Category Archives: Blog

Blog description

The Power of LIVE Events

 

 

Dear Friends, As much as I love teaching via the video, the blog, email, and on social media, there is nothing like a LIVE event to inspire that next level of your creative and spiritual growth. I have two AMAZING  live events coming up. One on the west coast at Asilomar State Beach; “The Yoga of Creativity & Writing” May 5-7 and one on the east coast at The Omega Institute “Writing as a Path to Awakening” May 26-29 in Rhinebeck, New York. I would love to see YOU there!

PLEASE NOTE: THE ASILOMAR REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS MONDAY MAY 1 at MIDNIGHT!

ASILOMAR: https://www.albertflynndesilver.com/meditation-classes-retreats/yoga-creativity-writing-asilomar/

OMEGA: https://www.eomega.org/workshops/writing-as-a-path-to-awakening-0#-workshop-description-block

writers writing retreat Hawaii

Exclusive Opportunity for Dedicated Writers!

So, here’s the deal. . .I’m looking for 15 people to join me in 2017 for a VERY EXCITING new program called The Writer’s Mastermind: Journey to Publication. If you’re not interested, totally cool, no need to read on…

Because of the intense nature of my teaching and publishing schedule, I haven’t done this before, and since so many of you requested it, I am making an exception in 2017. Not sure if I’ll do it again. We’ll see.

For 20 years I have been meditating, writing, teaching, and (for a time) publishing–in that order, and things have finally started to really come alive for me, and this amazing community of writers, readers, and meditators— that’s YOU! A moment to say THANK YOU for being there and being not only interested and engaged, but supportive!

My goal has always been to motivate, inspire, and support writers in order to help them go from amateur scribbler to published author. This is part of my mission!

I have been blessed to teach alongside some of America’s most inspiring best-selling authors like Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, U. S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and many others.

Many of these workshops were daylongs, or maybe a week, and were the only way people could work with me.

This year, though, I felt like I wanted to open up the vault and give a select few committed and motivated people with book projects the opportunity to work with me in a deeper, more meaningful way. . . and for an extended period of time. I have always emphasized the critical role of working with teachers and mentors over time in fostering growth. I have personally found this to be THE way to take your writing AND your life to the next level.

This reminded me how much I love going deep in an intimate, hands-on way, co-creating growth and dynamic creative-writing strategy in order to support serious writers on their journey to publication.

So, I’m going to do something I haven’t done, ever…

I’m looking to work with a max of 15 motivated and committed writers, with book projects, who are ready to finish that book and ready to set a goal of publishing their book or securing an agent or publisher in 2017.

The Ultimate Writing Retreat

The goal is simple…

We’ll form a team. It’ll be creative-writing generative and publishing-prep oriented. We’ll go deep into each person’s creative vision. We’ll also talk creativity, life-style support, publishing strategy, and platform. We’ll talk about the 10 P’s from Purpose, Passion, and Practice–to Platform and Promotion. Whatever is needed. It’ll be hands-on, supportive, and inspiring.

**

WHATS INCLUDED. . .

*LIVE event #1: Maui, Hawaii with best selling author Dani Shapiro.

*LIVE event #2: Asilomar Center on the Monterey Coast: “The Yoga of Creativity & Writing” with Dr. Melody Moore & Albert Flynn DeSilver!

*Monthly One-to-One Private Coaching & Mentoring with Albert!

*Monthly Group Coaching with Albert!

*Quarterly conference calls with Agents, Editors, and Publishers!

*The Master Class for Successful Writers online course!

*The Elizabeth Gilbert Exclusive LIVE STREAM with Liz teaching and lecturing from her amazing event in Napa, CA!

*Brilliant Writer’s Insider’s Guide to Securing a Literary Agent.

*Brilliant Writer’s Insider’s Guide to Writing a Best Selling Book Proposal.

Once you commit, get ready to blast off with your writing project, and see a massive growth-spurt in productivity.

Our group calls will be in direct response to EACH of your specific needs so everyone gets their needs addressed. This is about getting specific, strategic, and personal.

Okay, so who is this really for?

There are three critical qualifications. You must:

  • Have an established writing practice and a clear idea of a book project you could realistically complete in the next 1-2 years.
  • Have an established meditation and/or yoga practice.
  • Already have written at least 25,000 words toward this particular project.
  • Be ready to work hard, write hard, read hard, and contribute to the community.

