All posts tagged: writing tips

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 …

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 …

How to Write Crisp, Evocative Descriptions: Grow Your Third Eye (6)

“When we engage not only the naked eye but the growing eye as well, we begin to see  the extraordinary within the ordinary.” -Rebecca McClanahan The “growing eye” or “third eye” that is invaluable to all artists is that ability to look beyond the physical manifestations of things, people and events. The poet and mystic Gerard Manley Hopkins called this ability the “growing eye” because it expands when it learns to participate emotionally and spiritually with whatever it is we focus on. The example McClanahan gives us of a writer using her growing eye is  Annie Dillard who wrote the book Holy the Firm after living on an island in Puget Sound for two years. Dillard wrote: “I wake in a god. I wake in arms holding my quilt, holding me as best they can inside my quilt. “Someone is kissing me — already. I wake, I cry ” ‘Oh,’ I rise from the pillow. Why should I open my eyes? “I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is Puget …

On Writing: Quotes from Parker Palmer

“I’ve always been an obsessive writer, and, before age slowed me down, my rush to write sometimes kept me from seeing the beauty around me. Part of me regrets that fact. And yet, back then — focused laser-like on surveying and mapping what’s “in here” to the exclusion of what’s “out there” — I was able to write something that helped a stranger find new life. Looking back, I’m awed by the way embracing everything, from what I got right to what I got wrong, invites the grace of wholeness.” “For 50 years I’ve been writing almost daily. I’m driven not by expertise but by my own bafflement about many things — some of them “in here” and some of them “out there.” Every time I write, I’m surprised by what I discover about myself and/or the world. “So I no longer wait until I have a clear idea to start putting words on the page. If I did, I’d never write a word! I simply start writing, trusting that the writing itself will help …

From My Journal: Trading the Camera for Pen and Notebook

I live in a tropical country – the Philippines – and every year during the last quarter, our 7,100 islands play hosts to thousands of birds migrating from other countries like Japan, Korea and China. The birds begin to arrive in October to escape the cold winter months. Our lakes, rivers, seas and land become temporary haven for these migratory birds. Many years ago I belonged to a small bird-watching group and we used to travel to the provinces armed with binoculars and field guides to watch the birds. Travels during the last quarter of the year were especially fulfilling because we were able to see some migratory birds as well. But these days it’s no longer necessary to travel to the provinces to see the migratory birds. They come to the suburbs as well and every October we see a few of them on empty fields or near lagoons. A flock of plumed egrets arrived in a field near our house last October. Just a small flock of about twenty birds, and they were in …

Some Web Finds

  Today I’d like to share some great web finds: Elizabeth Gilbert on Big Magic Blogging – It’s Good for You A Memoir is Not a Status Update Write Start: Brad Taylor on that Dreaded First Page Here’s to your reading pleasure!     Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Introducing…the Judge

As writers, we’re all so familiar with the Muse, and the nemesis called the Critic.  Jack Heffron, in his book The Writer’s Idea Book, introduced another nemesis – the Judge. Who is the Judge and what does he do to writers?  Hefron attributes a number of the “dark” strategies we usually blame on the Critic to  that aspect of ourselves that he calls the Judge. The Judge instills guilt. It’s that voice from within that tells us how inconsiderate we are for sitting in front of our desks all morning when there are many chores to be done. The Judge is especially harsh on women Heffron says, because from the time they can walk, women are instilled with the concept of sacrifice, of ignoring their needs.  Men also wrangle with the Judge, but not as much as women do. The Judge does not spare any writer – published or not, it wields its power. Listen to  fiction writer Gish Jen, who was  interviewed by Publishers Weekly: “Even today, I think my family would be more relived than dismayed if I were …

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. …

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 …

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 …

Writers on Writing : Rejection

  “Writers have a little holy light within, like a pilot light which fear is always blowing out. When a writer brings a manuscript fresh from the making, at the moment of greatest vulnerability, that’s the moment for friends to help get the holy light lit again.” –Cynthia Ozick “I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.’ ” –Saul Bellow “In every real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself; the publishing of his ideas is a curious anticlimax.” –Alfred Kazin “I know of potential writers ruined by the harshness of a teacher, the thoughtlessness, or even malice, of a fellow student. And I know of works stopped dead by showing it off too soon. “What’s the solution? “Write. Read. Practice. Find a support group if you wish. But if you want to write, just write.” –Sophy Burnham   photo credit: 004 via photopin (license) 

How to Handle Fear and Doubt

“When I am happiest, I write almost every day,” Sophy Burnham wrote in For Writers Only.  As for me, I am happiest when I write everyday… Just as what happens to us, life gets in her way and keeps her from writing. It’s nice to know that even accomplished writers have this problem – misery loves company… “For long periods, however, my time is taken. Days pass…weeks. Then I forget I ever once began…” How to begin writing again? “At times like these, then, fear and doubt must be fought with all the weapons in our arsenal. These include: affirmations, prayer, silence, stillness, trusting, trying, waiting, walking, reading, not reading. Writing about my fear…”        

Why Keep a Notebook?

