Year: 2014

A New Word for the New Year

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Asking for a word that would provide the direction for one’s life has been a tradition since the time mystics fled to the deserts and mountains to seek enlightenment. These mystics, known as the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers, were visited by many people who sought their guidance. The practice of asking for a word is closely related to Lectio Divina, an ancient way of praying practiced by Christians. Lectio Divina involves pondering upon a word or phrase from Scripture with the aim of attaining union with God. I never developed the habit of making New Year’s resolutions – it just didn’t appeal to me at all even when I was young. But last year, when I heard of this ancient tradition of asking for a word, I knew it was for me. Thus, I asked for a word, and it flowed to me. The word Peregrinatio was a revelation, and through the days and months, it defined, explained, gave purpose and identified many aspects in my life,…

Birthing a Book

As we approach the end of the Christmas Season and in the spirit of Noel, a word that is rooted in the Latin natalis, which means  “birth,” I felt that this is the proper time to reflect on what I had tried to begin or give birth to this year in my writing life.  This year I embarked on the process of a “birthing” a book. I knew that there were many things I needed to do to be able to write a book, and that it was a process that I did not want to rush.  I wanted to accomplish something, and so I began by (1) identifying the reason why I wanted to undertake this journey. When I knew that I wanted to write a book for adults (I had written two books for children) because I want to experience the process of writing a book for grown ups, I was then able to (2) set a timetable for myself. There was and is no rush, and the project would be done even as I continued with my work, so the timetable I came up with is …

Praying through the Storms in Our Lives

All over our country -the Philippines- the atmosphere reverberates with prayers as millions and millions of Filipinos continue to pray over the weekend. The Philippines is the third largest Catholic country in the world, and millions of Filipinos head for the churches on Sundays. This Sunday though, some of the churches in 47 of the country’s 81 provinces are serving a different purpose, and people are praying specifically for their safety. Thousands have flocked to churches which are stable and sturdy enough to withstand the fury of Typhoon Hagupit. “The strongest storm of the year anywhere on the planet is zeroing in on the Philippines,” a CNN broadcaster announced, “and we’re talking about Super Typhoon Hagupit,” she explained. Foreign correspondents have begun arriving since a few days ago to cover the arrival, stay and departure of Hagupit, which has made its first landfall late Saturday evening. On November last year, millions of Filipinos prayed that they would be spared from the fury of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which, according to meteorologist Jeff Masters, was the strongest typhoon to ever make …

Writers on Writing

“Instinctively, years ago, I knew the part that Work must play in my life. More than twelve years ago I wrote in ink on my typing board at my right hand the words: DON’T THINK!…The time will come when your characters will write your stories for you, when your emotions, free of literary cant and commercial bias, will blast the page and tell the truth. Remember: Plot is no more than foot prints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running and searching a goal. It cannot b mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood and heart do.” -Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing   “I had learned long before, in my own writing life, …

Exercise Time!

Here’s a great exercise that is simple yet amazing. Whether you’re a non-fiction writer like me, or someone who loves to write novels, this short exercise will help clarify issues, point you towards new directions, or show you something you missed in whatever it is you are writing. This is the first exercise in Andy Couturier’s Writing Open the Mind. The book’s subtitle is Tapping the Subconscious to Free the Writing and the Writer – and if you do this exercise from a perspective of play, you’ll see some amazing revelations pertaining to your writing project. To begin, keep in mind the writing project you want to focus on. It could be a book, a novel, an article or a simple blog post. Now get a sheet of large paper and make five columns with the following headings: Scenes, moods, questions, concepts and for the last column, faces. All you need now is seven minutes to write as fast as you can, anything that comes to mind pertaining to each column. Under the column “Scenes,” write about places – …

Simply Blossom

  The small, fragrant white blossom is the national flower of the Philippines. The sampaguita (jasminum sambac) is a hardy shrub with a multitude of blossoms at any given time.  As a young plant, the sampaguita is fragile and the blossoms oftentimes appear singly. A single, tiny flower the size of a big coin looks lonely. I couldn’t help but feel how we too, sometimes look lonely when we are alone.  When our size, color or lonesome state calls attention, we feel vulnerable and fragile. This tiny flower is so fragrant, that even if there is only one blossom, there’s a hint of its fragrance when the wind blows. We can be like that too, no matter how different we are from the rest, no matter how small we feel – or how alone we seem to be.  When we are true to ourselves and allow ourselves to be, we will simply blossom.