You’ve also got to be a genuine, generous, and kind person and yearn, with every fiber of your being, to write, complete, publish, and promote your work in the world. And, you have to be willing to work insanely hard to make big things happen!

Why does this matter to me?

Because, I love working with committed creatives who take action and have little interest (though lots of compassion for) “over-thinking dabblers.” I’m sure you feel the same.

Just as important, this is not for you if you’re trying to figure out your next move. That is an important and honorable place to be, but for this, you should already be on a clear path. We will be focused intensely on accelerated growth, and publication, not finding your calling.

We’ll come together twice a month for intensive online sessions, plus your private session. You will have reading and writing goals and “homework” commitments. Each person will have substantial time devoted to their specific needs. And, beyond my input, you’ll benefit greatly from the shared brain-trust wisdom of the entire group, which can easily compound the growth potential, ideas, and awakenings for all.

How will I choose the 15 people?

Pretty much using the criteria I shared above.

It’ll be application, invitation, and interview based. I never sell, it’s always about fit. I want to spend my time with the people I described above, and so do you. I’ll review applications, schedule 15-minute Skype interviews, and make offers to applicants who are a great fit on a first-come, first-served basis.

So, if say 50 people apply right away, and 8 out of the first 10 are a great fit, I’ll stop reviewing applications and close out the group without going deeper into the remaining 40 applications. I’m guessing it will all happen very quickly.

How much will your investment be?

I do essentially no coaching and very little consulting anymore. When I did, my fees were $500/hour (x 3 sessions a month =$18K per year). People who work with me are not paying for my time, they’re investing in the value of a specific desired outcome they know to be many times greater (getting their book published, for example). This is no different.

Your investment, if chosen, is ONLY $897 per month, (paid in 12 monthly installments–a little higher to cover fees) or $9,997 paid in advance for the whole year–12 months. Non-refundable. (Just for the record, the monetary value of this program is over $20,000.)

When you commit, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be taking the spot of someone else who, like you, wanted it desperately. I don’t take that lightly, neither should you. So, when you say yes, I’ll expect you to show up and do the work. And, you can expect, I’ll deliver highly-specific ideas, strategies, actionable insights that, when implemented over the next 12-months, will far exceed the value of your investment.

Is it worth it for you?

Only you can know. And, I’m happy to help you figure it out on a call, if you choose to apply.

Like I said, on the rare occasion when I do things like this, I never sell, all I care about is fit. My goal is to deliver a level of insight, knowledge, experience, inspiration, and practical writing and publishing guidance that will fuel exponential growth in creativity and impact over the next 12-months. And also let you leave with a new “inside team” of champions and accountability partners to ensure you do the work needed to experience very real, measurable results.

Albert Flynn DeSilver is a gem, a joy to work with and puts on amazing workshops! –Cheryl Strayed (International Best Selling Author of WILD)

“What an enchanting journey. Thank you Albert!” –J.V., Berlin, Germany

“I think I speak for everyone when I say that this past week was absolutely EXTRAORDINARY. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your presence and leadership.” –K.B., Atlanta

By the way, if you’re curious what other awesome humans have said about working with me, you can read some more testimonials here.

Again, it is entirely up to you to decide whether to get your application in.

You can apply without obligation, then if you’re a fit, we’ll jump on a quick call, so I can learn a bit more and you can get any questions you might have answered.

Here’s the link where you’ll apply.

With a max of 15 spots, I’m pretty confident they’ll go very quickly.

And, if it’s not right for you, but you’ve got a friend who needs this more than anything, feel free to forward this email. Just please don’t post it online. At least for now, this is a private invitation.

Either way, wishing you a wonderful rest of the week!

With a love & gratitude always–and to your writing success,

Albert

P.S. – Whether you’re application is chosen or not, please know… you are an amazing human and a #BrilliantWriter. It’s never a personal judgment, it’s always just about the right fit for this very focused and immersive strategic experience.

writing, writing retreat, writing prompts

The 5 Things That Changed My (Writing) Life

1. That my favorite, best selling, Pulitzer prize-winning, epically published writers’ first drafts SUCKED! I found this very liberating—that maybe they too were not the elevated intellectually-superior, uber-disciplined, specially anointed species, I’d projected them to be.

