Writing Tips



For many years I sent weekly writing tips to those who subscribed to my mailing list.

Below you will find a great assortment of great tips provided from many different sources. If you need a writing tip to inspire you, please scroll down and peruse the list. I’m sure you will find something that will fit.



Writing Tips of the Week!



Writing Tip of the Week – October 14th

 “Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction.” William Zinsser

And even though we are much more than our story, it’s what lives on long after we move away or leave this life permanently. Writing a memoir is way to leave our story behind the way we want it remembered. 



Writing Tip of the Week – October 7th


“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and have forgotten the gift.” —Albert Einstein

When it comes to writing this can mean to let your intuitive mind soar creatively and then let your rational mind do the editing.


Writing Tip of the Week – September 30th


Be funny — but not too funny — at the right places.

Try to include a little bit of humor in your writing (this is especially true if you’re writing for a business audience). In a speech or a presentation, insert something tastefully funny into it and you’ll win over your audience that much quicker.

Not sure if something’s funny? If you have to ask, it’s not (see my previous point above).

Don’t make your whole speech a series of jokes though. Part of the art of being really funny is to know when to stop.

One other suggestion: humor is a great way to get people to remember a part of your writing or speech. So don’t make a joke and then launch into a twenty slide speech on last year’s sales figures. Integrate humor into the parts of your writing that you want to be memorable.



Writing Tip of the Week – September 23rd

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.

– Barbara Kingsolver


And I would add, it’s the best way to keep your writing authentic.


Writing Tip of the Week – September 16th


This tip comes from Jane Strauss-Grammarbook.comWhom Abuse Is RampantConsider the humble pronoun. It seems that fewer and fewer Americans know when to say “she” or “he” or “me” instead of “her,” “him,” or “I.”It used to be that little Gloria would run home and tell her mother, “Me ’n’ Annie saw a walrus!” Whereupon her mom would say, “ ‘Annie and I,’ dear.” Now, alas, Gloria’s mother thinks “me ’n’ Annie” is just fine.So why is it that so many pronoun-challenged Americans are infatuated with whom? It’s a word that’s become exotic and mysterious, and people say it when they want to sound authoritative, because even if they’re misusing it, chances are their listeners won’t know.Let’s get technical. The pronoun who is about the subject. Use who wherever you would use the subjective pronouns I, he, she, we, or they. It is correct to say Who wants to go? because we would say She wants to go or We want to go.The pronoun whom is always an object. Use whom wherever you would use the objective pronouns me, him, her, us, or them. It is not correct to say Who did you choose? We would say Whom because you choose me or him or them.A handy memory aid: who = he, whom = him.Here is an all-too-common misuse of whom: He is a man whom I believe can do the job. The writer chose whom, thinking it was the object of believe. But look what happens when we rearrange the sentence: He is a man whom can do the job, I believe. Obviously, the proper word is who.Compare that with He is a man who I admire. Because we would say I admire him, the sentence should read He is a man whom I admire.The key to mastering whom comes down to knowing the difference between a subject and an object. 

Writing Tip of the Week – September 9th


When you read a sentence, the parts most likely to catch your attention and stay in your mind are the beginning and end; we call them the positions of emphasis, with the stronger position at the close of the sentence.

Writers call attention to important ideas by putting them at the beginnings and ends of sentences. This makes it easier for readers to grasp the meaning and remember important points. It also gives sentences a rhythmic flow.


Writing Tip of the Week – September 2nd


“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But its definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”  (I can’t find the source to this one but I like it!)


Writing Tip of the Week – August 26th
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

Perhaps this is the case in all writing.


Writing Tip of the Week – August 19th


Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers?
Because hopefully, they are the only ones making it up as they go along.


If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.

Writing Tip of the Week – August 12th


“I hear people say they’re going to write. I ask, when? They give me vague statements. Indefinite plans get dubious results. When we’re concrete about our writing time, it alleviates that thin constant feeling of anxiety that writers have – we’re barbecuing hot dogs, riding a bike, sailing out in the bay, shopping for shoes, even helping a sick friend, but somewhere nervously at the periphery of our perception we know we belong somewhere else – at our desk!” – Natalie Goldberg


Writing Tip of the Week  – August 5th

“When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.” ~ Enrique Jardiel Poncela.


Writing Tip of the Week  – July 29th


The unfortunate thing about good writing is that it takes hard work! And if you’re struggling with writer’s block, then you can’t even get to the “hard work” part. You’re stuck and frustrated. And then what do you do? Different writers overcome writers block in different ways, which is why it helps to read books like The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear <http://jasmyneconsulting.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a64b7ff7fc1b0aa646accd6a2&id=6e47d0272e&e=b33e4e7d80> . That’s one of my favorite writing books; it’s not about fixing writer’s block per se, but it’s an excellent motivational book for writers.


