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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CREATIVE BANKING

Last week, in the midst of a busy coaching schedule, a busy writing schedule, and my always busy family life, I took time out for some creative banking. I don’t mean I did some funny business with my income tax prep. I do mean I took stock of past, present, and future writing projects, and I discovered how much I have in my creative “bank”. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you have projects you’ve left simmering on the back-burner and projects you’ve just plain left behind because it was time to move on. Those that are …

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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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THE GIFT OF TIME

Last week, busy with life and various editorial projects, I found myself feeling out of touch with my novel. My writer friend Dianne reminded me of something important that I had momentarily forgotten. “Give yourself dream time and mornings,” she said. “Let the book be with you when you are drifting off to sleep, and use those first minutes of the day for writing your pages.” I took her wise advice and the reconnection to my characters and their story was immediate, vivid, and visceral. When you give yourself the gift of time, choose those golden “windows” that are your …

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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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TEN THINGS I’D DIE FOR

When I asked Stephanie, a writer friend, to list ten things she would die for, her initial response was that she could handle it in one of two ways: “the mushy stuff you could get serious about such as dying for family. But I thought to myself that would never happen so I took the other approach…somewhat self-centered and fun and it has some mushy stuff but not much.”  The list is reprinted (fresh and wild) with her permission. *  A life size replica of Shaquille O’Neal as a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup *  The ability to fly *  A …

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