That they too struggled, floundered, wrote utter crap, and failed miserably. And THEN succeeded—if only by sticking with it because they simply had to! They pressed on through the murk of fear, doubt, and failure, kept reading, writing, and editing, sought help, support, great editors, and eventually completed.

2. That writing a book takes a village. Somehow that image of the solo artist toiling away at her craft in a little cabin in the woods held strong. There is some truth to that, we do need alone time to generate much of the work, but the reality is that most great writers are part of a writing group, have a crew of trusted readers, have professional editors, and final copy editors that not only edit, but support and guide.

3. That I am NOT my repetitive negative thoughts of doubt, self judgment, self recrimination, fear, and avoidance. That mindfulness meditation can allow space for those thoughts to exist without thwarting my creative process. After some time of consistent meditation practice a distance opens up between me and the thoughts, to the extent that I cease to identify with them and then they in turn lose their charge and influence over my behavior.

The true me is much bigger than these fleeting moods and repetitive negative thoughts, and with practice and determination I have the power to continuously re-direct my mind toward encouragement, inspiration, and self love.

4. That I can accomplish a lot in a very short period of time when I stay consistent. I can generate 50,000 words in a single month. That’s a book-length project. And if I go back to #1 above, I can allow this to be my “shitty” first draft, and move forward from there with a lot of material to work with. Imagine what you can accomplish in a year!

5. That I am able to stay most disciplined and consistent when I focus on self-care. What does self-care have to do with writing? Everything. Look what happened to Hemingway, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath. I’m pretty sure these writers were not meditating regularly, watching their diets, dealing with their issues via therapy and body work or exercising a lot.

Taking care of mind and body on a consistent basic is crucial: Sitting in silence for 30 minutes a day, spending time in nature or at the park, limiting excessive TV or Internet distractions, writing down positive goals and affirmations, surrounding yourself with positive people, eating healthy organic food, and needless to say, reading and tending to your creative life.

*

Applying these “5 things” literally did change my life, and no they didn’t happen over night, but what can help accelerate the process dramatically are intensive programs. Staying consistent with all this stuff in support of your writing life takes support, accountability, and community.

This is what the Writer’s Mastermind 2017 is all about. For more information and to apply click here! We hope to see YOU in Maui.

Tips for Editing Different Types of Writing Projects

I am about to turn in my next book Writing as a Path to Awakening (non-fiction) to my publisher. I am also deep into my next novel working toward my second draft. Two completely different book projects, two completely different approaches to editing. So I thought I would share some insights and tips about how I like to deal with very different writing projects at different stages of completion.

1. Make sure you have fully and completely committed yourself to writing your “shitty first draft,” to the extent that you have enough material to work with. Don’t worry if it’s any good at this point; just let it flow and accumulate. Commit to lots of freewriting around your topic, your idea, themes, characters, scene, plot, and storyline.

2. Start structuring the project. What is its organizing principle? Look at dozens of successfully published examples you like. Explore different ways of organizing your project based on some of these favorite examples. How did they break up the chapters and why? Reflect back on your own project considering how it will be most effective for your readers to access your key ideas and themes. Short, pithy, numbered chapters? Long, flowing chapters broken up by asterisks? Large sections separated by “parts”? Medium-length chapters poetically titled? Play around and experiment. Consider what might work best for your particular book.

3. Re-read what you have written so far. Start using your discerning, educated eye to begin trimming and/or adding to the current material. Run an excerpt by your writing group or a trusted reader.

4. Read obsessively in your genre. Be attentive to the style and usage of various authors, their ways and means of constructing sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Take notes. Return to your work with an informed and inspired mind. Try to avoid comparisons and instead focus on learning and further developing your own unique voice.

5. Hire a developmental or structural editor, OR compile a list of at least three trusted, experience readers, who know how to read beyond opinion and into content, effectiveness, cohesion, and power of language.

6. Hire a professional editor, one with experience editing for major national publishers.

7. Sit with the feedback. Take time to digest it and understand it. Ask questions of your editor. Read and re-read the feedback in different moods. Never take it personally. Focus on the constructive elements, of what’s working and not working, in order to get clarity about what seems to be flat, under-detailed, over-written, or confusing, and then be able to celebrate and write more of what is working— what’s bright, dynamic, detailed, interesting and unique. Don’t be too quick to delete vast sections but rather keep a “compost folder” on your desktop and drag unwanted bits into it. You never know what you might want to unearth and re-work later. Continue with your edits for several weeks or months, re-writing, changing, adding, and deleting.