Writing Tip of the Week- July 22nd

A metaphor says that one thing is like another. When I tell you that writing is the act of taking the reader by the hand and leading him or her from one idea to the next, I am creating a metaphor.

I can take that further. I can talk about rocks and tree roots that get in the way. I can talk about how to clear the path. All of these build a picture for the reader that is easy for anyone to understand. When I write that readability is one way to smooth the path for the reader, I increase readability because smoothing a path is a common idea.



Writing Tip of the Week – July 8th


“To create an original work you must become a seer with eyes of spirit, that penetrate an invisible world and see the unformed future, which is the potential birthing place of an innovative product, service, invention or artistic achievement. Then you need to go into labour!” —Wallace Huey

Entering labor with a sense of wonder awakens and engages our creative spirit.


Writing Tip of the Week – July 1st


“I believe writing was the first truly verifiable and effective form of magic. Think of how it must have impressed people in ancient times! To look at marks, pressed into fired clay, and know that they convey the words of scribes and kings long dead — it must have seemed fantastic. Knowledge, wisdom and art could finally accumulate, and death was cheated one part of its sting.”  David Brin

I believe life writing is also therapeutic. When we empty ourselves of the stories we have held about our lives, we see them with new perspective. When we write them for publication, we also pass on a legacy of lessons for future generations. Even if we turn those story into books of fiction, what we have learned about human nature seeps through. I am ever grateful to all the writers who have enriched my life with their stories.

Keep writing.


Writing Tip of the Week – June 24th
Movies. Sometimes, while watching a movie, a character will say something so interesting that I’ll say, “That would make a great blog post or article!” While writing my book a couple of years ago, I remembered a few favorite lines from a Jim Carey film and used them to make a point. Doing so can often give a sense of time and place to your writing, bringing a familiar memory to the reader.

Everything and anything can inspire an idea. Make a list and next time you’re stuck, use it.


Writing Tip of the Week – June 17th

3. Third tip on writing inspirational articles and blogs.
Have you ever noticed that a good blog post reads a lot like a snappy monologue? You can almost hear the voice of the blogger.
In that vein, one of the best ways to get yourself going is to find a TV show, movie, or radio broadcast with smart dialogue and listen to it for a few minutes. It trains your brain to think conversationally, and sometimes it’ll give you an idea that’s perfect for a post.

Writing Tip of the Week – June 10th

Here’s the second writing tip of five for writing an inspirational article. This can also apply to anything you write that is character driven.

2. They involve an emotional struggle or challenging decision.
Clearly describe the struggles, obstacles, or difficult choices that the people in your article have faced. How did they recognize the problem, deal with it, and overcome it?

Writing Tip of the Week – June 3rd

Good inspirational articles have five characteristics.They move people emotionally and motivate them to do something or to make a change of some sort.
Here’s the first of five – for all five at once, go to Dogear Publishing.com and click on Inspiration articles.

1. They are personal.
Inspirational articles are all about the power of personal connections. They should include very personal stories about real people’s lives. Don’t shy away from the emotion, as strong and powerful feelings are central to good inspirational articles. You aren’t speaking to your readers’ minds with these articles; you are speaking to their hearts and souls.

Writing Tip of the Week – May 28th

“We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently. Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.” By someone with the last name Rubin. I could not find her 1st name.

Writing Tip of the Week – May 20th

“Try to attune yourself to the sound of your own writing. If you can’t imagine yourself saying something aloud, then you probably shouldn’t write it.” Tracy Kidder

May 28th I will be teaching a course based on my book “What if the Problem’s Not the Problem???” Learn to see through all problems and create more peace and awareness in daily life.

June 4th, I will be teaching “The Joy of Writing for Writers & Want-to-Be-Writers.” Learn to bring your writing to Life!

For registration to both or either class, call 984-3231
Writing Tip of the Week – May 13th

Skip the boring parts!

When I’m writing, I always find it best to write the bits I enjoy first, and slave over the middle bits later.

The hardest part, in my opinion, is trying to fit everything together, because often it can be very boring and sluggish. If this happens, skip the bit you’re on and go on to the next exciting adventure, but remember to go back and fill in the blanks at the end!

This helps especially when you get writers block. If you feel like you’ve hit a dead end, move on to the next bit and write what excites you.

