I have a confession to make. I’m extremely lazy. I love sitting around and doing nothing. The call of the TV screen beckons me far more often than I want to admit. I know I should be writing, but that new show just started and nobody’s gonna watch it for me. Not to mention the bookshelves of DVDs and blu-rays that go to waste if I don’t pop them in and press play. Hours and hours and hours of movies and tv must be consumed.
And I’m not even sorry.
Yep, I’m lazy. But I work hard to earn that right. I’m a productivity machine. Not to brag, but put me up against the average 63% robot and I’ll run circles around them. And don’t even get me started on full-humans. I’m a prisoner to my own habits and schedule. Which is why I have to schedule my downtime as well.
It’s Not TV, It’s Research
So, yeah, my busy daily schedule includes TV time. You could almost say I took NBC’s slogan from the 80s, “Must See TV” and etched it into my life. But here’s the thing. All those hours I spend watching TV and movies, well, that’s work too. And I’m not just looking for a clever excuse when I call it “research.”
When people tell us that we should find a job we love, well, I’m not sure they had “watching TV” in mind. Of course, I don’t get paid to watch TV and movies, I probably need to get a career in Hollywood for that, but I’m convinced that watching TV and movies helps me become a better writer, and someday, I’ll get paid for that.
So I have another confession. I don’t enjoy reading as much as I enjoy watching movies. Very few books stick with me mentally the way a movie does. I guess I’m more of a visual learner. So, what I learn about writing comes less from reading great stories than from watching great movies.
And I’m (still) not even sorry.
Every Story Has Something to Teach Me
I consider movies the cliff-notes version of a book. Even a book that doesn’t exist. Movies have far fewer words in which to tell their story, yet, they still manage to captivate me. As a writer, I’m amazed at how movies work in plot, sub-plots, character development, and emotional arcs for multiple characters all in just a couple of hours. I think Avengers: Endgame was an amazing feat in storytelling capabilities. Over 50 characters and I never felt any one of them was underutilized.
This is how I want to learn how to write. I want to tell powerful stories in the shortest space possible. That doesn’t mean writing short stories, but that does mean writing stories with little fluff and a big punch.
So, yeah, I study movies. This goes hand-in-hand in how I developed my novel’s characters. But beyond the characters themselves, there are story aspects that I analyze to bolster up my own writing skills.
Lessons I Learned from Watching the (Big and Small) Screen
How to explain away plot holes. I was watching The X-Files (for the zillionth time) and one episode had a huge plot hole. Mulder was working a case and was in a situation where he should have called for backup. Why didn’t he? All it took was one line to make it believable. “I called the office and no one picked up.” We never knew why no one picked up but we now had a plausible reason why Mulder had no backup. Plot hole filled with a single sentence.
How character decisions move the plot forward. A pet peeve of mine is when characters make obviously stupid decisions. So many movies rely on this trope that they build in the stupid character for that very purpose. I remember seeing this in the recent Kong movie. One of the primary conflicts came from one character’s bad decision. Contrast that to Star Trek: Into Darkness. Here you have the opposite. Kirk makes rationally smart decisions that just turn out to have unforeseen disastrous consequences. Now that is good storytelling. Characters always make bad decisions and even obvious ones, but I never want to rely on that to keep the plot moving. I prefer the other way, where good decisions go bad.
Don’t start mysteries you can’t solve. Two shows come to mind when thinking about this point. LOST and Battlestar Galactica. They both added layer and layer of mysteries within each season but ultimately were unable to bring many of them to a satisfying conclusion. They either chose to ignore them, change what they led us to believe about it, or gave a weak explanation and moved on. The lesson here is to plan out your mysteries. And start answering them long before your conclusion.
Science and common sense can be violated within reason. And by within reason, I really mean is with reason. I’m a time travel nerd which means I’m also a time travel snob. I hate when movies or shows violate rules of how things should work. Take the show Timeless. It drove me nuts that two people could go back in time at two different times to try to alter the past. The moment the first person left for the past, the present would already be altered and they would be none-the-wiser about the original timeline. On the other hand Avengers: Endgame had a scene calling all the other time travel movies BS and proceeded to write their own nonsensical rules. While I don’t buy the rules they created, they did give us a reason to buy into it. That’s all it takes.