Writers on Writing

It’s been a while since I last featured quotable quotes from writers. Here are some words of wisdom from writing masters: “Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first–at least for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you will use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, lighthearted, and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.”    – Brenda Ueland “Writers don’t have lifestyles. They just sit in little rooms and write.”   – Norman Mailer “Writing is a craft. You have to do the work, be willing to put scattered words down. The magic is in the commitment.”         — Jennifer Baszile “I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means.”    – Dorothy Allison  “The essential question is, “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?” Into …

Falling

I’ve been enviously feasting on pictures of autumn featured in various blogs across the web. I love the splash of colors that autumn brings. We don’t have that kind of season here in the tropics – when leaves turn yellow or brown, they fall off and the trees go bald. Green leaves push their way through the branches just as the last dying leaves fall off. Tropical tress also have their own rhythms. We don’t have a season of falling leaves. Different species shed at different times of the year. The Talisay tree sheds twice a year: after summer and midway through the cooler months of the dry season.   Some trees shed completely and look like skeletons for a week or so, until the new leaves begin to dress up the trees again. Shedding is part of a tree’s life. It’s a dying of sorts that paves the way for new growth. People go through autumnal seasons as well, but the falling, the dying happens internally. Sometimes they manifest through the rituals in our lives. When the soul-based practices …

Meditation, Life and Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, As if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves — Slowly, evenly, without rushing to the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. – Thich Nhat Hanh The best state of mind in which to drink tea is one of deep meditation. The second best is while looking at a beautiful landscape or listening to music. The third best is sharing a stimulating conversation. In all cases, it is necessary to aspire toward a quiet and tranquil frame of mind. – attributed to Chinese Zen Master Paichanng

Where to Get Photos for Your Blog Posts

Here’s an update on sites that provide domain-free images which you can use on your blog posts and other projects. There are many other sites, but these are the ones that are absolutely free and user friendly: Registration is not necessary and no payments are required; easy and hassle-free downloading. However, even if they’re free to use, it would be nice of you to attribute! Here they are:   morgueFile   By Qedem1611 Although the name sounds gruesome, morgueFile is so easy to use and provides thousands of domain-free photos. Just click on the homepage and you’ll easily find the search box. Type the kind of photo you need and voila! You have instant access to lots of pictures.   Photo Pin photo credit: deb*711 via photopin cc What I love about Photo Pin is that you can get an instant preview of the images. Remember, though, that when there is no preview for an image, that photo requires a fee. Only those that you can preview are domain free. Download is easy and there is an HTML box for …

Go Ahead, Blog! It’s Good for You!

I know blogging is good for me. It gives me lots of opportunities to write. Writing happens to be one of the biggest loves of my life, which is why blogging has become a very important part of my life. Now I’m thinking that it could be one of the reasons why I remain healthy. I look forward to blogging. I feel good many hours after I blog. It’s good medicine for the doldrums, a perfect way to ward off depression, and a great way to share. Scientists have long ago determined that when we write to express our thoughts and feelings, we do many good things to our body.  Writing has been known to improve memory and sleep. It boosts the immune system and aids in healing in people who have had surgery, or are suffering from AIDS or cancer. According to the American Scientist, since 2008, scientists have been studying the neurological effects of blogging. Some hospitals are even hosting blogs authored by patients on their websites. Nancy Morgan, who is the lead author of the Oncologist study explains why blogging helps …

Writing through the Pain

“Rosanna, How are you even able to write and post? No matter how many pictures I see, I know I cannot fathom what you and your country are going through. I pray for you,” a fellow blogger, Nancy, commented after reading a blog post I wrote that was filled with pictures of the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan brought to the third biggest group of islands in the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, a super typhoon and one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land, devastated the Visayas last November 8, 2014. I was at that time participating in NaBloPoMo as part of the Yeah Write group and even I was surprised when I was able to pull through the blogging challenge. I never missed a post. Not only that, I wrote more posts about Haiyan in another blog and in social media. I could not stop writing – it was as though the death of more than 7,000 of my countrymen and the uncertain fate of thousands of people left homeless and traumatized by Haiyan ignited a flame in me …

What’s up for Non-Fiction Writers in November?

