All posts tagged: creative writing

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 …

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 …

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.

The Changing Seasons of a Writing Life

A few weeks ago, many trees in our tropical country began to shed and soon many of them were naked.  In the Philippines, falling leaves signal the changing of seasons, and many streets in the suburbs and provinces are littered with dried leaves. The shedding of the trees happens between the cool months and the hot summer days.  The evenings and early mornings remain cool, but the days begin to feel summery. It is as though there is a tug of war between the cold nights and the hot days.     We know summer is afoot because the egrets that have migrated to the city from China begin to leave…     And bougainvillea plants begin to bloom copiously…     But today, we had rain, and suddenly it felt like the rainy season again. Climate change is so noticeable here in the Philippines, and today is a gentle reminder that the weather is ever-changing and has become quite unpredictable.     The changing seasons seem to mirror the changes in my writing life. I …

How to Avoid Clutter

When I was still studying, I diligently memorized new words and their meanings because I wanted to use highfalutin words in my writing.  I thought they would make my work distinctive and memorable.  Reading William Zinsser’s book, “On Writing Well, An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction” set me on the right and uncluttered path. “Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds – the writer is always slightly behind,”  Zinsser says.  In the chapter on clutter, Zinsser describes how writers (me included) “drape prepositions routinely on verbs that don’t need them.”  We say “free up” when we can simply say “free.”   We write “at this moment in time” when we can say “now.” He mentions a few among hundreds of words that we use to clutter our writing: numerous (many), facilitate (ease), individual (man or woman), sufficient (enough), implement (do), attempt (try). Here are some very helpful tips from the author on how to deal with clutter: Be grateful for all the words you can throw away. Prune ruthlessly Examine and re-examine every  word you use. …

Words of Wisdom from a Writer: What is Journal Writing?

“When you write a little each day (jour means day in French), journaling becomes a daily practice.” “Journal writing is practice and much more. With your words you give life to what you see, what you hear, what you touch. In this way you transform the outer thing that you see or touch into something inner. You bridge the outer and inner worlds, the visible and the invisible. This is the gift of journaling. Your daily life calls you in a thousand directions; journal writing centers you. You slow down and write. You learn to look anew at the world.” “So why journal? Here are some of the reasons. To establish the habit of writing (A writer writes.) To capture memories (places, characters, conversations, events) To discover what you think and feel (each time going deeper) To find your voice (When does your writing sound the most natural? Look at your entries to see at what time of day and in what place you write most easily. Track your writing habits.) To take risks (in …

The Need for Study

When we go on a journey or an exploration, it is always best to seek the advice of those who have gone ahead of us. The same is true with writing. I wish I had the time to join an online writing course, but my workload is heavy now, so I have to settle for books to guide me along the way. I have settled down with two books on writing:  The Writer’s Portable Mentor, A guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life by Patricia Long; and One Year to a Writing Life, Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art by Susan M. Tiberghien. Long’s book reads like a complete writing course – very thorough and takes you slowly towards the direction of creating a writing life. Tiberghien’s book on the other hand is more meditative, reflective and slower paced – one lesson for one whole month. I feel that I’ve found my writing mentors and have settled down to serious study. Blogging daily has made me realize that I can use this blog as a sort …

Granta Open for Unsolicited Submissions

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
News from our friends over at Aerogramme Studio: After a long hiatus Granta, one of the world’s most prestigious literary magazines, is again accepting unsolicited submissions. Granta’s history can be traced back to 1889 when a student politics and literature magazine called The Granta was founded at Cambridge University. Since its relaunch 35 years ago, Granta has been a quarterly literary journal, with the aim of publishing the best new writing. Granta publishes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There are no strict word limits, though most prose submissions are between 3000 and 6000 words and the editors advise they are unlikely to read more than 10,000 words of any submission. The deadline is April 1. For more information, check out the full post on Aerogramme, or head over to Granta itself.

The Writer’s Voice

Discover your voice. Determine how it is different from all other voices. Make it hot for yourself. Get to where the jeopardy is. A writer’s voice. What is it really? I’ve been pondering upon this since last year, and have been trying to find my voice. At first, after reading other blogs and appreciating the way some people can write with humor and candor, I thought my voice was that of a serious writer. But then again, I wondered if that isn’t what’s called writing style. Or is that one’s niche? Late last year, when journalists from all over the globe were arriving in our country to cover the arrival of yet another supertyphoon that threatened to pummel our already supertyphoon-weary archipelago, I told myself I should also blog about typhoon Hagupit. I started with the intention of writing about the supertyphoon and the preparations being done to prevent casualties, but in the end, the blog post centered on prayer. That was a twist that happened as I was writing, and I wonder if somewhere …