Embrace Your Inner Lazy
These are just a few things that come to mind, but there are many more. When I’m in the midst of my “lazy-time”, I’m often hard at work studying character development, plot execution, emotional story arcs, and more.
As writers, we have to write. The stories won’t write themselves. But you also need to take a break. Watch a movie. Or two. Binge a TV show. And don’t feel bad about it. Study it.
I’ve learned more from watching movies than I have from reading novels. But this is also because I’m reading books on how to write novels and I can see this play out a lot faster on the screen than on the pages of a novel. And where I rarely read a novel more than once (I’m a slow reader), I will watch movies over and over and learn something new each time. With each viewing, I pick up on something new. And all of this works into my subconscious and makes its way onto my pages.
Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid get a little lazy. Embrace it. But while you’re at it, learn something new, and become a better writer.
If you’ve been following along with the Resolution Reset Process I’ve shared this week, you should have your concrete, specific writing goals in place.
You should also know how to face change head on by rewiring your brain, and how to move forward without judgment and with a clean slate thanks to mindfulness.
And, you should know how to use self-hypnosis to transform your goals into action.
There’s just one thing left to cover, which is how to let go of the bad …
… so you can fully embrace the good.
Everything we’ve talked about this week involves moving forward and overcoming fears. But, what about those other things in life that are beyond your control, but affect you on a regular basis?
Like a friend who takes more than she gives. Or an acquaintance who influences you in some negative way that isn’t good for you.
Decide right now to let them go. Clear them out. Not in a mean way. Just in a way that prioritizes where you want to focus your time. After all, you have the right to free up your space.
This is actually the advice of author and meditation expert, Dr. Annette Annechild. She told me that, when she tackles resolutions, she also re-examines her life to make sure she’s surrounded by people who lift her up. Because, what you don’t want – especially if you have bright goals for the future – is to be immersed in situations that drain you, or among people who aren’t like-minded.
A good way to figure this out, says Annette, is to pay attention to how you feel after you’re with someone. Some people suck your energy, and some people give you energy. With too many people sucking your energy, you might feel tired and negative and not even know where your energy went.
But, you need that energy to move forward in your goals.
So, be conscious of what you’re feeling. If you’re aware of something in your life that’s holding you back from pursuing your writing dreams, let it go.
I’m a big fan of Annette’s meditation program for writers, Accessing the Writer Within. It’s an easy-to-follow, 21-day system that retrains your brain into positive habits. And, in every exercise, she walks you through the steps of letting go.
My three-year-old daughter underscores this message on a daily basis. As she walks around the house, belting out the “Let It Go” theme song to Disney’s animated movie, Frozen, I’m constantly reminded to let the bad float away, and to embrace the good.
I encourage you to use the different strategies and action steps I’ve shared this week as part of your Resolution Reset Process. I usually prefer to roll all those steps into one with the Accessing the Writer Within program, because it combines the elements of meditation with mindfulness and self-hypnosis.
That said, there’s one final step in revamping your resolutions … or at least, it’s what works for me every year I fall off the resolution wagon.
You see, my birthday is in early March. So, I kind of look at it as my own personal New Year’s Day. And, if I haven’t done what I hoped to in the new year – which is the case this year – then I kick off March with the same enthusiasm and freshness I felt on January 1st.
I hope you’ll join me and do the same. Use the tools we’ve talked about this week, and let’s make these next 10 months the most memorable, invigorating, satisfying, and achievement-filled months we’ve ever experienced.
Are you with me? (Please say yes!)
Accessing the Writer Within: A 21-Day Journey to Unlocking and Unleashing Your True Writing Potential
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“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus
Time never stands still in real life. It’s not like the movies where characters can freeze-frame and the writer takes the viewer on some tangential story. In real life, change happens constantly. You can fight it or welcome it. It’s your choice. Change will occur regardless.
