All posts filed under: Writing

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 …

Time is My Friend (a Haibun)

In the past I viewed time from the same perspective as the rest of the world. I saw time as expendable, limited, and something to grab because it is fleeting. Things changed when I decided to look at time from a different perspective. When I decided not to hurry, I discovered an entirely different aspect of time. I saw that it is limitless. I realized that time is expandable – it can be stretched to infinity. I learned that we can dance with it. And time is always there – here, now. It will never disappear – time lasts forever. holding my breath I run after that which has no legs Time is of the essence, we are told. Time is essence, I now know. Time heals. Time allows us to unfold our wings. Time waits for us. Time is my friend now. Time indulges me. It waits for me. I see more clearly when I am not in a hurry. There are no more marathons for me to run. photo credit: clockwork gold via photopin …

How I Found My Niche

When I first set up this blog, I was at a loss as far as writing was concerned. This blog was my way of finding my writing self again, after almost a decade of being away from the real world of writing. I had no expectations when I began posting in this blog – I only knew that I needed to learn much about writing, and this blog would be my way of consolidating my “writing lessons.” I’ve been learning much, much more now that I’m blogging about what I learn.  Not only that, I have also found my niche – or should I say it found me, since  I didn’t even search for it? It just presented itself to me again and again until I finally recognized it and said “Yes, I have found my writing niche.” How did I find it? By writing, writing, and writing some more. Everyday, I write on my journals and/or on several private blogs. For the past 2 years I have also been writing for a London-based content …

Writing from the Silence

  I got fascinated by silence; by what happens to the human spirit, to identity and personality when the talking stops, when you press the off button, when you venture out into that enormous emptiness. -Sara Maitland in How to Be Alone Silence had been a constant companion since I was young. When this year began, silence beckoned me to depths of quietude that I had never experienced. Silence has a way of opening up all the senses. Hearkening to the call to more and deeper silence has been showing me a world I had not previously explored. I was worried that inviting more silence into my life would mean that I would stop writing. Ironically, it has birthed more writing moments. Photo credit: lukeok via Morguefile

Writer as Witness

Originally posted on Myths of the Mirror:
As storytellers, we create settings and characters with enough authenticity to entrap readers in our imaginations. The goal is to elicit feelings somewhere in the broad spectrum of human experience, to personally invest the reader in the outcome of our tales. A sense of reality and plausibility in our stories aids us in that task. External intricacy adds texture as it paints pictures in a reader’s mind. Our own emotional landscape is fodder for our characters’ souls. I love the idea of writers as witnesses. We are observers of details, the ones with personal knowledge of hidden imagery and feelings, which we attest to through our words. In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages artists to become witnesses, to take time out of each day to observe our outer and inner worlds with curiosity, as a way of enriching our store of experience and ultimately our art. She suggests occasional artist’s vacations, to gather experiences foreign to our daily routines. I frequently wander about in zombie-like unconsciousness.…

Show Up

From the Mindfulist, Cultivating Courage: A 21-Day Journaling Course for Women with Heart “You may never be able to write a bestseller that is translated into thirty languages, but don’t let that stop you from trying. “You may never become a painter whose art is in the Museum of Modern Art, but don’t let that stop you from trying. “You may never become a solopreneur whose high-ticket courses are sold out in a matter of hours, but don’t let that stop you from trying. “If you identify your “successes” as what defines you, then you will be in trouble. “Instead, how about telling yourself that your only job is to show up as fully as you can through presence and choice, doing your best today without being distracted by rules or expectations, continuing to learn, keeping on growing and being curious without focusing on the “results,” and rewriting the story you tell yourself from a place of wholeness, sufficiency and “being in the now” instead of a place of comparison.” In our part of the …

