Tag Archives: creative writing

The Power of Yoga for Writing: Introducing Dr. Melody Moore–A Mini-Webinar

Hello friends, so delighted to finally be posting the VLOG pieces. This mini webinar is both an introduction to the work of Melody Moore, and a reflection on the power of yoga and embodiment on our writing practice. Some of the discussion revolves around what we have planned for our upcoming yoga and writing retreat at Asilomar State Beach May 5-7, 2017. Enjoy!


The Stone the Builder Refused: Rejection and Redemption

Guest Post By: Diana Renee Williams

“Rejection does not mean you are not good enough, it means the other person failed to notice what you have to offer.” –Mark Amend

“Oh, the holiness of always being the injured party.” — Maya Angelou

Rejection… who hasn’t felt the burning sting?

Rejection is not a pleasant experience for anyone. Whether rejection comes as a social snub, unrequited love or getting passed over for a writing assignment, rejection deals a direct blow to our ego.

The psychological aftermath of rejection causes emotional wounds and, if left unhealed, can fester internally as shame, anxiety or embarrassment.

Rejection also has serious implications for society as a whole as often times individuals who are ostracized become angry, aggressive and violent. Think Ferguson, MO.

The pain of rejection is real.

New research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that the same brain pathways that are activated when people experience physical pain are also activated when they experience the emotional pain of rejection.

According to Naomi Eisenberger, PhD, at the University of California, “As far as your brain is concerned, a broken heart is not so different from a broken arm.

Those reports were backed by a MRI study, which found that people who had taken Tylenol (acetaminophen) daily for three weeks had less activity in the pain-related brain regions when rejected.”

So how do we heal the brokenness of the rejected soul?

Quite possibly by looking at those individuals who healed their pain and became successful despite experiencing rejection.

Throughout history many innovative leaders have been rejected.

The clever and original ideas of Maya Angelou rejected. The profound philosophies of Aristotle… rejected. The harmonic compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach… rejected. The peaceful efforts of Nelson Mandela… rejected. The message of love sang by John Lennon… rejected. The Truth spoken by Bob Marley… rejected.

And of course who could forget Jesus of Nazareth who lamented, “A prophet has no honor in his own hometown.”

Not quite the faces that readily come to mind when you think of a “reject.”

Surprisingly, not only did they experience the trauma of social rejection while following their dreams but during their childhood toxic messages of rejection lingered in the air as each would be abandoned, orphaned or adopted during their childhood.

It is almost as if The Great Architect of the Universe laid down a blueprint for their life that sent them to Earth with the ultimate crash course in rejection.

Ouch! What a seemingly sadistic plot! Or was it the greatest act of mercy and love story ever written?

When faced with this trauma, these men demonstrated the amazing fact that the human mind and spirit have a Divine capacity for recovery and growth.

Each one of these people decidedly took on the mindset that life did not happen to them but for them.They made the decision to tap in to their innermost resources and connect with the gift of rejection by channeling the genius, creativity and divinity inside.

They stood in the glory of their full potential despite their circumstances.

They kept the purity of heart to connect with others and share their voice and message with the world despite being given the cold shoulder. They did the opposite of what was done to them and they connected with others and with themselves.

While sharing their gifts they found redemption. With their own hands their wounds were healed. They removed the label of reject that was placed upon them and replaced it with the truth that was inscribed on their hearts.

Instead, they stood in the light of the truth that they were worthy and rose to connect with their calling.

Sometimes rejection can seem like a big “no” but it can oftentimes be the greatest “yes”. Sometimes rejection can be the ultimate act of love and mercy that the Universe can bestow upon you so that you can dig deep and keep building your masterpiece.

We all have unique talents and gifts that are waiting on the inside to be released and sometimes we are given a “no” so that we can keep working.

So, next time you get that dreadful rejection letter or get blown off by that love interest remember, keep building baby, you are a builder!

About the Author

image2 Diana Renee Williams is an accomplished freelance writer and lifestyle blogger currently living in Augusta, GA. Ms. Williams offers her writing as a service to others to help increase positive self-development and strengthen individuals and communities. She has immersed herself in the company of many luminous and progressive thinkers to include Mastin Kipp, founder of thedailylove.com and is a contributor for the sexy savvy self-help blog, addictivedaughter.com. Ms. Williams is currently accepting assignments for The Augusta Chronicle, one of the oldest newspapers in the United States still in publication. Prior to freelancing, Ms. Williams worked as a social worker and domestic relations mediator thereby broadening her perspective on a wide range of topics.