Why should you keep a notebook and carry it with you?  A notebook reminds you that you’re a writer Carrying a notebook teaches you to pay attention A notebook gives you the chance to write even if the only time you have is just a few minutes. Taking notes is also a creative act Carrying a notebook encourages you to be creative “The constant use of the notebook keeps you working and writing and provides a mine of material to be used down the road. Keep anything pertinent to your development as a writer:character sketches, found poems, observations, all of the preliminary stuff for the first stages of the writing process. What you write down now goes toward all the writing you will ever do.”  — John DuFresne   photo credit: VeRoNiK@ GR via photopin cc

Another Free Writing Course from Coursera: Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade

Coursera is offering a free course on fundamental English writing beginning January 30 till March 9, 2015. The course description for Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade reads: Learn to become an effective builder of sentences using the basic tools of grammar, punctuation, and writing. By dedicating yourself to the craft of writing English, you will learn to use the eight parts of speech and grammar to develop the four basic sentence types into a well-organized, detailed paragraph. This course is designed for anyone who wants to become a better writer. If you need to write more clearly for work, prepare for a placement test for a college, or improve your skills for current writing projects, this class is beneficial. Please be aware that basic writers are the targeted audience for this course. Here’s where you can register and find more information: Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade photo credit: Prince Heathen via photopin cc

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 …

Writing with Integrity

  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

Studies Reveal Benefits of Writing and Editing Our Own Stories

A recent article that appeared in the New York Times will give journal writers cause to celebrate. In Writing Your Way to Happiness, Tara Parker Pope chronicles the various scientific researches that have been done on expressive writing, which prove that it is good for a person’s general well-being. The author also delves on a recent research study which involves writing and then rewriting one’s personal story. This method of journaling can provide journal writers another way to tackle the blank page. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would certainly keep it handy in case the blank page of my journal refuses to give a message or the words simply won’t flow from my mind. This method of expressive writing, according to the author, has been found to have various beneficial effects. Pope explains, “The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then …

Reflections on Daily Blogging

I know, it’s too early to tell. Almost 14 days through daily blogging, I am still at it, and it hasn’t been hard at all.  I began early morning writing again before 2014 ended, so writing has once more become a vital part of my life. It takes time and effort, but the more often I blog, the easier it gets. In the past two years, I’ve joined several blogathons but it was quite stressful. I guess it had to do with the added responsibility of visiting other blogs and back then I wasn’t so used to blogging – I must have stressed over it needlessly. I squeeze in writing the blog posts usually in the evenings after coming home from work and after I’ve fed all 22 animals in our tiny shelter. It’s my nightcap on most days, but today I have a very light workload so I’m taking a few minutes to write this post before I leave for work. I’ve enjoyed the past 14 days so far – maybe writing is becoming fun! I could focus on …

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 Writing

A quote from Ralph Keyes: “Anxiety is not only an inevitable part of the writing process but a necessary part. If you’re not scared, you’re not writing.” Advice from Barbara Abercombie: “We’re so good with the negative voices: You idiot, what kind of an idea is that? Who do you think you are to be writing a book? Why are you sitting there in your bedroom slippers writing about your boring life? Who cares? When that voice starts chirping in your head and chipping away at your confidence, here’s what you do: Listen to another voice, the sweet, calm voice that’s saying, Just do the work. Tell your story; it’s important. Have faith. If you’re sitting at Starbucks or at the library, it’s probably best not to say this out loud, but if you’re home alone — say it loud. And often.” According to Eric Maisel, this will improve your writing life:  We make many kinds of spaces for ourselves: noisy spaces, busy spaces, unsettled spaces, and sometimes calm self-reflective spaces. Make a calm self-reflective …

Lessons from Rock Balancing

I’ve always had an affinity for stones and rocks. So, late last year when I heard about rock balancing, it was a no brainer – I simply had to learn how to do it! I took some small stones and a few rocks from the garden and brought them into my bedroom and in the evenings, I tried to learn how to balance stones and rocks. There’s a science to it, actually. You just have to “help” the rock find its center of gravity by “assisting it.” You let the rock fall and then slightly turn it away from the side where it falls. The rock falls and falls and falls, and each time it does, you turn it slightly, until finally the rock stops falling – it has found its center of gravity! I’ve spent many nights balancing rocks and stones. There’s a feeling of exhilaration each time the rocks find their center of gravity. I’ve done the same thing with my writing – I’ve set goals over and over. I’ve fallen time and time again. I’ve tried …

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 …

When the Writer in You Begins to Scream

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

The Nuances of Early Morning Writing

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

Web Finds

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

Playtime!

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

Oh NO! I’m Growing a Monster!

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

Creating a Writing Life

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

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing

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

Besieged by Writing Ideas

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

A Comment for a Blog Post

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

Why Write a Book?

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

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing a Book

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

Of Podcasts and Writing

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

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Freewriting

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

Blog Renovations: How to Improve Your Blog

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

Good News for Aspiring Authors

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

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 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 …