Add everything up at the end, and remember to go over it to make sure it all makes sense.

by Katherine Lapin
(Edinburgh, Scotland.)


2013 Writing Tips of the week (most recent one is listed at the top)


Writing Tip of the Week – May 6th

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”  ~Vita Sackville-West


Writing Tips of the Week – April 29th

There are many books written on how to unlock your unconscious and let the writing flow. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Brainstorm words or images about your topic. Don’t stop to evaluate their worth. Keep writing down ideas. When you can’t think of another word, wait a while. Often the most powerful idea will surface after you have cleared all the less valuable ideas out of the way.
  • Write a page or two with your eyes shut. It doesn’t matter if you can’t read what you’ve written. You are giving your mind permission to make “mistakes” and just get on with it.
  • Write with music in the background. Experiment to find the style that you like. I prefer baroque or classical music. One of my writing teachers needed country and western.
  • Give yourself permission to be emotional. If your writing begins to move you, experience the full emotion. Before your writing changes others it will change you.

Edit only when you have drawn deeply from the well of your unconscious.

Spelling counts. So does good grammar. They support vibrant writing. They do not create vibrant writing. There are a great many correctly written lifeless sentences.

The best writing comes to life, and then is refined just enough to make it crystal clear.

First, give it life.


Writing Tip of the Week – April 22nd
“Don’t include unnecessary details. While autobiographies are often written as chronological accounts of a person’s life, a memoir only includes events relating to the key theme of the book. This helps keep the story on track and prevents the reader from being bored or overwhelmed by too much information.”

If you’ve been in my classes or have been a writing client, you have heard this a million times. Remember the theme of your book at all times. Unless the person reading your memoir knows you, the theme is why your writer has chosen to read your book. Take them on too many side trips and you’ll lose them.


Writing Tip of the Week – April 15th


Watch out for these four commonly misused words.

Some words in the English language take a constant beating in business correspondence. Be one of those writers who use them properly and pleasantly surprise your readers. Your conscientiousness may sell your next idea or product.

  • That vs. which. Which often follows a comma and introduces a phrase that provides additional information not essential to the meaning of the sentence. That introduces a phrase that is essential to the meaning of the sentence.The report, which is twenty pages long, is mandatory reading. (Which introduces additional, but unnecessary, information.)The report that is twenty pages long is mandatory reading. (That points out a characteristic of the report and distinguishes it from a ten-page report.)
  • Hopefully. This doesn’t mean I hope. Hopefully, I’ll finish the report by noon. Do you mean you’ll finish the report in a hopeful frame of mind by noon? Or do you mean you hope you’ll finish the report by noon? Say what you mean: I hope to finish the report by noon.
  • Very. Avoid this lukewarm, unspecific adverb. I’m very happy that you elected me chairman of the Society for People with Super Sensitive Feet. Is very happy happier than just happy? Why not overjoyed or: I’m tickled to be the new chairman of the Society for People with Super Sensitive Feet.


Writing Tip of the Week – April 8th


Switching the view of a character without warning, “seeing” or “hearing” things our they are not privy to, or switching from one type of point of view to another disrupts the flow of your prose and jolts the reader. Sometimes the reader isn’t even able to state what the exact problem is, just that “something isn’t right.” Always be aware of whose viewpoint you are in and why.

This is also the case with the theme. Once you select a theme for your story, keep it as the central theme throughout your book.

Writing Tip of the Month – April 1st


“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”
—Mark Twain


Writing Tip of the Week – March 25th


When writing a memoir, don’t include unnecessary details. While autobiographies are often written as chronological accounts of a person’s life, a memoir only includes events relating to the key theme of the book. This helps keep the story on track and prevents the reader from being bored or overwhelmed by too much information.


Writing Tip of the Week – March 18th
Remember this quote by Steve Jobs every time you start to write and think, “Who am I to think I can write a book.” Or, “What do I have to say that would be of interest to anyone else.”


“You get told that the world is the way it is, but life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact; and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” —Steve Jobs


YOU CAN WRITE if that’s what you want to do!


Writing Tip of the Week – March 11th


Keep in mind that you have to hook your reader from the very beginning. Ask yourself, “ Is my most interesting, important material at the beginning?”  Even though some people may look at the end of the book, more people will read the beginning. Engage them immediately. A genuine teaser, a hint of what’s coming, written compellingly within the first sentence will pull your reader into your story.


These first sentences set their expectations for what’s ahead. Then, when written well with the right pacing, you’ll have them.