5 Perfect Gifts for Writers

Guest Post by Jasmine June Cabanaw

Do you have a writer on your holiday shopping list (or are you a writer hoping to receive the perfect gift)? Then this wish list of the perfect gifts for writers is for you.

Choosing a gift for a writer isn’t necessarily all that hard; notebooks, word games, and gift cards to book stores all make easy gifts. But if you’re looking for a truly perfect gift (because go big or go home, right?) then you’ll have to put a little more thought into it.

The key is thinking like a writer. Which is why I’m writing this post. A friend told me that this year, she doesn’t want to give me “yet another notebook.” But since she’s not a writer herself, she has no clue what else to give me. Gifts that seem like commonsense to me don’t even cross her mind.

So here’s a list of five perfect gifts for writers. And if you’re a writer yourself, make sure to put these on your wish list!

An Online Writing Course

Writers are busy people. Even if we’ve achieved the ultimate dream of writing for a living, we usually still have side projects that take up our time after work hours. And yet part of being a writer is continuing our writing education. Full time job, side projects, classes… you see how little time we have, right?

The beauty of an online writing course is that the writer in your life can take the course anytime, anywhere. An online writing course can fit within even the busiest of schedules. There are a variety of courses to choose from, too, so it’s a gift that can be given time and time again. Just be sure to give an online writing course that’s suitable for the writer— you don’t want to give a journalism course to a poet, for example (unless they are trying to be the ultimate multi-tasker, like me).

Writing Retreats

Writers may have busy schedules, but that’s all the more reason to take a vacation that focuses primarily on writing. Writing retreats are amazing. Seriously. You get to just nerd out with a bunch of other writers for days on end. It’s writer heaven. I mean, the last writing retreat I went to made me cry. At one point, all 300+ people in the room were crying, that’s how into we got (thanks, Elizabeth Gilbert).

However, retreats are not cheap. It’s quite the splurge for most writers to spend the time and money on a retreat, which is why a writing retreat is an amazing and perfect gift for any writer. If you’re brave enough, feel free to buy yourself a ticket and tag along.

Writing Tools that are actually Needed

Notebooks, pens, and pencils, oh my! Writers love these things. Send a writer into a bookstore and they’ll return with a new notebook every time (or am I just speaking for myself here?). But these wonderfully delightful items are not things we usually need.

You know what I really need? An ergonomic keyboard. So glamorous, right? I’ll be the fanciest girl in town with that gift. But it’s something I really need and I haven’t gotten around to buying myself one. Or that wireless mouse, or office chair with lumbar support, or new e-reader with a glare-free screen. These items are all tools I should really have in my toolbox, and I bet you have a writer in your life that needs them, too. Sometimes the least fancy gifts are the best ones.

A Therapy Session

Ha ha ha! Kidding! Not an actual therapy session, but something that truly is pure therapy for writers is a consultation with a literary coach or agent. A literary consultation is a crucial part of the book making process and is useful to any writer who has a project in the works. Even writers without a current writing project can benefit from a session with a literary coach, or could schedule the session for when they think they’ll have a writing project on the go.

There are a variety of literary consultations to choose from, including ones with editors, agents, and teachers. This means you’ll have to do a little digging to find out what will be the most beneficial to the writer in your life. But that’s what makes this gift a special one and a perfect gift to give for the holidays.

Re-Gifting a Writer’s Words

One of the most perfect gifts I ever received was a spiral notebook of a short story I wrote when I was ten, with the pages all laminated and typed up nicely (thank goodness, because I doubt I would have been able to read my ten year old handwriting). I had forgotten all about that story, but then there it was, immortalized in laminate and metal coils. That trip down memory lane to my childhood self was a special gift indeed.

There are many ways to turn a writer’s words into a present. Here’s a short list:

*Take a paragraph or striking sentence and put it on canvas. Voilà! Beautiful artwork made from the writer’s own words.

*Publish their writing with a print on demand service, such as Lulu or Blurb. You can choose one story, make a collection of short stories, or even a book of poems.

*Make a bookmark using a sentence from one of the writer’s stories as an inspiring quote. There are bookmark making services online, or you can make one by hand and laminate it.

*Put sentence from one of their stories on an ornament. You can hand paint a glass ornament, have an ornament engraved, or have one created.