The blogosphere is abuzz with the upcoming NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, and what a surprise – there were 609 novelists from the Philippines who joined this writing challenge last year. Since I am not a fiction writer, it makes me wonder how people can whip up thousands of words in a day while concocting plots and creating characters. An amazing feat indeed! There is also  a writing challenge for non-fiction writers every November. This lesser-known and less intense writing challenge for non-fiction writers is called WNFN/NaNonFiWriMo (Write Non-Fiction in November/National Non-Fiction Writing Month). WNFN/NaNonFiWriMo is the brainchild of  Nina Amir, who blogs at Write Non-fiction Now! Amir explains why she came up with this writing challenge:”In October 2007, a year after I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I asked myself, “What’s a nonfiction writer supposed to do during November?” Searching around in the NaNoWriMo forums, I discovered NaNoRebels. Participating as a rebel might be fine for some nonfiction writers, but not for me. Although I have a rebellious nature, I wanted to participate …

Sunday’s Blessings

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic of poverty and aloneness, imperfection and austerity, affirmation and melancholy. Wabi-sabi is the beauty of the withered, weathered, tarnished, scarred, intimate, coarse, earthly, evanescent, tentative, ephemeral. . . Wabi-sabi is a broken earthenware cup in contrast to a Ming vase, a branch of autumn leaves in contrast to a dozen roses, a lined and bent old woman in contrast to a model, a mature love as opposed to infatuation, a bare wall with peeling paint in contrast to a wall hung with beautiful paintings. –Crispin Sartwell in  Six Names of Beauty ? Textured with isobel and 2810

Possibilities Often Missed

I almost missed seeing these fruits on a tree. I was walking a path that led to a tourist facility, and like everyone else, was focused on getting there. The sideshows presented by the trees went unnoticed.. My attention was drawn to these fruits only when three boys began to play beside the tree. Life dishes out so many opportunities that are ripe with possibilities – for peace, joy, comfort, solace…all the good things that could nourish the soul.  But we often miss seeing these opportunities because we are too caught up with the frivolities of the material world. Nature has so much to offer us, to teach us. May we all find more moments and images that would help us slow down and enjoy life in a more soulful way.

Sunday”s Blessings

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Concentrate on the goal of meditation. Do not listen with your ear, but listen with your mind; not with your mind but listen with your breath. Let hearing stop with your ear, let the mind stop with its images. Breathing means to empty oneself and to wait for Tao. -Chuang Tzu ? Think of it – we are being told that through breathing, we can awaken to a transcendent level of consciousness and merge with the universe. What could be easier than breathing? Who doesn’t do it? Yet we are afraid to breathe – to really let the universe in and ourselves out. To do so, we must give up control. We must stop breathing and let the universe breathe through us. We must trust things as they are. So it is with cultivating the Tao in every aspect of our lives. We must stop doing and let the universe do us. -Laurence G. Boldt in the Tao of Abundance ? ?

When the Writer in You Begins to Scream

I have not blogged for three weeks and have been bumping up old posts to keep this blog going. Although I stopped blogging for a while, I joined Wordprsess.com’s Blogging 101.  This post is my attempt at fulfilling one of the assignments: Today’s assignment: build your storyteller’s toolbox by publishing a post in another format or a style you’ve never used before. Most of my posts in this blog have been full of words. So, for a change, I will now use more images and less words to get my message across. The writer in me had been shouting lately, wanting to do more writing aside from the early morning journaling that I do everyday, the once a week blog post I write, and the daily attempts at writing a few pages for a book I intended to self-publish. My journalist persona put up a tantrum, demanding to write feature articles. I believe that when a part of you begins to demand attention, the best thing to do is But with a heavy workload, I couldn’t, for …

Sunday’s Blessings

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Life presents us with many paths along our journey. Sometimes the pathways are lovely and make us feel good. Some pathways are are rugged and look hard to traverse; while others are just – well, ok. When we are presented with a new pathway, life asks us to make decisions. Do we proceed along the path we are currently treading or do we stop and take the new one being presented to us? It is almost always easier to go down the familiar road, but the fact that we are being presented with a new pathway means that we are up to the challenge of exploring a new journey, a new way of Being. The next time a new pathway appears before you, know that you are being presented with the prospect of a new journey – and that you have everything you need to face the challenges presented by the new path. Everything you need is within you. ?