Friday Web Finds

Another week is ending, and it’s time once more to share some great online discoveries… I’m not a social media person. I simply don’t get it. My social media know how is close to nil. I do some Facebook once or twice a week, mainly to find interesting articles and posts to read.  I’m grateful that Wordpress incorporated social media buttons in their web designs, so at least my posts automatically get tweeted, and sent to tumblr and LinkedIn. That’s just about it. If, like me, you can’t find the passion to tweet and do Facebook or Instagram, Why I Abandoned My Social Media Presence  will validate your reluctance to walk down the social media road. From Dream to Nightmare: John Steinbeck on the Perils of Publicity and the Dark Side of Success chronicles John Steinbeck’s woes about being a public figure. This  article, which was published by the New York Times, will help you appreciate The Small Happy Life. And for a weekend poetry fix, head over to hedgegrow. Happy weekend, all! Photo credit: Luis Llerena via Unsplash

Mary Oliver on Listening to the World

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things. – Mary Oliver in Wild Geese Mary Oliver is one of America’s greatest living poets. In this interview with On Being‘s Krista Tippett, Oliver discusses writing, poetry and life.

A Page from My Journal: Poetry

April 22, 2014 Poetry is now alive in me. Poetry now makes me alive. First a haiku, then a tanka, now a haibun. The soul is alive in poetry. The sparseness of a haiku entices it to sing a merry tune. The freedom of additional verses of a tanka is sweet dessert. And haibun. Haibun encourages the best from the mind and soul. Haibun allows the mind and the soul to dance to the combined harmonies of prose and poetry.  Poetry is food for the soul, music for the mind and inspiration for the spirit.   Photo credit: arker via Morguefile

James Patterson’s Master Class

Originally posted on Inkcouragement:
Has anybody else seen this? I rarely pay attention to Facebook ads, but this one caught my gaze and I had to see what it was about. In 22 video lessons, James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world, teaches writers how to write a best-selling book. Now I’m not naive and think I’ll write a bestseller after taking this class, because a class can only do so much. But I think it would be fascinating to take a course from one of the most prolific and widely read authors of the past fifty years. Not to mention the fact that I can’t afford to go to writing conferences at this point, so online learning and reading books/magazines/articles/blogs on writing are the current tools in my toolbox for improving my writing. I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a single James Patterson book. Not one. It’s not that I don’t like him. I either haven’t gotten around to it or the books I’ve seen with his name on it just aren’t in…

Journaling as Spiritual Practice

  “For much of my own life, journal writing has been an important act of soul centering. Initially unaware of my journal’s spiritual purpose, I later fiercely claimed this writing as a spiritual practice when I realized my journal pages had become a kind of chapel for me, an intimate place that I frequented to whisper my gratitude, praise, and laments, and even, at times, a petition or two.” -Karen Hering in Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within       photo credit: 2015-03-06g A path to keeping a diary — index card #writing #journaling #diary via photopin (license)

Eric Maisel on Writing Spaces

“A writer’s space is wherever she lands; her treasure is the writing she gets done in these myriad spots.” “Naturally you want a room in which to write that is dedicated to your writing pursuits and not the center of family commotion, the place where the canned goods are stored, or home to the water heater and the washer-dryer. But maybe you can’t have such a dedicated room; maybe space is at a premium and all that’s available to you is the kitchen table or a desk in your bedroom.” “There is nowhere that you need to go in order to write, not even out of that bed. Right where you are is where your thoughts and feelings become available, if you are inclined to access them.” “If you have a bed, you have an office. Writing is about thinking, feeling, and scribbling and can be done perfectly well while reclining. Colette, Proust, Walker Percy, Edith Wharton, James Joyce, my good friend whose novel just sold, our younger daughter who is working on her first novel, …

Friday Web Finds

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, here are a couple of interesting articles about the brain and writing: The Origin of Language and the Ancestral Need for Stories Just looking at nature can help your brain work better, study finds I can’t believe it’s Friday already, the days just went by so fast this week! Work and a late summer road trip has kept me from responding to comments and visiting other blogs. Hopefully come Sunday I will be able to catch up. Thankfully, I have been able to continue with my writing practice. Writing daily on my journals have allowed me to keep balance in my life. I came across this feature story, Writing to Heal that encourages writing about the turbulent times in our lives. Some journal writers lament that their journals have become places where they rant. Meet Dr. James W. Pennebaker, who has spent 20 years encouraging people to rant. Pennebaker says ““When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health, They go to the doctor less. They have changes …

