Month: July 2015

Waking Up the Senses

I’m taking an online course on writing and today’s lesson is about writing with the senses. We are told that writers usually gravitate towards their most developed senses even in writing. I realized that, most of the time, I use the senses of sight and hearing when I write. Today’s exercise was to write about a family event. The aim is to focus on a small aspect of it, one that happened in a short time frame. But the catch is this: we are to write about the it only in terms of color, texture, sounds, and smells. Worth a try if your want to wake up your senses! Photo by Seemann via Morguefile

The Origins of the Term “Creative Nonfiction”

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
Dinty W. Moore and his Polar Bear Friend This essay from our fearless editor Dinty W. Moore circulated earlier this week, but the Creative Nonfiction magazine website had a glitch denying anyone access to the comments thread, so here we go again.  You can now visit the comment thread and complain about the ambiguous term all you want now. The Origins of the Term “Creative Nonfiction”

The Self

Home in this world is my Self. The Self that houses the spark of God’s divinity. My Self, my Soul, where the Holy of Holies resides. It is that which is easily obscured from sight; that which is drowned in the din of materialism. But if I can see this sacred vessel within me I will be able to appreciate its presence in others, in animals, and in all things. And then I shall be free.                                                                                        -2014     The sea turned red with the blood of 250 pilot whales slaughtered in the Faroe Islands in Denmark…but the carnage continues and more whales will be slaughtered.

Friday Web Finds

It’s Friday once more…time to share some very interesting web finds: Do you know what happens When You Give a Tree an Email Address? You’ll be surprised! Learn Warren Buffet’s Best Kept Secret to Success: the art of reading, remembering, and retaining more books! Lastly, here’s Why Steve Jobs Took Long Walks and Why You Should Too!     Photo by scotsann via Morguefile

How to Find Your Writing Niche (5/5)

My explorations of writing niches led me to two final discoveries – a writing niche in my head, and another in my heart. We all face the resistance to write because of messages from our ego, which many writers call the inner critic. The ego says we’re not good enough; why write when no one will read what you write? The ego will remind us that there are so many, many good writers out there, what chance do you have of making it in the writing world? Zero. This is one of the biggest hurdles we as humans have to face: the ego’s control. Spiritual masters tell us we must conquer the ego and make it serve us instead of us being subservient to it. The ego’s propensity to dominate is not present only in aspiring writers – every human being is subjected to the ego’s desire to be in control. Exploring the concept of a writing niche made me realize that if I am to continue writing, I need to silence the voice in my …

How to Mix Things Up

It’s hard for me to understand why some writers consider writing to be a hard, lonely job. The more I study the craft, the more I feel blessed. Blogging about writing has helped improve my writing in so many ways. It has also encouraged me to explore the many facets of this dynamic craft. Blogging here has paved the way for a tremendous growth spurt in my writing life. But growth spurts require lots of energy and time. And sometimes, something just has to give…way… +++++ When I’m at a crossroads I like to mix things up a bit and inject some fun and play.  It makes the decision-making process easier. To lighten things up, I copied the text in the first part of this blog post and mixed them up with the Cut-Up Machine. Since there’s no way to highlight text in WordPress, I just changed the colors of the words and phrases that stood out. I can now use these colored texts as touch points and guideposts as I stand on the crossroads and make a decision. …

How to Find Your Niche (4)

The process of word play, or repeating and ruminating upon our chosen theme, writing niche, is a kind of mental mind mapping, clustering or webbing. I came up with this technique because although I understood the psychology behind mind mapping, clustering and webbing, I don’t particularly enjoy doing them.  Not wanting to lose out on the benefits of these techniques, I tried to do it verbally. It  felt more comfortable and I could do it anywhere and anytime – even if I had no pen and paper. Repeating the word or words in my head or aloud, several times during the day had the same effect as creating the maps, clusters or webs. Repeating or focusing on a word or concept verbally also enabled the mind to freely spin-off ideas associated with it. Let’s consider Elizabeth S Tyree’s response to the exercise. Focusing on the concept of writing niche, she associated it to: writing anywhere and everywhere, on a couch or over-sized ottoman, and YA fantasy. But in the end, she wonders, “Or maybe the only reason any of …

Kimberly Snow on Writing

I have read and re-read this paragraph many times. It is one of the most eloquent and succinct piece on writing that I have read: “Writing releases us into a timeless world where all things are possible. Through the play of our imagination, we gain the power to expand our limits, to integrate change and to guide our personal growth. In this magical realm, we can reclaim past events, retrieve former selves, live out what almost was, what could have been. Through writing and visualization, we are able to develop a personal language that fills out the hollows and blank spaces in our lives, to make sense of and give reality to our experience. In this private arena where conscious and unconscious meet and interact, we are granted a unique opportunity to negotiate peace settlements between inner and outer, between self and other. In short, to create and maintain core happiness thorough a time-honored method that is not only free but non-caloric as well.” – Kimberly Snow in Writing Yourself Awake: Meditation and Creativity