Writing Tip of the Week – March 4th
“The best work is done when one’s eye is simply on the work, not on its consequence, or on oneself. It is something done for its own sake. It is, in Lewis Hyde’s term, a gift.”

When you give too much attention to what you’ll get out of it, like most things, the juice of the process leaks out.The results will arrive in their own timing.


Writing Tip of the Week – February 25th


Tony Kushner from the Blog – “Write What you Know.”


“Your writing should reveal things about yourself you didn’t know before you put your pen to paper (or your hands to the keyboard). Rather than just recycle popular themes, dig deeper into the subject and find that unknown tension or truth that will surprise both you and your audience.


Part of the exciting thing about being a writer in any medium is that if you start to dig around in there and use words and the muscular activity of writing, you discover things inside of yourself, people inside of yourself, knowledge inside of yourself that you didn’t know you had.


The best writing is usually a journey into the unknown for both the author and the audience. No one is conscious enough of their own interior to know what choices they may or may not make before they begin to write. This discovery process, it turns out, can also be therapeutic for the writer.”


Writing tip of the Week – February 18th


Discard your weak anecdotes, examples, and stories. I know how hard it is to delete whole pages or paragraphs of writing. To me, paragraphs and pages represent time…and time is a most precious resource. I don’t like to waste a second! But, an article or chapter peppered with weakness or drabness doesn’t just bore your readers — it can exacerbate writer’s block. After all, who wants to work on boring or weak material? Make sure your anecdotes, examples, and characters are memorable, interesting and on point.

Much better to have a short, concise story or article then to have your reader skipping half of what you’ve written to get to the point.

Writing Tip of the Week – February 11th
Does your writing hook your readers right away! If not, what will? Learn how to rework your writing by massaging and reshaping it. The more you work your piece, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll want to write; the more you’ll enjoy the process. And, don’t hesitate to make bold changes in your writing! That’s a big part of it. We’re lucky to live in the age of cut, copy and paste AND, delete. Engage your readers from the beginning and don’t stop there.

Writing Tip of the Week – February 4th

One way to make your writing come alive is to change the order you present your information.If your article or book chapter is already written, look at what comes first, what comes in the middle, and what comes last. Is it written chronologically or temporally? Chronological order works well for anecdotes, short pieces of writing. But for other kinds of material it can be monotonous. Instead, try putting your information in order of importance.  If you’ve written your story going from the specific to the general, then try going from the general to the specific. This makes for a more interesting read.


Writing Tip of the Week – January 28th


You can Write!

We sometimes think successful authors just instinctively know how to write—that they are born with an intrinsic ability. Some, yes. But for the majority of writers, writing is a craft—and crafts are teachable. By reading, by writing, and by studying the art of writing, we can take the ounce or pound of talent we’ve been given and nurture it into a true gift.

If the desire is there, ignite it. There’s nothing to lose. You don’t have to show it to anyone – at first. Eventually, you’ll want feedback. Till then, enjoy the process and see what wants to come through your fingers.

Writing Tip of the week – January 21st
Ask for feedback — and listen to it. You are in the business of communication. If the ideas and emotions expressed in your writing meet a blank wall, is it the fault of your readers who simply don’t get it? Or could it be it’s not clear? Leave your ego out of it and don’t explain to your reviewer verbally what your written words failed to communicate. Never think your work is so perfect that it is beyond improvement, especially when other readers second the feedback. And by the way, if you stay up all night to write the story, it is not ready in the morning. Wait at least 24 hrs to reread the story. Time will allow you to see it with fresh eyes and new perspective.

Writing Tip of the week – January 14th

Writing a memoir or a memoir-like story or blog can seem daunting. But remember,
you are the protagonist in your own memoir, the tour guide. You must find a narrative trajectory, a theme, for the story you want to tell and never relinquish control.

You don’t have to rummage around in your past — or your family’s past — to find episodes that you think are “important” enough to be worthy of including in your memoir. Look for small self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you still remember them it’s because they contain a universal truth that your readers will recognize from their own life.

(Paraphrased from how to write a Memoir by William Zinser)

Writing Tip of the week – January 7th
For the 1st Writing Tip of the year, I thought it more appropriate to offer the following tips from Walden University because – As in life, so it is with writing.

As I go into 2013 I know I will face challenges, but I know they are to overcome, not to overwhelm. And while I can’t change the broader economy or government policy, I can take responsibility for my attitude and how I will make this the best year yet. We’re on this planet for a short time and every day we’re alive is a gift. We all need a kick in the pants reminder that we are fortunate to live, work, and play in the United States of America. As I’m thinking through and planning how to make 2013 my personal best year ever, I thought the following Uncommon Sense principles might help you as you plan your year ahead.

