Pick the Brain of Harrison McLeod of Men With Pens

 

In case you’re just tuning in, we’ll be posting mini-interviews with top bloggers here at Blue Duck over the next few weeks. You’ll have the chance to get a sneak peak into how these bloggers improve their writing and what inspires them to do what they do so well. I’ve had a blast reading the answers to these mini-interviews and can’t wait to share them with you!

Here’s Harry!

First off in this series is an interview with Harrison McLeod of Men With Pens. Harry is a gifted graphic designer with all the bells and whistles of a fancy degree to back up his work. He also writes thoughtful and entertaining blog posts for the company’s website, as well as content for clients from time to time. His style brings readers back for more day after day. 

Let the Brain Picking Begin

To be fair, I asked each blogger the same three questions. Here are Harry’s responses- unedited.

What writing habits do you practice daily?

I have to say there aren’t any writing habits that I practice on a daily basis. I used to be in the habit of writing every day, but the demands of our business keep me occupied with graphics.

Having gotten away from writing on a daily basis, I find that when I do sit down to do some serious writing, it shows. It’s like jumping back into an exercise routine; the muscles don’t respond the way they used to. You get sore and tired quickly at first.

Writing every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is important on so many levels.

 

What is your process for improving your writing?

 

The more I read, the more reading stimulates my brain. Sometimes it helps with style. Other times it helps with new ideas and perspectives, or I’ll see a new technique to try or hit on a method to use.

 It’s the same as when I was in art school. Critiques and the studio atmosphere do more than foster social interaction. You get ideas from the way other people work. You need the constant give and take of discussion and debate.

 You might see what another person is doing and want to try it yourself. It may work, it may not, or it might lead to something better that no one has ever seen before. The world is your studio; use it.

 

 What books or blog posts have influenced the mechanics and heart of your writing the most?

 

The one book that has influenced me the most is Stephen King’s On Writing. The book was incredible and it helped me see that there isn’t anything wrong with the way I write – I have my own style and that’s fine.

 King’s methods and mine are very similar. I may not be the greatest writer on the face of the earth, but I have a knack for connecting with my audience and I’m a very good storyteller.

 

“The world is your studio; use it.” That just may become a personal mantra for writers, web designers, and bloggers around the world. Yes, Harry, you do have a knack for connecting to your audience, and your responses are… well, they’re classic Harry. Thanks for letting us pick your brain!

If you would like to read more of Harry’s musings, you can visit Men With Pens to read more. You can also view some of Harry’s stunning handiwork on the MwP website. He also designed the banner and logo for Blue Duck Copy. 😉 We love it, but we’re a little partial.

36 Responses to Pick the Brain of Harrison McLeod of Men With Pens
  1. Amy Derby
    September 29, 2008 | 10:43 pm

    Nice to meet another member of the Harold fan club. 🙂

    Amy Derbys last blog post..Ninja Kick Your Competition (Again)

  2. Amy Derby
    September 29, 2008 | 6:43 pm

    Nice to meet another member of the Harold fan club. 🙂

    Amy Derbys last blog post..Ninja Kick Your Competition (Again)

  3. Jamie Simmerman
    September 29, 2008 | 11:19 pm

    @ Amy Harrison McLeod deserves his own fan club!

  4. Jamie
    September 29, 2008 | 7:19 pm

    @ Amy Harrison McLeod deserves his own fan club!

  5. Kelly
    September 30, 2008 | 1:16 am

    Jamie,

    Yay, you picked my favorite brain first. The phrase you highlighted is the one that grabbed me, too, coming from a studio art background: “The world is your studio; use it.” I know just what he means about feeding off what we see, read, and experience all around us. So many folks go through life with blinders on. Open up, open outward, and ideas will flood you.

    I’d better go get an idea to flood me, because tomorrow morning’s post looks gapingly unfinished right now. 🙂

    Looking forward to the rest of the pickins!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kellys last blog post..Tip of the Week: Can You Do It, When It’s Been Done?

  6. Kelly
    September 29, 2008 | 9:16 pm

    Jamie,

    Yay, you picked my favorite brain first. The phrase you highlighted is the one that grabbed me, too, coming from a studio art background: “The world is your studio; use it.” I know just what he means about feeding off what we see, read, and experience all around us. So many folks go through life with blinders on. Open up, open outward, and ideas will flood you.

