inspiration

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 belonging to a select ...

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 ...

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

  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, ...

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? ...

Discovering Your Writing Process

  As we write each day we discover our own process. We begin to see there is no “right way” to create and that our objective is simply to let the story live. The first draft is a near constant ...

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 ...

Facebook is Not Your Friend

Not only is the Internet a storehouse of valuable information, and social media a way to stay connected to your friends and loved ones . . . it’s also a time-sucking vortex bent on destroying ...

Creativity is our Birthright

Creativity is our birthright. We live in a culture that is invested in our believing otherwise. I frequently hear folks talk of talent as though it were a finite commodity that one either possessed ...

It’s Your Turn

This past Saturday night, my wife was reading House Beautiful when she said, “Al, one of your paintings is in here!” And there (see below) was a large painting I’d done about twelve years ago, ...

What Do I Write Next?

Writers tell me frequently: “I have three ideas. Which one should I write next?” In the 90-day novel workshop, the first exercise we do is we write for five minutes, beginning with: & ...

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.” “ ...

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 ...

Juxtaposition

The rewrite process can sometimes lead us into a rut. Our attempts to make our work as clear and specific as possible can begin to feel routine. So sometimes we need to mix things up and get a ...

Your Writing Process is Valid

The 90-Day Novelists began writing their first drafts a couple of weeks ago. Through this workshop we are each discovering our own unique process. And more importantly, we are learning to trust that ...

Creative Objectivity

Filming my directorial debut, Interior Night, was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. I’d seen the movie a hundred times during editing, and after so many viewings it was hard to have much ...

Stay Curious

“The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious, you might never come home.” – Jeanette Winterson When my son was three years old, he was Captain Hook for Halloween. It was ...

12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel

I hope you’re enjoying your spring. My post this week is actually a list I call “12 Maxims of The 90-Day Novel.” These are twelve things to consider while writing your first draft: ...