For example, consider that nature is constantly in a state of flux. See how your breath increases or decreases according to the amount of energy you exert. Hear the different cadences of birds trilling, singing and chortling in the trees and bushes and flitting among the flowers in search of nectar. See the visible changes in friends and relatives portrayed in photographs in the family album. Change will happen and does happen all the time. In fact, change is constant.
Why not embrace change ? If change is going to happen anyway, fighting it won’t do any good. It’s better to figure out an approach to deal with change that will work for you. Short of outright embracing it, however, which many are reluctant or feel incapable of doing, how can you learn to welcome change – or learn to accept and deal with it? Here are some suggestions:
- Keep a list.
It’s difficult to remember all the events and happenings in life without a record. To begin learning how to accept and eventually embrace change, start by listing momentous events in your life, actions you took toward goals you felt were worthwhile and the outcome of those actions. Every day, find the time to jot down items that point to changes in direction you took, such as taking a different route to work and finding a delightful store to browse in, being given a new assignment and diving in with excitement, hearing about the unexpected illness of a dear friend and getting in touch with her to offer comfort and support. These are times of change. They are significant to the extent that re-reading your list and thinking about them will help you realize that you are changing all along. It’s as natural as breathing and you do it often without thinking too much about it.
- Look for ways to change and incorporate them into your life.
Actively seek to do things differently instead of the usual routine. This not only adds change gradually into your life, it also makes life more interesting, alive and enjoyable. Do a wardrobe makeover. Get a haircut or new coloring, perhaps streaking or highlights. Join a group with interests like your own – or try out a group devoted to something you’ve never done, but would like to.
- See change as good.
Adopt a mindset that views change as positive and beneficial instead of something to be avoided at all costs. Remember that you cannot stop change from occurring, so learning to deal with it is necessary to living a happy and productive life. By reminding yourself that change is good, even when terrible things happen you’ll be able to find the nugget of good hidden within and be able to move forward in life.
- Surround yourself with change-oriented people.
The friends you cultivate and keep often have a profound effect on your receptiveness to change and your ability to accept and embrace change. If they are optimistic, open to innovative ideas and experiences, willing to take measured risks and learn from mistakes , they are likely enjoyable to be around and serve as an inspiration for your own goals. As such, make it a point to surround yourself with people who view change as not only good, but necessary and vital to living a vibrant, purposeful life.
- Feel yourself grow.
Another vital part of change that is often overlooked is the fact that change allows you to grow. As you embark on some new adventure, begin a learning process, seek new friends and explore new areas of interest, feel yourself growing and changing. This is an excellent self-reminder and self-affirmation that reinforces a positive outlook on life that will serve you well always.
World renowned writer, Neil Gaiman once said: “a book is a dream you hold in your hand”, and when you’re a budding writer with a great story to tell there’s nothing you want more than to share that dream with the whole world. However, the hard work isn’t the idea, the editing side of things – click here for a plagiarism checking tool – or even getting your works published, it’s actually sitting down and getting the writing done. And when you’re a busy parent, someone who works 9-5, or both, then it can feel like you’ve got a mountain to climb.
The process of writing isn’t straightforward, it stops, and it starts, and then stops and starts again. If you’re fortunate you can write whole paragraphs without backtracking or being interrupted otherwise it’s a slow process. But a rewarding one, nonetheless. So, how to do you go about writing your first book? Sure, JK Rowling wrote a bestseller whilst juggling family life, but can you really match up?
Read on for how to unleash the writer within and write your first book.
Decide on what your book will be about
You may already have this idea fully planted in your head. But if you want to write consistently and efficiently, then it’s always a good idea to write it out fully. You don’t need to know all the details, but a basic idea isn’t enough , write down the themes, the initial characters and where you want the book to go. Consider the beginning the middle and the end and, of course, if you intend to have a follow-up book at some point. Create the book skeleton if you will, then you can fill it out later on.
Decide on a realistic word count
So you’re a busy parent and you’ve got your hands full most of the day. Writing can seem like a daunting task, but this is why deciding on a word count is incredibly helpful. You don’t need to write reams and reams each day, but you need to write as often as you can. A page a day? A whole chapter? A couple of paragraphs? Whatever you think is achievable, go for it. Over time you’ll have an entire book. Consider working your writing goals into your daily schedule. Get up a little earlier or write when the kids have gone to bed.