Friday Web Finds: More Free Online Writing Courses

I’ve noticed that the posts featuring free online classes get a lot of hits from the readers of this blog – who doesn’t love freebies? Here are some more sites with listings of free online writing courses: offers a listing of 10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online. The list includes online writing courses for credit and online non-credited writing courses. Class central offers 19 Free Online Courses to Improve Your Writing Skills. One of the biggest universities in the UK for undergraduate education, The Open University is a public research university.  It has a 10-page listing of free online writing courses.’s Online Creative Writing Courses Offered Free by Top Universities and Educational Websites has an interesting list of online classes, as well as additional resources. And for those writers who are thinking of paying for online classes, read this first before you make any decision:A Short Note to My Fellow Writers: Be Careful by Shawn Smucker. He’s also offering a free download of his ebook, Building a Life Out of Words, which I am just beginning …

How to Find Your Writing Niche (3)

In one of his teleseminars, bestselling author Mark Matousek said that when he teaches people how to write, he doesn’t deal with grammar. What he does is help them get to the point where they are ready to write. How does one get to this place where one can write freely? You get there by finding your writing niches and then, by creating your writing niche. Elizabeth S Tyree has written nine books. When someone has written so many books, we always wonder how she or he does it. Elizabeth’s comment to the previous post about finding your writing niche gives us a peek into an author’s life. I asked her permission to publish the comment in this post and she graciously agreed. Maybe not all of us are meant to be or want to be authors. I myself have not decided if I really want to write a book. All I know is I want to write as freely and creatively as I can. Next week, we’ll discuss how we can arrive at a …

When the Muse is Absent

On those days when the muse doesn’t show up and you feel stumped (again), here’s a technique that will keep the pen moving: List your favorite things, your favorite activities, or your favorite places. In Word Painting, Rebecca McClanahan sites author Larry Brown’s list of things that firemen use in their work: …ladders, axes, forcible entry tools, rappelling gear, ropes, safety belts, breathing apparatus, nozzles, generators, a Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life), flashlights, pike poles, entry saws, bolt cutters, fire extinguishers… After listing things that you love, employ the “I love” technique Brown uses in his book, On Fire. Brown has three pages detailing the things he loves.  Here is a paragraph he wrote using some of the items from the list: “I love to go down on the floor and see the smoke over me, worm my way forward to the fire, the hose hard as a brick, the scuffed rubber on the end of the fog nozzle. I love the two-and-a-half-inch hoses and the big chrome nozzles that no man can hold, the red axes and the pry bars …

How to Find Your Writing Niche (2)

When I first explored the concept of a writing niche, I immediately thought: fiction or non-fiction. But when I began to play with the phrase, I realized that to me, it meant more than just deciding whether to write fiction or non-fiction. Pondering on the concept of a writing niche conjured images of me writing, comfortably ensconced in a place where all of my energies were focused on pen and paper. In real life, that wasn’t happening. I was writing either on a desk crowded with so many things, or in a restaurant. Not in my cozy writing niche. Playing around with the phrase also made me feel how I so wanted to write at a magical time, but I had no idea what time was magical for me. Creative non-fiction had been my genre since my short career as a freelance journalist many years ago, and I knew I wanted to stick to it. Non-fiction was also my writing niche. But before I could begin to truly write again, first I had to find that place that would be …

The garden within us

“Each of us has a garden inside our hearts. We can cultivate this garden, deciding, selecting, filtering, pollinating and cross-pollinating. There is nothing more beautiful than a bee buzzing peacefully in God’s garden, transforming the ordinary pollen of thought and feeling into a new ambrosia for the human soul.” – Ruth Rimm in The Lost Spiritual World        

Oliver Sacks: Why I Write Journals

Two days ago, on July 9, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings wrote an impassioned introduction to her post: “As you might know, my heart holds immense love and respect for Dr. Oliver Sacks, one of the most luminous minds and exuberant spirits of our time. As you might also know, he is dying. Today is his eighty-second birthday – his last. To celebrate this bittersweet occasion, I decided to honor Dr. Sacks by dusting off one of his earliest works, which speaks to his remarkable personhood more vibrantly than any other, and writing this piece, into which I’ve poured more love than into any other since Brain Pickings began nine years ago.” I know of Oliver Sacks because of his book, Oaxaca Journal, where he writes of his adventures on a trip to Oaxaca in Mexico to explore ferns with his botanical friends. I love ferns and journaling, which is why I was drawn to the book. For this post, I too, would like to honor  neurologist and writer,  Dr. Oliver Sacks by featuring some quotes …

Friday Web Finds

A bit of whimsy for this Friday’s post…it always helps to stretch the mind… Here are  The 17 Most Intriguing Weddings of All Time. Did you know that China has many ghost cities?  China’s brand-new abandoned cities could be dystopian movie sets  and could probably solve the world’s homelessness problems. Nature can be both creepy and amazing! Soar! Photo by Rob Bye via Unsplash

How to Find Your Writing Niche (1)

