Tag Archives: creativity

The Write Time: Feeding your Writing Needs Over the Holidays

Welcome to the 2015 Holiday Season … and Launch Day!TWT_WebCov

Today is the release of the second edition of The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life, published by Open Books Press out of Bloomington, IN. Since it initially released, it has been used as a teaching tool in dozens of high schools and colleges. Of equal importance, it sits on the shelves of writers ranging from multiple book authors to those writing for fun. Now, we’ve brought in 20 new exercises, as well as fresh photos and a new foreword, to go with the other 346 exercises in the book.

For me, the beauty of this book is its diversity and variety. Since I was young, I’ve kept journals, with the specific intent of writing about something different every day. I believe that diverse writing, along with good reading, observation and life experience, builds our voices and fluency as writers faster than anything. When my book or editing clients say, “You can write about anything! How do you do that?” my answer is the same: “By many years of writing about different things and experimenting daily.”

That is why I created The Write Time — to present a sweeping approach to writing about the subjects that interest you, and trying new forms in the process. Between that, the stories embedded within the exercises, motivational and creativity quotes from authors and brilliant minds, and listings of 125 dynamic writing websites, I’m confident in stating that The Write Time goes well beyond typical writing prompts and exercise books. In fact, you won’t find another that offers such a rich experience.2015-12-01 06.23.33 2015-12-01 06.24.09

For The Write Time, I cobbled together writing exercises developed from the past 15 years of teaching at conferences, high schools, retreats and colleges, gave them stories, and brought them together. Every genre and type of writing is covered, from fiction to essay, songwriting to poetry, fantasy to literary narrative non-fiction. Whether you journal, write poetry or songs, novels or essays, short stories or major papers, The Write Time will be a valuable asset.

The other thing — you’ll never have writer’s block again. All you need to do is open the book to the date, or any random page, and it won’t take long for your words to flow. “It serves as a invocation to come sit at the shore of new creativity, take up your ink-cup, drink plentifully, and be refreshed by the waters of a new day, all intentionally assembled by a fellow writer, reader and lover of literature,” wrote Andres Torres, advanced placement teacher at Minooka (IL) Community High School, in the Foreword.

The Write Time is available through all bookstores, Amazon.com, online booksellers, and on the Open Books site. Or, if you’d like an autographed copy for a holiday gift for yourself, or writers among family and friends, contact me and we’ll get one to you.

Finally, to whet your taste buds, the exercise for December 1:

All complete stories arrive at resolution. We entered the story with characters departing from an opening situation. We followed them as they made their way through the world you created for them, enjoying the motives, conflicts, twists, surprises, realizations, discoveries, complications and sub-plots along the way.

Now, we’re ready for resolution. How will your story end?

Write the ending to your story — no matter where you are right now. The resolution can lead to either a predictable, surprising, or twist ending; your call. Whatever the case, make the ending solid and convincing. Refine it over and over. Then, use it as a compass to guide you through the rest of the story.

(Please let us know how you like The Write Time by reviewing it on Amazon and Goodreads).






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On Clay Marzo, Stevie Salas & Our Coming New Look

JUST ADD WATER by Clay Marzo and Robert Yehling copyIt’s been a busy and frenetic last two months in my personal writing world. This includes promoting When We Were The Boys, the memoir on which I collaborated with musician Stevie Salas; doing final caption touch-ups and proofs for Just Add Water, my biography of autistic international surfing star Clay Marzo available for pre-order on Amazon.com now and coming in Summer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; pumping out proposals for books on which I am collaborating and/or writing (details forthcoming); and editing Innovation & Tech Todayone of the hippest and most diverse new magazines on newsstands and most digital magazine services.

