How Not To Feel Alone On Your 31st Birthday In 2020

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today I turn 31 in the year 2020. The world is chaotic (to say the least). But there is so much for which to be thankful. We have an opportunity in this dark time: we can use this as a pathway to finding our similarities and common ground. We can use this as an opportunity to show compassion toward our fellow human beings. Don’t believe me? I have a challenge for every person reading this.

The Google Autocomplete Challenge

Alright! So, Google Autocomplete works by predicting what phrases have the highest probability of completing your query based on the most common searches by others within your same time zone, general demographics, and country. Most of the time this is reduced to the information that can be associated with your IP address. Remember, your IP address contains a lot of information about your location.

If you’re ever feeling alone, think about the population of the country where you live. I currently live in the United States – a country with a population of 328.2 Million people. Approximately 27% of Americans report using Google as their primary search engine. That means approximately 88.614 Million Americans use Google as their primary search engine.

That means that whatever the statistically most likely predicted completion of a search phrase is results from millions of people searching that phrase.

This means you are not alone. With every crazy question you have for the internet, you are not alone. For these first fifteen, I’m going to be very general. Then, once this concept has been demonstrated, let’s go on a journey. Some of these are funny, some are depressing, some are revealing.

1. “Is it…”

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2. “What to…”

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3. “Does the…”

(If you want to know, yes, the coronavirus test hurts)

4. “Are there…”

5. “Do I…”

6. “Why is…”

7. “Who was…”

Glad to see Americans are learning history?

8. “Did I…”

9. “Where are…”

10. “Am I…”

11. “How to make…”

12. “When will…”

13. “Does the United States…”

No, the United States does not use the metric system outside of scientific laboratories.

14. “How many…”

As you can see a lack of the metric system leads to a lot of confusion.

15. “How often…”

That’s a doozy.

Okay! So 15 questions in and you’ve noticed that Americans are just as confused about our units of measure as the rest of the world and things do seem to be interesting. Plus, if you’ve been sedentary and are questioning while your bowel habits have changed, you’re not alone. Drink more water, eat more fiber, and start going for more walks. You’ll feel better.

These next questions are for those of us that recognize that search histories get a little weird when you’re writing. So, let’s start looking at some of the autocompleted questions related to writing research I’ve seen lately. These get a bit dark and others are truly revealing.

1. “What do serial killers…”

2. “Why do serial killers…”

3. “Why do wives…”

4. “Why do husbands…”

5. “Why do partners…”

6. “Do cows…”

7. “How to fake…”

The search results here made my eye twitch.

8. “How to destroy…”

9. “Why doesn’t…”

10. “Humans are…”

I warned all of you that was going to get dark.

There’s one final search I am going to show you – it leads to one of my favorite poems I had forgotten about and hadn’t read in over 10 years.

“Hope is…”

What is that first search result? See below.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers (314) – Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

I hope you can hear Hope’s song, and even if you can’t right now, know that you are not alone in searching for it amongst the noise.

What were your autocomplete results like when you searched similar beginning terms? Were they the same as mine? If you have suggestions of other terms for me to search please leave them in a comment 🙂

I am so thankful for your company on this bizarre journey through search engine autocompletes on my birthday. If you enjoyed this post, please share it, like, or comment. Without you, this post would be stored quietly on a server somewhere. Have a wonderful weekend ahead 🙂 With Love – Lo.

Quarantine Writer’s Block: Exercise 1

Object Oriented Fiction Writing

How To Use An Object (Short Story // Warm Up)

Visualize an object in your mind, or better yet, look for something “weird” you own.

Nana’s embroidery project from three summer’s ago that she gave you for your birthday? Perfect!

That Betsy Johnson cat locket ring you picked up for 50 cents at a yard sale? Golden!

That polaroid you found on the sidewalk while jogging last week? Best one I’ve heard yet!

Grab it, mentally or literally. Now, forget its past. That object is now foreign to you. Write 250+ words of new, completely fake information about that object and how it relates to a story. Think about the setting transitions the object goes through. What characters handle it? What experiences does the object witness (though it has no eyes)? To follow up with the previous examples:

Who were the people in the polaroid and how did it end up on the sidewalk?

Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?

Why did that embroidery project go terribly wrong and what shenanigans did that embroidery circle get into?

Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?

How To Use An Object In A Pre-Existing Story

In every story there are objects that characters interact with and often we forget how critical we make objects for the progression of a story. Be it a quest for buried treasure (object) or the consequences of a cursed [object], there are objects that come into play each with its own unique role. To use this exercise, you could consider one of these objects in your story as your object of focus.

Thought Examples:

Arthur is not king until he has his sword and unites the Britons (every King Arthur legend ever)

The one ring to rule them all must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom. (Lord of The Rings, JRR Tolkien)

Trisha uses her Walkman to survive the Maine wilderness. (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Stephen King)

Arts & Crafts

I have found that in severe cases of writer’s block a physical representation of the object is very helpful. In this case, break out the arts and crafts. No matter how bad the representation, having something you can physically interact with while brainstorming will help immerse you in that world. The act of creating the object can be its own helpful therapy. Also, the models that you make bring your story to life in your own mind, and could help ease writers block on their own. Put them on display in your writing zone.

Collage & Antiquing

Some authors will hunt for objects in antique stores – in the time of quarantine, antiquing is not really an option (except online). Pinterest albums and other collaging methods are much friendlier. Finding an image to create a sketch from or even print out as your representation is useful!

Write Around The Object

Now that you have the object, physically, mentally – whatever way works best for you – start thinking. Sometimes, I prefer thinking of minor objects in a particular scene I’ve been trying to write because it helps lead me into writing the scene I’ve been blocked on. There are many ways to flex your brain around the existence of objects within a story and how they are playing a role. This allows the object to be written around – it’s there to help break down the mental block.

Do I Leave It In The Story?

It’s easy to edit out anything once it has served you, but a writing exercise can get you writing when you’re struggling. I have based entire short stories on objects, and I have cut entire objects out of stories. The choice is up to the individual author and what they want out of their writing.

Exercise 1 Summary: With an object related to your story, either physical or imaginary, write at least 250 words about that object fitting it into a scene you are trying to write or relating it to your story.

Bonus: Do some arts & crafts to make a physical representation of your object.

TL;DR

  • Objects can be useful for helping your brain overcome writer’s block
  • Think about the role objects play in your story and select an object from your story to focus on.
  • Physical representations of objects in your story are sometimes helpful in overcoming writer’s block – these can be made with arts and crafts.
  • Try to write at least 250 words fitting an object into a story to overcome writer’s block.
  • You never have to leave what you have written from a writing exercise in a story.

I would love to feature your writing on my blog!

Please let me know if this helps you in the ways it has helped me! I would love to read every single short story written using this methods (100% serious). Tell me about your stories and the best ones will be featured in their own posts – please submit using the subject line: Object Oriented Writing. I am planning on getting a group of judges other than myself to read these if people actually participate. This contest will be running through 30 April, 2020.

Rules:

  • Word Count: 250 – 2000 words
  • grammar or spelling mistakes do not interrupt reading experience
  • Must be capable of being rated PG
  • Has the entire story written following the exercise above (Beginning, Middle, End, etc)
  • Please be sure to include your name or pen name, contact e-mail, and other identifying information in the body of the email.
  • Please submit your short story in a .pdf (an attachment that can be read by Google Docs) with a unique 5 digit number you pick at the top (do not include this in the e-mail). I will use these 5 digit numbers to announce winners on Twitter.
  • (Optional) include a picture of your object
  • The story cannot have been previously published elsewhere as it needs to be a new composition using the above method.
  • Author retains all rights beyond the printing of the story in a blog post on LoPotterWrites.com with any other promotional material the author provides for their writing. The author can request that the story be removed at any time should they wish by contacting me.
  • If the above rules are not followed your story will sadly be disqualified.
  • You will be notified if your story is chosen (or not) by 31 May 2020 (assuming there are not thousands of submissions).

Prize: TBD

Right now there is no prize besides having your short story on my blog. I am working on figuring out ways to improve this and how many prizes I can offer.

Thank you for reading – without you, this would be a shout into the ether.