It seems so basic, but the most logical thing to do when you’re looking for something is to have a good idea of what you are looking for. What is a “writing niche?” You could surf the web for the meaning. But what you read from someone else’s blog is someone else’s definition of the phrase. I could define it here, and that would be my definition. But I am from a different culture. Could my definition be what you are looking for? The internet is a wonderful thing. It widens our horizons, but it could also make our perspectives narrower. There seems to be so many experts on just about anything. Have a question? Google it and you’ll find the answer. We get answers quickly. The caveat though is that we hardly think for ourselves now. We give away our power, we rely on others to provide us with the answers. What does “writing niche” mean to you? Define it in your own words. But don’t write down the answer immediately. Think about it, …

How to Find Your Writing Niche

When I set up this blog two and a half years ago, there were many questions in my mind about writing. I used this blog to help me answer those questions. Many years ago I worked briefly  – for three years – as a feature writer for the magazines published by a huge publishing conglomerate in Hong Kong.  As a feature writer, I wrote about everything under the sun but I tended to lean more on conservation and culture. I gave up that writing career to hearken to a call to help other people heal. But the love for writing kept knocking on my door and finally, after 8 years of working as an energy therapist,I decided to to find time to do some writing. I ventured into content writing and blogging. Blogging has enabled me to clarify and resolve many writing issues and answer many of the questions that lingered in my mind. I was never educated as a writer – I studied political science – and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “writing …

Favorite Books on Writing

Originally posted on Renee Johnson Writes:
Writers are foremost readers.  We consume words with voracious appetites.  Books line our walls, collect in corners in ramshackle towers, and cover the tops of our coffee tables. We just can’t get enough! Yet, ask any of us where to find our favorites, and there will be a sacred location with erect spines marching across a shelf.  Grabbing any one of the collection is an automatic response, little thought to its specific space given. That’s a clue we’ve reached for it on numerous occasions, and the reason it occupies a place of honor. So when another writing friend asked me which books on writing were my personal favorites, I didn’t have far to go to answer.  And while I was selecting my list for her, I thought I would share it with you as well. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been a favorite of many writers since its publication.  It was the first one in my collection of books on writing.  Each reader will find a unique pearl…

This 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all bloggers and readers in the United States! Our country, the Philippines, used to be a U.S. territory from 1898 to 1946 and for 48 years we celebrated with the United States every 4th of July! In another part of the world, the 4th of July is also significant. On July 4, 1862, an Oxford don who wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll, began writing the story of a young girl who tumbles into a rabbit hole where she discovers another world – a wonderland.  One hundred fifty years later, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland continues to draw young readers into underground escapades. Here are some quotes from Lewis Carroll: “When you are describing a shape, a sound or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” “Always speak the truth, think before you speak,  and write it down afterwards.” “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” “But I don’t …

Friday Web Finds

Last week, we learned how our bad sleeping habits are affecting our brains. This week, I’d like to share two more articles about sleep. It would be wonderful to experience the same quality of sleep our paleolithic ancestors enjoyed, but writers may find it difficult. This article from the Washington Post gives the perfect and easy solution if you Want to enjoy the deep, mystical sleep of our ancestors? Turn your lights off at dusk. But wait, this article from BBC News expounds on the The myth of the eight-hour sleep. Perhaps writers can squeeze in some work in between the first and second sleep? I love journaling and freebies. Here’s the link to a free download of Honor Your Body 30 Day Journal,  If you’re overwhelmed, Overcome the overwhelming stress of life is also free from Jack Hayes. Here’s to a happy Friday and deep weekend slumbers!         photo credit: The Sleeping Beauty ballet programme cover via photopin (license)

Blogging Daily for Six Months – the Statistics

I struggled with this blog post. I wasn’t sure if posting the statistics of this blog would be tantamount to boasting… …so I decided to be clear on why I want to show the statistics… …I’m thinking, maybe some of you are wondering if blogging daily makes a difference as far as readership is concerned… …the statistics show that it does… …and I hope that showing the graphs may inspire someone to try daily blogging… …because it can really be a blast… …so here goes…for whatever it’s worth… (you may have to click on the Ctrl and + button to enlarge the graph)   Comparison of views vs visitors for the past 2 years and six months   Comparison of number of visitors for the past 2 years and six months   …and now I’m wondering…can I really say I’ve been blogging daily? …you see, there are days in the week when my workload is heavy, so I write the posts in advance and use the WordPress scheduler. I suppose it’s debatable…but why waste time …

Discoveries along the Daily Blogging Path

I have been blogging (almost) daily for six months now. I missed posting for 2 days – one day in March and last week. I remember that day in March when I was so exhausted from work and gave myself a day off from blogging. Last week I missed a day again, on a day when I was so busy I totally forgot about posting. When I decided to blog daily, I had no idea if it was doable, considering that I have a day job. But six months later, here I am, still blogging daily. It was difficult at first to think of what to post, but as the days passed, daily blogging became easier and easier. Here are some of the things I have accomplished; a few realizations made; and wonderful discoveries I have stumbled upon after blogging daily for six months: I  am re-discovering my voice I found my niche…and my niche within the niche daily blogging has become a writing practice that helps me develop the discipline to write regularly it helps me develop confidence in …