Writing on the Fabric of One’s Soul

Dear Readers,  I am on my third week of sabbatical from blogging. Bumping up a post written last year, about taking time out from writing: In 2004,  I decided to leave a burgeoning career as a feature writer to hearken to a spiritual calling. For almost a decade I stopped writing professionally and relied solely on journaling as my way of writing. It was not easy to leave behind a career I had worked so hard to establish; and it took sometime to accept the fact that I was no longer a writer – and perhaps would never be one, again. During that period, journaling was the only writing activity I had.  It was a welcome avenue, but it could never equal the joy of being a feature writer for an international magazine.  Because of the absence of deadlines, there were days, even months when I abandoned journaling altogether.  I didn’t write a word. Yet, it didn’t bother me.  Abandoning a writing career made it easy for me to accept the days when the words would …

The Words We Write

When I was in grade school, one of my favorite hobbies was reading Reader’s Digest.  The long articles didn’t really appeal to me, but  Word Power, Life’s Like That, Humor in Uniform and Quotable Quotes  were like candy treats which I devoured voraciously. Looking back, I think that my young mind was not ready to deal with the more serious articles, and so I focused on the shorter sections.  Those reading days, I’m sure, contributed much to my love for writing, which led me to pursue a career in feature writing. For any writer,  having a vast amount of words at one’s disposal is power.  And for the feature writer, quotes are so important – a necessary ingredient to a sumptuous feast of words, sentences and paragraphs. A feature writer is quick  to note a quotable quote, and having at least a couple of them can transform an article from one that is interesting, to one that is both interesting and authoritative. Like many writers, I collect quotations.  I have a small notebook where I copy …

Writers and Their Journals

There are various ways to keep a journal, and a variety of reasons why a writer must keep one. Poet, essayist and playwright Shiela Bender poignantly remembers a day during Ron Carlson’s writer’s workshop in the summer of 1994. It was the day when Carlson went around the room and asked each person to describe the his/her writing journal. On her turn, Bender had to confess that she kept a box where “scraps of paper on which I have written things – bank deposit slips, napkins, other people’s business cards, other stuff.” When asked how she uses the box, Bender replied that she goes through it every now and then when she’s in between projects or when she’s stuck on something she’s doing.

The Nuances of Early Morning Writing

I missed posting last week because it was an exceptionally busy week. Robin Williams’ suicide put a spotlight on depression, which happens to be my specialty as an energy therapist (along with trauma resolution). I had more than the usual number of requests for one-on-one sessions and for a while until late last week, I switched back to all-giving mode. I kept up with early morning writing though but I missed a couple of days. I’ve slowed down since, after I caught myself reaching for a second cup of coffee so that I could see my way through the last client for the day. Gone, for the past two weeks though, were all the time I should have spent on what I call my book writing spree ( Dorothea Brande’s term, writing by prearrangement is simply too straightforward  – writing is fun for me). But I did manage a few haibuns, along with a few haikus and tankas. Even through the rush of the past two weeks, I noticed that early morning writing had resulted in  several surprising …

Web Finds

It’s been raining here in my part of the world – the kind of “rainy” that makes one want to cuddle up in bed and sleep all day. Nothing dramatic, just very cloudy days with intermittent rain and showers. Life somehow takes on a different hue when it’s raining – things just seem to be quieter, the days are cooler and the plants are so much greener. This week I’d like to share some web finds with all of you. A few free but great finds which I hope you will all enjoy. A really great find is Jill Jepson’s website where she offers to send weekly strategies for writers. I’ve been receiving her emails for sometime now and highly recommend you try it out. If you want to receive her weekly strategies for writers, please fill up this form. I’ve written several posts with reference to Mark Matousek. Aside from being a bestselling author, Mark is a very generous person. I attended one of his online courses and he continues to ask us, his ex-students …

Playtime!

