IN YOUR LANE, IN THE ZONE

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps nabbed gold eight-for-eight at the 2008 games in Beijing. When his mother faced interviewers, she spoke of the challenges her energetic son encountered in childhood. Bullied by other kids, diagnosed with ADHD, Phelps needed a positive channel for his energy, and he tried several other sports before he settled on competitive swimming. The combination of clearly delineated lanes and visible goals made swimming his perfect sport. Hearing Phelps’s story got me thinking about Creatives–our inventiveness, productivity, fluidity, and generativeness; our creative mania, expansive vision, and the complimentary need for balance and focus and commitment to a …

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The Fine Art of Giving Up

In the midst of writing a full-length narrative, it is more common than not to arrive at a point when you realize the story’s all wrong, nothing works, and you’ve wasted months, if not years. The narrative arc you’ve been riding collapses beneath you. The story’s implausible, Swiss cheese, skeletal. You’ve created paper doll characters. Your cliché-ridden prose sticks to the roof of your mouth. The possible justifications for failure are endless. But in the end, the verdict is the same: You will never write this book, much less future books. Writing is painful, a waste of time, and way …

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Quote of the Day: “Lower Your Standards”

My friend Marty G., a professional writer and editor, who has been at it for thirty-plus years, does not believe in writer’s block. When a writer complains she can’t make progress on the first draft of her book, Marty advises, “Lower your standards.” When it comes to the craft of writing, Marty is an advocate for excellence, but he also knows the difference between writing a first draft and a third draft. First, get the words on the page; second, make it better; third, make it zing!

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Tricksters, Saboteurs, Gremlins, and Other Early Risers

You wake early because you’ve highlighted two hours in your schedule and you’re going to work on your book. The last time you sat down to write, two days ago, the words flowed effortlessly and you felt elated. Now, you touch your fingers to the keys, but instead of joy, you feel a chill at the base of your neck. You are not quite present, a bit out of sorts. You try to shake off the shadow, shake the mood, but you find yourself forcing the words onto the page. You persevere for another ten minutes but it only gets …

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Take the Leap and Cherish Consciousness!

2008 is a leap year. By the Chinese calendar it is the very auspicious Year of the Rat. If you are committed to diving more deeply, wildly and joyfully into creative flow this year, here are several quotes that may inspire: “The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.” Max Eastman “”There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now.” Barbara Kingsolver “The death of fear is in doing what you fear to do.” Sequichie Comingdeer Wishing you an abundance of creative energy in 2008! Cheers, Sarah

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THE 10-MINUTE-VENT

When it comes to encouraging and even enhancing flow in your creative writing process, the 10-Minute-Vent may become your most important tool. It’s the exercise I use to launch my writing days. Writer friends and clients who try it report immediate results: it is a powerful way to steer clear of self-sabotage, procrastination, the destructive inner critic, and creative block. All writers hear voices. We usually welcome those belonging to our characters and the narrators of our stories; but there are some we do not welcome, and, in fact, may fear. I call these internal voices my “cast of hundreds”, …

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