This is incredibly daunting and it’s the reason why so many great books go unfinished. You’re scared of what people might think. It’s daunting but getting feedback as soon as you can , will help you become a better writer and know that you’re heading in the right direction. Share your work with honest friends or people you know who love reading!
Don’t be downhearted
You need to embrace failure as a writer. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before it was finally picked up by a publisher who decided to take a chance on it. So, embrace the fact that you’re going to hear a lot of “no” before you hear that elusive “yes”. You need to remember to keep trying and don’t let it put you off your writing dream.
And make a living, too. You can do it.
If you spend enough time around writers and you’re going to hear a couple of things, guaranteed.
- It’s impossible to make a living as a writer.
- You might as well not even try.
I totally understand your anxiety. Thinking about your prospects of earning a living as a writer can be daunting. Because the bald truth is, very few writers actually get there.
I’ll tell you a secret. Most writers don’t get there because they give up before they get to be professional writers.
I mean, imagine if most people who wanted to be teachers decided it was impossible because they weren’t hired after their first year of college.
Writing isn’t the kind of profession where if you go to school and study real hard, you’re pretty much guaranteed a middle-income job at the end.
But we’re coming up on a new year. And I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to be a working writer. You just have to wrap your head around what that really means and then make a plan.
Writing can feel more like a skill-based lottery.
If you work real hard and have some base-level talent, maybe you’ll catch lightning in a bottle and be one of the very few writers who makes eye-popping advances.
That would be really awesome. And it’s the kind of thing that makes people say things like it’s impossible to make a living as a writer.
But the thing is that there’s a whole bunch of room between the rare gazillion-dollar advance and making a living as a writer.
There are a lot of writers who earn some money, even if it isn’t an eyeball threatening amount.
Mid-list writers, indie writers who’ve figured out how to use Amazon ads, the myriad of bloggers out there who have who gained some traction — they all earn some money. The online entrepreneurs out there writing courses, writing copy, writing posts.
You can put yourself at the top of the heap just by being a writer who writes a lot, tries to publish often, and consistently improves.
That’s all it takes to rise to say the top ten percent. Okay, so I’m making that percentage up, but I bet I’m right.
Really. That’s all it takes.
Write a lot. Publish often. Consistently improve.
But I’m going to tell you something, because it’s important for you to know.
Even if you do all that, there is a chance that you won’t ever be able to quit your day job and just write full time for the rest of your life.
It might happen, but it is more likely that someday you’ll sell a book, maybe you’ll get an advance big enough to be a full time writer for a while, and if you do that, maybe you’ll sell another one or maybe you’ll have to go back to a day job for a while.
And so on. And so on.
This is a winding road, in other words. Not a straightaway.
Here’s how that winding road has gone for me.
I sold two books in 2012. One was published in 2013 and one in 2014. I earned an advance of $7500 for each of those.
Obviously, $15,000 for two years work is not enough to live on. But let’s be real. Some one gave me fifteen thousand dollars for novels that I wrote.
Let me repeat that.
I wrote two novels and someone gave me fifteen thousand dollars for them.
So, yeah. That was the biggest fun I’d ever had up to that point in my life.
It’s possible it would have been more fun if they’d given me more thousands of dollars, but it’s hard to imagine. I was literally walking on air. I was not any more excited when five years later I was paid a lot more for two more books.
Although that was pretty damned fun, too.
So, I sold another two books in 2017. My advance for those books was considerably larger. Enough to give me two modest years of full time writing.
Those two years were up right around the time the first of these books was published in 2019.
Writing is usually not a salaried position or an hourly job. It’s work that often pays in fits and starts — a bunch of money now, no money at all for a long time.
It’s also fickle as hell and depends on a market you have no control over and on the subjective tastes of other people. Which means that you can do all the right things, have all the talent in the world, and still never find the right combination of words to breakout.
That’s scary. But it’s the reality of the business you’ve chosen. Which means that you need widen your sights. You need a be a working writer.
Here’s my definition of a working writer: A working writer earns a living writing, often through multiple income streams and a portfolio of skills.