    I’d better go get an idea to flood me, because tomorrow morning’s post looks gapingly unfinished right now. 🙂

    Looking forward to the rest of the pickins!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kellys last blog post..Tip of the Week: Can You Do It, When It’s Been Done?

  7. Harrison "Classic" McLeod
    September 30, 2008 | 2:53 am

    Thanks for the interview Jamie! I have to say it was the shortest one I’ve ever done, but those were some good questions.

    @Amy: Seems like my fan club is growing by leaps and bounds these days. You wanna be El Presidenté?

    @Kelly: That’s it exactly, there’s so much around a writer should never run out of material.

    Well, that thought looks good on paper anyway. I have to remember to take my own advice the next time I’m staring blankly at the monitor at 3 am.

  8. Jamie Simmerman
    September 30, 2008 | 7:06 am

    @ “Classic” Harry (That’s ok, after talking to Naomi, I am now “Jamie Sans-Penis”) Great minds stay up past 3 AM. 😉

    Wow! I get an interview and spontaneous comments, too? I think I’m gonna faint… wait, no, it’s just the caffeine wearing off. 😀 It was truly my pleasure, Mr. McLeod.

    Despite my love for rambling and waxing poetic, I generally like to get to the point. Short and sweet works for me.

  9. Jamie
    September 30, 2008 | 3:06 am

    @ “Classic” Harry (That’s ok, after talking to Naomi, I am now “Jamie Sans-Penis”) Great minds stay up past 3 AM. 😉

    Wow! I get an interview and spontaneous comments, too? I think I’m gonna faint… wait, no, it’s just the caffeine wearing off. 😀 It was truly my pleasure, Mr. McLeod.

    Despite my love for rambling and waxing poetic, I generally like to get to the point. Short and sweet works for me.

  10. Harrison "Classic" McLeod
    September 30, 2008 | 7:22 am

    Of course you get spontaneous comments! It’s part of the MwP Interview Experience.

  11. Harrison "Classic" McLeod
    September 30, 2008 | 3:22 am

    Of course you get spontaneous comments! It’s part of the MwP Interview Experience.

  12. Jamie Simmerman
    September 30, 2008 | 7:30 am

    Continuous comments are what makes the Pen Men so well loved…If word gets out, you’ll be a hot commodity! Oh wait, that’s right, you guys have already reached rockstar status.

  13. Jamie
    September 30, 2008 | 3:30 am

    Continuous comments are what makes the Pen Men so well loved…If word gets out, you’ll be a hot commodity! Oh wait, that’s right, you guys have already reached rockstar status.

  14. James Chartrand - Men with Pen
    September 30, 2008 | 11:57 am

    Jamie Sans-Penis? *falls off chair laughing*

    I agree with Harry, by the way. Taking a break from writing makes it hard to get back into sometimes. Switching the type of writing you do is often a good idea to get a break without putting the pen down.

  15. James Chartrand - Men with Pens
    September 30, 2008 | 7:57 am

    Jamie Sans-Penis? *falls off chair laughing*

    I agree with Harry, by the way. Taking a break from writing makes it hard to get back into sometimes. Switching the type of writing you do is often a good idea to get a break without putting the pen down.

  16. Jamie Simmerman
    September 30, 2008 | 1:16 pm

    @ James Yep, that makes you Jamie-Con-Penis, eh? (or is that Spanish?)

    Sometimes when I find I’ve been staring at the screen too long without writing, I start writing about a similar topic that I know a lot about. Then I try to switch over to the client’s topic mid-flow and just put down whatever comes to mind.

    You can always utilize that delete button, but if you’re not puttng words on the screen, you’re just wasting time.

  17. Jamie
    September 30, 2008 | 9:16 am

    @ James Yep, that makes you Jamie-Con-Penis, eh? (or is that Spanish?)

    Sometimes when I find I’ve been staring at the screen too long without writing, I start writing about a similar topic that I know a lot about. Then I try to switch over to the client’s topic mid-flow and just put down whatever comes to mind.