Music. Surfing. Innovation. Three of my favorite things. Now for those books on running and fitness, a memoir, and the book for business, book, journalistic and personal writers that’s made it through some brainstorm sessions…salas cover low res

My webmaster and former Ananda College student, Chitra Sudhakaran, and I have also been overhauling the WordJourneys.com website — and our mission. Part of that will be our new-look WordJourneys.com blog, which will be unveiled Monday (3-2) featuring a fantastic conversation with author and international speaker Kevin Hines. His book, Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving A Suicide Attempt, offers one of the most painful, difficult, and ultimately inspiring and redemptive memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to edit. When a man jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge and is served up his greater life and soul purpose during the four-second plunge into frigid San Francisco Bay… well, you do the math. It’s an incredible book,  in its 20th printing just two years after its release. You are not going to want to miss this interview.

You’ll also see excerpts from Just Add Water and my long-awaited novel, Voices, which will release later in 2015.ITTodayWinter2014 cover

On our new-look blog, we will be incorporating a few new things, a stylistic reflection of my 2009 book, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Expand and Fulfill Your Writing Life:

1) Inspiring quotes from writers, entertainers, artists, musicians, and other creatives

2) Resources for further exploration

3) Spot interviews with authors, thinkers, educators, and leaders

4) Book reviews

5) Perspectives on technology, fitness, health, the arts, education, STEM, and other subjects of interest to writers and creative artists

6) Excerpts from my books, as well as clients

7) Links to pieces and special service offers on WordJourneys.com, and client websites

8) Social Media services of the month (not only the Big Five — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube —  but many other sites)

9) An expanded blogroll

10) More opportunities for you to comment and/or guest post

11) Prompts, exercises, and tips from well-published authors, and creative and leadership


We’ve always had an eye out for our clients and other writers and creatives on this blog. Now, we will expand that, as part of our mission to showcase the lifestyle of writing and insight of the authors, as well as the final product.

Back to you on New-Look Monday!




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The Craft of Writing: 10 Easy Practices

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Daily Writing Life
To order Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences in Everything You Write
To visit us

How do you build a writing practice? How do you maintain it? How do you thrive from it?

The daily practice of writing sounds like the easiest thing in the world to develop. But it’s not. We sit down with an idea and motivation, and you write… right? If only it were that easy for the vast majority of us. What many learn, fast, is that the open-ended act of writing is like running wild in a field. If we don’t create some structure to measure and pace ourselves, we will burn out and topple to the ground long before a book, essay, article or other project is complete.

Over the years, I have found 10 approaches that combine to form a solid way to write consistently and productively. Since I am presenting these as part of a workshop Thursday night at the Crittenden County (KY) Library Writing Workshop Series, I thought I would try to stir up some office rearranging, journal writing and brainstorming with you today! These aspects of the craft of writing work for writers of all levels and genres, and are designed to support the writing practice for both the short- and long-term.

1) SETTING: A Writing Environment that works for you
Does your writing office, room or nook work for you? Do you have enough plants, pictures, inspirational sayings, natural light, furnishings and other adornments? Are your key reference books nearby—a dictionary, thesaurus, style manual, maybe a Writer’s Market? Any background music? Do your desk or table and chair work for you? Create an environment that feeds and inspires you.

2) PRACTICING: Turn Your Journal into an idea goldmine
All working writers should keep two journals, or at least be of two minds about their journal: one to recount experiences, feelings and observations of the day; the other to experiment with writing techniques and approaches, perhaps even different genres, and generate ideas. I always tell workshop participants that the journal is the working writer’s “chemistry lab.” It’s also a potential goldmine of ideas.

3) RESEARCHING: Learn It, Note It, Know It, Master It – in your own words
This is key to the writing craft. Research your subject so thoroughly that you can masterfully write about it in your own words. Research different points of view, different perspectives. Read books. Interview experts or knowledgeable people. When you take notes, jot down how this piece of research could work into your narrative, character or subject. Think “applicability” when researching.

4) PREPARING: Your Game Plan
How are you going to write your book, travelogue, essay, story or series of journal entries? After writing freely for awhile, it’s time to create a plan that fulfills your objective of finishing. Which hours work best for you to write? Can you write every day or every other day? How much to write each day? Create an outline or chapter summary that you follow until it’s finished — then pull out the next outline or summary. Break down your work into day-sized pieces.

