Want to start and finish your first, fifth, or tenth novel in 2017? Read on!

Previously, I have written about 1st drafts, and I shared my best suggestions for finishing draft 1 of your novel within 3 to 6 months (without losing your mind). Your 1st draft is the one Anne Lamott aptly dubs the “shitty first draft.” Give yourself permission to work quickly with forward momentum. When your 1st draft is complete: Set it aside for days, weeks, maybe even a month or more. Give yourself time to let it go and separate yourself. When you come back to the story you Continue reading →

Storytelling—The Journey from Darkness toward Light, from the Existential Scream to the Universal Sigh

Here’s the thing, being human isn’t easy. We are human and we are animal—savage and tender, mindful and thoughtless, loving and cruel, base and divine—and then toss our heart and spirit into the mix and—wait, shhhh, hear that existential scream? Yup, understanding the complexities of human nature is an ongoing challenge. If you have any desire to try, and if you are a writer, painter, musician, actor, creative seeker of any stripe, you are a storyteller and you are on the journey toward transformation and Continue reading →

What If We Could Save the Next Endangered Child?—Why Our Outrage Must Fuel Effective Action and Social Justice

In a world where violent images and stories are broadcast nonstop, there are crimes that stand out because they go so shockingly against laws of civilization and against laws of nature. When they are crimes against children, we experience outrage and grief, and we suffer a collective shame at our failure to protect the innocent and most vulnerable among us. When these crimes are perpetrated by a child’s mother, father, uncle or grandmother—the very people we expect to sacrifice anything to protect their child—we don’t Continue reading →

Defeating the Pink Gremlin

At a recent writers’ retreat, we were challenged to identify our “pink gremlins,” meaning those private obstacles to achieving our writing goals. Each person wrote silently for 20 minutes and then shared the results. (If you’ve never tried a timed writing exercise, it can be enlightening. Set the clock and write!) Each individual’s pink gremlin was distinct: fear, wordiness, etc. This was mine: “The trouble with trouble is that it starts out like fun.” Remember this the next time you set aside your manuscript and Continue reading →