better off not mixing up your LinkedIn (professional network) with your writing life.

4. Try podcast (in addition to blogging) to reach whole new group of audience. If I have to start one thing from this list of 10, this will be my first pick.

5. Participate in local, state, regional and/or national poetry contests. Usually, it is a high investment, low return strategy. But like a lottery (with a shower of good-luck), if you WIN, you can use the award as a book blurb in your marketing. This kind of things don’t sell books directly but brings curious readers to you. And some of them will eventually get your books.

6. Plan a book tour and do book readings. (It does not have to be grand. Start local.) A national or even a multi-state book tour would fall under my next section. But, if you are doing it locally (using your car and no overnight hotel stay), you can give it a shot. It is fun too. And it feels good as well.

7. Participate and do open mike poetry and/or poetry slams. Depending upon your city or town, this can be a good place to find your next fan.

8. YouTube – Record your readings (poetry or fiction) and share it on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.

9. Organize Google hangouts and do live poetry readings. Engage with your fans and interested readers.

 

9 Things That I Do NOT Recommend (Time Wasters)

Below is the list of 9 things that I firmly believe to fall under time wasters. It is not that these activities will not help you but chances are they will not be worth your time, money or brain-power.

1. Try to approach bookstores to keep your book (even with the book-returns clause). First of all, sadly your endeavor is not going to be successful and even if you manage to get one or two bookstores keep and display your books, they won’t be able to give your copy a prime spot when there is already hot books out there competing for that tiny space.

2. Try to join forces with local merchants to store your books on display on commission basis. Not worth the time and effort.

3. Try to sell your books to your family members, close friends and anyone who meets you. Not a good strategy from a long term perspective. You do not want to alienate people. By pressurizing people into hard-sales, you’ll most definitely make them avoid you in future.

4. Promote your ebook for free. Only offer free books if you have other books available in the series. If you only have one book (assuming you have honestly put in a lot of time into it and it is > 175 pages), price it $2.99 or may be even $0.99.

The reason you do not want a free book is because, free-book readers are also harsh and critical. And it is simply a high risk to get in a spiral of bad reviews. One good review gets you another good reviews. One bad review gets you another bad review. You do not want your writing career to start with 3.5 star rating. Do you?

5. Paying for reviews or Buying reviews on Fiverr or anywhere. Damn it. It is both sad and pitiful that so many amateur writers are into buying reviews. It hurts you more than anything else. Readers are smart and moreover, you want your reviewers to read your book and like your writing.

It is better to send ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to interested readers and request them to review (good or bad).

6. Send Direct Messages to random people (read: strangers) on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads or anywhere. Do not do this. This will not get you more than grand total of 0-5 sale and ton of hate and annoyance. Again, think long term. You do not want to piss of your readers even before they got a chance to become your reader.

7. This one does not require a bullet point in itself but it is important. Do not spend a lot of time marketing your book on social media. Again, read point #6. If you are just starting out, more often than not, your shouting about your own book would only come off as self-promotion and annoyance.

Social media’s primary purpose for most reader is entertainment and connection. Discovering a new book from a no-name author would be the last priority any Facebook user can think of.

8. Big budget advertisement. If you do not have atleast three or more books out, you are better of not having a big advertisement campaign. When you promote big, your message will be seen by many potential readers (and book buyers).

Some of them might not like your advertised title but may find your other book interesting. If you have only one book, the ROI is usually a big waste of money. Save this money for later. You’ll need it.

9. Use my personal Google+ and Facebook page to reach out to more like-minded people. There is nothing wrong in doing this. But from my personal experience (and of countless other writers and artists) — this eventually sums up to only one thing — A Waste Of Time.

 

Last But Not The Least

A quick note on social media. Social media is important. There is no denying that but focus on using a few rather than all.

I feel the most important ones for a writer are (in order of importance): 1. Facebook, 2. Instagram, 3. Pinterest, 4. YouTube, 5. Twitter, 6. Google+. And you can stop right here.

This is more than you can swallow.

 

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What are your thoughts about growing your tribe? Have you tried any of these methods or tools yet? If yes, please feel free to share your experience with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

The Art of Speed Reading: How To Read Faster

Reading is a favorite pursuit of many but it can be daunting when faced with lengthier novels and assigned academic reading.

How is it possible that some people are able to read volumes of work faster than others? Is there truly an art to speed-reading?

