Tag Archives: writer

Are You a Brilliant Reader

Are You a Brilliant Reader?

“All great writers are great readers.”

I was recently talking to a best-selling author about students we sometimes run across who say they don’t read very often. We both looked at each other and told them, as if they were standing right in front of us, “Then your writing will never improve.”

It’s as simple as that. Every successful writer I know is a voracious and diverse reader. How else do we learn about style and what’s possible with sentence structure, phrase, and tone? Reading inspires— it gets us to the page and reminds us how we would say it (write it) differently. And don’t ever say you don’t have time to read; you need to make time in order to become a better writer.

Reading is critical to your success as a writer. Any kind of quirky, innovative writing can inform your own. To be a great reader, and therefore a great writer, one needs to read at three primary levels:

*The big picture
*Characters
*The sentence

As you’re reading, highlight passages and words that reflect the value of each of these elements. By careful and engaged reading, you will pick up the tricks of the writing trade.

Interested in learning more? Check out the new online writing course The Master Class for Successful Writers.

I also have a free mini training course available here called “Foundations for Writers.”

How to Persevere as a Writer

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”

One of the biggest challenges I’ve noticed over the years with my students is persistence. Simply sticking with the process. Life happens and grand excuses arise. They feel so real and insurmountable. A death in the family, a divorce, a major move, an illness, a flood, fire, or earthquake— all terrific things to write about and great material for your practice, especially in the specific moments of their happening. Not easy I know, especially if you are feeling weak and overwhelmed.

However, I promise you this— when you muster up the energy to write into and through these difficult life experiences, not only will you gain insight and healing, but you will become a better writer, merely by the fact of your persistence. The truth is, most people give up. They bail. But you won’t. You will write through to the other side.

How to persevere in the face of doubt and confusion

Make this your mantra: “I will not agree to be defeated.” You need to make an agreement with yourself and face the monsters of negative self-talk, fear, and rejection. The first step is to face these things head on- cry, tear up your paper, scream at your screen- and get it out of your system. And then you can move on.

Be severe in your approach

Notice how the word “severe” is in perseverance? You need to be severe in your approach and how you deal with doubt, fear, and rejection. No matter the obstacles in your way, you need to write anyway, even if it is simply for the sake of creativity.

Staying motivated

To persevere, fall in love with the process. Writing isn’t always a glamorous profession. All of the edits, re-writes, book proposals, and rejection letters take their toll. Which is why you need to fall in love with all of it and see the whole process as part of your creativity. Stay committed to the writing practice and foster a belief in yourself and in your work, and you will persevere.

I can tell you so much more about perseverance and the role it plays in the writing practice. It’s one of the ten key success principles I examine in my online writing course. If you’re curious about the course and taking your writing from inspiration to publication click here to find out more.

I also have a free mini training course called Foundations for Writers. In this free online writing course, I examine three of the ten key success principles for writers: Purpose, Passion, and Practice.

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.

Write Your Way Around The Bay! Fall 2015

Write Your Way Around The Bay! Fall 2015

The autumn season is a wonderful time to visit the Bay Area. Festivals and harvests abound, the smell of apples permeates the markets, and the weather is almost always sunny but never too hot. My fingers itch to get to the keyboard and turn these autumn delights into poems.

Other writers must feel the same way, because autumn is a wonderful time to write your way around the Bay! This year you’ll find a truly remarkable writing event during each month of autumn, each one located in a different town in the Bay Area. If you didn’t already have an excuse to visit the Bay Area this fall, here are four more reasons below:

September: The Writing for Change Conference

The leaves are changing and so will hearts, minds, and lives at The Writing for Change Conference in San Francisco. On September 12th, writers, publishers, editors, and agents will be participating in this daylong conference in order to turn ideas into published words that will initiate change in the environment, technology, politics, human rights, and more.

The motto for this conference is “The event that shows you how your ideas can change the world.” Attendees will spend the day in workshops, listening to keynote speakers, and making connections that will take their writing to publication. If you’re looking to have your writing make a difference, this is the conference for you! Plus, you’ll be in San Francisco for the best weather the city has all year.

September: Petaluma Poetry Walk

Petaluma combines two of my favorite things on September 20th: walking and poetry. The 20th annual walk will showcase dozens of poets, including Phyllis Meshulam, Nellie Wong, Beatriz Lagos, Rob Greene, Lucille Lang Day, and many more. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through historic Petaluma and pop in to hear some poetry along the way. The event is free and open to all.

October: Litquake

Get ready to shake things up at Litquake this October! From October 9-17, writers and readers can attend literary events and workshops hosted at various venues in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Festival visitors come from as far away as Australia and Europe; it’s the perfect festival for encountering both local and international writers. Meet authors, attend readings and workshops, participate in lit crawls, and join in on the creative fun!

November: Elizabeth Gilbert LIVE in Napa

A tried and true way to become a successful writer is to learn from the best! This November 7th, writers have the opportunity to learn tricks of the trade from best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert. Attendees will enjoy an inspirational talk, writing workshops, a Q&A session, gourmet lunch, wine reception, book signing, and more at the Meritage Resort in Napa, California. Plus, a percentage of proceeds will benefit Bay Area Writers in the Schools Programs. Learn more here at Liz Gilbert LIVE!

Whether it’s a festival, poetry walk, lit crawl, or workshop there is something for every type of writer in the Bay Area this fall. I’ll be attending all these events and more, hopefully while sipping a hot cup of apple cider and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. Hope to see you there!

**Photo credit: “”A tree in autumn season”” by Arivumathi – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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!

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!

Volunteering

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.

Learning

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!