An Afternoon with Hemingway

In 1964 Edward Stafford wrote about the unforgettable afternoon that he spent with Ernest Hemingway. Here are some quotes from Hemingway, from the article written by Stafford: The hardest trade in the world is the writing of straight, honest prose about human beings. The important thing is to work everyday. I work from about seven until about noon. Then I go fishing or swimming – whatever I want. The best way is always to stop when you’re going good. If  you do that, you’ll never be stuck. And don’t worry about it until you start to write again the next day.  That way your subconscious will be working on it all the time. But if you worry about it, your brain will get tired even before you start to write again the next day. But work everyday.  No matter what happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail. Watch people, observe, try to put yourself in somebody else’s head.  If two men argue, don’t just think about who is right and who …

“About” Page Update

A few blog posts ago, I wrote how, after reading a most eloquent “About” page written by Barbara Mahany, I was prompted to ask myself why I blog. The Kitchen Table is Mahany’s “About” page and reading that made me realize two things: 1) The title “About” is so banal; 2) My existing “About” page was so uncreative, and did not fully express the reasons why I decided to blog. In that previous blog post, I said it was time to rethink the purpose of this blog and write a better “About” page. So, here it is – not nearly as poetic as Mahany’s, but it says much about how this blog has grown and how it has made a difference in my life. Needless to say, a blog is only a bunch of words without its readers, so this too, is a note of thanks to those who follow this blog. This blog began as a journey. When I set up this blog, I didn’t really know what to expect. I created this blog on impulse, and …

Fellowship for Writers Who Meditate

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
Is a contemplative practice part of your writing life, personal life, or both? Vermont Studio Center is partnering with the Hemera Foundation to offer ten fellowships that include time at the VSC, time at a residential meditation retreat, additional class, workshop or retreat time, and the services of a mentor-artist. The Tending Space Fellowship Program for Artists was developed with the view that art has the capacity to infuse the experience of everyday life with awareness. The aim of the program is to nurture the creative practice of seeing things as they are, to cultivate that awareness, and to live and create from this insight. Toward that purpose, we support artists with opportunities for both contemplation and creation. Qualified applicants will be artists who are rigorously committed to their art form and who have a demonstrable interest in contemplative practice. The application information is here. The deadline is February 15th. ?

A Journaling Exercise (part 2)

Part 1 of A Journaling Exercise was all about changing a pattern – instead of quickly writing on a blank page, we are asked to: 1) spend some time staring at the blank page; 2) ask for a message or messages 3) engage the blank page in a dialogue 4) and finally, write about your impressions about the exercise. Now. we all know that the blank page won’t really answer – if it does even I would bolt for the nearest door!  In this exercise, the blank page serves as a focal point.The exercise serves several purposes: First of all, it provides a break from your usual, daily journaling habit which could lead to boredom. The waiting part silences the conscious mind and provides an opening for the subconscious mind.  Jenny Davidow, in Embracing Your Subconscious: Bringing All Parts of You into Creative Partnership wrote: “Your subconscious is a powerful and mysterious force which can either hold you back or help you move forward. Without its cooperation, your best goals will go unrealized; with its help, you …

A Journaling Exercise (part 1)

  If you are a journal writer like me, you’ve probably tried different ways to fill the pages of your notebooks. You may have tried freewriting, ranting, listing, poetry, naming and describing. Here’s an exercise you may want to try. For a change, instead of writing on the blank page, just stare at it and don’t write anything. That’s right, don’t write anything. Instead, ask the blank page what message or messages it has for you and then wait for an answer. When an answer comes, don’t write – not yet. Dialogue with the blank page. Keep talking to it until it stops talking to you, and then write about the whole experience. I could share with you what I wrote about my experience with the blank page but if I do that, I will be putting ideas into your head and you won’t have an authentic experience. So I won’t post it here. Besides, I’m reserving it for another blog post! photo credit: Melissa Venable via photopin cc

Good Writing

I so admire Barbara Kingsolver. Her non-fiction books are like musical scores – there’s a lovely rhythm that permeates her essays. I haven’t read any of her six fiction books, but I’m sure they’re just as amazing. Here’s how she defines good writing: “What makes writing good? That’s easy: the lyrical description, the arresting metaphor, the dialogue that falls so true on the ear it breaks the heart, the plot that winds up exactly where it should.” Well if that’s the recipe for good writing, it looks like I still have to find the right ingredients.   photo credit: Vaultboy via photopin cc

Freewriting

The best time to write is when you don’t know what to write. Those moments are golden opportunities, full of possibilities because ideas could just come from nowhere. Beginner’s mind – that state of mind in Zen where one’s mind is free from all fetters – is a jewel in a writer’s world. We call it freewriting – writing with no agenda other than to write down without judgment all the words that flow from within. You keep the pen on paper and write without stopping to think about grammar, syntax or if you are making any sense at all. On the surface, this kind of writing seems useless. But among other things, you are giving the mind permission to relax and play. It’s like allowing the mind to let go and be. And when the mind is allowed to play, the body relaxes, and for some of us that’s  hard to come by given the many stressors and stresses of modern life. Try it, – write freely. Give yourself permission to play with words, to …