How To Read Faster

This article will explore techniques that instruct readers on how they can perfect this sought after skill. Reading more allows you to learn more and reading faster allows you to save time.

First, let’s talk about some of the immediate benefits of speed-reading to you as a reader and/or writer.

1. Faster reading skills will help you read more books and therefore allow you to review more books or simply more reading entertainment.
2. Faster reading skills will help you to read more books which in turn helps you write more books.
3. Faster reading skills will help you to research faster. Research, after all, is a lot of reading and note-taking.
4. Faster reading skills will help you to read emails, comments and social mentions in less time. You can respond faster to your friends, family and fans.
5. Faster reading skills help you save time. Time is the most valuable currency we have. And remember, time is a finite resource.

Read Faster Without Losing Comprehension

Now, let us begin on this journey that will help you to become a great speed reader.

Our first train stop is a WikiHow article entitled How to Learn Speed Reading that can be found by visiting the link. This article gives a step by step guide to increasing your productivity while reading. But, I have summarized it here.

The first step proposed is to stop visualizing the spoken word and focus on blocks of text. The second step is to hold the book or screen at a distance as you read to absorb more text at once. Once you have mastered these steps, progress by hiding words you’ve already read so you won’t be tempted to re-read them to understand the context better.

A key part of the efficient reading experience is to read without distractions in a space that is quiet and well lit. Posture is essential when it comes to reading. Reading while being in the bed can make you feel more tired.

Additionally, you should try to read at a time when you’re most awake and focused. Concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the text first and ask yourself insightful questions about what you’re reading to stop yourself from daydreaming or becoming distracted by your thoughts.

Even when practicing these techniques, you should try to understand the different types of reading and practice good reading techniques such as carefully reading instead of skimming to understand more difficult parts of the book you’re reading.

When you’re practicing these steps, try reading an easy and light book first so you won’t have to think so deeply about the material.

You should time your reading speed by perhaps setting a timer and seeing how much reading you can do in a set amount of time. When you encounter a text such as a magazine or newspaper, look at the section headings and headlines to see what you want to read and what you already understand.

Another article written by the Student Counseling Service at the University of Chicago that can be found here presents some techniques that have already been mentioned but also suggests using a pen to guide your eyes as you read.

You can begin reading at your normal pace and mark where you left off before re-reading the same passage for a minute at a faster speed than before. Reiterate this step by reading three times faster than your slowest speed and then asking yourself how much you remember from the passage.

The counseling service recommended practicing this process for 10 minutes a day for two weeks to become more comfortable with the art of speed reading, increase your reading speed, and improve your understanding of the text.

A speed reading expert, Dr. Richard L. Feldman, from Columbia University wrote a 10-step article entitled “Speed Reading: 10 Tips to Improve Reading Speed and Reading Comprehension”. Read can read the full article by clicking on the link.

His 10 steps are as follows:

1. Read earlier in the day when you are most awake and can maintain focus on important material.
2. Organize your reading materials by their degree of importance and then read the material in the order of importance. This will help improve your reading speed.
3. Skim for main ideas in nonfiction books by scanning the table of contents and beginnings and ends of each paragraph. Understanding the book’s structure will help you to know which parts to skim and which parts require more careful reading.
4. Turn headings and subheadings into questions to ponder and then examine the text to find the answers to these questions.
5. Use a bookstand and have your book angled at 45 degrees to avoid straining your eyes.
6. Write short notes after reading letters and then refer to these notes when you’re ready to reply to the sender.
7. Avoid highlighting key portions of the text as this will not improve comprehension of the book.
8. Preview the text before beginning reading.
9. Adjust your reading speed to the type of reading material and purpose for reading.
10. Enroll in a speed reading class taught by an expert on the subject.

Speed Reading Techniques

Glendale Community College wrote a five method primer on self-pacing while speed-reading. The primer can be found on their website. The five methods are:

  • The Hand
  • The Card
  • The Sweep
  • The Hop
  • The Zig-Zag
The Hand is a method that has the reader place their right hand on the page and move it straight down the page so you move your eyes down as you read. Do this at a slow and even pace. The Card technique has you use a card or a folded piece of paper above the line you are trying to read and draw it down the page slowly and evenly and try to read the passage before covering up the words. Slide the card down faster than you can go. The Sweep has you use your hand to draw your eyes across the page. Cup your right hand and keep your fingers together. Using light and smooth motion, sweep fingers from left to right underlining the line with the tip of your finger. Use your whole arm to move and balance on your arm. The Hop has you lift your fingers and make two bounces on each line. Each time you bounce, you hopefully will read sets of three or four words. This makes it easier for you to keep a steady pace as you read. The Zig-Zag has you take your hand and cut diagonally across the page for three lines and then back to the text. Scan the entire page and pick out the main ideas.

