Advice from Elizabeth Gilbert

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Inspirational advice for all writers and wannabe writers from best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert:

Four Hard Choices That Make You Happier in the Long Run

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to receiving their daily emails. Here’s some excellent advice for these challenging times:

You need to do hard things to be happy in life. Because the hard things ultimately build you up and change your life.

And, strengthening the mind is the hardest thing you need to do for yourself…

Think about the most common difficulties we as human beings deal with in our lives—from lack of presence to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so forth. In most cases, difficulties like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind.

Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in hundreds of little ways over time, of course you’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice today…

1. You can choose to be present when it would be easier to pick up your phone.

2. You can choose to do a workout when it would be more comfortable to sit around.

3. You can choose to create something special when it would be quicker to consume something mediocre.

4. You can choose to invest in yourself when it would take less effort to procrastinate.

You can prove to yourself that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.

Mental strength is built through lots of small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make day-to-day that build our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t wish our way to it. If you want it, you have to create positive daily rituals—mind-strengthening rituals—in your life that reinforce what you desire.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

10 Tricks for Good Writing

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Elmore Leonard wrote over two dozen novels, most of them bestsellers, such as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch. Unlike most genre writers, however, Leonard is taken seriously by the literary crowd.

What’s Leonard’s secret to being both popular and respectable? Perhaps, you’ll find some clues in his ten tricks for good writing:

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Avoid prologues.

3. Never use a verb other than said to carry dialogue.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . . he admonished gravely.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

6. Never use the words suddenly or all hell broke loose.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

He says, “My most important rule is one that sums up the ten. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

Excerpted from the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,” July 16, 2001.

You’re Never Too Old to Grow in Your Thinking

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s a thought-provoking entry from Joyce Meyer’s devotional, Trusting God Day by Day.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a leading brain scientist/learning specialist and committed Christian, notes in her teaching on the brain: “The Word and science believe that the mind and the brain are one.” The way you think is voluntary—you can control your thoughts. I want you to give your brain a new job and begin to teach your mind to work for you instead of against you.

One important way to do this is to make the intentional decision that you will begin to think positively. I realize your brain won’t be able to fulfill the new role completely overnight. You may be asking it to undergo a radical transformation, and that will take time. So, give it a little grace, but determine that with your diligence and God’s help, your brain will go to work for you instead of against you and become a powerful, positive force in your life.

I like what Dr. Leaf says—that the human brains takes “eighteen years to grow and a lifetime to mature.” Don’t miss this point. Although every other organ in the body is fully formed when a person is born, and simply gets bigger, the brain actually takes a full eighteen years to be fully formed. After that, it continues to mature until the day a person dies. This means, no matter how old you are, your brain is still maturing. This is great news because it means you do not have to be stuck in any old or wrong thought patterns. Your brain is still maturing, so you can still mature in your thinking.

Source: Trusting God Day by Day, pp. 149-150

Instead of Fearing Change, Get Excited About Progress

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Tuseet Jha shares the following wisdom on the Tiny Buddha blog:

In that moment when we are facing or going through a lot of changes, we have the opportunity to recognize and get excited about the progress we can make, but instead, we often choose fear.

When we focus on the excitement of progress, change feels a lot less scary and we feel inspired to take action. Because like survival, curiosity is one of our greatest instincts. We get energized when we imagine fun new possibilities and focus on what we can control to create them instead of worrying about what’s out of our hands.

Next time you’re faced with a change you didn’t choose, instead of asking…

Why me?
What did I do to deserve this?
Why now? I am not ready for this…

Ask yourself:

How is this pushing me to progress?
What new experiences and opportunities will this bring?
What can I do to be ready for this?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Viktor Frankl, the famous Holocaust survivor understood this better than anybody else. In his book, he writes:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Source: Tiny Buddha Blog

10 Excellent Tips from Chuck Wendig

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his informative guide, Damn Fine Story, New York Times best-selling author Chuck Wendig shares 50 storytelling tips in the Appendix. Here are ten excellent tips about character development:

1. Characters are not role models, and stories are not lectures.

2. We care about characters we understand, so it’s your job to make us understand your characters.

3. Characters must earn their victories.

4. Characters also earn their failures and losses.

5. If your characters are getting in the way of your plot, good. Let them. They are the plot. They are the subject, so let the tale unfold in their wake, not in their absence.

6. Likeability is less important a factor in your characters than relatability. It’s not about wanting to sit down and have a beer with them; it’s about being able to live with them for the breadth of a whole novel. Forget liking them, but do remember that we have to live with them. If all else fails: Just make them interesting.

7. Characters must make mistakes. But they cannot only make mistakes. They must have triumphs, too. A story isn’t an endless array of failure and disaster—we must have some sense of success to understand why success must, above all else (and against all odds), not be lost. Further, characters who only make mistakes become intolerable to us. We start to actively root for their failure if we cannot see in them the potential for success.

8. The best villains are the ones we adore despite how much we hate and fear them. We should adore them, and we should understand them.

9. Characters don’t know what the plot is. So don’t ever expect them to follow it. We can feel when characters are forced from their own program because authors are overwriting them with the Plot Program. It feels gross. Characters only know what they want and what they’re willing to do or lose to get it.

10. Characters are more interesting when they are smart and capable instead of dumb and pliable.

Source: Damn Fine Story pp. 218-225.

Writing as Restoration

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In a recent post on Writers Unboxed, author KL Burd shares his perspective on the restorative powers of writing. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Writing has the power to restore, not only within your life but the lives of others as well. That’s why our words, our art, our craft is so powerful. It can be used to tear down or build up. It can be used to enslave and entrap. To inspire and set free.

There are two ways that you can bring restoration through your art. The first is to write your story. It can be fiction or nonfiction, but there’s a certain freedom that comes from putting your story to paper and letting it burst forth into life. You open your world to others and invite them in. There’s healing in knowing that you are not alone.

The second way is the same as the first:

Write your story.

This time, however, you have to go to the place where your human skill and imagination collides. You have to take whatever hope you have, be it small or large, and cast it — like an anchor — into the future. Take your imagination and dream up what your story can be, what it will be. Use your imagination to create your future reality.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wisdom from Rumi

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Words matter…Advice to keep in mind before speaking your mind.

Replace Your Fantasies

Replace Your Fantasies

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to receiving their daily emails. This recent message stresses the importance of releasing our fantasies:

The older we grow, and the more real-world tragedies and challenges we witness, the more we realize how incredibly blessed we are, and how frequently the fantasies in our heads hold us back from these present blessings. In fact, you’ve likely fantasized your way into headaches and heartaches dozens of times in the past year alone. We all do this to a greater or lesser extent…

We stress ourselves out, because of fantasies.

We procrastinate to the point of failure, because of fantasies.

We get angry with others, with ourselves, and with the world at large, because of fantasies.

We miss out on many of life’s most beautiful and peaceful moments, because of fantasies.

So today, I challenge you to move through this day and practice seeing the real life right in front of you as it truly is…

Do what you have to do without fantasizing and fearing the worst, lamenting about what might happen, or obsessing over how unfair everything is.

See others and accept them without hasty judgments. Choose not to allow their behavior to dominate your thoughts and emotions. Just be present and accepting. Then decide if you want to spend extra time with them (or extra time thinking about them). If not, part ways with dignity.

Replace your fantasies with full presence…

And invest your best into what you’ve got right in front of you.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.