8. Go back to your trusted readers after pulling together another more cohesive draft. Focus on the chapter, page, paragraph, and even sentence level, making sure your pages are working as a whole toward cohesion and coherence in accordance with the goals of your book.

9. Work with this next round of edits. Attend to grammar and punctuation. Repeat number 7. Re-read the entire manuscript out loud. Take notes and make changes, until things sound right inside and out at the level of the sentence and then the word.

10. Celebrate. Whether or not it takes ten months or ten years, writing a book is a giant and challenging prospect. Take breaks. Reflect, reassess, re-boot, and re-commit. Take care of yourself, eat well, stay hydrated, take time to be in silence. Spend time in nature. Take time to read. Be patient with and nurturing to yourself.

May these tips be helpful and support your process along the journey toward publication!

 

What is your approach to the writing and editing process, particularly when you have more than one project going at once? We welcome your comments and thoughts.

memoir writing, how to write a memoir, how to write a novel

Your Scene-Writing Toolkit

Guest Post By Brooke Warner

Writers shoulder a lot when it comes to writing a memoir. There are so many things to hold in addition to the memories, messages from our saboteurs, and bouts of self-doubt. Most writers who are working on a memoir are learning a new craft while also dealing with the wellspring of emotion that comes from tapping into experiences that can oftentimes feel like stirring a hornet’s nest.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the points you’re supposed to hit while writing. So here’s a list you might print out and keep in your writing space—a checklist of sorts, but more like a scene-writing toolkit. When you’re writing scenes, keep in mind that you have all these tools and more at your disposal. You might want to do a quick run-through at the end of each scene you write and ask yourself which you’ve touched upon. And if your list is looking a little sparse, you can consider layering in some other concepts to make your scenes more robust.

The Toolkit for Scene and Memoir Writing

Word variation

When I think of books I love, I consider the ways in which they’ve sometimes challenged me. I think of beauty. Sometimes our shitty first drafts are just that, an effort to get out what you need to say. But in a second or third pass, you want to be looking to word variation to create an experience the reader won’t forget. Vary up your words and your sentences to keep the reader’s mind engaged.

Dialogue

A scene without dialogue is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. It’s fine, but it’s just not as good. Look for opportunities to weave in dialogue. It makes your characters come alive, and it provides a needed break for the reader from narrative summary.

Narrative voice

Narrative voice can be varied up too. Some memoirs are done only in what’s often called the “voice of innocence,” while others are told exclusively from the “voice of experience.” These are your “then” and “now” narrators, and I personally love memoirs that let both voices speak. Given yourself permission to explore what you think today about what happened to you “back then.” You can weave back and forth. You can use reflection to give insight to the reader about what you know today but couldn’t have possibly known “back then.” Using a more complex narrative voice lends sophistication to your memoir.

Body language

Please, don’t forget body language and tone when you’re writing descriptions and dialogue. The reader can garner a lot of information about how a line is delivered if you tell us about a raised eyebrow, a terse look, a pat on the back, a smirk. Writers often underdeliver on body language cues either because they lived what they’re writing and don’t see how important it is, or because they forget. This is an invaluable tool!

Figures of speech

There are many figures of speech, but for the purposes of this post I’m only going to point out metaphors and similes. Use them. They’re wonderful. And they create more dynamic imagery for your reader.

Analogies

Analogies are also great brain teasers, and only not included above in figures of speech because they’re not. Analogies serve the same purpose as metaphors and similes, however. Because they’re imaginative, and because they compare two unlike things to show a likeness, they’re fun and interesting for your reader—and can create a very rewarding reading experience.

Description

This is a big one— and it’s the essence of scene. Yet too often writers breeze through their descriptions, not giving their reader enough. I’ve come to discover that this often stems from not wanting to be boring, and yet the result of that way of thinking is that a scene can feel rushed, and the reader ends up feeling like they’re not wholly immersed in your memoir, or worse, just cheated.

Sensory detail

When you think of these details, you’re considering taste, sight, sound, touch, and smell. Let your scenes explore each of these details. Or at least consider them while you’re writing. What were you—the protagonist—tasting, seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling during any given scene? These are the details that make scenes come alive—and create that layered description you’re aiming to gift to your readers.