Speed Reading 101

According to a 2012 Forbes article that published the results of a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples as part of an e-book promotion, the typical speeds at which we read and understand at different points in our educational development are as follows:
  • Third-grade students – 150 words per minute
  • Eighth-grade students – 250 words per minute
  • Average college student – 450 words per minute
  • Average high-level executive – 575 words per minute
  • Average college professor – 675 words per minute
  • Speed readers – 1,500 words per minute
  • World speed reading champion – 4,700 words per minute
  • Average adult – 300 words per minute

The article’s author then put these rates into context by applying them to typical reading materials of very successful business people.

For newspapers and blogs, at the average adult speed of 300 WPM you would spend 33 minutes a day on that part of your reading routine.

For magazines with an average length between 60 and 150 pages, you would spend 75 minutes reading one magazine and successful individuals normally read about five magazines per day. For them, the reading time over the course of a month would be 50 minutes a day.

For books with an estimated word count of 100,000 words and the goal to read one book a month, that comes to 11 minutes a day at the average adult reading speed.

Factoring all of this in, you could easily spend at least two hours a day reading at the rate of 300 WPM. For more of the authorâ€s insights on this topic, visit this Forbes link. The Staples speed-reading test can be found here. Take the test, it’s fun. One reader of this article gave her tips for speed-reading which included reading in phrases rather than word by word and learning to skim the article for its core concepts.

The layout of the article would also impact how fast you are able to read it.

Another insightful commenter mentioned that absorbing more useful content could be obtained by listening to the news as you drive to become well-informed and able to reference important stories.

You could also listen to audiobooks to cram more content into a busy week.

One reader mentioned that there should be some scholarly analysis into how reading speed correlates with typing rates as many individuals spend a good part of their day typing.

She compared the speed of listening to a book on tape versus reading it in print and then compared this to how fast that text could then be transcribed by writing or typing.

She found that reading and typing at the same time averaged out at between three and four times faster than the typical speaking rate of a book-on-tape reader.

An interesting article that criticized the outlandish claims of some speed reading instructors and courses was published on the website of the Skeptic’s Dictionary.

One of these speed reading instructors, Howard Berg, author of Speed Reading the Easy Way, claims that he is able to read 25,000 words per minute which is about 80-90 pages a minute.

A professor at UC Berkeley, Anne Cunningham, examined test results that measured eye movements while reading that determined that the maximum amount of words a person can read accurately is about 300 per minute.

People who claim to read 10,000 words per minute are really just skimming the material. Well, I agree with Anne. I am a proponent of speed reading but not at the cost of not really reading anything. Would you?

The author of the Skeptic’s Dictionary article believes that a better way to increase reading speed would be to enroll in a community college course that would improve study skills, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It would certainly cost less than a speed reading course such as the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course. The Evelyn Wood speed reading course is a very well-known program with techniques that have been practiced by US presidents including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter.

John F. Kennedy had Evelyn Wood instructors teach top-level staff members how to increase their reading speed as did Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter took the course and was able to reach a 1,200 word per minute reading rate with a high comprehension rate.

The techniques of the Wood program which was acquired by Encyclopaedia Britannica were explored in a comprehensive book entitled “Remember Everything You Read: The Evelyn Wood 7 Day Speed Reading and Learning Program.”

One technique mentioned was the visual-vertical approach which involves eliminating vocalization of words and replacing it with a visual perception of the material that entails sweeping the eyes vertically down the page.

The book stated that the full emotional impact and intellectual understanding of most passages in books are enhanced with the visual-vertical approach to reading.

Another technique is the multiple reading process or layering technique which involves seeing and accepting words and phrases out of their expected order. The layering technique is a five-step process which includes:


1. Overview

a. Quickly skimming the book to determine its organization, structure, and tone b. See what the cover and jacket state about the contents and author
c. Examine the preface and introduction if there is one
d. Flip through the pages at about one second per page

2. Preview

a. Read at about four seconds per page to draft an outline of the details of the book.
b. Divide the chapter you are reading into sections if it is a nonfiction text. If the work is fictitious, you can preview the book by identifying main characters, setting, time period, and general direction of the plot.
c. Look for key facts and concepts paying close attention to the introduction, summaries, and questions posed by the author.