1. Grab the year by the ears
Look back at 2012 and celebrate your successes and identify your failures. Map what you learned from both and think about what you want to change in the year ahead. Define what success looks like for 2013, setting audacious and achievable goals. Envision what you want the year to look like, literally. Write a list by month, write a year-end letter to yourself, or build a dream board, but don’t go into 2013 without knowing what you want success to look like. Map out how you’ll get there and what resources you’ll need.
2. Values are valuables
Revisit your values and what’s important to you on a personal level. These foundational principles should guide decisions around how you live and work. List the principles that are central to who you are and guide how you think and behave. Put your values to work daily throughout the year ahead. If it feels like we’re walking away from the founding values this country was successfully built on do what Gandhi advised and, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Decide what you really care about and the role you can play in helping make a positive change in the world.
3. Gratitude is the attitude
It’s a universal truth that grateful people are happy people. Start every day with gratitude and thanks for the chance to live your life in a country that promotes freedom and the opportunity to be your best. Say thank you often and mean it.
4. Trash the small stuff
Like most people, you probably waste too much time on the small, insignificant, time-sucking, going-nowhere stuff. Make a list of the things you do that waste time every day and list what you’re going to do to change your behavior.
5. Don’t make money your god
The sage father of my first girlfriend gave me some very simple advice that is as relevant today as it was then. He said, “Never make money your god.” I’ve been asked many times this year whether the purpose for a company is to make a profit, and my answer has been the same every time, “Making a profit is the by-product of a clearly defined purpose.” As individuals we know money creates choices but it doesn’t answer our need for purpose. Make sure money is not the reason or rationale behind what you do.
6. Everything you do matters
You are the sum of all of your parts, relationships, and actions. The advent of social media has highlighted the age-old truth that every action you take, and every conversation you have, matters.
7. Be yourself and be courageous
You don’t have to follow the crowd. Take courageous steps to define the brand of you in 2013, reminding yourself of who you are, what makes you tick, and why you get out of bed every day. Don’t feel compelled to follow the crowd. Be courageous and be proud of being yourself.
8. Surround yourself with smarts
Don’t surround yourself with “yes people” and fans. Friends and mentors should help make you a better version of yourself. Make sure the people around you are smarter and different than you. Have people in your life who will call you out and hold you accountable.
9. Time is like gold, so spend it wisely
Time is the most valuable commodity we’re given. The weeks and months fly by, so plan your time carefully and don’t waste it. Spend it generously with people who matter. I get up every morning at 5:15 a.m. to surf. I do it every day, and it’s my time to reflect, exercise, and connect with nature. Design time into your day that is only for you, not for work or for anyone else. A time where you think about your life and the role you’re playing in it–and pursue something you love. It’s the best gift you’ll give yourself.
10. Do something new for the first time
Learn to butcher a hog, ride a horse, run a marathon, write code, or play the guitar. There’s nothing like the excitement and learning that comes from doing something completely new for the first time.

2012 Writing Tips of the week (most recent one is listed at the top)

December 31st

Happy New Year! This tip can be applied to Writing and of Course to the whole of life!

“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” — Anthony Robbins


December 24th

Writing Tip of the Week


Here’s your writing tip of the week.

According to research by the American Press Institute, the longer sentences are, the less readers understand. I haven’t managed to find the original source of this research, but it was apparently based on studies of 410 newspapers, and the researchers correlated the average number of words in a sentence with reader comprehension.

The study showed:

When the average sentence length was fewer than eight words, readers understood 100 percent of the story.
With 9–14 word sentences, readers could understand more than 90 percent of the information.
With 43-word sentences, comprehension dropped to less than 10 percent.

Pity this information didn’t include the comprehension rate for sentences of 15–30 words.


December 17th

The beginning of your story carries more weight than any other part of your work. This is simply because it is the beginning. The reason for its prominence is similar to seeing anything for the first time. Your senses are attuned. It’s analogous to seeing a person for the first time. When someone walks into a room, a person you’ve never seen before in your life, you experience that person intensely.  The next time that person enters the room, though—i.e., your second line or second paragraph—everything is calmer, the intensity is far less. You may have certain new impressions or observations, and the first ones may be refined, but that second look is nowhere as potent, as intense, as the first. As it is true in life, it is true in writing.

December 10th

 “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin

This is one of my favorite quotes. You sit, you think, something comes forth and you write. Then you look back on what you’ve written. You change a few things delete others, and little by little like a flower, something beautiful begins to bloom. Over time you create a beautiful garden. Only you know the right time to harvest and share your bounty with others.