5) PROCEEDING: Daily writing schedules that leave you eager to continue the next day, and not burned out
Create a daily writing schedule that works for your level of concentration and energy. Some people can write six hours of new material daily; others can only last two or three hours. Set a schedule that is write for you. Take the outline or chapter summary mentioned above, and finish each day at a place where you can’t wait to resume the next day. Author-artist Henry Miller called this “finishing hot.”

6) MAINTAINING: How to maintain Writer’s Mind 24/7 and, thus, momentum when working on particular books or projects
This is my favorite part of the writing process. When I write a book, my mind immerses into that world and subject 24/7. The world seems sharper; my senses are more acute. There is so much you can do with the 18 to 20 hours not spent writing the new material. Edit your past day’s work. Turn post-writing walks or exercise into different workouts, turning over plot or subject matter in your mind. Jot notes in your journal — and work them out with mind-mapping or other brainstorming techniques. Observe the world around you for material you can write. Watch your dreams to see what they might present.

7) TRUSTING: Trust your intuitive writer’s mind to get down the best material every day
Trust is crucial for all writers. We must fully trust what our deeper minds and hearts, and our intuitive faculties, present us as we write. We must also trust ourselves to get everything down and not keep editing and censoring—especially when in a writing session. Most importantly, let your intuitive mind help put your stories together, feed them, and conduct your characters’ “conversations”. This is when great writing happens. It’s like skiing down a hill and resisting all “controlling mind” warnings to slow down—knowing that the faster you go (within reason), the more control you truly have … and the more complete your experience. It’s all about trust.

8) DEVELOPING: Spin off and develop new ideas while continuing to work on your main project
This step intermingles with Step 6. When I’m writing a book, I put notebooks and note pads all over my home and office. I also tape a sheet of quadrille (small-squared) paper next to my keyboard. Every time an idea pops up for another piece of writing, whether a poem or new book idea, I write it down as an image, note or sentence. At most, I’ll scribble down a paragraph or two. Then back to the project at hand. By allowing yourself those few seconds to honor the ideas, you will always have new writing material for that next project — and you will enjoy a steady stream of ideas, thanks to the law of reciprocity: you reap what you sow. Entertain and jot down all ideas — then sow them later.

Another tip: find blogs in your subject matter, and write guest blogs to illustrate specific areas. Besides keeping you on task, you’ll also be building your all-important writer’s platform in case you want to sell your work — or are selling into an audience different than the one that has read your works in the past.

9) FEEDING: Keeping your mind and body open, energized and flexible
Many writers forget about taking care of themselves. They’re going to dig in, grind it out, throw their sleep patterns asunder, eat atrociously, and fight the ultimate battle to write that book. Writing is more of a marathon than a sprint; pacing and nourishment are vital. But there’s more. When working on a project, feed your mind by cross-reading in different genres, visiting art or sculpture galleries or museums, listening to music that expands and enlivens you, taking long walks, bike rides or runs, cooking new dishes, engaging in rich conversations, going to poetry readings or concerts, and writing letters.

10) FINISHING: Steps to finish — every time
Every year, many thousands of young boys enter Boy Scouts. Most think they will become Eagle Scouts—the highest honor. Less than 2% get there. I would guess that book writing carries the same percentage—2% of all manuscripts are written to completion. The key to finishing is to keep you and your writing fresh, turn each day into bite-sized pieces, and be consistent and disciplined. And be ready to get ultra-focused when you near the end. Write every day that you can. Expand that word “can” into more and more days. Follow the steps listed above. Start by finishing what you set out to do that day. Then string your days together until finished. When you finish the first draft, let it sit for a few days, then proceed to revise and edit it. Give yourself mini-breaks, often. Perhaps most importantly, don’t be too attached to your manuscript. There is a time for it to be done, a time the child becomes an adult and moves out (hopefully!). Finish it, and move on to your next work.

REMEMBER: The Write Time Writing Contest is now underway! $500 in cash prizes, plus publishing opportunities. Deadline is April 15. Check the Word Journeys Website – or the January 22 entry of this blog – for complete details.

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