3. Read

Preview the first subsection in a nonfiction book and read that section at your fastest comfortable reading speed and make notations to pinpoint important or difficult material to study later on. This will help you to remain actively engaged with the book.

4. Postview

Review the entire reading assignment and think about the relationship of each part of the book to the whole.

5. Review

Regularly try to remember what you’ve read and see how it relates to other course materials. 

It is evident now that there are a variety of techniques for reading faster and with practice perhaps you could also become a great speed reader. Try to remember though that speed reading should not replace savoring the experience of a good book.

The various ways to speed read could certainly apply however to lengthy assigned readings for academic courses.

Hopefully, this article has allowed you to understand the methods of speed reading and helped you to determine whether speed reading is a skill that you wish to perfect.

 

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What do you think about speed-reading techniques? Do you consider yourself to be a slow reader or speed-reader? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

Are All Poets Penniless: Do Poets Die Hungry?

This week I have been trying my best to stay level headed post Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems book launch.

Truthfully speaking, I have been as excitable as a chef just before the Thanksgiving! My debut collection of erotic love poems was published in eBook on January 23 and I have sold just over 100 eBooks in the first month alone.

The softcover was released on January 9th and is also doing excellent. So far it has sold over 150 copies. The big sales number came right before the Valentine’s Day. (No surprise there.)

Well, 100 or 150 might not seem a big number and certainly it is not but what I can tell you is at the time of drafting this blog, my book is at Top #7 in Love Poem and ranked Top #47222 out of 3,000,000+ eBooks on the Amazon Kindle store.

Labor of Love or Fate of Drudgery

The reason I am taking about the sales number and book ranking is because, well, I thought it is worth talking about this ancient curiosity shared by all: “Are all poets penniless?”

Is poetry a labor of love or an occupation of toil and drudgery? I am hoping to bring some perspective and calm to my current ‘pressure cooker†mind with this current blog. This post is not just a note to myself but a new balanced perspective, something to consider, specially by the writers, poets and all the artists out there.

To start with (and I am not trying to tempt fate here or anything!) I am focusing my attention on a handful of great poets who only achieved fame and wealth after death. Well, some great poets might have died poor but their legacy is certainly richer than many of the rich from the recent times.

Are All Poets Penniless

Years, decades, and even a century or two after their passing, several major literary geniuses (who may have been blessed with the odd peak of recognition while alive) have gone on to have an unimaginable impact on the literary world – dominating classrooms, bookshelves, literati events and book groups, not just Stateside but across the globe.

Let’s take a look at some of these writers and poets.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born in December 1830 in Massachusetts. A sociable youngster who maintained good relationships and friendships throughout her childhood and youth; she began writing poetry in her teens. Itâ€s clearly obvious from her writing that the death of close friends and family members during adolescence strongly influenced her.

Her Poem Because I Could not Stop for Death is the first that springs to mind.

 

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

 

Her most intense writing period began in her late twenties and lasted several years, she is said to have written a staggering 1100 poems during this time; some of which she did share with close friends and family, but the majority of which, she kept to herself. Pretty much a recluse by the time she died aged fifty-five in 1886, Dickson had written around 1800 poems.  It was following her death (and against her dying wishes) that family members decided to publish and share her magnificent work some years on.

 

John Keats

John Keats was born in London, England in 1795. The poor guyâ€s short life was plagued by death from an early age – with both parents dying by the time heâ€d reached fourteen. Leaving school aged sixteen, Keats maintained a healthy interest in literature even while working in the medical profession alongside his guardian (a man so deceitful he kept Keats†large inheritance which heâ€d been entrusted to look after).

Keats penned his first poem during 1816, aged eighteen; his first book called Poems followed during 1817.

A year after abandoning the medical establishment to pursue poetry as a profession, Keats†life was once again haunted by death when his brother, Tom, contracted and died from Tuberculosis, the same illness which killed his mother.

In 1819, despite mounting financial problems and ill health, Keats was somehow able to write a significant amount of poetry; he also met and fell in love with a young girl called Fanny Brawne. Sadly his wish to marry the eighteen–year-old was never realised due to his lack of finances.  As if life hadnâ€t been tragic enough for John Keats, in 1820 he too become desperately ill with Tuberculosis. Despite his illness, he managed to publish a second volume of poems. During the same year Keats travelled to Italy hoping the warmer surroundings would help with his illness. Sadly it was not to be, one of the greatest poets to have ever lived, died in February 1821, lowly regarded and poor..