On Journaling

“I realize now that journaling has been the one consistent thing that I’ve done for myself. Through the days of serving and helping others, journaling has been my way of paying attention to me.” I wrote those words late last year, through the business of the holidays and work. It seemed like I was caught in a whirlpool of work, chores and social obligations. Nevertheless, I continued to journal and tried to do it during the first few hours of the day. My journal became my sanctuary, far and away from the crazy demands of the world. “The decision to write a journal has been the most important decision I have ever made because it has led to every other important decision I’ve ever made,” writes Christina Baldwin in her book, Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest.”  She continues, “The existence of the journal provides writers with confidence and courage that we can travel as far as the mind allows, and find our way home through the act of writing.” Journals have been my constant …

Writing and the Forgotten Art of Savoring

Jack Heffron tells writers to have fun with the writing process. I’m sure humor writers have lots of fun when they write, but I was absent when heaven showered writers with the gift of humor. I have the sneaky feeling though that two other bloggers, Pam and Susanne were in the front row when  it happened and I always grow green with envy after reading their blogs. To have fun during the writing process, I started a “fun journal.” That’s my best shot at having fun while writing. I love to write, but I cannot say it’s fun. How does one have fun while searching for the right words to express one’s feelings? English is my second language so when I’m writing, I’m regularly questioning whether this or that word is the right one and I Google the meaning of words when I am in doubt – which is quite often. No, writing isn’t fun for me yet, I haven’t found the path that leads to that state and I hope I’ll see the signposts that leads to that place – soon. But  writing does …

Why Blog?

This seems out of order – after making a pact with myself that I will blog for 365 days in 2015, I am now asking my self this question: “Why blog?”  I know it should be the other way around – first determine my purpose before committing. Perhaps if I took the time to sit down and make an editorial list, or a schedule of blog posts, I would have seen this slight anomaly. I don’t, however, make a blog post plan. I like the challenge of staring at the blank page of the WordPress Editor, and for some reason I choose to use the classic mode – the one that provides an “improved posting experience” still feels alien to me. The question arose this morning after reading Barbara Mahany’s “About” page. A lovely blog by a retired feature writer, Mahany writes why she decided to blog, “as i have grown older, wiser, inhaling more deeply the rhythms of the natural world, the rhythms of my own heart and soul, i have discovered that perhaps my …

Birthing a Book

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

Writers on Writing

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

Exercise Time!

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

Writers on Writing

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

Falling

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

Writing through the Pain

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

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

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

The Nuances of Early Morning Writing

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

Web Finds

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

Playtime!

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

Creating a Writing Life

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

The Call to Write

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

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing

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

Besieged by Writing Ideas

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

The Book that I Am Already Writing

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

Why Write a Book?

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

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing a Book

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

Of Podcasts and Writing

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

Blog Renovations: How to Improve Your Blog

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

Good News for Aspiring Authors

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

Find Your Own Writing Rhythm

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

Becoming Your Own Critic and Teacher

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

How to Carve Out More Writing Time

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

How to Write Effortlessly

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

How to Begin a New Writing Habit

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

Own Your Story! Free E-course

Canvas Network is once again offering a host of e-courses. Two courses would be of interest to writers: Advancing Women’s Leadership: Own Your Story which starts on April 25, 2014; and Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools from May 19  to July 31, 2014 Here is the course description for Advancing Women’s Leadership: Own Your Story: We all have a story. No matter where we are in our life’s journey; no matter our circumstances; we have something to share that has made us who we are. Capturing and examining our life stories increases our resilience and clarifies our place in the world. Join eight leaders and authors in exploring the power of these stories in our lives. Together, we will share our stories of family and community, work and career, college or school, and the financial, physical, and spiritual triumphs and challenges we have faced. Together, we will acknowledge and embrace those stories using them to ground us and to help us shape our futures. Focused on adult women but open to …

The Transformative Power of Journaling

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling, one that had been building up through the days. I sat and wrote on my journal. It has been my habit to journal in the morning, before I leave my room for breakfast. But on days when I have to leave early for work, I take the journal with me and write where I can, when I can. Although I had been journaling for several decades now, it never ceases to amaze me how this writing tool can transform the heaviness within into a feeling of lightness; how, when the feelings that had been hidden, can become beacons of light that give direction to my day when they are brought out into the light and expressed in writing . I have written much about this amazing and transformative writing tool in several blog posts. In this post, I would like to feature some quotes on journaling from the book, “Writing and Being,” by Lynn G. Nelson. It is one of the best books on journaling that …