All posts filed under: Writing

The First Draft: fodder for the writing process

“Make writing your practice. If you commit to it, writing will take you as deep as Zen.” Katagiri Roshi   It’s been a very long while – several months- since my last blog post. Although I had not blogged, I had been actively creating word art and exploring the many writing avenues that I had not ventured into.  Writing the first draft of my memoir was a very therapeutic and eye-opening experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, memoir writing was like an exercise in connecting the dots that were my life experiences. It was at the same time therapeutic and draining, because the energy that came along with the memories demanded to be written, no matter if the body was tired from the day’s work.  Connecting the dots of my life also showed me that there were a few missing dots-those pursuits and interests that I had put aside to give way to a life dedicated to helping others heal themselves. So after the first draft was written, I felt it was time to …

The Benefits of Journaling

As best as I can remember, I’ve been writing on a journal since I was a teenager. The notebook and pen became two of my very best friends on the journey through the hormone-saturated teenage years. I lost touch with these two friends for a few years when I explored the corporate jungle. The hectic lifestyle simply did not support nor provide moments for quiet reflection. When I decided to retreat from the world after a few years of elbowing and jostling in the corporate arena, reconnecting with the journal and pen was a vital part of my healing process. I do not remember neither the first time I wrote on a journal, nor the reason why. But I am deeply grateful for the way this writing habit has enriched my life in all levels. According to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin as well as  psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker, writing regularly on a journal has several beneficial effects on one’s health: journaling strengthens our T-lymphocytes, the cells of our immune system it decreases …

Musings from Memoirland

  When we learn to tell the whole truth about experience, to discern our own soul’s odyssey, we come to understand the mythic dimension of our personal struggles, triumphs, confusions, longings, digressions, and so-called mistakes. -Mark Matousek   It’s been eleven months since I decided to explore memoirland and begin writing a first draft of a memoir. I have finished two online classes and currently I am in the middle of another one.  All good – there had been many lessons and discoveries. As I have written often in my blog posts, I have no formal education in writing. I became a feature writer for a magazine distributed all over Asia mainly through my penchant for wonder and my love for words. At this point in my life, I feel it’s time to experience being a student of writing. Memoir was very threatening in the beginning, primarily because I am a very private person. I am an energy therapist and spend lots of time listening to other people’s woes and tribulations so that I could help my clients transform the …

Discover Your Writing Self

Andi Cumbo-Floyd, author of Steele Secrets and The Slaves Have Names, is offering a free course for writers. “Join me on a journey to discover who you are as a writer in the world,” writes Andi. The free writing course will run from August 1-31, 2016. Participants will receive 31 email notes featuring questions that will prompt writers to discover their place in this world. Andi promises to explore “everything from motivation to goals to software, all with the aim of helping you know yourself better as a writing person.” Discussions and sharing will be conducted in an exlusive Facebook page.  To register, click here. 

Adventures in Journaling

My journal is my place to let go of formal constraints, to be crazy and creative, to take off my masks, to be me, to find me.  -Lynn G. Nelson I’ve been writing on journals since I was a teenager, and if anything, it is the one thing in my writing life that has remained constant. But after one has spent decades writing on journals, there’s a danger that it could become just another tedious chore. That’s why it’s important to have an arsenal of techniques and  various ways of writing on a notebook. Here are some that I’ve practiced through the years: The journal as a dumping ground: for rants during confusing times, and those moments when I just want to let it all out. “Use your journal as a garbage can. Discard your angers, your fears, your doubts, your frustrations by writing about them in your journal. This will lessen their power over you. You will feel better.”  – Lynn G. Nelson I use the journal as a lens through which I see the world from a different perspective. …

Drafting and Crafting: tools for every writer

First you draft, then you craft. This is what I am learning as I trudge along my book-writing project. Drafting first. Crafting second. I am still in the drafting phase. How long will that take? I have no idea. What direction will the book take? I have written a few thousand words but I still have no clue as to where I am going. After months into drafting, I hear whisperings from within…the title of a book, but it’s not the one I am writing. I read through my journals and find that repeatedly, I had written the same title, with the words, “This is the book I was born to write.” I go over my drafts and I realize that I could be writing chapters for two different books. I am learning too, that all of these are good. Andy Couturier says, “Trust the mystery. Really trust the mystery…What do I mean by the ‘mystery?’ It’s basically this idea of …I don’t know what’s going to happen with my writing…I don’t know what’s going to …