If you want to write, live on Maui and want to get started, these 6 week sessions will be perfect for you!
If you want private coaching, I can help!

December 3rd

There is nothing more important to creating clear, compelling
writing than first, knowing your Theme.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to be very clear with yourself
about the point you are trying to make. Can you express it in a short
short sentence? Does every paragraph in your writing in some way
point to this sentence? Know the audience you are writing for,
find your theme and stick to it.

November 26th

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  ~Jules Renard, “Diary,” February 1895


November 19th

Give your writing the conversation test.

After you have finished writing your memo or letter, read it aloud. Ask yourself if you would say to your reader what you are writing. Trust your ear. Wherever your writing is stuffy, wordy, or impersonal, rewrite it.

  • Use contractions to warm-up your message and take the starch out of stiff sentences.
  • Delete words, sentences, and phrases that do not add to your meaning.
  • Make it personal. Speak directly to the reader, human to human. Remember people don’t do business with businesses; they do business with people.

November 11th

“All writers must go from now to once a upon a time; all must go from here to there; all must descend to where the stories are kept; all must take care not to be captured and held immobile by the past.” –
Margaret Atwood.

November 4th

Concrete Words
Balance general words and abstract ideas with specific and concrete words.
General words name groups of things: for example, fish, fruit. Abstract words name qualities or ideas: for example, protection, danger. Specific and concrete words name things that appeal to our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell: for example, goldfish, orange, castle.
General and abstract words paint a broad but sketchy picture. Use them to set out your main idea, then flesh them out with specific and concrete words that evoke vivid images in the minds of readers. Like this:
In the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel.
(From Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling)

October 29th

5 Bits of Writing Advice

  1. Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.
  2. Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
  3. Don’t just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.
  4. Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
  5. Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer—however happy, however tragic—is ever wasted.

P.D. James

October 22nd

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

October 15th

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

And as in life, same as in writing: Bonus Tip:  To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

October 8th

Concrete Words

Balance general words and abstract ideas with specific and concrete words.

General words name groups of things: for example, fish, fruit. Abstract words name qualities or ideas: for example, protection, danger. Specific and concrete words name things that appeal to our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell: for example, goldfish, orange, castle.

General and abstract words paint a broad but sketchy picture. Use them to set out your main idea, then flesh them out with specific and concrete words that evoke vivid images in the minds of readers. Like this:

In the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel.
(From Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling)

October 1st
“Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong.”  ~Jeb Dickerson

September 24th

Successful writing is all about trust and authority. It makes sense to write about your area of expertise. If you don’t have an expertise, reading and writing is the best way to develop one and put it on display. Learn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton

September 17th

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. ~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

September 10th

Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands.
Jacques Barzun, “A Writers Discipline,” in Jacques Barzun on Writing, Editing and Publishing, (University of Chicago Press), 1971.

September 3rd
“One of the things that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right
that they got wrong in real life by writing about them.”

Tobias Wolff

August 27th

Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.

~Edward Gibbon

And . . .  you can too! Or a blog, a short story, an article – if you have the slightest impulse to write, try it. It’s the only way you’ll know if you have what it takes to satisfy yourself.
August 20th

Before you begin to write a sentence, imagine the scene you want to paint with your words. Imagine that you are the character and feel what the character feels. Smell what the character smells, and hear with that character’s ears. For an instant, before you begin to write, see and feel what you want the reader to see and feel.

Othello Bach

Writing Tip of the Week – August 13th

Even the roughest stone is made smooth by agitation, motion, erosion. Yeah, the writing life can be tough, but it needs to be. Edits are good. Rejections are, too. Write with a partner. Submit yourself to criticism. Creative agitation can serve you well. Embrace it. Look into that dark hole for answers, not fear.

Writing Tip for the Week – August 6th

Memoir vs. Autobiography

Before you begin writing a memoir, it’s helpful to make sure you understand how this type of book differs from an autobiography.

Typically, a memoir reads more like a novel than an autobiography. While an autobiography often covers a long time period and provides many details, a memoir deals with events related to a specific theme. Examples of topics for memoirs may include recovering from an eating disorder, dealing with an abusive spouse, or what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. (I would add – any transformational experience).

Generally speaking, memoirs tend to be much more popular than autobiographies. Although a memoir is true, the events are told in a way that makes it seem like a fictional work. This makes the story much more interesting to the reader, even if the author is someone they have never heard of before. By Diana Harris

Writing Tip for July 30th.