Reflection

All good memoir has reflection. An easy rule of thumb is to allow your reflections to come at the end of scenes. Don’t forget to let the reader know what the then-narrator was thinking or feeling, or, when appropriate, what the now-narrator makes of a given scene from your vantage point this many years later.

Thank you, and keep writing!

FREE WEBINAR
http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/scene-free-webinar

writer, best selling writer

Why You Never Have to Be a Starving Artist

Many writers still have this tired washed-up romantic notion of the starving artist. And yes, it is difficult to sustain one’s self as an artist in our culture, but not impossible and there are infinite ways to help people, make a good living, and devote your life to writing and creativity.

So banish that starving artist notion from your head. Nothing could be less romantic than having no money. In order to nourish your creativity and your life in general it’s nice to have some abundance to help you along. This takes a major mind shift for many of us toward a mindset of prosperity.

Please know that even if you have a more creative mind, your mind is malleable and can change. Also know that when I use the word “prosperity”, I’m not talking just about money, but abundance in relationships, work, community, spirituality, and creativity.

How do we cultivate prosperity as writers? Let’s take a look…

Practice Gratitude

Prosperity is all around us, we just have to look for it. And then we have to be grateful for it. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as enjoying the sound of fresh rain or the feeling of warm sun on your skin. Or practicing gratitude can go a step further by helping others. For when we have abundance in our lives, we can share it to help others become prosperous, too.

A wise man once said, “I’m drinking from a saucer because my cup has overflowed. In this life I have reaped more than I have sowed.”

This may sound like the words of a wealthy man, but in fact this man had been blind for 40 years, had leprosy for 60 years, and was on his death bed. He was poor and had no family, and yet he felt like his life was overflowing with abundance. I think it’s no coincidence that he was also a poet; his gratitude showed up so prominently in his poetry that he received one of the highest poetry awards in his country.

This is just one example of the effects gratitude can have in creating abundance in your life.

Surround Yourself with Prosperous Writers

People who have achieved prosperity are often excellent motivators. I’ve learned this firsthand from teaching alongside and hosting writing workshops with best selling authors like Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert. At the Elizabeth Gilbert writing workshop in California last year, you could feel the whole room “waking up” as Liz shared her writing wisdom. Everyone felt like their cups were overflowing that day; at one point there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Prosperity is contagious if you surround yourself with the right people. This goes back to practicing gratitude. Oftentimes, people want to share their prosperity with others. So, get out there, network, make friends, and leverage one another so that we’re all living lives full of abundance.

Get to Work

Becoming a prosperous writer is not without putting in some time and effort. No one is going to do the work for you. If you have a story to tell, you need to get it out onto the page and into the world. This requires dedicating yourself to your writing practice and a commitment to improve your writing skills.

Attending writing workshops, writing retreats, learning how to write a novel or how to write a memoir, and taking writing courses (either with an in-person instructor or an online writing course) are all ways you can dedicate yourself to your writing practice while improving your writing skills at the same time.

So, cultivate gratitude to create a feeling of prosperity, surround yourself with successful writers to get motivated to create prosperity, and get to work so that you can truly be a prosperous writer. Now is your time to shine!

If you’d like to learn more, join me this September 2016 for Writing as a Path to Awakening, which is a daylong writing workshop and writing retreat in San Rafael, California. Click here for more details.

podcasts for writers, author podcasts, writing podcasts

Announcing Brilliant Writer Radio and the Mindful Writer Podcast

I’m so excited to launch Brilliant Writer Radio! This bi-weekly Mindful Writer Podcast features brilliant writers, speakers, and guest artists such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Janis Cooke Newman, Dani Shapiro, and Ruth Ozeki. And this is just the beginning! To kick things off, I’m starting with my exclusive interview with best selling writer Elizabeth Gilbert where she shares her thoughts about what it means to be a “successful” writer, how to be a more mindful writer, and so much more.

Click here to listen to the exclusive podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Please help us spread the word by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social media site!

The Mindful Writer Podcast is a great way to sharpen your writing practice. During the podcast, best selling authors reveal their keys to success, industry secrets, and tricks of the trade. You can listen to the podcast in your car, while at home, or even during your morning run. I’ll be releasing a new podcast every two weeks, so stay tuned for more in-depth, unscripted, deeply-inspiring conversations and insights from extraordinary writers.