How Writing Affects the Brain

I first saw this infographic as a reblog on Suzanne Joshi’s blog, Musings on Life and Experience. I knew I wanted to feature the infographic in my blog and surfed the web for information on who created the it, but all I found were several blogs that featured the same infographic, and none of the blogs gave credit to the creator. So, I am posting this infographic with the hope that the information it contains are true… it’s so interesting and puts a framework on the writing process…explains how writers can influence others…why writers should avoid using cliches…and why writing is similar to meditation. You’ll have to press Ctrl and the + sign on your keyboard to magnify the graphic.  Reposted from Lifehack

Writing from a Different Perspective

Literally writing from a different perspective can add color to our writing, says Jill Jepson: “Writing in a physical position that is unusual for us – and not quite as cozy as our normal posture – can help spur us into a crazy wisdom state.” This crazy wisdom state, Jepson says, can be achieved by writing while standing up if we’re used to working at a desk or table. Or, write while sitting on the floor, At the very extreme, Jepson says you can write while lying down. Eric Maisel suggests taking short writing trips during days when we feel uninspired to write at our desk: “You can choose among your excellent haunts and decide which feels most congenial at the moment. By all means maintain a primary writing place; then add alternates.”  Photo credit:TheBrassGlass via Morguefile

Writing Prompts from Everywhere

Writing prompts can come from everywhere – they can even come from your own writing! Diana Wallace Peach, who has several books to her credit and blogs at Myths of the Mirror wrote a brand new story by retelling another story she wrote earlier. The second time around, she told it from the perspective of a different character. Taking her cue from an online site that offers lessons for writers, Diana writes about the challenge to “Retell the 500 word piece from last week using a fresh perspective. If you wrote about the person with the narrator as observer, write about it from the perspective of the observed person. If you wrote in the third person, change to first person. In other words, shift whatever you did 180º . ” Jill Jepson, author of Writing as a Sacred Path suggests that writers do a “360.” Jepson says that doing a “360 is an easy, fun, and fascinating exercise that can give your writing new depth and vision. It begins with a single scene. To do a 360, rewrite the scene from …

Why Writers Keep Journals

“People who keep journals have life twice.” – Jessamyn West “I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. ‘That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996,’ I’ll say to someone.” – David Sedaris “I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it. And now I may add my little compliment to the effect that it has a slapdash and vigour and sometimes hits an unexpected …

Friday Web Finds

As we near the end of May, we are saying goodbye to the last few days of summer. We are now experiencing sunny days interspersed with thunderstorms. It had been a searing summer – the hottest I’ve experienced here in my native Philippines. During the past three months, we had a handful of days when temperatures reached 104°F – way above the usual 91°F average summer temperature. June will usher in the 5-month rainy season. Soon we will begin preparing for the floods and the typhoons…we’re  living and thinking on the margins. Vivian Gornick is A Woman on the Margins . In this interview, she discusses the problem with writing programs. Gornick expounds on the memoir’s potential for dishonesty; and she tells as how she finds her way in this world as a writer. Louise DeSalvo is one writer who finds her way in this world through The Art of Slow Writing (this works well for me). In this post, Margarita Tartakovsky discusses why The Creative Process Takes Time (And That’s A Good Thing). The post focuses on DeSalvo’s book. We’re …

From OWN: 3 Rules Every Aspiring Writer Should Follow

In this short video (1.20 min)  the Oprah Winfrey Network features writer Cynthia Bond, author of the novel Ruby. Bond talks about putting together the Blackbird Writing Collective – a writing group – because she needed to finish her novel and  the support of like-minded minds and spirits. The members of the Collective discuss  3 rules that can help aspiring writers. Click on this link to watch.

Oh, those Filtering Devices!

