Tag Archives: brilliant writer

Developing Your Writing Process

The brilliant writer Donald Maass said, “Authors who succeed in the twenty first century are not focused on external measures of validation, but rather they value an inward quest for vision, voice, and invented worlds that are more vividly real that reality itself.”

A writing process develops over time. It’s everything from the type of journal you use to your favorite pen. It’s about habit, continuity and completion. Everything from the time of day you sit down to write, to how you find yourself editing is included.

It’s best for process to happen organically over time, but worth starting with the basics of choosing tools that get you to the page. I love writing in hard-back canvas notebooks— blank paper with a Pilot-Precise pen. Even when I’m procrastinating, sometime I’ll draw a terrible little picture with a caption beneath it, just to get the pen moving on the page.

Then there is typing up your work and developing an editing process which should be evolutionary and expansive. The successful writer takes their practice seriously and develops it into a process in order to evolve from amateur scribbler to published author.

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Cultivating Passion as a Writer

Once your purpose is clarified and cultivated, passion is right on its heels. Passion is the engine that drives you and your writing forward. An engine needs fuel. Sincere interest and curiosity are that fuel fired up by active reading and exploration both literary and otherwise, by being physically and intellectually engaged with words.

All the successful writers I know have passion for their subjects; they have an unwavering energy about their characters, scenes, subjects, and plots.

Passion is part of the groundwork for establishing a successful writing practice. This principle is essential. It begins with curiosity: What are your interests, desires, hopes, and dreams? What is your energy practice around your writing? Passion is the energy that will allow you to establish longevity with your writing career.

How do you cultivate passion in your writing? This is a two-part answer.

1. Physiologically

The best place to start is with meditation and mindful breathing. In order for you to feel grounded with your passion, your body needs to feel centered and grounded first. Physical exercise builds energy in the body, so it is important to stay active during your day. You can hike, do yoga, dance, play sports, or even simply take a mindful walk.

Psychological or Spiritual

Ask yourself some important questions. What do you see when you look into your heart and ask yourself what you are truly curious about and what you truly want to be and write about? A good way to understand your passion is through journal writing and free writing. Jot down thoughts at the end of the day as a reminder of what keeps you going as a writer.

Cultivating passion as a writer is just one of the many things I touch on in my online writing course The Master Class for Successful Writers. If you’re interested in learning more, CLICK HERE to check out the course!

Discovering Your Purpose as a Writer

Discovering Your Purpose as a Writer

Every successful writer I know comes to writing with a purpose. It may start as an urge, an interest, and then blossom into a need to communicate your experience of the world. It’s a sincere desire to participate, to join the conversation based on your unique take on the world.

Purpose is critical to your success because if it is overshadowed by doubt and distraction, you will never manifest your writing dreams. You must investigate, cultivate, and nourish your purpose for a lifetime of writing success.

Purpose is the first P derived from my 10 Key Success Principles for Writers. These are foundations, really the ground work, for really establishing a writing practice. Some of you may have already started a practice but have fallen off or have gotten distracted, so it is important to start back at the beginning, which is the number one foundation for successful writers: your purpose.

Why do you write? Why do you want to write? The answer is your purpose. As a writer, what gets you to the page? With a million other activities to engage in, why are you investing your time in being a writer? A little bit of soul searching around these questions will help you tap into what your purpose is.

You must investigate, cultivate, and nurture your purpose throughout your lifetime in order to carry on as a successful writer.

If you’re a little confused about your purpose, that’s fine. It can take some time figuring out what the true essence of your purpose is. What are you most inspired by? What activities bring you the most joy? Spend some time with these questions, jot down thoughts in a journal, and you’ll find the wisdom within you.

Discovering your purpose as a writer is just one of the many things I touch on in my online writing course The Master Class for Successful Writers. If you’re interested in learning more, CLICK HERE to check out the course!

Dear Creativity, I am Your Fire Keeper

A Letter to Creativity, by Amaera BayLaurel, artist/designer/writer, written at Elizabeth Gilbert’s Writing Workshop, Napa, CA., Nov. 7th, 2015.

Dearest Creativity,

I have long known that you are the fire in my life and that I am the Fire Keeper. I know that there have been many times, upon waking to a cold morning that was covered in frost, when I realized I had nearly let the fire burn out.