Many of our greatest spiritual teachers from around the world were, and are, writers. From Sappho in the 7th century BC to Pema Chödrön, from Rumi in the 13th century to Thomas Merton, Jack Kornfield, and the Dalai Lama—the written word has the power not only to inspire, but also to awaken the very best in the human heart.

I would certainly include Liz in this crew, and one of things I love about her is her willingness to share her work with the world. This is my commitment as well and as you know the best way to grow creatively and spiritually is to connect LIVE and in person!

Please join me at one of my upcoming writing workshops this summer at Esalen, Omega or Shambhala!

Happy summertime writing! To your success always,

Albert

It’s a Summertime Thing! Writing Workshops and More

Summertime is a time for reading at the beach, feet tucked into warm sand, sun glasses on, contemplating the crisp rush of salty waves. Maybe it’s sitting in the shade of an old oak tree with a sweaty glass of iced tea tilted in the uneven grass at your side—notebook in hand, ready to write. Click to see more reasons why summer is the best time to be a brilliant writer.

Summertime is a time for road trips and writing workshops! Speaking of which, I’ll be teaching on the West Coast Esalen June 12-17, East Coast at the Omega Institute July 15-17, and Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center, August 25-29, for some incredible writing and mindfulness workshops this summer. Find all the details HERE.

In addition, I have been working hard editing my new book Writing as a Path to Awakening and it’s coming along beautifully. I can’t tell you too much at this point other than how excited I am to be working with Sounds True, who has published many of the greatest spiritual teachers and thinkers of our time including Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, Brené Brown, Eckart Tolle, and so many others.

I will say that the structure of the book revolves around the seasons and just this week I was writing into “summer” and I couldn’t resist playing one of my favorite songs that gets me in the mood for summer every time: “Summertime Thing” by Chuck Prophet. Look it up on YouTube, and crank it up loud! Chuck is a great writer. . .

That summer heat has got me feelin lazy
air is warm and the sky is hazy
People gettin down, gettin crazy
People gettin down, gettin stupid, gettin crazy

Hey, it’s a summertime thing
Summertime thing

Go ask your dad for the keys to the Honda
and can your sister come along, how could she not wanna?
Put the Beach Boys on, wanna hear “Help Me Rhonda”
Awe put the beach Boys on, I wanna hear “Help Me Rhonda”

Hey, it’s a summertime thing
A summertime thing

Roll down the sides, we’ll drive to the delta
Take off our clothes and jump into the river
Ain’t nobody around
Ain’t nobody gonna see us
Take off your clothes jump into the river

Hey, it’s a summertime thing
it’s a summertime thing

© Chuck Prophet/New West Records

Remember, our inspiration as writers comes from every art form, every kind of writer, from anything we open our hearts and minds to. What’s your “Summertime Thing”, your story, poem, or scene that drops you into the heart of summer? Shoot us an email or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know.

I hope to see you LIVE this summer at Esalen, Omega or Shambhala!

Happy summertime writing!

Albert Flynn DeSilver: Write Well, Live Well

Guest Post By: Robert Digitale

As writers, who wouldn’t want to fashion a best seller? But Albert Flynn DeSilver hopes authors will reach for a bigger prize: a life well-lived.

It’s not that he dismisses the goal of creating a great book. Far from it. He praises the written word as a powerful means to awaken and move people.

Even so, to him it makes no sense for people to gain success and lose their souls.

“The older I get, the harder it is for me to respect creative people who make a mess of their lives,” he says. DeSilver, a writer, speaker and Marin County’s first poet laureate, will be the luncheon keynote speaker at Redwood Writers’ Pen to Published 2016 conference.

He acknowledges his own efforts as a young man to overcome abuse and addiction, a story he recounts in his memoir, Beamish Boy.

In one talk captured on video, he recalls how he began drinking alcohol by the age of 12 and was a binge drinker by age 19. It was about that time that a drunken friend accidentally ran over him with a car after he had passed out in a driveway.

“Writing the memoir became a way to let go of the past,” he says, “Even a means of ‘writing your story to let go of your story’.”

“My writing career has been sort of two parallel paths,” he says. For him, writing has been a creative endeavor and also as a “practice of transformation and healing.”

