Tag Archives: writers block

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!

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:

Inspiration

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.

Motivation

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!

What is writer’s block?

What is writer’s block?

Writer’s block can be a very real issue for some people. What do you do when you feel your creativity has dried up, you have nothing to say, or you feel everything you do say has already been said? Writer’s block can be paralyzing.

The true antidote is silence. This might sound absurd, but really the only way I’ve ever been able to reinvigorate my writing practice and get the vibrant ideas churning again, is to turn off my chattering brain. Sit down and do nothing. Sit in silence. Or walk contemplatively in silence. Focus on the simple fact of your breathing. Entertain, or glom on to no thoughts, just let them stream on through.

If you have a particularly vexing issue or life challenge, try an hour of vigorous exercise first, and then come to a period of silence. If this is difficult for you, try it in short increments at first, 5-10 minutes, and then extend to 20, 30 or 45 minutes. This is a powerful practice that can change your writing practice and your life forever! I would recommend a class on mindfulness or meditation, or hire a coach who has meditation experience. You will be amazed.

Writer’s block is often a case of “monkey mind,” a mind consumed with memories, obsessions, fears, anxieties, and anticipations. Meditation helps calm the mind, settle out the thoughts, and restore the body to a state of peace and openness. With repeat practice over time you will notice more space in your mind for original creative ideas, and a renewed energy to put those ideas to the page with confidence!

For more writing tips, check out the upcoming online course Brilliant Writer: The Master Class for Successful Writers