What You Have to Do to Be a Writer

“The second thing you have to do to be a writer is to keep on writing. Don’t listen to people who tell you that very few people get published and you won’t be one of them. Don’t listen to your friend who says you are better than Tolkien and don’t have to try any more. Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them.” – Robin Hobb I was looking for an epigraph that would serve as the introduction to a blog post about how some writers wrote their first books. This quote from Robin Hobb was the perfect one, but  it left me wondering because she talks about the second thing we should do to be a writer. What, I wondered, is first thing we have to do to be a writer?  I surfed the web and found this, the continuation of the quote from Robin Hobb about the second thing we have to do to be a writer: ” I meet far too many people who are going to …

The Long and Lonely Road to Writing a First Draft

“Creativity is the link between our inner work and the outer work that society requires of us. Creativity is the threshold through which our nonaction leads to actions of beautification, celebration, and healing in the world. Creativity is both an inner work and an outer work.” – Matthew Fox Many years ago, I worked as a feature writer for a Hong Kong-based publication. The transition from working as a travel photographer to feature writer was not difficult at all because I was familiar with my territory – Asia. I was also used to the hours and hours spent working on a story by my lonesome self. I spent many hours travelling to distant places, and more hours writing articles. I knew then how lonesome writing as a profession could be. I don’t know if I had just forgotten how it feels, but after spending weeks and weeks working on the first draft for a memoir, I feel it – the heavy weight of loneliness, a kind that I have never known. Don’t get me wrong – …

Prayers for Writers

  Prayer of a Writer  Lord of all things, whose wondrous gifts to man Include the shining symbols known as words  Grant that I may use their mighty power only for good. Help me to pass on Small fragments of Your wisdom, truth, and love. Teach me to touch the unseen, lonely heart With laughter, or the quick release of tears. Let me portray the courage that endures, Defiant in the face of pain or death; The kindness and the gentleness of those Who fight against the anger of the world; The beauty hidden in the smallest things; The mystery, the wonder of it all…. Open my ears, my eyes; unlock my heart. Speak through me Lord, if it be Your will.  Amen                                                                                                   –  Arthur Gordon A Writer’s Prayer …

The Zen of Writing (A Haibun)

I wake up to the sound of a voice in my head and I know instantly that it is “writing” what could be an introduction to a book. I listen intently as the voice “writes.” When it is over, I hear a familiar tune – a lone olive-backed sunbird is singing in the backyard. I smile and say to myself, “And then the sunbird sings…” Darkness still covers everything outside and inside the house. But within me, a veil is lifting. the sparrows and fantails are nowhere, their merry chatter a mere memory now the sunbird sings Our mornings are so different now. For almost eight months during the year, the backyard becomes a favorite meeting place for the Eurasian tree sparrows. From November to June, they are there tweeting, chirping. The birds converge while it is still dark and begin to chatter. By seven, just as we are preparing breakfast, they are gone. The monsoon rains are here and the sparrows no longer come. The sunbirds and the yellow-vented bulbuls have the backyard all …

When Life Interrupts

Sitting down to write won’t just happen; you have to resolve to make it happen.                                                                                                                  -Nan Merrick Phifer What does one do when the flow of words suddenly stops, when life interrupts our regular writing practice with an illness? That happened to me a week ago, when I was debilitated by a bout with intestinal flu. Suddenly, my regular journaling practice and memoir writing hour did not happen – there was simply no interest on my part to get up from bed and write. And that went on for a week. All we can do at times like these is to stop, heal and know that all will be well again. Life interrupts us in various ways, depending on …

How’s Your Verisimilitude?

 I learned about verisimilitude during the 2-month memoir  writing course I attended last year.  What a long word, and what a big difference it makes in our writing. The scene’s message MEANS more when the reader can picture it happening. Here, memoirists use the same conjuring trick as fiction writers do – verisimilitude – the craft of making a scene feel authentic by incorporating real life detail.  This is crucial to the literary and emotional impact of your personal narrative. -Mark Matousek In an interview featured in the Paris Review, John Cheever explained: Verisimilitude is, by my lights, a technique one exploits in order to assure the reader of the truthfulness of what he’s being told. If he truly believes he is standing on a rug, you can pull it out from under him. Of course, verisimilitude is also a lie. What I’ve always wanted of verisimilitude is probability, which is very much the way I live. This table seems real, the fruit basket belonged to my grandmother, but a madwoman could come in the door …