I spent the two years of freedom my last advance bought me to build my own writing life. Besides fiction writing, here’s what I did:
- I finished my graduate degree, so that if I ever need a day job again it won’t be as a teacher’s assistant.
- I created writing-related income streams, including blogging, coaching, and teaching.
- I started treating writing like a job.
Embrace your day job for as long as you need to.
Being a writer is a unique job that benefits from lived experience, so you might as well get out there and find unique and interesting day jobs.
I’ve worked as a drug court counselor, a paralegal, a bankruptcy and divorce document preparer, a vintage clothing seller, a teacher’s assistant, a substitute teacher, a small-town newspaper reporter.
All of that work has given me experience that feeds my writing.
I haven’t had to have a day job for three years and I’m not necessarily excited about the idea of ever needing another one, but that doesn’t mean I never will.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to train your brain to think about whatever your day job is as being in service to your writing career.
Waiting tables or teaching or working in an office — whatever it is you do to fill your bank account — puts a roof over your head, under which you get to write.
Plus, every person you meet, every skill you learn, every experience you have — it all filters back into your writing machine.
Your day job is your the first investor in your writing. That’s pretty cool. But remember this: You’re a writer first.
I have a master’s degree. If I needed a day job tomorrow, I’d go be a school teacher. But if the day after that someone asked me what I did, I’d say I’m a writer.
I will always be a writer.
Everything else is just part of the portfolio.
Learn to love the income stream
This Humans of New York post came across my Facebook feed a while back and it struck a chord.
by Elna Cain | updated Dec 21, 2019 | 6 Comments | shares
Yes! You landed your first freelance writing job and turned in the best writing you can muster to your first client.
You can finally breathe.
And congratulate yourself on this big achievement.
Three days later you get an email from your freelance writing client saying that they rejected your writing and will not publish that content.
A punch in the stomach.
How do you deal with rejection as a freelancer?
How to Deal With Rejection
Step 1: Remain Positive
It’s so easy to throw in the towel and forget freelance writing altogether.
Rejection stings and when you have your own business, it can cripple you. I get you! I was rejected early on and almost gave up on becoming a freelance writer. But, I had the support I needed to help me remain positive.
I realized that this one person couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t worth it as a writer. I needed to develop my own mantra and my own confidence that my writing was valuable enough to profit from.
Step 2: Assess The Situation
So your writing was rejected. You have a couple of things running through your head to help you learn how to deal with rejection:
- Did my writing suck that much?
- Did the client not like me?
Yea…your inner voice is harsh right?
In reality, there could be several reasons why your writing was rejected:
- It did not reflect the brand and message of the business
- The quality of writing wasn’t representative of their brand and message
- The content (facts, stats, tips, ideas) did not reflect the type of audience the business had (i.e. information was juvenile or too above their heads)
Of course, there are other reasons like you turned in the project late, you asked the client too many questions (making them question your credibility as an expert writer), you oversold yourself and didn’t deliver on the project or the client was a poor client and wanted a free sample from you.
Go back and assess your writing and the business. If the project was a blog post, look at the client’s blog and see if they hired other writers.
If so, look at their writing and see how that differed from yours.
Did these writers use subheadings?
Did they have a conclusion paragraph that summed up the entire post?
Did they interlink?
Did they include case studies or interviews?
If you notice some discrepancies with your writing from theirs, maybe it’s time to improve your writing.
Step 3: Fail Fast and Move On
Learning how to deal with rejection means putting this behind you and learning to fail fast.
Don’t dwell on this and look to the bright side – that client saved you from a gig that probably wasn’t high-paying or respectful of your writing. It’s time to move on.
Now, let’s look at how we can profit from a rejection.
How to Turn A Rejection Into a Freelance Writing Job
You can definitely profit from a rejection. Let’s look at how.
1. Pitch Your Article Elsewhere
If the client did not accept your pitch or your article, just pitch it to another freelance writing job, submission or magazine.
Similarly, if you have other clients, and they are in the same niche, then pitch that rejected article to them. This is something I’ve done in the past and what’s not great for one client is perfect for another!