I’m still trudging through Rebecca McClanahan’s book, Word Painting. After traversing pages dealing with grammar, I am now learning that to write more descriptively, we must get rid of filtering devices. Such phrases as “he noticed” or “she felt” and “he noted” are called filtering devices. This stylistic tic, John Gardner says, drains the energy of the writer’s language. These filtering devices clutter our sentences and act as barriers between the reader and the sensory images we want the reader to experience. Says McClanahan: “In most cases, stating the image directly is more effective than filtering it through the narrator’s , or a character’s consciousness.” This paragraph contains filtering devices: The boy eyed the  contents of his grandmother’s room, noticing the tiny figurines arranged in tiers on the mahogany shelf. He saw the bouquet of miniature irises, the ceramic Cinderella slipper, the glass horse with the painted blue eyes. He felt a sadness sweep through him like an autumn breeze. This is how the paragraph reads when the filtering devices were removed: The boy eyed the …

Writing Prompts from Life

I have this thing with writing prompts – I hate them. Those questions or direct orders to write don’t inspire me to write at all. I don’t know why I detest them, but I do. That’s why it’s hard to find a writing group and attend writing classes and workshops where there are prompts galore. What I love are writing prompts that I receive from life. Those little things I see on the ground, the major events that either ignite or rock my days, and the seemingly ordinary occurrences that happen, or a word or gesture from the  people who flit through my life. I love the way they encourage me to feel my feelings at that very moment. Watching out for the writing prompts from life allows me to live in the moment. And later, when I can sit down, I love the way they inspire me to dig deep. The words always flow as a result of my excavation efforts, along with revelations, realizations and lessons. No thinking, just feeling. Ironically, this post was inspired by a prompt …

Friday Web Finds

Time to share some great finds… This may be of interest to this blog’s readers from the U.S – a post about The Most Popular Book Set in Each State — in One Surprising Map. Ever wondered why it’s hard to get up in the morning? Well,Scientists May Have Figured Out Why It’s So Hard to Get Out of Bed in the Morning! Lastly, here’s how you can Use a Writer’s Notebook to Inspire Your Craft. Have a Beautiful Friday everyone! Photo credit: Michelle Bulgaria via Morguefile

Poem-Making as Play

I learned how to write poems by reading the book of John Fox. I devoured Finding What You Didn’t Lose, Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making. I highlighted, performed the exercises and read the poems featured in the book. I had so much fun! Poetry set me free in so many ways. I loved the book so much I wrote John Fox and told him how I enjoyed learning poetry through his book. Those were the days of snail mail and to my surprise, Fox snail mailed back, with  a short note of encouragement. Here are some wonderful quotes from the book, lifted from Chapter Four entitled “Language as Play.” “Writing poetry will come naturally if you allow yourslf to become as direct and free as a young child, if you can access a child’s sense of curiosity and joy, a child’s contact with feelings unfettered by analysis, as well as a child’s ability to create metaphor by uninhibitedly making connections between everything seen and experienced. ” “Playfulness in using language occurs on many levels. There is the …

A page from My Journal: Mind Play

27 September 2014 The days come and go. My mind grapples to name them… Monday. Is it Thursday now? No, it is Saturday! If I had my way, I wouldn’t mark the days by names. How then? Perhaps by how it feels?  Today everything seems to be in a frenzy…Energetic day! Everything outside is wet….Rainy day! Everything outside looks so green…Verdant day! My mind is playing and it makes me happy. like the birds I’d like my mind to sing too. no storms a-brewing But I have to get real. Days need to have their specific names. I settle for a compromise. Sunny Monday. Dull Tuesday…Exciting Wednesday. Haibun gives my mind permission to play. old habits fading, the mind grapples to begin new names for the days In our part of the world… The quaint city of Vigan was officially inaugurated as one of the New7Wonders Cities early this month. Vigan  is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines. It is famous for its cobblestone streets with houses that showcase the unique fusion of Philippine, Oriental, …

A Page from My Journal: A Haibun

20 August 2014 I wrote very little this morning in my journal. Again, my brain goes into projection mode. It rehearses what I will tell a beleaguered client tomorrow. The thoughts rise above the desire to read and write. Rustling sounds draw my attention towards the window. I take a look and see Boots, one of my rescues. This gentle cat is lying on the ground in sweet surrender. The brain stops chatting. My body breathes. I smile. clutter in my mind signs of insecurities cat asleep outside     Haibun Definition from Contemporary Haibun Online Contemporary haibun is a combination of prose and haiku poetry, sometimes described as ‘a narrative of epiphany’. Like English haiku, English haibun is evolving as it becomes more widely practiced in the English speaking world. Haibun is the Japanese name for 17th Century poet-monk Basho Matsuo’s poetic-prose travel journals which were studded with haiku. The best known are The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling. Bruce Ross in an essay entitled “North …