*Make a photo book and use the writer’s words to caption the photos. You can use phrases from a single story or multiple pieces of writing.

*Make a scrapbook of things they’ve written (just don’t use their original copies!).

These ideas are just a few of many. If you think of more, let me know! I’ve got writers to shop for, too.

Happy holidays!

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.

Click here to learn more!

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!

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!

Mindfulness and Writing as a Path to Awakening

Mindfulness and Writing as a Path to Awakening

Mindfulness meditation is perhaps one of the best gems a writer can have in their creative treasure box. Being aware of life and the world around you will shine light onto your ideas and bring insight into your concepts. Great writers tend to think outside the box, but brilliant writers have no box at all. Mindfulness meditation creates conditions for this by providing a space for solitude, self-reflection, and awareness.

Writing itself is a path to awakening. It is a process of utilizing the practice of writing toward further self-awareness, increased emotional intelligence, and overall expansion of consciousness. Writing as a path to awakening is a journey into creativity and exploring one’s sociological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual story for the primary purpose of insight, understanding, further clarifying, and ultimately transcending any limitations it may inspire due to over-identification.

Many of the greatest spiritual teachers from around the world were, and are, writers. From Sappho and Rumi to Pema Chodron, 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.

There are two easy ways to start incorporating mindfulness and writing as a path to awakening into your daily life. With both of these exercises, get into a space of quiet meditation first by sitting down and taking at least 30 consecutive deep breaths and turning off all distractions.

1. Mindfulness while journaling

Keeping a journal offers many benefits, and one of these is the ability to be mindful on paper about the contents of your daily life. Think about any recent interactions with people and write down the emotions that come up. Jot down descriptive words or any colors that come to mind. Your journal is a space to explore how you felt about a myriad of things, from the argument you had with your spouse that morning to why you like the smell of apples at the farmer’s market.

Being mindful while journaling will allow you to look at aspects of your life from new angles. It will unlock emotions around certain things that you maybe never even knew you even had. Best of all, mindfulness while journaling can help you resolve conflicts and look at situations with renewed gratitude and empathy.

2. Stream of consciousness

Once you have taken your deep breaths and feel as close to having an empty mind as possible, take a pen or pencil and write without stopping for about ten minutes. Don’t pause to think about what you’re writing and don’t take any breaks.

When you’ve finished, look at your writing and underline phrases or words that repeat. Highlight any parts where your handwriting had a dramatic change. Ask yourself what these things represented for you, which themes were present and why, how different parts made you feel, and if any new ideas or insights arose.

You can take this type of writing to the next level by focusing on a mantra or key word or phrase while you are doing the deep breaths before the writing. Try setting an intention and see if that shows up as you jot down your stream of consciousness.

If you’d like to learn more about Writing as a Path to Awakening, there are several workshops throughout the year at different meditation centers. The next one is coming up soon from July 15, 2016 – July 17, 2016. More details here: Writing as a Path to Awakening

How to Write a Poem that Commemorates your Pet

How to Write a Poem that Commemorates your Pet

The grieving process that follows after losing an animal companion can be really heart wrenching. For most people, having an animal companion pass on is like losing a family member. There are many ways to cope with the grief, such as reaching out to friends and family, and there are also ways to commemorate your beloved pet so that their memory will live on with you.

A poem is perhaps one of the nicest ways to commemorate an animal companion. It’s personal and sentimental, and it’s something that is easily shared on social media, can be displayed in a frame, or be kept private. It’s also very therapeutic to put pen to paper and conjure up memories of your pet. The only tricky thing is actually writing the poem! The following tips and writing prompts will make the process of writing the poem go smoothly and easily so that you can focus on healing and creating a beautiful tribute for your beloved pet.

Write down facts about your pet

This is where you start compiling information that you can put into your poem. Writing down facts and details about your pet is also a nice way to remember all the good times and what you loved about your animal companion.

Include facts such as your pet’s favorite food, games they liked to play, and funny habits they had. Also write down details about your pet’s appearance. Did they have long or short ears? Did they have fur, feathers, or scales? Did your pet have any special behaviors or needs that made them unique?

Descriptive words

After you have a list of facts and qualities about your animal companion, make a list of descriptive words that can compliment the words in your first list. For example, if you wrote “brown” for the color of your dog’s fur, you could add “shiny brown fur that was the color of caramel”. Think about textures, sounds, emotions, and expressions.