The brain can keep developing long after we leave adolescence and play promotes that growth. We are designed to be lifelong players, built to benefit from play at any age. The human animal is shaped by evolution to be the most flexible of all animals: as we play, we continue to change and adapt into old age.       -Stuart Brown, M.D. with Christopher Vaughan in “play, How it shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul” We wake up earlier to do early morning writing. We journal. We write haiku, sonnets, haibun. We blog and participate in blog challenges. We work on our drafts. We work hard to improve our writing. The time comes when it’s time to stop taking writing so seriously… Now it’s time to play! Crazy wisdom means abandoning preconceived notions, seeing through surfaces, and moving beyond ordinary reason. It is wisdom built of multiple perspectives,  irreverence, paradox, and a love of the absurd.   -Jill Jepson in “Writing as a Sacred Path”    Jill Jepson says analogies are a …

Oh NO! I’m Growing a Monster!

But oh, that ever-present critic keeps getting in the way, producing and creating distractions. Such as a headache. Still the muse persists. It arrived on time this morning, at the appointed hour, even if I was not seated at my writing desk. Eventually, I sat and wrote the words that flowed.

Creating a Writing Life

Redesigning life to accommodate more writing time requires many adjustments and compromises. But all the efforts are well worth it.   Reorganizing my life around writing has brought a level of excitement that I have never experienced before. It’s like preparing for an adventure. There is a plethora of advice from popular writers and as always, they provide guideposts to help us along the writing path. As I’ve mentioned in another blog post, I never received formal training as a writer. Three months of writing classes during summer school was all the education I received. Everything else I learned from reading and sheer determination. I’ve written two books for children before: one was a retelling of Philippine folktales and legends, and the other one was a retelling of childhood incidents in the lives of five Filipino heroes.  It was a wonderful experience, but the books were written out of need: the company I was working for needed a product to sell and I delivered the goods. “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than …

The Call to Write

“Why did you abandon your career as a journalist?” a therapy client once asked me.  At that time, I was just  beginning my therapy career – albeit grudgingly, because I did not want to go into the healing profession even if my grandmother was a healer, and three of my cousins had followed the healer’s path. I stared at him, unable to find the words amidst the motley of emotions within. Perhaps sensing my struggle, he stared at me and provided the answer to his own question: “You hearkened to the call,” he said with a smile. It was the first of many instances that  I would experience role reversal in my therapy work. When this happens the healer becomes the healee and vice versa.  In this particular moment, the client helped me regard my gift to heal as a blessing. “There are many things that call us out of ourselves and, in the moment we transcend our own boundaries, open us to the presence of the Beloved, to the background call of the cosmos, ” David Spangler writes …

Journaling Through Difficult Times

Typhoon Rammasun slammed through our country last week, leaving much of the Philippines’ capital region without electricity for several days.  Power was restored in our place during the wee hours of this morning, ending six days of candlelit dinners. Rammasun was the first major storm that sliced though our country this year,  and was by far the strongest since Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,300 people last November. Rammasun’s death toll continues to rise and is now more than 80. At least two Asian dailies have called our country “disaster weary.” South China Morning Post reported, “The disaster-weary Philippines braced for a second severe storm in five days yesterday as the death toll from Typhoon Rammasun surged to 77, officials said.” Typhoon Matmo followed in the heels of Rammasun, even as many of us were still wading through the debris left by the typhoon. Fortunately, it did not make landfall. “Mother nature battering nature,” was the only way I could describe the scene that I saw through my window a week ago, as Rammasun’s winds …

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing

Here are some quotes that I hope will inspire you or strike a chord and get you writing. My favorite is from Khaled Housseni, an Afghan-born American novelist and physician.   “You cannot write with the conviction that your work will be one day reprinted to the extent that Hemingway’s has, but you ought to write in such a fashion that if it is, you will have no apologies for it.  Nothing is as destructive to a writer’s self-esteem– and, ultimately, his ability– as shoddy craftsmanship.  Make it well.  Whether or not the thing lasts, the care you have taken will be the measure not only of your talent, but of your integrity.”  -William Ruehlmann  in Stalking the Feature Story   “People write because they need to. People make stories for themselves and others, to fight the bomb, or the war, or to fix the broken places. We electric socket into the full power of our Selves by scribbling into our interior hinterlands.” -Andy Couturier in Writing Open the Mind   “Writing is an act of hope. …

Besieged by Writing Ideas

Through the days since I first wrote about early morning writing and how to carve out more writing time, I had indeed been writing more. Early morning writing branched out to writing on a gratitude journal. Then I found my brain “itching” to write a haiku a day in a smaller notebook. For a few months last year, I tried to write a small stone a day, mainly because I felt incapable of writing a haiku a day. After a few weeks of writing a haiku a day, I read a tanka from a blog and I said to myself, “I want to write that too!” Then I encountered and fell in love with haibun, and my writing days have never been the same. Life literally changed for me when I began writing a haiku, a tanka and a haibun a day.  Throw in the six word memoir, which is like icing on the cake. Today’s six word memoir is: Writing has now become sheer joy. The first hour of my days are spent in …

A Comment for a Blog Post

One of the wonderful things that have come out of this blog is the online friends I have “met.”  These are people who regularly comment on my blog posts. One of these regular commenter is Cecil Barr, who is also a regular blogger. Cecil wrote a very lengthy and highly informative comment to my last blog post, “The Book that I am Already Writing.” His lengthy comment was packed with information which I want to share with all of you.  Here is Cecil’s comment:   Hi Rosanna, with your background I’m sure you’ll write a great book if you keep at it. As Woody Allen once remarked: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I don’t, however, go along with Seth Godin’s assertion that books are more important than blogs (not that I think books are less important than blogs). The contention doesn’t seem to be supported by facts. Zen Habits, for instance, is daily required reading for hundreds of thousands of people. And Chinese blogger Han Han gets around a million visits every time …

The Book that I Am Already Writing

I woke up this morning with the answer to a question that I had been pondering upon since last month: Should I begin writing a first draft again? I had previously attempted to write a manuscript, but  had to give it up when life interrupted. I considered lack of time as the issue because my therapy work is on the upswing and most days I am simply too tired to do any more writing after work. Giving up therapy work is out of the question – I know that it is my right livelihood and it is as important to me as writing is. The words to this blog post came flooding  through my mind the minute I woke up. Nevertheless, I sat down and began my early morning writing. I stopped this practice for three days. I always stop writing when I am not clear about my writing life. Abstaining has its merits, and early morning writing today was an eye-opener – I found myself writing from a fresh perspective. More Writing Books are …

Why Write a Book?

It’s still on my mind. Should I write a book? I honestly cannot consider letting go of a once in a lifetime opportunity- in this case, experiencing a most powerful, profound vehicle for transformation. I have tried once to write a manuscript by joining a two-pages-a day writing challenge. I was doing quite well until the dam broke and I had to face the fact that I was using writing as a distraction to keep me from feeling the pain of losing a loved one. I had to give in to the grieving process, and I was not able to continue with the challenge. This month, the Spiritual Writers Network launched it’s book writing challenge again, but the goal this year is to write a page a day and finish a manuscript by the end of 2014. I was hoping to join this event but a heavy workload got in the way. Mark Matousek’s words,“Writing a book may be the most important commitment that you will ever make in your life,”  keep haunting me, and …

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing a Book

The two-week Transformational Author Experience is over and I am grateful that I was able to listen to several powerful and learned people who were willing to share their experiences. It left me with mixed feelings about becoming an author. I admired the great speakers, especially the writers who shared their wisdom about the craft of writing. But then it got all muddled up for me…and I don’t know if it’s because I have embraced a Zen-inspired life, or maybe I’m simply an introvert. But all the stuff about promoting and marketing, social media, building an author’s platform, and learning how to be a speaker, made me feel like crawling into a cocoon. It was great learning though, and I am grateful that I was able to listen to Christine Kloser, Panache Desai and Mark Matousek talk about the process of writing a book. Transmuting Writer’s Block Worth sharing with all of you are the thoughts of Christine Kloser on writer’s block. Kloser asked Matousek what his thoughts were on “That perceived thing called writer’s …

Of Podcasts and Writing

I’ve been learning so much about writing from the “4th Annual Transformational Author Experience.” It’s still ongoing, and I am trying to catch up because there are several podcasts in one day. The recordings are available only for 24 hours for the free membership plan – it’s like running a race. One big lesson I learned from this event is that listening to podcasts is a great way to learn from writers. I’ve shied away from podcasts  out of laziness, but now I am a fan. Mark Matousek has a podcast series which he offers for free, and among the people he interviewed for the series are writers including Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg. In his interview with Natalie Goldberg, the writer discusses her thoughts about various aspects of writing, memoir writing and teaching. If you want to listen to the 15-minute podcast, click here.      

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Freewriting

Free writing during the early hours of the morning has now become a wonderful way to start the day. Early morning writing has been a good way of telling my brain that writing is also a priority in my life. No matter how busy the day gets, I am comforted by the knowledge that I had at least done some writing for the day. Natalie Goldberg has another name for free writing: In her book, Writing Down the Bones,”she refers to it as writing “first thoughts.” Goldberg writes that”First thoughts have tremendous energy. It is the way the mind first flashes on something. The internal censor usually squelches them, so we live in the realm of second and third thoughts., thoughts on thought, twice and three times removed from the direct connection of the first fresh flash… “First thoughts are unencumbered by ego, by that mechanism in us that tries to be in control, tries to prove the world is permanent and solid, enduring and logical… “You must be a great warrior when you contact first …

Blog Renovations: How to Improve Your Blog

It is searing hot here in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Although temperatures in the metropolis have not reached 40 degrees Celsius, most days it feels like it’s way over 45. Summer has always brought scorching days but the sun’s rays seem to be more intense now. “Global warming,” we say to each other, like ants whispering to one another on the way to and from work. Speaking of work, I realized my blog needed some fine-tuning, perhaps something similar to  a “spring cleaning,”  though I can only surmise what the phrase means because we don’t have spring here in the tropics. The realization came when I finally had some time to read a few blogs, including a post from the WordPress Blogging University. I was able to catch up with Blogging 101: From Zero to Hero, which is already on its 28th  lesson (out of 30) . No worries though, all the previous lessons are there, so if you want to take a peek and learn how to improve your blog, you can do …

Good News for Aspiring Authors

Christine Kloser is offering her 4th Annual Transformational Author Experience (TAE) from May 19-30, 2014. Every year since 2011, Kloser had been bringing together experts from different fields including best-selling authors, marketing experts, transformational leaders, and publishing industry experts to help aspiring authors understand the myriad possibilities in writing, publishing and marketing a book. Bestselling spiritual writer, teacher, and speaker Mark Matousek descirbes Kloser as “a one-woman empowerment network for people who feel that they have a book in them but don’t quite know what to do next.” Matousek will be conducting one of the teleseminars in TAE with Christine Kloser on “Writing Through Fear.” The best thing about this event is that it’s free. You can register here for the basic and free membership which gives you live access to all the classes, as well as a 24-hour window when you can listen to the tapes of the classes. The upgrades to Platinum and Diamond will give you the chance to participate in the 4th Transformational Author Writing Contest. Mark Matousek says, “There’s no …

Find Your Own Writing Rhythm

Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about creative non-fiction writing. With Amazon.com as my guide, I ordered ebooks and books on journaling, creative non-fiction writing, as well as books on writing exercises and writing techniques. For the first time in my life I had so many books on writing, and I explored the pages eagerly. I am still in the process of reading the books…there must have been quite a thirst in me at that time because I ordered quite a lot! I have learned and continue to learn from the books. There are many discoveries. For instance, I discovered that long before Julia Cameron wrote about morning pages, Dorothea Brande recommended early morning writing in 1934; before Tony Buzan surprised the world with mind-mapping, Gabrielle Lusser Rico wrote about clustering in 1983; and Eric Maisel’s recommendation to write a little every four hours during the day, “just like taking your medicine,” is very similar to Dorothea Brande’s writing by prearrangement. Setting aside my concerns about attribution, perhaps we can …