A Space to Write

Originally posted on Myths of the Mirror:
Spring has arrived in the mountains. It’s always a couple weeks later than down in the valley, and though the mornings are still frosty, the leaves have unfurled, and the dogwood wears its white petals. I’ve filled the hummingbird feeders and opened the windows to capture the afternoon sun. And my writer’s room beckons. In 1929, Virginia Woolf wrote that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Well, that money thing would be convenient, wouldn’t it? Yet, it’s not a prerequisite for writing in my mind. Time strikes me as the rarer commodity. But what about that room of her (or his) own, that “must” for the imagination to bloom?  A sacred space of quiet and solitude without the common daily distractions of television, movies, and videogames? A space where a writer can shut the door? When I moved to the mountains, there was a half-finished room above my husband’s shop. I claimed it as my writing room…

What Writers Should Look for

In his article Writers Should Look for What Others Don’t See, Joe Fassler highlights key points in his interview with the Serbian-born poet Charles Simic: “To me, the ideal poem is one a person can read and understand on the first level of meaning after one reading. An accessible quality, I think, is important. Give them something to begin with. Something that seems plain and simple but has something strange—something about it that’s not quite ordinary, that will cause them to do repeated readings or to think about it. The ambition is that, each time they read, they will get to another level of the poem. This fearsome little 10- to 15-line poem becomes something like this poem of Whitman’s, which the reader wants to read over and over again.” – Charles Simic   A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim by Walt Whitman A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim, As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless, As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the …

A Writing App Named after Hemingway

I wrote this post using Hemingway Editor. Since English is only a second language, I figured this app would help me write better. This app shows you how you’re doing as you type the words. As of now, I’m doing well. I see on the right side of the screen that none of the sentences I’ve written are hard to read. I haven’t used the passive voice. My readability score is Grade 3, which is good. I’m going to try writing with this app for a while. I think it will help streamline my writing style. But this post from the New Yorker says Ernest Hemingway’s writing didn’t pass this  app. Oops, that sentence is now highlighted in yellow. That means it is hard to read. I can understand why Hemingway’s writing failed. This app wants you to write short sentences. It would be a change to write short sentences because I tend to write complex ones. You can find the online beta version of this app here.  

Friday Web Finds

I practice Tsudoku. I bet you do too! Tsudoku is a Japanese word that means piling up books that you bought but have not read. Sounds terrible, but  Umberto Eco says it’s ok. Maria Popova explains why in Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are More Valuable to Our Lives than Read Ones. In a A Seizure of Happiness: Mary Oliver on Finding Magic in Life’s Unremarkable Moments, Popova clarifies why attentiveness, more popularly called mindfulness, could be tantamount to “total, effortless surrender to happiness.” This one’s a keeper – I’ve bookmarked it and can’t get enough of it. Old Masters…After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.  Why are we afraid of aging given all the possibilities? Have a happy Friday!  In our part of the world… We’re the midst of a searing summer season. To help her cope with the heat, Mali, the only elephant in the Philippines, gets several baths daily at the Manila Zoo.

Showing Up

Everyday, I show up at my writing desk early in the morning and before going to sleep. I used to do this in the past  because successful writers advice us to do it. But when it started to feel like an obligation and responsibility, I used my work load as an excuse to quit, and then I went back to my old habit of writing whenever I could find the time during the day. But I missed showing up at specific times of the day at my writing desk. Slowly I went back to the practice – but not because I want to become a successful writer. I picked up the habit again because I love to write; and it feels good to give time and importance to my writing practice. These days, I show up at my writing desk twice a day because it has become a ritual that lends color, texture and meaning to my days. Those two occasions during the day are some of the happiest and  most meaningful moments  of my waking hours. There …