Slow-cooking a First Draft

“Go slowly. Love your story. It will wait for you.”                                                                                              -Allan G. Hunter Two years ago I began writing posts in this blog about my attempts to write a first draft. Those attempts resulted in a few dozen pages which are stashed in a shelf together with all the journals I had filled up through the years. Back then, I grabbed a notebook and pen after deciding to join a 5-pages a day writing challenge, and then a one-page a day challenge.  Both were supposed to culminate in a first draft in four to six months. Both times, I managed to write regularly for several  weeks then dropped out of the challenges because both times I didn’t really know what to write about.  Now that I am trying again for the third time, I realized that deciding …

From Blogging to Writing a First Draft

When I started this blog on April 1, 2013, it didn’t occur to me that it was April Fool’s day because I was so determined to create a blog focused on writing. ‘ Prior to this blog, I had another one, where I wrote about various things. I changed the name of that blog several times over the course of two years because I was not sure what I wanted to write about. I finally closed that blog after I realized that what I really wanted to do was to learn how to write again – and differently this time around.  I decided to blog about my writing journey as a way of forcing myself to keep on learning about writing even as I continued to work as an energy therapist. It wasn’t hard to think of things to write. I simply put on the same thinking cap I used when I worked as a feature writer. Joining blogging events also helped me stay on the blogging track and learn from other bloggers. The more I blogged, the more I …

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers in the United States! To all of you, I’m passing on this wonderful Thanksgiving Reader from Seth Godin. Although I live in the Philippines, I will join you all in reading this heartening compilation of Thanksgiving reflections. “This is a holiday about gratitude, about family and about possibility. It brings people together to not only celebrate the end of the harvest, but to look one in another in the eye and share something magical. “I’m hoping that this year, you and your family will help us start a new holiday tradition.   “The idea is simple: At your Thanksgiving celebration (and yes, it’s okay to use it outside the US), consider going around the table and having each person read a section aloud.” -Seth Godin i   Download the Thanksgiving Reader    

To Memoir or Not to Memoir

A memoir is a series of moments. In order to bring these moments to life, it is necessary to create scenes that capture and communicate the physical reality of the chosen moments. — Mark Matousek   The online memoir class I attended ended a few weeks ago. Thankfully though, the teacher listened to our pleas and have set up a check-in webinar. I enrolled in the memoir class because the nagging book project has not materialized at all. A couple of years ago, I heard the call to write a book.  I told our teacher that I was literally dragging myself to memoir class because honestly, things are good in my life now and I see no need nor purpose to write a book. If I could just silence this calling… I was fortunate to have a very patient and astute teacher. Inspite of my reluctance, I am one of those who signed up for the check-in in early December. Which means that I have been trying to write the first drafts of a few life …

Crossing the Threshold: Embracing My Writing Niche

There are two sparrows preening as they perch on two small branches of the Malunggay tree that grows in our small backyard. I have a good view of  the two silent birds. There are few members of the avian family that visit the backyard now. Our country, the Philippines, is in the midst of the rainy season, and the European sparrows rarely visit and if they do, they come singly or in pairs. The birds had done their nesting work in the summer. I miss their lilting chatter that began when it was still dark, as they went about their work of collecting nesting materials. I feel a kinship with these avian friends. I too, went into hibernation after the summer. I had to break my commitment to blog daily this whole year. I’m just glad I made it half-way, through June. Breaking a commitment to myself was hard to do, but it had to be done. I was beyond exhausted from a year of heavy therapy work. I would have lightened my work load if I could, …

Pico Iyer on Writing

“To write is to step away from the clamor of the world, to take a deep breath and then, slowly and often with shaking heart, to try to make sense of the bombardment of feelings, impressions, and experiences that every day and lifetime brings. The very act of putting them down—getting them out of the beehive of the head and onto the objective reality of paper—is a form of clarification. And as the words begin to take shape and make pairings across the page, gradually you can see what you thought, or discern a pattern in the random responses, so that finally, if all goes well, you’re convinced you’ve got something out of your system and into a domain where it creates a kind of order. Random experience becomes teaching, cautionary tale, or even blessing.” _Pico Iyer

Stumped? Use An Epigraph

An epigraph is a tool that every writer can use when the creative muse refuses to appear.  It’s one of those things that can help us ward off the infamous writer’s block. What is an epigraph?  It has nothing to do with words you see on a gravestone — that’s an epitaph. An epigraph is a short quotation that is placed at the beginning of an article, a journal entry, or any writing piece. Why are they such great writing tools?  An epigraph can get the writer to start thinking – akin to a writing prompt. The difference is that the epigraph not only stimulates the writer to write, it also provides direction and insight: It is, after all,  the wise saying of another person.