Play around with making different sentences for the qualities you wrote down in your first list. Maybe “the color of caramel” didn’t sound quite right and you want to change it to “the color of milk chocolate”. Feel free to be as creative and expressive as you wish.

A picture is worth a thousand words

While it may be painful, looking at photos of your pet is a good way to come up with ideas for descriptive words and imagery. You’ll be able to see the expressions on your pet’s face and reflect back on the times when the photos were taken. This process can be very therapeutic. Just be sure to have some tissues on hand because it can really tug on your heart strings.

Poetry comes from the heart

The lovely thing about poetry is that you can really make the writing style your own. Poems do not have to rhyme. The only thing that truly matters is that your poem comes from the heart. You can include family members and friends and write the poem together. Or you can write it on your own. Either way, let the style come easily to you and don’t worry about form or layout.

Rhyming tips for poems

If you do want your poem to rhyme, there are some easy tricks you can use so that the words will flow naturally. First, make a list of words that rhyme with the type of animal you had. That way, you won’t have to try to think of rhyming words as you’re writing the poem. Second, make a list of words that rhyme with your pet’s name. Third, make a list of endearing words that represent how you feel about your animal companion, such as love, happy, and joy.

Lastly, look up examples of a variety of rhyming poems to see which style of rhyming you like best. Typically, a poem consists of stanzas that are four lines each. This does not have to be a rule set in stone. You can play around with the number of lines and stanzas until you find a pattern that is right for you. Pay attention to the number of beats per line so that your poetry will have a steady cadence and rhythm.

Finishing touches

After you’ve written a few lines of your poem, read them out loud to see how the rhythm is starting to form. It’s better to make adjustment in the early stages than to wait until the end. Continue to read your poem out loud every time you’ve written a few more lines.

When you get to the end of your poem, really focus on making the closing line count. Choose words that convey emotion and that pay tribute to your animal companion. Once your poem is finished, it is up to you if you want to share it with others. The poem is something you will have for always, so you can share it when you are ready.

By the time you’ve finished writing the poem, you will have spent quality time healing through the grief of losing your animal companion. It’s important to use things like poetry as a way take care of yourself through this difficult time, because the other place your pet will always live on is in your heart.

For more #BrilliantWriter tips follow Albert Flynn DeSilver at Facebook.com/Albert.Flynn.DeSilver.Author

A Poem for Cheryl Strayed

As host of the recent “Writing, Truth, and Community” event featuring best selling author and creative writer Cheryl Strayed, I was blessed with the task of introducing Cheryl, who has by now, been introduced in so many fabulous and interesting ways by so many fabulous and interesting luminaries, that I was wondering what little old me could possibly add to the mix? So in my poet-like bewilderment and terror, I couldn’t think of what else to do except what I always do with such surges of emotion. Write a poem! She was so genuinely touched, that she mentioned how when she met Robert Redford, though he kissed her four times, he did NOT write her a poem. My life is now complete, I can die a happy fulfilled man!! The poem is copied below. Enjoy!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cheryl Strayed (after Wallace Stevens)


Among twenty snowy mountains
The only thing moving
Was the eye of a woman with a blue backpack
Called “monster”


She was of three minds
Like a tree with three branches
Of grief, of hope, of love


The woman whirled in the summer winds
A tiny speck of brilliance in the setting sun


A woman and a mountain are one. A woman
And a mountain, and a grieving heart are one


I don’t know which to prefer, the beauty
of subtle thought, or the beauty of mountain dreams—
the woman weeping, or just after


Charcoal clouds drifted across the tops of the sugar pines,
oh dear future sugar. . .the mountains frowned
her solitude thickening, the trail steepened


Oh good people of the city
why do you imagine only golden words?
Do you not see how the blackbirds
nest in her trees, as in yours?


I know of noble songs, of grand ideas,
I know the woman with the blue backpack
is involved in what I know


When the woman took flight
as now a bluebird might, it marked the beginning
of many endings


The sight of the woman
in the blue backpack with her heart full of
birds, full of words,
would make the mountains cry out
in understanding


She walked the spine of California
on winged feet made of glass
on hammered feet of blood and pulp
the mystery and beauty eclipsing the fear
of an unknown. . .the pain of surrender


The river is flowing
the woman must jump in


It was daytime all night long
from then on, the blackbirds in the night tree were
singing for her, a song abloom with the clarity of love