Helpful Apps for Bloggers

I’ve been using Pocket to clip interesting posts since I started this blog. I used to rely on Evernote, but somewhere along the way I lost interest in the application – I think it became too complicated for my brain. “OneNote is the best Microsoft program you’re probably not using,” says Derek Walter of PC World. How true. Up until a few months ago,  I haphazardly used OneNote, during attempts to write a book (a project which has now been dumped!) But the commitment to blog daily necessitated taking lots of notes and bookmarking websites. This time I turned to OneNote for help. It’s an amazingly easy, convenient program to use. OneNote has been a big help in my bid to blog daily for one year. If you ever need a handy program for your writing projects, consider OneNote. It comes with Windows, and you can download it for free if you are using Mac, iPhone6 or an android. It’s a versatile digital notebook that may just inspire you to write a book. Oh well…..  

Friday Web Finds

When Sarah McKay, Ph.D began blogging, it soon became one of her great passions. Her blog became her “north star.” Her blog keeps her brain healthy. How? She explains in Why Finding Your Passion Is Essential to Maintaining Brain Health. If you’re one of those people who still love to read books (I do!), take note:Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books. Last week, I featured some quotes from Eudora Welty. Here is her full treatise on The Making of a Writer: Listening in the Dark.  Writers’ notebooks: ‘A junkyard of the mind’ will give you a peek at some writers’ notebooks. Happy Friday!    Photo credit: Morguefile

Writing as Spiritual Practice

. Writing and spirituality overlap in my life, and sometimes they feel like the same thing. Although I bought a lot of books on writing over the past few years to augment what I considered to be a dearth of writing know-how in creative non-fiction, lately I have been drawn to books on how writing can be used as spiritual practice. I have been able to create more writing time because I now consider writing as one of my daily spiritual practices. This has made a huge difference in my attitude toward my writing life. I have dropped all writing goals. I write simply because it feeds my soul, and when my soul is not hungry, I am happy. The thought of writing early in the morning makes me want to go to sleep early and wake up earlier than usual. When you see your writing as more than a hobby, profession, or craft – as a profound expression of yourself – you have no choice but to write with utter conviction and authenticity. The deepest …

Back on Track

  After beginning a new habit of early morning writing in the third quarter of 2014, the habit fizzled out early this year – after almost six months. A busy work schedule made it necessary to give up the writing habit. Ironically, it was my commitment to blog daily that kept me thinking often of that fulfilling habit. I didn’t force myself, but I knew in time I would get right back on track. And I am. I started slowly, first squeezing in five to ten minutes of writing before I began my day. Then gradually I found more and more time and now, I am back, writing in my journals ( I have several ), writing poetry, and prose poetry. On some days, when there’s more time, I also do some sketches with colored pencils and markers. It feels great to be back on track. Once again, writing ideas flow and I look forward to getting up each morning to do word play. Life is good. Photo credit: Morguefile

Age Makes You Wiser, But Is Time Running Out? On Writing and Aging

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
Guest blogger Nikki Stern on the challenges of writing past mid-life, adapted from a panel discussion at the recent Out of the Binders Women Writers Conference in Los Angeles: All my life I’ve been trying to communicate. The funny thing about wanting to say something is that no matter how articulate you become, how presumably skilled in getting across your point, you may never feel you’ve nailed it. I’d guess most writers are plagued with the impulse to make themselves understood. I know I’ve been that way since, well, forever. I wrote my first short story when I was six. By the time I was sixteen, I decided music was the medium and wrote all sorts of original songs, including music and lyrics for school productions. After graduate school and a short stint on Capitol Hill, I was slaving away as a “singer-songwriter” before falling back into the less glamorous but more lucrative career of public relations. Along the way and relatively late in life, I got married.…

Eudora Welty: On Listening

“When I read, I hear what’s on the page. I don’t know whose voice it is, but some voice is reading to me, and when I write my own stories, I hear it, too. I have a visual mind, and I see everything I write, but I have to hear the words when they’re put down.” “Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been a line read that I didn’t hear. As my eyes followed the sentence, a voice was saying it silently to me. It isn’t my mother’s voice, or the voice of any person I can identify, certainly not my own. It is human, but inward, and it is inwardly that I listen to it. It is to me the voice of the story or the poem itself.” “The sound of what falls on the page begins the process of testing it for truth, for me. Whether I am right to trust so far I don’t know. By now I don’t know whether I could …

