Desperate Ravings #1 – The First One’s Free!

Dear Friend,

Are you desperate?

Given perhaps to a ravings or so?

Or would you like a wider opportunity to express yourself, and share your ideas, to the greater Magic and gaming communities? Do you want to improve your communication skills or become a better writer? Or try your hand as a writer at all?



Have we got some hoops for you to jump through this week!

A month or so ago I was on the phone with Adam, “The Sybs” Styborski, puppet master and proprietor of; Adam and I were chatting about the quality of content on GM and areas where it could improve. One thing that Adam pointed out — that has been a refrain even when talking about some of my favorite writers on certain bigger sites —

… Isn’t the quality of ideas themselves, or the passion behind those ideas, but the qualities that make for a good — and consistent — Magic columnist.

Now this got the gears in my head turning.

I grabbed Evan Erwin to make sure the Shadow Cabinet / Parliament of Trees in Roanoke, VA were okay with a small collaboration with my friends at some of the up-and-coming sites.

All clear!

Now not every subscriber and follower loved the videos I posted last week; certainly they were not my best work, but that was the point — they weren’t supposed to be. It might surprise some of you to learn that most of what I write and do ends up on the floor. I think that the only way that you can get good at something is by doing it over and over, and that’s what I try to do. I write as many as 8,000 or even 12,000 words in a day, but professionally publish less than 8,000 words per week, so you do the math.

Now to Geordie’s point, the essential something that can make an entertaining writer — in whatever niche — is that “turn of phrase” … not just whether you agree with him or he is always publishing cutting-edge deck technology.

I can’t do much in terms of kindling your The Fire or improving the substance or your ideas (only the process by which you form them), but I can pass on two things that can help make you — if you are interested — into a consistent and desirable Magic content generating machine: 1) That “turn of phrase”, and 2) Consistency!

Here’s the thing: If you go back and read The Ferrett’s essays on producing content for Star City Games back in the early- and mid-2000s, you will learn something… Consistency is more-or-less the most important thing Magic websites need.

“My favorite writer is, undoubtedly, me. I find me very easy to edit, and me always makes the deadlines that I ask him to. Furthermore, if I’m short on good articles, me can usually pull one together with very little notice. Plus, I hear me always speaks well of myself.”
-The Ferrett, 11/19/04

One-of articles — especially great ones — are (or at least can be) great… But they can also set expectations that, long run, are impossible for a site to maintain.

In the same 11/19/04 Ask the Editor, The Ferrett criticizes “guy who has few ideas, but wants money” … and decries in particular that “Pros tend to be the worst at this – but who can blame them? The winner of the last Pro Tour knows darned well that if he wrote ‘How 2 not Seck N Xtendud’ on toilet paper, his articles would still get more hits than 99% of the PTQ-grinding articles out there. I can’t really blame ’em, but turning them down can sometimes backfire.”

So how do we solve this issue?

Star City hasn’t got any shortage of guys and gals who can turn in that turn of phrase eight years later.

As @FloresFacts reminds us, I constantly add and jettison to my algorithm.

One of my strategies is to steal / add / approximate the prose styles of writers I admire by using a specific exercise; I am going to share some iterations of this exercise over the next seven days.

You — if you are interested in awesome prizes, and / or making a go of becoming a featured writer on one of our sponsoring sites (itself an awesome prize) — are going to do them!

Each day, I am going to put up a short piece of prose, poetry, or song. It will be awesome. You will copy it down BY HAND, three times, and upload your work to the Desperate Ravings Facebook HOMEWORK page.

There will be seven such exercises.

But because I am a kind slavemaster, you get ten days to complete all seven.

As the exercises for the most part aren’t easy, if you can complete all seven in this relatively short time frame, you will show — in my opinion anyway — some of that capacity for consistency that is essential in a featured Magic writer.

If you can do them all, you will not be able to avoid adding tools that will help you ask questions, craft descriptions, develop characters, and make arguments with more beautiful, horrifying, clear — or when necessary, obfuscating — turn of phrase.

Our Sponsors:

Like I said earlier in the post, this idea came out of a conversation I had with Adam. I haven’t had a chance to work with Adam on anything before (despite our both being longtime writers on The Mother Ship DailyMTG), and I am excited to do something special this week. Thanks to Adam and GatheringMagic for participating, and sponsoring!