2. Turn that Rejected Article Into a Sample
You poured your heart into this article for a client and now they don’t want it. That’s fine – use it as a sample for your portfolio. This is the perfect type of piece to have for your portfolio as it showcases your BEST writing.
3. Break Up Your Article
One thing you can do is pick and choose pieces out of your rejected article and use that for other clients’ projects. For example, if the rejected piece was about keto snacks for new moms and one of your clients wants a post on healthy eating habits, you can use some of that information from your keto post for this new post!
4. Use It for a Guest Post
Guest posting is a great way to land a freelance writing job. Your writing is on another site with a bigger audience and one of those readers could be a potential client.
So, use that rejected freelance writing article for a guest post idea. Kudos to you if you pitch to guest blogs that pay!
5. Create a Product From It
Look – I’m all for diversifying my income streams! I have courses, freelance writing clients and dabble in affiliate marketing. Why not turn that rejected piece into an eBook or small course?
This can help you make a side income from your freelance writing! Sweet!
Learning How to Deal With Rejection Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
As a freelance writer, you feel that your writing is a representation of you. If the client doesn’t like your writing, then that means they don’t like you.
But, that’s not true. Your writing just wasn’t a great fit for the potential client…AT THAT TIME.
You don’t know if six months from now if your writing would be a great fit for them!
Now it’s your turn – have you ever been rejected from a freelance writing pitch or job? How did you deal with rejection? I want to hear from you!
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5 Ways to Embrace Change at Work and in Life
Change never seems natural. We naturally repel it and often want to retreat back into our comfort zone so how do you fight that urge?
Embracing change in work and life is essential to growing as an individual and being a better person than who you were yesterday.
Change never seems natural or that easy. Think about the New Years resolutions that we rarely keep. We naturally repel it and often want to retreat back into our comfort zone. Normalcy is safe, as it doesn’t provoke fear and it allows us to live our lives without facing things that could potential hurt us or build us up.
1. Change is Inevitable and Embracing Change Encourages Development
Because we repel change, we sometimes go through life without ever living up to our full potential our allowing ourselves to express who we really are. Change is an inevitable part of life and no matter how happy we are with how things are currently, life will always change.
“The only thing constant is change.” We know this and we understand that our environment can’t stay the same forever. All around us, there is change happening on a daily basis. We are forever growing, expanding, aging and changing. So what is it about the world that can seem so overbearing and scary when change happens? Why is it that many of us are instantly repelled by the thought of change? If we could only learn to let change work for us and benefit us, we could be happier with our lives and the process of growth. Embracing change is key to your success and happiness.
2. Analyze your Life and Find the Negative
Sometimes we change because we are attempting to rid negative habits or people from our lives. The sooner you become aware that change is going to happen and become open to accepting it in your life sooner, the better off you will be. Be diligent in the way you analyze your life. What are the positives and more importantly, what are the negatives? Are there things that you recognize as non-beneficial but you feel stuck in those actions?
Think about your life and how you are progressing. Are things moving along as you planned? Are there new factors that are influencing that path?
3. Make Change While you Can, Before Change Makes You
It is better to initiate changes ourselves using free will than to let our life progress down a negative path until change affects us in a dramatic way. When you are consciously aware of change, it is much easier. Explore the world and the endless possibilities available to you. Find new opportunities, be brave and face fear. The world isn’t as scary as you might think and there are lots of things out there that are potentially life enhancing but you have to explore them.
Your attitude toward life is affected by your ability to embrace change. If change happens to you, rather than you influencing that change, you are much more likely to feel like you are being dragged through life. Embrace change with a calm and relaxed mind. Know where you are going and what you are setting out to accomplish. The clearer you picture these changes, the more motivated you will be.
4. Everyone has doubt, fear and uncertainty
Everyone has fears and insecurities that stop us from doing this. This doubt and uncertainty is normal and you can never overcome it. All that you can do is learn to embrace it. There will never be a time where you are complete absent of these thoughts and emotions, you will just learn to act anyway, regardless of whether they are there.