Give your writing the conversation test.

After you have finished writing, whether it’s a book, an article, memo or letter, read it aloud. Ask yourself if you would say to your reader what you are writing. Trust your ear. Wherever your writing is stuffy, wordy, or impersonal, rewrite it.

  • Use contractions to warm-up your message and take the starch out of stiff sentences. i.e. We’re going vs. we are going.
  • Delete words, sentences, and phrases that do not add to your meaning.
  • Make it personal. Speak directly to the reader, human to human. Remember people don’t do business with businesses; they do business with people.

From The Roberts Group (slightly modified)

Here’s your Writing Tip of the Week for July 23rd

More on Blogging –  A blog gives you the freedom to experiment, to try out different styles, forms, formats, topics, content, voice.  It’s the chance to stretch, play and see what happens when you go in different directions.  Which words, which styles, which tone of voice is the one that resonates, that gives you that ‘aha’ moment or the shivers going down your spine. Try it. If blogging is not for you, you can write a short piece keeping in mind that it could be read by someone interested in your topic.


Here’s your Writing Tip of the Week for July 16th

The writing habit: Blogging gets you writing. It builds a writing habit and whether that’s sharing a post daily, weekly or monthly it gets you into the habit of shaping, crafting, creating, editing and sharing.  It strengthens the writing muscles.  And that keeps you writing, even when it’s hard, when the purpose eludes you and the patterns are unclear. You can start by blogging to friends or strangers. It doesn’t matter. If you want to write, start writing.

Writing Tip of the Week for July 9th

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 basic tips for great writing:

Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it’s all completely unique.

With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101: *

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


Here’s your Writing Tip of the Week for June 25th

As this following applies to writing – if you want to write, have a strong desire to give your ideas a chance, waiting for the exact right time might be more abour percrastination than right timing. Do a little each day. Same thing can be said for anything you are drawn to do.

“Doing the big work (at the little table)

Most of the day is spent in little work. Clerical, bureaucratic, meetings, polishing, improving, reacting, responding.

The obligation is to carve out time for the big work.

The big work that scares you, that brings risk, that might very well fail.

And we’re most likely to do that work when it’s least expected, when the table is small, the resources are lacking and time is short.

No need to wait for permission or the lightning bolt of inspiration. The big work is available to you as soon as you decide to do it.” Seth Godin

Here’s your tip of the week for June 18th.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ~Anton Chekhov
Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using similes, metaphors, and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful emotional response.

June 11

There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
Ernest Hemingway

June 4th

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

Here’s your writing tip of the week

May 28th

This is a great quote for reminding us that good writing uses all the senses-showing rather than telling both about our internal experience as well as our external experience.

“A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.”

Henry David Thoreauh


May 21st

‘I would love to write, but I just cannot make the time.’ In every manual on virtually any discipline from meditation to tennis, stress is laid on the necessity for regular practice. Writing is no exception. ‘Never a day without a line’ isn’t an idle precept. Any writer will tell how the more regularly she writes the more readily the words present themselves. – and when not in a regular habit of it, how difficult it is to get back to work even after a short break. As the years pass, it becomes only more difficult. The writing instrument is lubricated by regular use. The kindest advice to the beginner, or anyone for that matter, is Write Every Day. Even as little as a half-hour. It doesn’t matter how much or even what. The only way to become a writer is to write!

Paraphrased from The Way to Write, by John Fairfax & John Moat

Writing Tip of the Week – May 14

It’s easier than you think to tap into your originality.

 “An original artist is one who encounters the origin of his/her work within their individual experience of the imagination. It is this authentic experience that affords their work the conviction of absolute authority- or in other words, it’s originality.”  From the Way To Write, by John Fairfax & John Moat.

Here’s your writing tip of the week for May 7

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” —Henry Ward Beecher
I listened to an artist sharing her process of creating a painting. It sounded so familiar. Whenever you create something that starts from your inspiration, whether it be with words, a paintbrush, a camera, you give a part of yourself that is fresh and original. Let the paintbrush of your soul give way to your expression.

Here’s your writing tip of the week for April 30th.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get
to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.
~Sharon O’Brien
This is what happens to a lot of the students I work with. This could
be you!

Writing tip of the week – April 23
“The writer who cares more about words than about story –
characters, action, setting, atmosphere – is unlikely to create a vivid and continuous dream; he gets in his own way too much; in his poetic drunkenness, he can’t tell the cart – and its cargo – from the horse.” John Gardner

Writing Tip of the Week – April 16Here’s your writing tip of the week”The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.”
Albert Einstein

Writing Tip of the Week April 9, 2012

“You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.”
Neil Gaiman

Writing Tip of the Week April 2, 2012

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”
Miguel de Cervantes

If you can talk, you can write. Will a bit of skill, most of us can write well. Try it! If you find you like it, you’ve found a best friend for life.