And yet I have always been able to trust that once I removed the layers of ash, I would find a warm ember still glowing beneath the ruin. I have always known that you would be there for me, and that all I needed to do was gently blow life energy back into you in order to reignite the flame.

My Dearest Friend, you can trust me fully now – because I recognize that I cannot live without your heat, and I wish to renew my vows as Fire Keeper. I vow to not let you burn down and to never let you burn out. What is more, I vow to let you ignite my soul and to dance with you, flame-against-flame, as One Light. I vow to raise you up into a majestic bonfire.

Yours Sincerely,

The Fire Keeper

Note from the Author:

When I was asked if I’d share my “Letter to Creativity” with Brilliant Writer, I was so touched! And later, when I sat down to type it up, the letter actually brought tears to my eyes. The workshop with Elizabeth was so powerful, and her ‘manifesto’ about living a creative life beyond fear is so relevant to the times (especially for women), that it struck a very deep cord within.

The metaphor about fire felt effective because it is about warmth, but also because the coldness of a morning when the fire has gone out is extremely visceral. I can almost feel it in my bones! Creativity is intricately linked with life-force, and when we acknowledge this I believe we tap into our power. For women, tapping into our power is taboo, but it is also exactly what this world needs most.

Want to be a Brilliant Writer? Attend a Reading!

Want to be a Brilliant Writer? Attend a Reading!

Readings are inspiring in more ways than one. As writers, we often think that writing workshops and classes are the best ways to improve our writing, but we mustn’t overlook the power of listening to words, and their ability to transform us.

In my case, my first poetry reading sparked a life changing event. It was fall of 1994, and I was still at the Art Institute flailing about with my visual artwork, when one afternoon my art history teacher (and fabulous poet), Bill Berkson, mentioned a poetry reading he was participating in at the Cowell Theater. The reading was to celebrate the release of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, edited by Paul Hoover.

I had never been to a poetry reading. I figured, what the heck? I’ll check it out. I went alone and brought my notebook. I was awed by the variety, complexity, beauty, breadth, and humor of the work I heard that night. This was like no poetry I had ever read or heard. I didn’t know poetry could be funny, or visual, or rhythmic without classically rhyming.

Something clicked, something transcendent was happening inside me, and for some reason I thought, “I can do this, I want to do this, I must do this”— and by “this” I meant play with language, explore the possibilities of language and words as filtered through my own mind. From that night, I set out to become a poet.

And every reading I’ve attended since then— while not being as life altering— has made me a better writer. Here are three benefits I’ve discovered from attending readings:


At the first poetry reading I attended, there were a variety of readers who were characters in their own rights: Larry Eigner in his wheelchair, moaning forth his disjunctively odd and sublime poems, then being translated by Jack Foley; Alice Notley and her beautifully insistent lyrics; Ron Padgett with his dry wit and humor; Bob Grenier flipping through his scrawl poems, reading them upside-down in a high-pitched growl. All of this was truly inspiring.

The opportunities to gain insights about character development, dialogue, cadence, and more abound at readings. Attending one can pull you out of writer’s block, help you write that hook you’ve been working on, and inspire you to get more creative with your characters.


Being a writer comes with its challenges, one of which is fear— in multiple shapes and forms. Fear is what causes us writers to back off from our writing, to distract ourselves from doing what we love most. There is fear of rejection, of failure, of being vulnerable, of sharing our personal struggles with the world.

But seeing writer after writer perform readings of their works is a useful reminder that if they can do it, you can do it, too. There is also something about seeing people achieve their goals that makes you want to achieve your own goals. So, if you’re lacking motivation, attending a reading is a great way to get reinvigorated.

Writing Skills

As many writers know, perpetual reading is an excellent method for improving your writing skills. Attending a reading has the same effect, but the author is there and available to interact with you. How many times have you read something in a book and wanted to ask the author where they came up with that idea?

Attending a reading gives you access to other writers. Sitting and listening are only part of what happens at a reading. The rest of the time is often filled with discussions about books, writing genres, and methods for improving writing skills. Plus tips and secrets about the publishing industry, if you’re lucky!