5. Self loathing is counterproductive to embracing change
Feeling sorry for yourself will often lead you down a negative path. It is counterproductive to change and it will keep you stagnant in your efforts. Never blame your surroundings for misfortune. Stay focused and set your sights high and strive to achieve greatness. As you stay focused, you will learn that embracing change becomes easier and easier. The overall message is that, wherever you are in life, value the journey is it takes time to accomplish anything worth achieving and we have to remember that it is a miracle we are here to begin with and every second must be appreciated.
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“Dennis Palumbo has great insight into a writer s psyche. Every writer should have a shrink or this book. The book is cheaper.”
—Gary Shandling, actor, comic, and writer “wise, compassionate, and funny. ”
—Aram Saroyan, poet and novelist
“Dennis Palumbo provides a sense of community in the isolation of writing, of knowing that we are not alone on this uncharted and “Dennis Palumbo has great insight into a writer s psyche. Every writer should have a shrink or this book. The book is cheaper.”
—Gary Shandling, actor, comic, and writer “wise, compassionate, and funny. ”
—Aram Saroyan, poet and novelist
“Dennis Palumbo provides a sense of community in the isolation of writing, of knowing that we are not alone on this uncharted and privileged journey. He shows us that our shared struggles, fears, and triumphs are the very soul of the art and craft of writing.”
—Bruce Joel Rubin, screenwriter, GhostandDeepImpact
Writer’s block. Procrastination. Loneliness. Doubt. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Just plain. fear. What does it mean if you struggle with these feelings on a daily basis?It means you re a writer. Written with a unique empathy and deep insight by someone who is both a fellow writer and a noted psychotherapist, Writing from the Inside Out sheds light on the inner life of the writer and shows you positive new ways of thinking about your art and yourself. Palumbo touches on subjects ranging from writer s envy to rejection, from the loneliness of solitude to the joy of craft. Most of all, he leads you to the most empowering revelation of all that you are enough. Everything you need to navigate the often tumultuous terrain of the writer s path and create your best work is right there inside you. . more
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Dennis Palumbo, the author of this book, has been both a screenwriter and a therapist, and that seems to be a winning combination for me. Theres definitely an overlap between writing and psychology. This book borrows from tools of therapy, like building self-esteem and forgiving oneself, and applies it to writing. Ive come away from it with three specific lessons, and Im grateful for each one.
The first lesson is simple, but is probably the most important of all: writing begets writing. As long Dennis Palumbo, the author of this book, has been both a screenwriter and a therapist, and that seems to be a winning combination for me. There’s definitely an overlap between writing and psychology. This book borrows from tools of therapy, like building self-esteem and forgiving oneself, and applies it to writing. I’ve come away from it with three specific lessons, and I’m grateful for each one.
The first lesson is simple, but is probably the most important of all: writing begets writing. As long as you keep writing, ideas will flow. When people get blocked, it’s usually not a lack of ideas but some form of performance anxiety. I’ve absolutely found that to be true. Palumbo advises to stop thinking about commercial or critical success and write for its own sake. If you love writing, do it for the love of it. Perhaps other rewards will come, but if you write, at least you’re guaranteed the reward of personal accomplishment.
The second lesson had to do with “killing your darlings.” Palumbo takes a therapist’s approach and suggests that whenever you resist letting go of some beloved phrase or image that isn’t working in your story, ask yourself why you’re so attached to it. Generally, it’ll be because it was inspired by some happy memory or even just a true one you don’t want to alter. But once you’ve found the reason, it’s usually easier to let go of. I think of this as the writer’s equivalent to Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up.” Instead of “killing” your darling, hold it in your mind, consider what it did for you, thank it, and edit it out.
The final lesson is in the expression, “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Writing a novel, says Palumbo, is all about the trees. You can only work on them one by one until you see the forest. In other words, he’s one of the many writers who say you don’t have to work from an outline. As someone who’s been blocked just by the prospect of creating an outline, I found that liberating.