Friday Web Finds: The Writer’s Voice

What is the writer’s voice? “Like a singer’s, a writer’s voice is an elusive thing, the sum of everything that goes into his or her style of expression,” says Richard Nordquist in this  post, which tells us how to find and fashion our writing voice. A former assistant chef explores the writing voice in: Writer’s Voice: What it is and how to develop yours.  Writer’s Digest’s post, Voice in Writing: Developing a Unique Writing Voice,  provides ways on how we can find our writer’s voice, even though  “Finding a writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction or a blog post.” But this post on the Atlantic says ‘Voice’ Isn’t the Point of Writing. Writers are cautioned: “The truth is, if you want to get paid as a writer, finding your own voice can be a distraction—even a hindrance.” Happy Friday!    

On a Clear Day You Can Create Your Writing Commandments

  It’s a beautiful summer day here in the Philippines. The intense heat had been tamed by thunderstorms a couple of days ago that caught many people unaware. Unprepared as they were for the sudden downpour, many went home soaking wet. The sky is azure, almost cloudless. I have been working on knowing the names of the color variants, in an attempt to improve my skill at writing good descriptions. My favorite color had always been blue green – that’s the name I learned when I was in grade school. Today I learned it’s called teal blue. My computer table faces a wall with three windows and I can see the Heleconia plant – all in full bloom. An occasional sparrow flies by, pecking on its dried leaves, flying away with more materials to build its nest. Summer is when the birds seem to be busiest. If I’m lucky I see a sunbird poking its long beak into the Heleconia blossoms. Flocks of Pied Fantail emerge at various times of the day, squawking and sometimes I witness …

How to Make Sure Your Blog is Ready for Google’s Big Change

How to make your WordPress.com blog mobile-friendly Today, Google will make a major update to its mobile search algorithm – one that will affect bloggers significantly. More than 60% of online traffic now comes from mobile phones and gadgets.  Google’s new algorithm is designed to favor mobile-friendly websites. This means that if your blog is not mobile friendly, your blog will not appear in mobile search results.  “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” To check whether your blog is mobile-friendly or not, go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test site, then enter your blog’s URL. In a matter of seconds, your blog will be analyzed.     If your blog is not mobile friendly and if you are using a WordPress.com theme, here’s what you need to do to make your blog mobile-friendly: 1. Go to your dashboard 2. Hover over “Appearance” and you’ll see “Mobile” at the end of the list …

Writers on Writing

“No time spent writing is ever wasted. If you only spend twenty minutes, and find only a sentence or two flowing, you will have still done something important. You will have written today.” – Anonymous “To write takes dreaming and remembering and thinking and imagining — and very often what feels like wasting time. It takes silence and solitude. It takes being okay with making a huge mess and not knowing what you’re doing. Then it takes rewriting and struggling to find your story and the truth of the story, and then the meaning of the story. It takes being comfortable with your own doubts and fears and questions. And there’s just no fast and easy way around it.” – Barbara Abercrombie “The essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words your characters will speak, ideas — inspiration.” – Doris Lessing “Do not overwrite. Rich, ornate prose is hard to digest, …

Friday Web Finds

    This week, I learned a new Poetic Form: the Pantoum.  It’s a poem composed of four-line stanzas. The difference is that the second and fourth lines of each stanza are used as the first and third stanza of the next stanza. Sounds confusing? Here’s a sample: I listened and heard the trees Singing with the birds The sun shone brightly, dancing merrily As nature’s music played. Singing with the birds I felt my heart skip As nature’s music played; Life seemed so grand I felt my heart skip As nature welcomed me warmly Life seemed so grand, I couldn’t ask for anything more.   The Paris Review features an interview with Henry Miller, on The Art of Fiction. And if you’re still trying to begin a writing habit, you may want to read From Commitment to Writing Habit .     Photo credit: Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash