Living and Writing in the First Person: ASSUME This!

“It is the nature of the mind to become addicted to certain ways of seeing things.”  -Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Transforming Problems into Happiness When we write in the first person there are boundaries of what we can claim to know about the other people in our story. In fiction and nonfiction alike, the same boundaries apply. In first person we can’t assume what others are thinking, or their motives for their actions. At the same time, what we the writer or first person character assume about the others in our stories and scenes are critical to our message and the reader’s experience. … Continue reading

Something Missing?

Something missing in your writing experience or writing project? Are you finding it difficult to stay with an idea or to follow-through on a project? Do you sense an internal divide? Are you experiencing a lack of intimacy with the world around you? I am. I fear our attachment to the web creates a bigger divide between us and the natural world, each other, and to our creative potential. The internet can be an impressive tool for research, communication, and getting news. For the writer the internet can be an optimal way to research books, ideas, find publishers, as well … Continue reading

Because, Writing is Your Destiny

You have to write. When you don’t write you feel that tug to get back to it. But you wonder and wander . . . can I do this? Can I create something unique in this sea of books? What’s the point? Who am I to write this book? And, how am I to create something that is both unique and meaningful to others? “We never sit anything out. We are cups, quietly and constantly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of … Continue reading


“Mom, you won’t like the movie, there’s no story,” my daughter said to me when I wanted to go to one of the latest superhero movies. I love superhero stories. Believable ones. And the believable ones always have a great narrative. I use to tease my daughter that I was a superhero by day donning my cape while she was in school. But she too was the superhero navigating those hallways and dealing with certain unhappy teachers. In  Ruth Ozeki’s book, A Tale For The Time Being,  Zazen practice is referred to as a superpower. The ability to practice Zazen … Continue reading

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Dear Writer, That’s you. Me. So yes, I am writing this to myself too. I am at the 2014 Write-By-The-Lake retreat teaching a class on writing a captivating book from personal experience. This is my first year at WBTL. The invitation to teach here is a wish-fulfilled. This morning my class will explore clichés. Dead metaphors. Where once a cliché may have served a purpose they lose meaning with overuse. When we use them in writing we are being lazy. When clichés remain unchallenged in our “off the page” life we are giving up originality for convention. Last night I took … Continue reading

Writer’s Yoga

Writing is like stretching. It is a good thing to do and something we are naturally inclined to do. But we tend to forget to stretch. This forgetting has consequences. If you want to write (like your body wants to stretch), then write. Resistance, doubts, fears, forgetfulness can stop us from writing. It is not a lack of talent that stops us––if you want to write this is reason enough.  But, Who are you to write this book? What right do you have to share your story? Who cares? You are a human being. You have a desire to stretch … Continue reading

What To Neglect In Order To Be A Writer

You can’t do it all. (Really, you can’t) And in order to write you must be willing to neglect something every day.  We are encouraged to make “to do” lists every morning, which we often ignore or forget. Writing tends to get placed at the bottom of the list anyway, if it got on the list at all. You know you want to write, or at least, you want to have written. I recommend that we writers create a quick list of what to neglect. Neglect these “chores” and responsibilities until you have gotten in your daily writing time. Here … Continue reading

The Spiritual Writer: Spirit into Word and Action

Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit—such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness,contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony—which brings happiness to both self and others. While ritual and prayer, along with the questions of nirvana and salvation, are directly connected to religious faith, these inner qualities need not be, however. There is no reason why the individual should not develop them, even to a highest degree, without recourse to any religious or metaphysical belief system. This is why I sometimes say that religion is something we can perhaps do without. What we cannot do without are these basic spiritual … Continue reading

Habit-Forming Words (How Conscious Writing Transforms the Page)

In our writing and in our relationships, habits can interfere with a genuine expression of our ideas and our emotions. Habitual ways often handicap our ability to understand others and to be understood ourselves. On the page, as writers, we rely on habitual words. In our daily life, as people, we rely on habitual behaviors. Unless we are willing to identify these habitual patterns, we will remain a bit duller and flatter in both arenas. Recently I resumed work on my novel. When I had stopped working on it some weeks ago, I inserted the word “here” at my stopping … Continue reading

Here It Is

Welcome to the launch of ALL WRITE WEDNESDAY: “WORLD INTO WORD” BLOG Writing is a big part of my life. I began writing in a journal at the age of sixteen and my first book, Hidden Victims/Hidden Healers, was published in 1989 (and self-published subsequent to 1995). I went on to write three award-winning books for teens, including my first spiritual book for young adults, The Thundering Years, which contained a message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. That book also launched the genesis of a new imprint, Bindu Books, at Inner Traditions International, the publishing company that publishes many of … Continue reading