Tag Archives: storytelling

Taking a Leap of Faith with “The World’s First True Public Radio” – Anchor

I’m a fan of social media, as most of you know. Lots of you follow my crowdfunding tweets, my inspirational update videos on Facebook. Some of you even repin my pins on Pinterest. (Boy, say that three times fast!)

Recently, I’ve discovered a new app –– Anchor, which is a voice-based platform that allows you to record two-minute “waves” and share them with your following. I first learned about it from this piece that Gary Vaynerchuk posted about it, so I immediately dove into and started listening. It would be a full week of this, and replying to other people’s waves, before I finally recorded my #firstwave.

It’s been about three weeks, and I’ve been having the best time I’ve had in a while with social media because of Anchor. I’m meeting some amazing and inspiring people. I’m replying to a lot of questions of the day, and I’m sharing everything from my own #QotD to advice on crowdfunding (my professional expertise), lines from poems I love, and opinions, breif stories, and things like this:

Most importantly, I’m interacting in a way that I haven’t interacted in a long time on social media. Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram have all become more about me putting value out to an audience (and believe me, I’m humbled and honored that people have allowed me the privilege of doing this), but I’ve been getting less and less inclined to want to genuinely converse on these platforms. Anchor has proven different for me.

For me, it’s in the voice, really. Even when I simply listen to other wavers waves, I pay more attention. I’ve tried the broadcast apps like Periscope and Meerkat, and I focus too much on how terrible my background looks or the quality of the lighting (I like my rooms dark, my stories darker) when these platforms are supposed to be raw. With Anchor, I can record anytime, anywhere, and the message and meaning carries through my voice alone, which is closest to the medium I love most: Words.

How about you? Are you #makingwaves on Anchor yet? If so, what do you think about it so far? What’s the lure for you?

Hmm… actually, let me ask this a different way, and give you a more refreshing way to reply, so you can try it out firsthand!

Happy Leap Day, everybody!

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Craft Before Content, Part One: The Bob Ross Effect

The other night I was at Bar Majestic in Downtown Jersey City with Marinell all set to do some serious Cerise planning and prep work. Above us on a big screen, a video playing––The Joy of Painting, featuring an artist, white button-downed but laid back, with a palette over his left arm and an easel and blank canvas before him. He also had an Afro and beard, and when he lifted his brush to the canvas, it was nothing short of magic!

Of course, this most famous of American artists is none other than Bob Ross, who made a career for himself by painting “happy little trees” with simple dabs of a fan brush. For a good ten minutes, Marinell and I were both enthralled by how effortlessly (and quickly!) he created a barn sitting in a bed of water surrounded by earthy black trees enfolding the area beset by a lovely orange sunset amidst clouds heavy with shadows.

This isn't the painting that mesmerized us, but it's a darn good one, too!

What struck me most was this: there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation in Bob Ross. He felt out the picture in his mind’s eye and fluidly swiped and stroked it onto the canvas, at one with the Tao of his own art. His knowledge of the craft of oil painting, the wet-on-wet technique in particular, must’ve been such that he didn’t have to think about it. He knew how to use every tool in his shed, and by the time the credits rolled, a wonderful piece of commercial artwork was laid out before him.

As writers, we can learn a lot from the Bob Ross method. We spend our early years learning how to comb back a dangling modifier, when to use a gerund phrase and why it’s important to vary our sentences. And we probably hated every minute of it! But without those crucial years of exercise upon exercise, we could never have elevated ourselves to the level of being able to put words down using the tools we’d learned about in college English classes––things like voice, diction, mood and tone that we practice primarily on countless thesis papers. But then we learned literary and plot devices––flashback, nonlinear storytelling, and all the other tools at the disposal of the creative writer and its myriad subtitles––novelist, poet, screenwriter.

You can’t reach a destination in a beat-up Chevy that breaks down every couple hundred miles, but you don’t want to Lamborghini it either ‘cause you’ll miss the journey in between.

The first thing our teachers ever give us to work with in our writing classes is a simple pencil because we’re able to erase our mistakes. And we will make plenty of them! But eventually we graduate to a pen––ink––and with that power of permanence comes a greater responsibility to write what we wish to say well enough the first time. To this day, the only time I use a pencil is during revision, which is the only time I let my second-guessing monster off the leash to tear up my words.

How is it then that some people feel they can skip all that tedious exercise, or worse yet, not pay attention to (or forget) all that basic knowledge gained high school and college writing courses and fast forward to creating their own stories? Much the same way a person can’t climb Mount Everest with arms and legs as thin as twigs, or Bob Ross wouldn’t have risen to his full potential without practicing every day during his brief breaks, a writer can’t tell a compelling story without practicing the craft. The constant act of writing is great for perfecting your story sense, but you have to know how to write well first.

And here’s a two-minute glimpse into the magic that we all can create…as long as we know the right spells! Enjoy!

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