Take a pause to let your mind work

Why the culture that destroyed attention spans is now turning to podcasts.

  • Taking a pause after consuming a piece of art or media is essential to our memory, emotions, and intellectual digestion, says writer, director and podcaster John Cameron Mitchell.
  • We live in an age full of influencers and YouTube personalities, but fewer narrative powerhouses. Storytelling takes time, skill, and requires us to make space to gather our thoughts.
  • Podcasts are a storytelling rebellion against so-called ADHD culture. If the internet ruined our attention spans, can the single-sense format of podcasts bring it back?
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How to use a thesaurus to actually improve your writing

Looking up big, fancy words won't make your writing better. But a thesaurus can help – if you use it like this.

  • Using a thesaurus to find larger or more impressive words is misguided, says Martin Amis. Instead, use a thesaurus to find words with the perfect rhythm for your sentence.
  • For example, the Nabokov novel "Invitation to a Beheading" was originally called – not for very long – "Invitation to an Execution". Nabokov nixed the repetitive suffix.
  • A dictionary is also a writer's best friend; looking up words has a rejuvenating effect on your mind, says Amis. "When you look up a word in the dictionary you own it in a way you didn't before. You know what it comes from and you know its exact meaning."
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Bryan Cranston: the journey from ‘Party Boy #2’ to movie star

How do you go from background extra to leading man? Listen to acting legend Bryan Cranston's pragmatic advice.

How did Bryan Cranston get to where he is? Luck, talent, and a personal numerical system he uses to pick his roles. The system — which he calls CAPS, or Cranston Assessment of Projects — is a little tongue-in-cheek in name but has allowed Bryan to go from Malcolm in the Middle to Breaking Bad to his latest project, Richard Linklater's veteran drama Last Flag Flying. While most actors might pick their roles based on the paycheck or how high it might raise their profile, Bryan has been able to pick his roles based on story and how happy the project might make him feel. It's a great lesson about good decision making. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a better teacher than Bryan, a man who's gone from "Party Boy #2" to the Hollywood A-list. Bryan Cranston's new book is the spectacular memoir A Life in Parts.

Want to be an artist? Why passion is more important than planning

The acting giant talks about how those in the corporate and business worlds could take a page from artists... simply by embracing a reward system not rooted in hard metrics.

Actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Trumbo, Last Flag Flying) is easily one of the greatest actors of his generation. But he has a remarkable perspective on art and how its tenets might be useful to other areas of life. For instance, Bryan posits, don't get into something unless your heart is fully in it. This applies to actors signing up for projects they're not earnestly invested in just as much as it does people working in jobs they aren't passionate about. "Trust your feelings. Trust your instincts," Bryan says, because embracing ambiguity instead of looking at life as a series of steps leading to a goal can lead to a much healthier outlook. Bryan Cranston's new book is the spectacular memoir A Life in Parts.

What's More Violent: Shakespeare or 'Game of Thrones'?

The stories in Shakespeare's plays and 'Game of Thrones' are often bloody, but which are ultimately more violent?

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