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”

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: Study.com 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. LearningPath.org’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 …

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 …

William Zinsser on Writing Well

“There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published. Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is to come to terms with your life narrative. Another is to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.”   “Less is more.”   “The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis.”   “Simplify, simplify.”     “The reader is someone with an attention span of about 30 seconds.”       – William Zinsser in On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction   

Friday Web Finds

Sleep is one of the key ingredients to a healthy life. Needless to say, writers need sleep just like everyone else. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, examine your sleeping habits. We may not be aware of it, but Our poor sleeping habits are filling our brains with neurotoxins. If you’re one of those writers missing sleep because you want to finish writing a book in one year, listen to Louise Desalvo, author of the art of Slow Writing: she presents 10 Famous Authors Who Prove That Slowing Down Is Always Worthwhile. If memoir is your thing, William Zinsser writes on How to Write a Memoir. His advice: “Be yourself, speak freely, and think small.” Featured Photo: Punta Malabrigo by Elmer Nev Valenzuela

Free Writing in Different Genres

Many years ago, I came across Andy Couturier’s book, Writing Open the Mind: Tapping the Subconscious to Free the Writing and the Writer. It’s a book that I still open now and then, when I feel “cerebrally constipated,” and my writing feels constricted. Couturier’s book is unlike any other writing book I’ve read – it’s chock-full of  unusual writing exercises designed to unshackle the brain. Here is a free teleclass from Couturier, “Learn My Two Top Techniques for Really Loving Writing.”  The first thirty minutes is about free writing about your chosen topic in different genres. Loved ethis – there was time to write on the same topic in only 3 genres but sometime today, I intend to write about it in other genres. This exercise was both fun and fascinating. If you have thirty minutes that you can spend on this exercise, click here. The rest of the audio recording features sharing by the participants. Enjoy!

Unblocking

It’ s one  of those days when I don’t know what to write about. Even if I have been blogging daily for the past five and a half months, I haven’t yet gotten into the habit of creating an editorial plan. Which is ironic because when I worked as editor for a children’s magazine for five years, I always had an editorial plan. I surfed the web for some articles on blogging schedules and of course there were the usual “Top 5, “Top 10,” oh, but this time I didn’t find “the Ultimate Guide to Creating Blogging Schedules.” Have you noticed how so many blog posts have “the Top #” and “the Ultimate” in their blog titles? Those are among the posts I don’t read…at all. It makes me wonder how one person can decide what constitutes the “Top 5” or how something can be “the ultimate.” As I was writing the first paragraph of this post, I thought it best to create an editorial plan and avoid situations like this one. But now, as I end …

The Journal as a Valuable Tool in Writing a Book

In an essay that was published in the book Writers and Their Notebooks, (edited by Diana M. Raab)  Author Sue Grafton explains why the journal is an invaluable tool when she is working on book projects: “The most valuable tool I employ in the writing of a private eye novel is the working journal. This notebook (usually four times longer than the novel itself) is like a letter to myself, detailing every idea that occurs to me as I proceed. “The journal is a record of my imagination at work, from the first spark of inspiration to the final manuscript. One of my theories about writing is that the process involves an ongoing exchange between the Left Brain and Right. The journal involves a testing ground where the two can exchange. Left brain is analytical, linear, the timekeeper, the bean counter, the critic and editor, a valuable ally in the shaping of the mystery novel or any piece of writing for that matter. Right brain is creative, spatial, playful, disorganized, dazzling, nonlinear, the source of the Aha! …

Friday Web Finds

Throughout this blog, I have been posting about writing -how to’s, what-not-to’s, discoveries, benefits… If you’re still not convinced that writing is good for you, this essay by Gregory Ciotti provides comprehensive data that supports the argument that life is so much better when writing is an integral part of it. In another essay, Ciotti explains The Under-appreciated Benefits of Creative Consistency, a good read if you are not yet clear on why writing regularly is good for writers. Jill Jepson writes,”Here is a tasting menu of the advice to writers I’ve read on blogs in the past few months: Write a minimum of 500 words every day. Spend at least ten hours a week on your author’s platform. Post to your blog at least once a week, on the same day and time… ….And there’s more!” No wonder writers and bloggers are pulling their hair. Jepson gives The One Piece of Advice You’re Probably Not Following: Relax. Please read it if you want to find the path that leads to blissful writing. Here’s to a blissful …