A month or two back, Jonathan Medina had the idea of resurrecting Flores Rewards. Gavin Verhey is in R&D lockdown, and we haven’t had a Flores Rewards hoop to jump through in over a year (despite certain proprietor’s “promises”) … Desperate Ravings seemed pretty Flores Rewards-ish, and I knew Medina would be excited to participate. He even came up with the name!

KYT has proven himself one of the most enthusiastic young influencers in the Magic community over the past few years, and single-handedly rallied the entire country of Canada around his black-and-blue lightbulb. Most recently, ManaDeprived was rewarded with a PT win when their Alexander Hayne spiked Barcelona with his magical Miracles. KYT was the first person I wanted to include; he quickly ponied up the dough.

… What dough?

Desperate Ravings Fabulous Prizes:
There are at least $300 in fabulous prizes being awarded by our sponsors:
GatheringMagic / Cool Stuff, Inc.
LegitMTG (“what is LegitMTG?”)
ManaDeprived / Face to Face Games

… and one priceless one from YT!

Over the course of the next five days, each of these sites is going to give out a $10 gift certificate to a lucky reader who:

  • Likes the DesperateRavings exercise of the day, and / or
  • Completes the DesperateRavings exercise of the day and uploads their three pages on our Facebook HOMEWORK page.

So if I were you — and I were interested in getting a $10 gift certificate — I would upload early and often!

Need some practice? Go like this blog entry now!

Anyway, that is $30 in prizes for the next five days, or the first $150.

At the end of the line — on June 13, 2012 — we are going to assess everyone who has completed all seven assignments.

At that point we will hand out three $50 gift certificates among any cats who have done all seven.

In the unlikely case that only one person has finished all the assignments? That lucky hard-working cat is going to claim all $150!

On top of the $150 from GatheringMagic, LegitMTG, and ManaDeprived, I am personally going to award one hour of coaching / consulting to a fortuitous finisher.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Anyone that finishes all seven Desperate Ravings assignments is going to be eligible for a long-term / permanent writing gig on one of our sponsor sites. We don’t really know how this promotion is going to stick at this point, so we don’t know how that is going to shake out in its entirely, but LegitMTG’s Jonathan Medina has an idea he likes to call:

Desperate Ravings – Flashback

More on that when we get there!

Prizes, In Summary:

Five $10 gift certificates from GatheringMagic
Five $10 gift certificates from LegitMTG
Five $10 gift certificates from ManaDeprived
… Distributed randomly among those who Like and / or complete Desperate Ravings assignments

Three $50 gift certificates from GatheringMagic / LegitMTG / and ManaDeprived distributed among those who complete all seven Desperate Ravings assignments

One one-hour call from YT, to one all-seven-assignments completer as well.

And for those who want to land a long-term gig… the next step is: Desperate Ravings – Flashback!

Desperate Ravings Calendar:

  • June 4, 2012 – (today) Desperate Ravings assignment #1, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants from the good people at GatheringMagic, LegitMTG, and ManaDeprived!
  • June 5, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #2, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 6, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #3, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 7, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #4, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 8, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #5, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 9, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #6
  • June 10, 2012 – Last Desperate Ravings assignment, #7
  • June 12, 2012 – Everything is due! Shortly thereafter we will finalize the $50 prizes, coaching call, and the possibility of Desperate Ravings – Flashback.

Today’s Assignment – The First One’s Free

Since I already made you read 1,000 words explaining what Desperate Ravings is, I decided to be super kind on the first assignment. It’s a short segment from Gwen Stefani’s solo hit Early Winter.

What to Do:

  1. Copy down the following short excerpt from Early Winter, 1) by hand, 2) three times.
  2. Upload your work to the Desperate Ravings Facebook HOMEWORK Page.
  3. That’s it!


Why do you act so stupid?


You know that I’m always right.

That’s it!

Writing out this entire assignment shouldn’t even take five minutes.

I am going to be doing these with you every day. Here’s mine!

You want prizes? You want to grow up to be a fabulously influential Magic personality? Get to it already! These pages ain’t gonna pencil themselves.

Discuss on Twitter at #DesperateRavings


Weird Note on Facebook:
Facebook is weird. I mean we all love Facebook but it is em effin’ weird about some stuff. Ergo, we have two Facebook locations.

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#1 MTGBattlefield on 06.04.12 at 8:49 am

Desperate Ravings #1 – The First One’s Free!…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#2 Monday Night Magic #313 – A Chat with BDM | | MTGCastMTGCast on 06.06.12 at 5:45 am

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