DeSilver now teaches workshops on “Writing as a Path to Awakening.” On his website he proposes that “our destiny as humans is to be of service through our unique creative visions for the world.”

One of his key concepts is that of having an “open poetic identity.” Asked to define the idea, he says, “It requires living where you don’t see yourself as an individual ego.”

To others, he has defined it as being “about an open heart” and creativity and about living life “with a kind of grace and beauty woven in.”

In contrast, he points to writers who produced best sellers but drank themselves to death, committed suicide or “never got over” themselves. “It’s particularly important to cultivate balance in our lives,” he says.

For example, keeping the right perspective means that writing shouldn’t take precedence over relationships.
DeSilver considers himself a “late bloomer” in writing, but adds, “I feel like I’m just kind of coming into my stride.”

He has his first novel with an agent in New York and is now working on his second work of fiction. For his own endeavors, he says, “I take good care of myself.” That includes exercise, meditation and being “mindful of relationships.”

It also means being a reader as well as a writer.

“As a human being, I’m constantly learning and growing.”

Robert Digitale is a member of Redwood Writers and a staff writer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He is also the author of the fantasy novel Horse Stalker.

8 Ways to Stay Hyper-Focused With Your Writing (or whatever else sparks your creative fancy!)

One of the biggest challenges I’ve noticed over the years with my students is persistence and discipline. Simply sticking with the process. Life happens and grand excuses arise. Things can feel so real and insurmountable. If you want to stay hyper-focused with your writing, these 8 tips will help you cultivate discipline.

1. Don’t write on the computer. Stop it, even if it’s all you’ve ever known. Just for now. This one day, or for the first 5 minutes of this one day. Remind yourself— your body -what it’s like to write from the hand with this thing called a pen. Don’t be rigid, try it, see what happens.

2. Don’t think, period. Rush into it (writing practice) after reading this blog post, grab your notebook and write for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes, or even a full hour. Write nonsensical gibberish crap, and be okay with that. Remember this is an initial draft you don’t even have to show to your pet gecko.

3. Furthermore, don’t think. Breathe. Spend time in silence every day simply breathing. Close your eyes and just be, with no agenda and nothing to do, nowhere to go. Breathe into your experience of the body in this moment and then this one, and yes this one, too. After 10 minutes open your eyes, pick up your notebook and write what’s present for you in this moment. What are you thinking, dreaming, wishing about? Get sensory, get specific, don’t worry if it’s good or bad. No such thing.

4. Calendar your writing time and set your timer. That’s right, make an appointment with yourself and stick to it, as if you would be fired or disgraced if you didn’t show up. Once there, set your timer and go for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Keep moving your hand across the page (preferably) or sprinkling your fingers along the keys without stopping for grammar, punctuation spelling, and syntax. Write with urgency. Write what’s there even if it sucks, is inappropriate, weird or twisted. Especially if it’s weird or twisted. Don’t stop until the bell rings.

5. Exercise and move your body. This will elevate your mood and energy and therefore your inclination to write. Do this consistently. Move beyond your comfort zone. GO and exercise even if you are sore from the day before; eventually it will go away. Stretch first, breathe into your body. All your ideas, wisdom, and creative brilliance is in there. It needs to be shaken loose via vigorous exercise.

6. Hydrate. With water. Lots and lots of water. Soda, organic sticky drinks, Jäger shots, and Guinness Extra Stout don’t count, as delicious (and distracting) as they may be.

7. Eat nutritious, organic, local, whole food. Learn to cook. Don’t be seduced by convenience when it comes to nourishing your body. Your body is your mind, your mind is your body. This is where inspired words come from; conscious breathing, clean water, good food, movement, reading, and song.

8. Read like a motherf*%#er! Read poetry even if you think you don’t like it. (See #1 and #2.) “Don’t think,” just go a get an anthology of poetry from the library and read it. Furthermore, read diversely and widely. Underline, take notes, rinse and repeat 1-8 daily. And enjoy the merry dance!

How do you stay hyper-focused on your writing or creative projects? Let me know on! I’d love to hear your ideas.

Albert Flynn DeSilver
Writer * Speaker

PS. Join me June 12-17 at ESALEN for a
Writing & Mindfulness Retreat
on the Big Sur coast: http://bit.ly/1RBx9JF