Raise Your Voice to Break the Silence

When states in America raise the cry to censor ethnic studies, I shiver and pray that people everywhere raise their voices to louder decibels in protest. We don’t have to look far to find chilling examples of the evils of censorship. The excerpt below comes from Azar Nafisi’s eloquent book, READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN: “Our class was shaped within this context, in an attempt to escape the gaze of the blind censor for a few hours each week. There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state …

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Story Form–It’s a jungle out there!

I had a call yesterday from a writer who wasn’t sure if the story she wants to write will best be told as fiction or memoir. We talked about fear of exposure and how fictionalizing a life story does not necessarily do anything to address that issue. We talked about the kinds of books she loves to read. At the end of our brief conversation, she asked if I had an exercise that would guide her along a discovery process to find her story’s form. I have a simple step, I said, to take you in that direction. Sit down …

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The Trust Muscle

Today’s quote from author Elizabeth Gilbert–“To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful ‘magic skills’ that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition.” Today’s challenge: Warm up your trust muscle and let it support you and your creative projects.

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A REASON NOT TO WRITE

Recently a writer shared a list of all the reasons why she needed to wait until winter to begin her new writing schedule. I read it over, paused a moment, and responded, “There will always be reasons not to write.”   Those times when life seems most overwhelming–when it comes rolling straight at us full-tilt–present some of the richest challenges and also opportunities. No better time to be writing with full commitment to your practice. A writing life is just that, a writing life. It goes on, whether times are smooth or filled with upheaval. When you feel tested, I …

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WOOING YOU BACK

One of the best essays I’ve read about reconnecting to your novel and moving past “stuckness” was penned by Gail Godwin and published in The Writer. Godwin suggests that a creative work in progress may react to the fear of abandonment like an aggrieved pet, giving you, the author, the cold shoulder or even turning its back on you completely. The provocation of this punishment may be as slight as a busy weekend you spent with your family or a missed writing session. It may be more dramatic–weeks of putting your manuscript on the back-burner. When disconnect occurs, you the writer …

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MAKE MEANING

In his book OUT OF OUR MINDS: LEARNING TO BE CREATIVE, Sir Ken Robinson writes that creativity “…is applied imagination. To call someone creative suggests they are actively producing something in a deliberate way…a first definition of creativity then is imaginative processes with outcomes in the public world…” It takes courage to put yourself and your creations into the world. With sharing comes risk–of rejection, of visibility, of success. Whatever your fear, applaud your commitment to creativity. Each creative offering adds energy to the collective desire to make meaning. Each creative offering is a message to others: Be courageous, take …

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NIGHT SWEATS

A writer friend confides that he suffers from nightmares as he nears completion of his first novel. “I wake in a cold sweat,” he confesses. “What if it’s not good enough? What if it’s no good? It’s like one of those dreams where you show up naked for the final exam. I didn’t used to be this scared–I didn’t doubt myself.” After we talk for several minutes, we agree the dreams, however uncomfortable, are a good sign. He is about to share his novel with a select audience of first readers, and he will be asking for their feedback. The …

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