Showing posts from April, 2016

Z is for Zen


“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”
― Ray BradburyZen in the Art of Writing
To be "zen" in your writing practice means to be in the moment. To be grateful and spontaneous, yet disciplined. It requires nothing and everything. It means that just showing up is half the battle. Imperfection is ok.

 It means that some days, no matter how hard you try, things get in your way, and that's life. Just find a path around them. There is always a path. There is always another way. 

Just ask Ray.

The Zen of Ray
When you put the words Zen and writing together, the first thing many people think of is Ray Bradbury's famed 1990s essay collection, Zen and the Art of Writing.

There's a good reason for that. Bradbury's enthusiasm is contagious, and his love of writing shines as he dispenses enough pearls of wisdom to string necklaces for a small country. 

Here's a samp…

Y is for Yoga

Among all the forms of exercise, yoga is one of the best for releasing creativity.
When you practice yoga, you not only restore balance within your own body, but you may also be tapping into shakti, aprimordial cosmic energy. As the personification of divine female power, shakti is believed to be responsible for creation and change. In yoga, shakti is associated with the sun salutations (surya namastar) and focuses on flow, transitions, mantras, and mindfulness. Sun salutations include standing, forward/back bends, and upward/downward facing dog, all of which stretch your spine, where primal kundalini energy is believed to reside, dormant, until it is awakened.  Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny. -Upanishads
But you needn't restrict yourself to sun salutations or kundalini if you are looking to expand…

X is for Xanadu


1. An idyllic, exotic, or luxurious place. (Merriam Webster) 2. A particularly bad Olivia Newton-John romantic musical fantasy film (1980). 3. An ancient Chinese capital during the Yuan dynasty, ruled by Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis). Visited by Marco Polo in 1275; world heritage site, only ruins exist today. Also known as Shangdu. 4. The inspiration for Samuel Coleridge's famous poem Kubla Khan. 5. A metaphor for a safe place for creative wanderlust and inspiration. (definition mine) In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree:  Where Alph, the sacred river, ran  Through caverns measureless to man  Down to a sunless sea.  So twice five miles of fertile ground  With walls and towers were girdled round;  And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,  Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;  And here were forests ancient as the hills,  Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.                           --Samuel Coleridge Taylour Kubla Khan
I admit it, I dug t…

W is for Write

“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. 
I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. 
I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts." -Terry Tempest Williams
I write because I cannot not write. These words have been said many times before, and will be said many times again, but that does not make them untrue. But actually, that’s a lie. There are weeks of my life—and in the darkest moments, months—during which I do not write. During which I cannot write. I do not write, and I suffer. I suffer, and all would be better if I wrote, and yet I do not.
But when I write, I write because, next to reading, it is one of my favorite things in the world.

I write to make peace with the past. I write to exorcise my demons.
I write because it makes time blur. I write because it makes time freeze still. I write because it makes time disappear. I write because it returns me to times, places, and people that no longer exist…

V is for Voracious

VORACIOUS “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  ― George R.R. MartinA Dance with Dragons
Are you a voracious reader?

I've mentioned the importance of reading before.

But I'm gonna say it again.

Because to be a great writer, the most critical thing you need to do, after writing, is to read. You should read like you are starving, and books are the last meals left on the earth. You should read a variety of books. Fiction, yes, and nonfiction, but also within these categories, a wide spectrum, from genre to literary and everything in between. It may be most useful to read the type of books you want to write, however, it is also good to read the books you don't want to write. Sparingly. I'm not suggesting you waste precious reading time on junk. But it will help you discover why it is that you dislike them. And if you learn that, it is so much easier to avoid doing the same thing in your own writing.

“Read, read, r…

U is for Understand

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”  -Albert Einstein
We write to decipher the mysteries of the universe.We write to understand our world. We write to understand others. We write so that others may understand us. 

But at our most basic level, we write to understand ourselves. 

In a world with 7.4 billion people, we often focus on our differences. Yet in many ways, we are all the same. So in understanding others, the world, and the universe, we are actually understanding ourselves.

Writers observe. They watch everything around them, and then either use it or squirrel it away for later. One of the most basic description exercises is doing just that: placing yourself in a busy cafe and writing down everything that you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste around you. It is part of the discovery. If you haven't done this before, do it now. Don't wait. Try it a few times, in other locations. Then do it in nature, or in a subway, or some other place that is completely …

T is for talent

TALENT Do you need talent to write?


Can you become a good writer through practice? 


Can you become a great writer? 


Are some people born with more talent than others? 


Are there lots of talented people out there? 


But that doesn't mean that you can't learn to write, or that you shouldn't bother, if it doesn't come easily. What it means is that you have to work harder. And, no, you might not be winning awards left and right, or publishing books before you can vote. But that's ok. Because you aren't writing for the awards, right? You are writing because it is as essential to you as breathing, you are writing because you have to. So in the end, it doesn't really matter if you have talent or not. You need to write anyway. But having talent makes everything so much easier.

Or does it?

So many creative people live tragic lives. Addictions, mental illness, suicides. Often, breathtaking talent comes at a price. The genius who writes a master…