How Regular Meetings With an Imaginary Advisory Board Helps Me Write Better, Faster, More – No Zoom Required

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Editorial meeting minutes. Private and Confidential. Present: Steven Pressfield, Guyon Espiner, Simone de Beauvoir, Marie Colvin and Sitara Morgenster. Notes taken by Sitara Morgenster. Subject: Sitara’s work and journalism career.

Stranger than fiction? Oh, yes, it is. The only person in the meeting not imaginary is me. It’s a sunny winter morning, warm enough to sit outside. I write name tags for the members of my editorial team for the four empty chairs on my veranda. The fifth is for me to sit on.

The four names are of writers and journalists I admire. Simone died of old age 35…


The New Zealand Government Is Failing To Protect Rarest Dolphins

Illustration by the Author. Maui Dolphins and Map by D.O.C., via Wiki Media Commons.

In an attempt to help protect the now critically endangered Māui dolphin, Sea Shepherd hopes a US court will ban New Zealand seafood. New Zealand’s government is not doing enough to protect one of its native dolphin species. The country’s seafood exports to the US amount to about NZ$200 million.

The unique Māui dolphin is home only to New Zealand’s waters. It is one of the smallest marine dolphin species in the world and also one of the rarest. …


On The Heroic Task of Existential Joy

The Forest From My Cabin. Photo Credit: Sitara Morgenster.

Never have I done anything heroic in my life. At the same time, it can be said that each and every newborn baby is a hero. You and I managed to be born against so many odds. Apparently the chances of our biological mothers and fathers getting to know each other is 1 in 20,000. This rather small chance requires to be multiplied with the likelihood of them having sex together.

Add a few more odds like environmental and biological hazards and mishaps. Then mix in the ingredients mentioned in the first paragraph. Repeat for each individual in your entire…


Free Food Found Near You, By You

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

It started when a friend and I were leaning over my veranda railing and looked down on weeds taking over the grass, sown by the previous owner of my house. Not mowing my lawn had given a whole lot of ‘weeds’ a chance to pop up and present themselves to air and sunlight. ‘You can eat those,’ my friend said, pointing at a nondescript plant with large green leaves. She told me it was burdock.

I got excited. I’m a dreadful gardener. I can keep houseplants alive, but what grows in the garden need to be plants that can fend…


About The New Zealand Artist Fiercely Dedicated To Expressing Her Visual Intelligence

Rita Angus. Photo Credit: New Zealand Archives via Wikimedia Commons

The United States has Georgia O’Keeffe, the Netherlands has Vincent van Gogh, New Zealand has Rita Angus. Well, that’s how I see it and feel when I see Rita Angus’ paintings. Had she lived elsewhere in the Western world, there would by now be a museum dedicated to her.

Rita Angus didn’t sell many works during her lifetime, not because she couldn’t but because she wouldn’t. When she died in 1970, aged just 62, she left around 600 works in her cottage in Wellington. They have since been stored at Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand. They’re seldom…


Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

If anyone would scroll through my previous stories, they might notice gaps in time. I pretended it would just look like I was working on other pieces elsewhere. Although I was doing heaps of “research for future pieces” (the classic writers’ procrastination trick), that was literally not the whole story. The truth was that I had writers’ block. Despite teaching others how to fix their writers’ block, I’d hit one myself.

My first reaction was shame and self-loathing. Writers’ block, pathetic; what a first world problem. I looked for advice from other writers. …


A True Story of Off-grid Life

Freedom Is Too Flighty to Be Photographed by Me, So I’m Using This Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash.

I’d never seen a pig in my forest until a new neighbor bought the house across the road and befriended piglets from the woods behind his property. Five years of no pigs; only birds, mason wasps and other insects, spiders, geckos, frogs, mice, worms and, occasionally, a possum. And now this.

The neighbor said he couldn’t help it. It was like they had come down from the hill to be with him. He made it sound like he was a reincarnation of Francis of Assisi. He’d named one of them Freedom* and treated her like a pet. …


How to hold a Pencil between Your Teeth For an Instant Shift in Happiness

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

It’s annoying to be told to cheer up and smile, especially by a stranger in the street. But imagine someone telling you to put a pencil between your teeth, promising it will lift your mood in ten seconds.

There’s no shortage of advice on how to be happy and have a great, long life, but science journalist and author Helen Thomson fleeced through study after study to explore the real science behind the self-help. Her book, ‘This Book Could Fix Your Life’, examines the most recent research, and provides us with the highlights of what works and what doesn’t.

‘Study…


9 Easy Writing Prompts, Opening Doors to Your Imagination

Image Created by the Author, from Unsplash Images in Canva. [Credits For Each Individual Door Below.]

Doors have been in my life recently. I guess doors are everywhere, but I didn’t mean it literally. Neither in terms of the clichéd ‘when one door closes another always opens’. Even though that is true, as clichés often are.

The doors I’m talking about are found on page 86 of bestselling author and artist SARK’s “Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper”.

There’s also a door in ‘Miracle’, the beautiful movie title song by Ilse DeLange. (“Someone put a lock on this old door, it’s been beaten up and used and more, it’s…


7 Hacks for Creating ‘Magic’ and Productivity in a Chaotic Life

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I don’t have much of a daily routine or work structure. For years I tried to create them in all kinds of ways. Just to fail at them and feel there was something wrong with me.

I read plenty of articles and tried other people’s methods. Did the ‘get up at 5am’-thing. Tried to stick to a 9–5 at home office regime. Tried the same bedtime each night. But I finally conceded that the routines and schedules that work magic for other people didn’t fuel creativity and productivity for someone like me.

Trying out many productivity hacks was not a…

Sitara Morgenster

I specialise in not knowing, I find out by writing. * Off-grid in New Zealand native forest. * You can support what I do at https://ko-fi.com/sitaramorgenster

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