Do you have an experience or story to share? Have you ever attended a reading that’s changed your life? What other benefits from attending a reading can you think of? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts!

Reach out to me through email, Facebook, or Twitter and let’s chat!

Discover Daily Mantras To Improve Your Writing

Discover Daily Mantras To Improve Your Writing

When I wake each morning, I start the day with a single thought, “I am alive.” It’s the one mantra I say consistently, every day. I love the sing-song sound of the vowels and the way the “v” vibrates on my bottom lip like a buzzing bee. But more than that, it’s a reminder to be grateful for simply being alive in this world.

A key part of a mantra is its sound, which is why you’ll hear “Om” chanted in yoga and meditation classes. Together, a mantra’s sound and meaning produce a powerful effect that can ripple throughout your day. “I am alive” is my reminder to have gratitude for the simple joy of being, which can get away from me throughout the hustle and bustle of the day if I’m not mindful of it.

Mantras are especially important to me as a writer. Writing requires focus, clarity, and an openness to run with ideas— all of which are qualities that can get blocked by stress, busyness, and distractions. I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my writing practice since I incorporated daily mantras into my life.

Below are three benefits daily mantras provide for writers, along with some ideas to get you started.

A little reminder that you are a writer.

While it’s important to write every day, this goal is not always attainable. I’m sure most of you can relate to being swept up in the daily grind of a job that isn’t related to writing. Have you ever experienced a time when you were so caught up in other things that you forgot that you were a writer? It can happen to the best of us and it’s a fast track to derailing your writing practice.

A daily mantra is a wonderful way to remind yourself each and every day that you are first and foremost a writer. If you are a writer, it is essential that you that you experience the world in the best way you know how, through writing. It’s part of who you are, and if it gets away from you, it’s as if you’ve shut down a part of yourself.

The mantra can be as simple as, “I am a writer” or you can embellish your mantra to inspire deeper thoughts, such as “I am a brilliant writer,” or “I am a brilliant writer who has a successful writing practice.” Say it every day, write it on your mirror, jot it down on sticky notes— do whatever you have to in order to affirm that you are a writer and to always embrace that true part of who you are.

Daily mantras as writing prompts

Sometimes the ideas flow and other times they get stoppered up. I often think that if we were to peer inside writers’ brains, we would such a jumble of ideas that they would resemble a cluttered old attic. We need to sweep out the cobwebs from time to time to let our treasures shine.

A fun little writing exercise is to use daily mantras as writing prompts. Build a story around your mantra, or create a character who reflects the message of your mantra. You can also turn your mantra into a poem. Taking even ten minutes to play around with a mantra will get your creativity flowing, help unblock any obstacles with your writing, and reaffirm what your mantra is all about.

A solution to writer’s block

Repeating a mantra is a form of meditation and one of the best ways to cure writer’s block. The practice has a calming and grounding effect, and creates a space for quiet reflection and silence.

Meditation is connected to mental clarity. Repeating a daily mantra will make your thoughts clear and your mind more alert. Engaging in this practice often allows writers to connect with that “aha!” moment in their writing, when all the pieces suddenly come together.

The next time you have writer’s block, take a few deep breaths, think of a mantra, and repeat it slowly a few times. It will help! And at the very least it will connect you with gratitude, which is a powerful reminder that despite any distractions, obstacles, or busyness in your life, you are a writer. And you are alive.

Do you have a daily mantra? Tweet it to us or post in on our Facebook page!

3 Steps to Becoming a Brilliant Writer of Memoir

Guest post by Jasmine June Cabanaw

Think of the most influential books you’ve read. I bet at least one of them was based on a personal journey, of someone overcoming their hardships and gaining valuable life lessons. This is the beauty of memoir writing— the protagonist doesn’t have to achieve something extraordinary in order for it to be inspiring. In fact, some of the recent bestselling memoirs, such as Eat, Pray, Love and Wild are based on events to which most people can relate.

If you have a personal story to share— one that you hope will inspire and motivate others— there are some things you can do that will help you be a brilliant writer of memoir and stand out from the crowd. Here are three steps to get you started:

Understand Memoir vs Autobiography

An autobiography encapsulates an entire life, while a memoir is a collection of memories from that life. This is an important distinction because oftentimes new memoir writers will make the mistake of trying to fit too many details into their story.

