What Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic means to me

BigMagicIf you want a conventional review of this uplifting book, I may not be able to help you.

I can tell you that my copy looks like a purple peacock. Post-it notes are feathered throughout the book. (Traditionally, I’ll mark three or four places in a book I intend to review.)

“Creative Living Beyond Fear” should be a required textbook for all writers, current or future.

Just peek at her inspiring chapter titles. Try these on:

Fear is Boring

Hard Labor vs. Fairy Dust

Your Permission Slip

Originality vs. Authenticity

Plus, a whole lot more.

What are a few of the jewels I mined from reading Big Magic? Peruse these four favorites:

“You are not required to save the world with your creativity.” Gilbert details why “improving” books solely meant to save others often don’t work.

“I am not convinced that we need officially credentialed novelists.” Gilbert urges readers to think twice about shouldering a lifetime of student loan debt. To make her case, she points out that none of the dozen North American Nobel Prize authors since 1901 needed an MFA.

“Fourth, and most important, you’re scaring away inspiration.” The author shatters the myth of the tormented artist. Her advice? “Stop complaining.”

“Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes–but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.” She quotes her mother, who proclaimed “Done is better than good.”

This book is the pep talk before you win the Super Bowl. A good coach might suggest how to succeed. A great coach shows you why you deserve that win. Author Elizabeth Gilbert is that writing coach.






Creative Twitter jealousy: how much pie is there to go around?

(Freeimages.com/Marina Garcia)

(Freeimages.com/Marina Garcia)

Are you inspired by seeing Twitter messages with the hashtag #amwriting?

Or, do you see these tweets as warning shots fired by competitors who want you to get out of their way?

We all want a piece of that creative pie. Keep your eye on the pie plate. Don’t focus on the single slab on the other guy’s dish. Let Joe Author have his dessert, too. There’s plenty of tasty opportunity in there for everyone.

Enjoying Pencil Adventures with Jez Whitworth

PencilAdventuresWhat’s the best non-fiction?

I’d choose something that reads like a conversation. I don’t want any grand promises or stern lectures. I want an author with the attitude of “Here’s what worked and what didn’t. I hope you might learn from my mistakes and successes.”

Such a winning attitude comes from United Kingdom artist Jez Whitworth. His Pencil Adventures is a short but insightful introduction to a learning-by-doing splash into the art world. Seeking an audience for his “Rusty Rocket” artwork, Jez recounts selling at craft fairs and online.

He concludes the text by detailing a masterful plan. Jez found on Twitter conversations about Stonehenge by tourists, visitor-fans and others devoted to the site. He tells how he found a subtle way to mention to all that he created a print of the fabled landmark.

Find the man on Twitter and Facebook. He’s crafted more than one instructional video for Youtube. Check out his Etsy shop. Any devotee of “Free Art Fridays,” leaving surprise artworks in town and countryside to be discovered by the unsuspecting, is worth knowing. Get Pencil Adventures and be inspired. Bravo, Jez!



Gifted by Grief offers writing inspiration

GiftedGriefToday (Sept. 10) is the last day Gifted by Grief, by Jane Duncan Rogers, is a free Kindle download.

My wife Diana Star Helmer and I were early editors on the project. We’re proud of Jane for her creative courage. Reliving the death of a beloved spouse is something most people would not attempt. Detailing those moments on paper is even tougher.

Jane did, both as a tribute to her late husband and a comfort for others dealing with loss.

Most of all, the book is exhibit A in the court of non-fiction successes.

What are you learning now? Is there a way you could take readers along on your road of exploration? Is there a way you can help others?

Answer those questions. Jane did. There are readers awaiting your answers.

One overlooked writing secret: SHOW UP!

Here are 1946 coal miners. They didn't know what to expect, either. Nevertheless, they kept punching the time clock. Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here are 1946 coal miners. They didn’t know what to expect, either. Nevertheless, they kept punching the time clock. Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Punch the time clock, every day.

Stop thinking about whether or not this will be a best-seller. Stop waiting for inspiration.

Build it. Make it happen. One word at a time.

If you don’t show up, no one’s going to do the work for you.

Write. Right now.