Becoming Your Own Critic and Teacher

As promised, here is the third installment of the series based upon Dorothea’s Brande’s recommendations on how writers can write effortlessly and how they can carve out more writing time for themselves. Her suggestions for writers include early morning writing and writing by prearrangement. After one has practiced both for some time, Brande assures the writer that s/he will reap many rewards from the faithful practice of writing first thing in the morning and making appointments with one’s self to write. When you have succeeded in establishing these two habits — early morning writing and writing by agreement with yourself — you have com a long way on the writer’s path. You have gained, on the one had, fluency, and on the other control, even though in an elementary way. You know a great deal more about yourself, in all likelihood, than you did when you embarked on the exercises. For one thing, you know whether it is easier to teach yourself to write on and on and on, or whether writing by prearrangement seemed …

How to Carve Out More Writing Time

Dorothea Brande (1893 – 1948) was an American author, lecturer and magazine editor. Her book Becoming a Writer, was published in 1934. Brande says the book is about the writer’s magic. The book is actually a treasure trove, filled with suggestions on how a writer can get over his/herself and begin writing. In the previous post, we discussed Brande’s method that “teach the unconscious to flow into the channel of writing” through the practice of early morning writing. In this post, we outline the next steps which are geared towards helping writers carve out more writing time. Brande assures us that once the first two steps are practiced daily, there will be many discoveries: You will begin to express the day’s experiences into words You will tend to know ahead of time how you will be able to use an anecdote or episode You will be able to transform the rough material of life into fictional shape – and you will be able to do this more consistently than before After you have reached this …

How to Write Effortlessly

I’m still at it: Everyday I use rituals to provide me with the focus I need to write. It’s an exhilarating feeling to be able to write regularly for the first time in my writing life. Making a date with one’s self to write and using rituals to signal my brain that it’s time to write literally feels like carving out writing space in my life.  And I want more! As I explained in another blog post, I never attended writing school and my writing career was launched by chance. Now that I have decided to do more writing other than journal writing and blogging, I feel the need to study and learn more…oh, there are so many lovely books on writing waiting to be read! I want more writing time. I need more writing time. I also have to learn to write more freely. When I was a feature writer, our publisher used to tell me that I occasionally suffered from cerebral constipation – and I think I am suffering from that now, especially …

How to Begin a New Writing Habit

Last month, I decided it was time to start a new writing habit. In a blog post written last year, I explained why I write on my journal at various times of the day. It was a habit formed a long, long time ago, when I was working as a feature writer. I value the ability to write everywhere – even in the midst of a noisy and busy place, and it is one habit that I plan to continue as long as I want to write. I have been journaling since I was very young, and through the years, it had become a very therapeutic practice. But as I recounted in another blog post, I have been feeling that something was amiss – somehow journaling no longer seemed so enticing and fulfilling. Perhaps I had been doing it for so long? I was thus very grateful to have been given a  scholarship by Shift Network to Mark Matousek’s course, “Writing as a Spiritual Practice.” Mark is a generous teacher – the course materials were …

Celebrating First Year with a Giveaway for Commenters

This blog is celebrating its first year with over 1,200 followers! I am of course in a happy mood as I mark this milestone. I believe that in the game of life, we achieve milestones with the help of others. In my case, I am well aware that WordPress.com was a big help in inviting followers. I remember when the blog was new, after each post, I would get a message from WordPress.com saying they had alerted a certain number of bloggers about my blog post.  That went on for a while – a much needed boost. Then it stopped, and I knew that it was up to me to keep the ball rolling. Joining blogathons helped a lot too.  I joined the Wordcount Blogathon, Yeah Write’s 31dbb, and NaBloPoMo. I know that these blogging events helped spread the word about my blog, and I encourage you to join one if you haven’t yet. Writing the posts for this blog was very therapeutic for me. I set it up initially with the intent of learning …