With a memoir, it’s okay to omit people, events, and other information if it isn’t relevant to your theme. A memoir is not a diary entry. You don’t need to write your memoir chronologically, or even start at the beginning. Writing more than one memoir is appropriate, too, if you have multiple stories to share.

Learn from other brilliant writers

One of the best (and pleasurable) ways to become a brilliant writer is to be a voracious reader. And if you want to be a brilliant writer of memoir, then you should be a voracious reader of memoir writers. Read everything from Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast) to Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). What do you think worked for those authors? What gripped your attention and kept you turning page after page? Make notes, jot down thoughts, and highlight passages that truly inspired.

Another option is to take classes and workshops from memoir writers. It’s a good idea to read their memoirs first, take notes, and then ask the authors to expand upon them during the workshop. Many authors are happy to do this, especially if it is during a designated Q&A. The bonus to this option, of course, is getting to meet a brilliant writer in person, and maybe even getting a signed copy of their book.

Have a story arc

A memoir may be a series of memories from a specific time period, but there still needs to be a story arc. Otherwise, you’ll be left with disconnected islands and nothing to join them together; you need to either build bridges or give your readers a boat. Plan a beginning, middle, and an end, and a theme or two that ties them all together.

Remember, you are writing about real life, with all of its challenges, twists, turns, and lessons. Your memoir doesn’t have to be dramatic, but it should be relatable. This is the gift that memoir writers bestow; their writing inspires, motivates, and helps us get through the challenges in life, if even just a little.

Why Summer is the Best Time to be a Brilliant Writer

Why Summer is the Best Time to be a Brilliant Writer

Guest Post By Jasmine June Cabanaw

Summer has always been my favorite season for writing. The nostalgia of sitting against a tree in the sweet smelling grass with a pen and notebook in hand is more delicious than an ice-cream cone on a hot summer day. As a child, I never stopped to wonder why I enjoyed writing the most during summer; I simply relished it and lived in the moment the way children tend to do.

Now that I’m older and have the wisdom of several adult years behind me, I understand why summer is the best time to work on being a brilliant writer. Some of my favorite reasons are below. Can you add anymore to the list?

The Great Outdoors

Growing up in a place that had four seasons meant I had limited time to write outdoors. And while I loved my childhood home, staring at the same walls day after day was not exactly inspiring. But then there was summer!

The brilliant writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The earth laughs in flowers.” In that single sentence he showed us that nature is poetry. The great outdoors is inspiring for all creative types, but especially for writers. And summertime is when nature is in full bloom. So take advantage. Go out, get inspired, and write!

Summer Vacation

As adults, we may not have two months off during the summer like we did when we were kids, but it’s certainly the season when most people take at least a short vacation. I don’t know about you, but as a kid my summer vacation always naturally turned into writing time.

Why not keep with that tradition as an adult? Too often our writing careers start to feel like work. Summer is a great excuse to take a writing vacation and write for pleasure like you used to. Check in with yourself, go back to your roots, and write your days away!


I am so grateful to the adults who spent their precious summer hours volunteering at my local library. There was nothing more exciting to me as a kid than sharpening my pencils, picking out a fresh notebook, and trouncing off to the writing workshops at the library.

Summer is when kids are out of school, so it’s a perfect opportunity to give back to your community while advancing your writing craft at the same time. Teaching is a great way to look at writing from a different angle. It’s a refresher, helps you connect with other writers, and allows you to be a mentor. Your local library is a great place to look for volunteer opportunities, but also ask around at schools and community centers.


Attending summer writing workshops doesn’t have to end after childhood. There are plenty of options for adults, too, and I’ve found that there are more course offerings during summer than any other time of the year.

If getting out to a workshop or writing retreat isn’t an option, consider taking an online writing course and having your own writing retreat at home. You can even throw a little online writing course party with some of your writer friends and take the course together. Grab your pals, fire up the barbecue, sink your teeth into some juicy watermelon, put your pen to a fresh piece of paper, and write! Sounds like summertime fun to me.

Join the discussion! Do you have a favorite season as a writer? Can you think of other reasons why summer is a perfect season for writers? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!