    You can always utilize that delete button, but if you’re not puttng words on the screen, you’re just wasting time.

  18. Karen Swim
    September 30, 2008 | 10:22 pm

    Jamie, I saw your peanut butter comment on Kelly’s blog. After I stopped laughing hysterically, I had to see what Harry had to say. I totally heart Harry! He is a real life superhero . Thanks for picking his brain and sharing it!

  19. Karen Swim
    September 30, 2008 | 6:22 pm

    Jamie, I saw your peanut butter comment on Kelly’s blog. After I stopped laughing hysterically, I had to see what Harry had to say. I totally heart Harry! He is a real life superhero . Thanks for picking his brain and sharing it!

  20. Jamie Simmerman
    October 1, 2008 | 2:04 am

    @ Karen Sad, but true.

    I totally heart Harry, too He rocks!

  21. Jamie
    September 30, 2008 | 10:04 pm

    @ Karen Sad, but true.

    I totally heart Harry, too He rocks!

  22. Harrison McLeod
    October 1, 2008 | 2:14 am

    Does that mean we can have bumper stickers made up now?

  23. Harrison McLeod
    September 30, 2008 | 10:14 pm

    Does that mean we can have bumper stickers made up now?

  24. Jamie Simmerman
    October 1, 2008 | 2:20 am

    Oooh! Can we?! Maybe the Bloggess can design them. 😉

  25. Jamie
    September 30, 2008 | 10:20 pm

    Oooh! Can we?! Maybe the Bloggess can design them. 😉

  26. Karen Swim
    October 1, 2008 | 2:28 am

    oooh, bumper stickers, I’ll take a dozen! 🙂

  27. Karen Swim
    September 30, 2008 | 10:28 pm

    oooh, bumper stickers, I’ll take a dozen! 🙂

  28. Marelisa
    October 1, 2008 | 4:24 am

    Hi Jamie: This is a concise and helpful interview. And I know what Harry means about the world being your studio; you can get inspiration from anywhere: web sites, nature, scraps of fabric, books, conversations with others ,visiting a museum, and so on. I recently came across someone else who recommended “On Writing”–can’t remember who– so now I guess I pretty much have to read it 🙂

  29. Marelisa
    October 1, 2008 | 12:24 am

    Hi Jamie: This is a concise and helpful interview. And I know what Harry means about the world being your studio; you can get inspiration from anywhere: web sites, nature, scraps of fabric, books, conversations with others ,visiting a museum, and so on. I recently came across someone else who recommended “On Writing”–can’t remember who– so now I guess I pretty much have to read it 🙂

  30. Tracy
    October 1, 2008 | 4:01 pm

    “The world is your studio; use it.” I love that quote, thanks for the inspiring interview!

  31. Tracy
    October 1, 2008 | 12:01 pm

    “The world is your studio; use it.” I love that quote, thanks for the inspiring interview!

  32. Jamie Simmerman
    October 1, 2008 | 5:03 pm

    @ Tracy Yeah, he’s good. We’re gonna have it made into little bumper stickers for cars and motorcycles. 😉

    I *heart* Harry is a definite possibility, too. Get yours early, they sell out quickly.

  33. Jamie
    October 1, 2008 | 1:03 pm

    @ Tracy Yeah, he’s good. We’re gonna have it made into little bumper stickers for cars and motorcycles. 😉

    I *heart* Harry is a definite possibility, too. Get yours early, they sell out quickly.

  34. Writer Dad
    October 1, 2008 | 7:52 pm

    Harrison: I love it. The world is your studio. Indeed.

  35. Writer Dad
    October 1, 2008 | 3:52 pm

    Harrison: I love it. The world is your studio. Indeed.

  36. Harrison "Classic" McLeod
    January 6, 2010 | 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the interview Jamie! I have to say it was the shortest one I've ever done, but those were some good questions.

    @Amy: Seems like my fan club is growing by leaps and bounds these days. You wanna be El Presidenté?

    @Kelly: That's it exactly, there's so much around a writer should never run out of material.

    Well, that thought looks good on paper anyway. I have to remember to take my own advice the next time I'm staring blankly at the monitor at 3 am.

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