inspiration

The Inner Critic

The Inner Critic

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”– Howard Thurman There’s a difference between...
12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

Have you thought about your creative goals for this coming year? If you’re planning to write your novel, here are 12 maxims that will guide you to the end of your first draft in 90 days. 1) When...
There are No Ugly Trees

There are No Ugly Trees

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” – Eleanor Roosevelt People are always talking about how they need to be better, to...
Stay Out of the Result

Stay Out of the Result

For any writer, here’s a question to ask yourself: “Why do I want to write this?” A student told me recently that he was writing his first novel in order to sell it for a lot of money. Though I fully...
What is Success?

What is Success?

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates Years ago, I was on the phone with a prospective student, and he announced, “I will consider myself a failure if my book does not become a...
Hold Your Story Loosely

Hold the Story Loosely

“Film is a dramatized reality and it is the director’s job to make it appear real . . . an audience should not be conscious of technique.” – David Lean Our idea of the story is never the whole...
What Do I Write Next?

What Do I Write Next?

Writers frequently come to me and say: “I have three ideas. Which one should I write next?” In the 90-day workshops, one of the first exercises we do is we write for five minutes...
playing on the page

Playing on the Page

When there is a story problem you can’t solve, or there appears to be no way out for your characters, remember one thing: It’s not your job to solve it. Instead, get excited by the complication...
Setting a Plan with Purpose

Setting a Plan with Purpose

Do you often find it hard to stick to your writing plan? How often do we get distracted by “important tasks” that pull us away from our deeper purpose? Fantasy football sounds like a hoot, but if it...
Creativity is Your Birthright

Creativity is Your Birthright

Creativity is your birthright. We live in a culture that is invested in our believing otherwise. I frequently hear folks talk of talent as though it’s a finite commodity. People tend to think...
A Pencil for Christmas

A Pencil for Christmas

So many of my students and potential students come to me wanting to know how to get published and produced. They want their work to be read, to be seen. But what they really want is for themselves to...
What is Genius

What is Genius?

What is genius? I don’t like it when people use the term genius, primarily because I think they misuse the word. I believe that genius is an aspect of our nature, rather than a character trait...
Everything You Need to Know is Within

Everything You Need to Know is Within

“If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.” – Billy Wilder The purpose of story is to reveal a transformation. This shift in perception means a...
Writing for Our Ideal Reader

Writing for Our Ideal Reader

Good storytelling is about having at least a somewhat conscious relationship to our ideal reader. It is about understanding the most effective order of events. Hold the story loosely, and be willing...
Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

In 2017, Gustavo Dudamel became the youngest conductor of a major orchestra of his time. I remember an L.A. Times journalist urged us not to get too excited about our newest conductor, counseling us...
The Real Meaning of Write What You Know

The Real Meaning of “Write What You Know”

Write what you know. We’ve heard this so often. But what does it mean? Does it mean that if I am a mechanic then I should only write about mechanics? Or if I am a woman, I can only write about women?...
Is It Any Good?

Is It Any Good?

There can be a real desire, especially for the novice writer, to have someone validate our work as soon as possible. Is it really any good? I have a friend, a successful Century City lawyer, let’s...
Building a Body of Work

Building a Body of Work

I remember one day over twenty years ago when I was bellyaching to a friend of mine about how nobody was buying my work. He looked me dead in the eye. “What’s your job?” he asked. “To sell my work.”...

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