Writing Tip of the Week – March 26

Aloha Writers –

“Anytime you start a sentence with I am, you are creating what you are and what you want to be. So, if you sometimes say, “I am bad at this, I am ugly, I am stupid,” these words take you farther and farther away from the part of you that is God. When you choose to say, “I am happy, I am kind, I am perfect,” you help the light of God inside you to grow and shine.” Wayne Dyer

As it pertains to writing, if you say I can write, you give yourself the confidence to allow the best writer in you to emerge.
Building on last week’s quote about listening beyond your inner critic,  be your biggest supporter by encouraging your best.


Writing Tip of the Week – March 19

“If you gave your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you would be light years ahead of where you now stand.” —Alan Cohen

Writing Tip of the Week – March 12

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” —Horace, Roman poet

When approaching life and writing, that which bursts forth from the temporarily closed curtains of adversity, opens us to our creativity and the ‘aha’ moments that make us feel uniquely alive. Use adversity to enliven your story.

3/5 – “An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” —Charles Dickens  If you are staring at a blank page or a blank document on your computer, ask yourself a question or two or three about the subject you want to write about, and answer those questions on the page. That may give “your ghost” something to respond to and voila, you’ve begun!

2/27 – Your theme is the backbone of of your story. Think of it like a well marked hiking trail. Everything you write extends from it and also leads back to it. A theme is a broad idea, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the fundamental components and can be seen as the story’s underlying philosophy. Choose it well. It will be your travel companion for as long as you write a particular book or piece.

2/20 – You don’t have to write an entire book to share your wisdom and insights.
For those of you who want to start sharing your writing, here are some tips for writing good inspirational articles.

1. They are personal.
2. They involve an emotional struggle or challenging decision.
3. They paint a scene.
4. They include a universal message.
5. They are true.

The moments that inspire you to do what you do will likely inspire your readers too.

2/13 -Ernest Hemingway, “You must be prepared to work always without applause.”  He said critics would take joy in pronouncing your latest work a failure and you wouldn’t be able to look at it for years.  And then, one day, in some other place, you would pick it up and open it, start to read and in a little while say, “Why this stuff is bloody marvelous.”

2/6 – “Many writers who think they’re inefficient actually suffer from perfectionism. It takes them hours to come up with a snappy introduction because they discard every idea that pops into their head and wait for the “perfect” idea instead of honing and refining one of their existing ideas. As one of my favorite writing quotes says, ‘Don’t get it right, get it written.’” 

1/30 – “Rejection has value. It teaches  us when our work or our skill set is not good enough and must be made  better. This is a powerful revelation. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed.  Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the  question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the  kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” (from the website terribleminds.com)

1/9 – This is by Jacob Appel.

The first cardinal rule of opening lines, in my opinion, is that they should possess most of the individual craft elements that make up the story as a whole. An opening line should have a distinctive voice, a point-of-view, a rudimentary plot and some hint of characterization. By the end of the first paragraph—unless there is a particular reason to withhold this information—we should also know the setting and conflict.

This need not lead to elaborate or complex openings. Simplicity will suffice. For example, the opening sentence of Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” tells the reader:

The grandmother did not want to go to Florida.

Already, we have a distinctive voice—somewhat distant, possibly ironic—which refers to “the” grandmother with a definite article. We have a basic plot: conflict over a journey. And we have a sense of characterization: a stubborn or determined elderly woman. Although we do not know the precise setting, we can certainly rule out Plato’s Athens and Italy under the Borgias and countless others. All of that in six words.


1/2 – These two short videos touched and inspired me. In place of a writing tip which I will begin again next week, I send you these inspirational messages.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA_nDLM_xko&feature=fvwrel    Jim Carrey-George Harrison – A message to humanity in 2012


Let this beautiful message of your power to affect all that you touch, ignite you as you complete 2011 and head into 2012 to leave your new mark!


 12/26 – “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” Edith Lovejoy Pierce

In more ways than one, we write our own story.

12/19 – “The quantity of civilization is measured by the quality of imagination.” Victor-Marie Hugo (French Poet)
Let yours soar!!!!!

12/12 –“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

12/5 – For all of you who doubt you really have something to write that is worth reading, here are the words of C.S. Lewis, best known today for his series Chronicles of Narnia.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times  out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

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