 

The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats is (in my opinion) one of his best works.

All Poets Die Hungry

Edgar Allan Poe

For someone born so long ago (1809) it blows my mind to think that Edgar Allan Poe still courts such influence, interest and popularity over literary and cultural circles today.

And if you thought Keats†life was tragic, I think Poeâ€s was equally tumultuous – as a baby he was abandoned by his father and when his mother died of tuberculosis during 1811, he was forced to live with foster parents.

Poe, a military man for a brief time before turning his hand to writing full time, is attributed to having invented the detective fiction genre. His name is also synonymous with chilling and macabre poetry and stories.

Like Emily Dickinson, death featured heavily in Poeâ€s work, including in his most famous poem, The Raven.

This poem, by all accounts, turned him into a literary sensation for some time. Unfortunately, maybe because he was a heavy drinker who could no longer hold down a job, he never equalled its success with any of his following work.

Itâ€s been documented that the death of his wife Virginia Clemm (who also just happened to be his cousin, aged thirteen when he married her) exacerbated Poeâ€s drinking. Many conspiracy theories about his death have been circulated, but Poe is reported to have died penniless, dishevelled and unconscious in a Baltimore gutter, aged just forty.

 

Phillis Wheatly

Phillis Wheatlyâ€s life story is equally interesting and heart breaking. Kidnapped from West Africa when she was around seven years old in 1753, she arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on a slave ship where she was purchased by John Wheatley as a servant for his wife, Susanna, who quickly came to recognize and nurture Phillis†writing talent. The Wheatleys decided not to train Phillis as a slave.

By publishing Poems on various subjects, religion and moral Wheatley made history by becoming the first female African American to publish a book of poems. She even travelled to London, promoting her poetry. I can imagine that for a while her life mustâ€ve felt pretty amazing, especially when compared to the lives of other African Americans at that time. I canâ€t help thinking that things wouldâ€ve had a happier ending for Philllis Wheatley, had Susanna and John Wheatley still been alive after she married.

Wheatly married John Peters in 1778. They lived in poor conditions, but worse, had to endure the death of two infant children. After her husband was imprisoned during 1784, impoverished, Wheatley was left looking after her third child. Sadly, she died young at age thirty-one. Her sick infant son is said to have died a few hours later.

Read her famous poem On Being Brought from Africa to America here.

 

Poets persecuted for their writing and beliefs

I was thinking of moving on to something a bit more light-hearted, but if you donâ€t mind Iâ€ll get one more ‘sad†topic out of the way first.

Weâ€re moving on to poets who are persecuted for their writing, as in poets who express opinions in their work, which goes against the establishment of their countries.

 

Ovid

The first that I can think of is, Roman poet Ovid, back in 8AD he was banished to Tomis, a remote province on the Black Sea, by the Emperor Augustus, itâ€s difficult to pinpoint the motivation which led to his exile but speculation points to the simple reason that the emperor was unhappy with something the poet had written!

 

Enoh Meyomesse

Sadly a similar type of punishment remains commonplace in some societies even in this day and age. Cameroonian poet, political activist and blogger Enoh Meyomesse is currently serving a prison sentence which he maintains is due to personal views expressed in his writing and for his political activism.

Read more on Meyomesse and some of his poetry here.

 

Mahvash Sabet

Iranian teacher, turned poet, Sabetâ€s translated book Prison Poems was published on April 1, 2013. She wrote this collection while serving (along with other leaders of Iranâ€s *Bahaâ€i community) a twenty year prison sentence in Tehranâ€s Evin prison because of her religious beliefs.

*The Baha’i religion was founded in Iran in 1863, making it one of the world’s youngest religions. This religion accepts all other faiths as true and valid. It also teaches that there should be no inequality when it comes to gender or race.

I am left wondering, what’s not to like? Read her Lights Out poem on this blog.

 

Successful Poets: What’s their Secret?

I have covered a lot of the tragedies and hardships experienced by poets in this blog, so I want to finish by letting you know:

It’s not all Bad News!

 

Yes, we can breathe a sigh of relief now as I am happy say that there are many poets and writers do seem to live comfortable and successful lives, many are actually poets who never gave up their day jobs.

 

Lewis Carroll