A New Beginning

After a long hiatus, I returned to my first love…

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After a long hiatus, I returned to my first love – creative writing – last September. This led to the publication of the essay The Life Inside Me in October, and then the essay Invisible in December. During this time, I also managed over 56,000 words of a new novel for #NaNoWriMo2016 in November (my first win). Then, as commonly occurs when you return to that thing that calls to your soul, all hell broke loose, and my life as I knew it imploded. Since then, I have slowly, painstakingly clawed my way back to a regular writing practice and just today started rewriting the #NaNoWriMo novel tentatively titled The Waiting Place.

Along the way, I came across a podcast that gave me the extra fuel I needed to complete the journey back to writing – Yoga Church. One particular episode really spoke to me and lit me up: Episode 36: Honoring Voice where Meadow DeVor and Pixie Lighthorse discuss reconnecting and honoring your inner voice. I have had an incredibly difficult time hearing my inner voice, and even when I did, I have had an even harder time trusting what I heard and folhonoring-voicelowing through with its guidance. Enter Pixie Lighthorse’s newest book: Prayers of Honoring Voice. This book contains prayers that assist the reader in asking for divine help with honoring that inner voice in all that he or she does. I am not a person who believes that there is an old man somewhere up in the sky that selectively hands out blessings or punishments. In fact, I completely reject the idea that such a deity exists, so I’m often hesitant to turn to anything that has the word “prayer” in the title (or “church” for that matter). I believe in a protective, loving, forgiving, encouraging, and compassionate energy that flows through everything that we do should we choose to invite it to do so. That is exactly what Pixie Lighthorse’s prayers do (as does the Yoga Church podcast). They’ve hit on every aspect of insecurity and fear that I have about putting words on the page and sharing them with others – especially the hardest part for me: getting started. A particular favorite prayer of mine is “Honoring Creation” which is located in the South section of the book. As she mentions in the “How to Use this Book” section, “Each section of prayers is aligned with the teachings of the Four Directions” which are aligned with the four seasons and four elements – for example, the first section is: “East, Season: Spring, Element: Air”. If you would like a more in-depth description of Prayers of Honoring Voice, you can read Lighthorse’s excellent description here.  The really great news is that the book is available under Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a subscriber, you can read it for free. However, this is one book that I want in hard copy to have right next to me while I write. I want to be able to flip through its pages whenever I need to. It is a book I know I can turn to when the fear of what I have to say, of what I need to say, takes over, and I start to shut down. I hope that it will do the same for you. These prayers are now a part of my daily writing routine, and I use them as a starting off point, as an invocation and invitation to the muse and as a reminder that I don’t have to go on this writing journey all alone.

The Productive Writer: A Review

Sage Cohen has perfect timing. When I was new to creative writing and was just beginning to learn about the mechanics of poetry, she published Writing the Life Poetic. It was exactly the guidance I needed. She provided the kind, gentle voice that calmed my fears about writing poetry so much so I ended up winning a poetry contest and recently had a poem published.  As I progressed in my nonfiction writing, though, I developed new fears: Am I good enough? Who will want to read my work? AND fears about publishing: Why don’t I “get” what a platform is? How do I get started submitting my work and to whom? Then Cohen published The Productive Writer just as I was about to give up on writing altogether. I like to think that she is writing just for me, that she is my personal writing coach because of her impeccable timing when it comes to the stages of my writing life.

In all her writing, Cohen has a way of first allaying our fears so we can open our minds to the unlimited possibilities before us. But, she doesn’t stop there! She follows up with great, detailed advice; clear steps for us to take towards success; along with examples from her own writing life. In The Productive Writer, she adds a new dimension with printable worksheets and checklists she’s made available on the web to serve as companions to The Productive Writer. One such worksheet is “Your Platform at a Glance.” After reading through her example, I finally understood what a platform entails. I’ve read so much about platform and how important it is to my writing success, but never have I seen it broken down into the simple steps Cohen presents in this book. I was able to follow the worksheet and develop my platform which gave me a whole new outlook on my writing.

What made the biggest impact on me was Cohen sharing her perfectionist tendencies and how it was hindering her success as a writer. Her solution: Do the best that you can and then send out your work. Let others decide if your writing is worthy of publication. Don’t sabotage yourself by requiring that everything you write be absolutely perfect before you release it to the world. Like what has happened to me, your writing will go nowhere. It will collect dust among the computer archives. Cohen doesn’t just say “Do the best that you can,” she tells you how. She provides editing advice, organizational tips, and suggestions on how to find time to write. She has an entire chapter devoted to “Publishing and Landing Gigs!”

Through her writing, Cohen encourages us to find our own writing rhythm. She tells us that it isn’t absolutely necessary to write first thing in the morning as is often suggested. It is important for us to find our own writing rhythm. Through debunking some of the common myths about writing, she gives us the freedom to become our own unique writer selves. Even as she offers suggestions, tips, and personal experiences, she tells us: “Find what works for you!”

The Productive Writer is structured in short chapters, usually about ten pages in length. The structure helps you find what you’re looking for easily and also makes it a great book to bring with you while waiting at the doctors, or at your kids’ soccer games, or wherever you have a little free time. This is another aspect of the book I love. It shows Cohen’s attention to detail and consideration for today’s busy writer.

Cohen provides information for writers of all levels. The Productive Writer will become your permanent writing companion. If you’re a beginner, Cohen provides the inspiration and knowledge you need to begin your journey as a writer. It is a book that will grow with you and you will return to again and again as you progress. If you are experienced, Cohen provides excellent suggestions on topics such as organization, social media, and the collection and storage of your random thoughts as well as the edited out portions of your writing so you can easily find and use them later. The information and inspiration she provides will be the fresh perspective you need to take your writing to the next level.

As I continue with my writing, I am looking forward to what Cohen will write for me next…oh, and for you too!

*My reviews of Writing the Life Poetic and Like the Heart, the World, Sage Cohen’s book of poetry.

You can find Sage Cohen on Facebook at The Path of Possibility and Twitter @sagecohen and I highly recommend subscribing to her website The Path of Possibilty as she regularly posts fantastic articles about writing, poetry, and most importantly how they intersect with our everyday lives.

Jelly Bucket Literary Journal

Jelly Bucket

Jelly Bucket literary journal has extended the deadline for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction submissions for their premier issue until August 1, 2009. Please go here for more information on criteria and instructions on how to submit.

Courage and Craft

Courage and Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story
Author: Barbara Abercrombie
*****

Courage and Craft is a phenomenal inspirational guide for aspiring writers and experienced writers alike. I have been a closet writer for many years and recently enrolled in an MFA program. I have the same fears many new writers do and this book has really helped to inspire me. Not only does it give fantastic exercises to help spark your creativity, it gives lots of great advice about the writing process. Every time I feel like putting down the pen and quitting, I read a small section and it helps me realize that those fears come from the critic crawling around in my head. I pick up the pen and start writing again – even if it is bad writing. This book has something for everyone regardless of what genre you are interested in. It is also structured in small sections for quick reading. I don’t have a lot of time outside of writing and reading for classes, but I could pick this up and in a few minutes get the inspiration I needed to start my day. Courage and Craft will be a permanent addition to my writing desk so that I can turn to it any time that I need a boost, some advice, or just some suggestions on how to break free from my inner critic.