Though not every insight in this book was new to me, it was good to be corroborated in what I did know, and I definitely value the three lessons above. I think most writers, whether professional or not, will find the book true to their experience. So I highly recommend it. It’s a tough business to break into. We need all the self-therapy we can get. . more
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When you’re a culturally responsive teacher, one of your major goals is to help all students become respectful of all the cultures and people that they’ll interact with once they leave class. I admit: this can be daunting, given that the world at large is infinitely more complex and diverse than the microcosmic environment that the student inhabits.
In typical educational and social settings, students tend to show classic in-group/out-group behaviors. In general, most students are comfortable interacting with people, behaviors, and ideas that they are familiar with, and react with fear and apprehension when faced with the unfamiliar. Culturally responsive instruction can help you show your students that differences in viewpoint and culture are meant to be cherished and appreciated, not judged and feared.
How can you, a culturally responsive educator, overcome human nature’s fear of the unknown and help students become more respectful of cultures with different ideas? Fortunately, I have a few tips to make this a lot easier for you.
1. Provide students with evidence that people who don’t look or act like them are still people just like them.
You can teach this viewpoint by building a culture of learning from one another rather than a culture of passing judgment on differences in values and beliefs.
There are a wide range of classroom activities that can help students recognize the essential humanity and value of different types of people. For instance, providing students with an opportunity to share stories of their home life, such as family holiday practices, provides fellow students with a window into their peer’s cultural traditions.
Another thing you can do is show your students everyday photographs of people of different ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and garb. This gives students the opportunity to see people that look very different from themselves and their family engaging in the same types of activities that they and their family participate in. This can help humanize types of people that your students have never had an opportunity to meet.
Welcoming guest speakers into the class that hail from differing backgrounds and have all made a positive contribution to important fields can also help dispel any preconceived notions that students might possess about the relative competence and value of people from different cultures.
2. Teach your students about multicultural role models. This demonstrates that people of all genders, ethnicities, and appearances can have a positive influence on the world and deserve to be respected and emulated.
It’s important to avoid teaching students about the same minority role models repeatedly; after all, if students never learn about prominent African American citizens other than Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X then it’s likely that some students will assume that few other African Americans have made substantial contributions to American culture and politics. If students are taught about the contributions that people of various ethnicities, genders, and creeds have made to a variety of different artistic, scientific, and political fields, then they’re more likely to respect and value diverse culture backgrounds as a whole.
3. Craft the right environment for culturally responsive learning. Use your wall spaces to display posters depicting cultural groups in a non-stereotypical fashion. Students can also mark the countries from which their ancestors immigrated on a world map, and classroom signs can be hung in several languages.
These added touches might seem innocuous, but they go a long way in helping students absorb the rich diversity that surrounds them, both in the classroom and in the world outside the school walls. Such touches will help promote an environment in which students from diverse backgrounds feel more comfortable being themselves and will help insulate students from the cultural and ethnic stereotypes that pervade television and other mass media outlets.
4. Teach students to embrace their own culture and heritage. Another important goal of culturally responsive education is to teach students to respect and appreciate their own culture and heritage. Minority students can sometimes feel pressured to dispose of their cultural norms, behaviors, and traditions in order to fit in with the prevalent social order. When this happens it can create a significant disconnect between the culture of the student’s school and community lives and can interfere with emotional growth and social development, frequently resulting in poor performance in social and academic domains.
Providing opportunities for students to investigate unique facets of their community is one effective way to help students gain a greater appreciation for their own culture. Having students interview family members about cultural practices and traditions or write about important learning experiences that the student has experienced in his home community are just two of the many ways that students can explore their heritage.
Using a culturally-centered instructional approach can help facilitate cultural pride among diverse students. Given the current federal and state preoccupation with standardized testing in core subjects, it is particularly crucial that educators consider the impact of multiculturalism in core curricula such as math, science, reading, and writing. Providing diverse students with examples of diverse contributors to these fields and using culture-specific subject matter when teaching core topics will help them perform better in these highly scrutinized and important domains. Placing ethnically diverse students in a situation that emphasizes the strong points of their culture’s preferred means of learning may help provide them with a greater sense of self-efficacy and achievement.
How do you promote a culturally responsive, accepting classroom? I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
We live in a world where billions of people exist together and have the advantage of technology to be connected and learn anything they want by the click of a button. The diversity of religion, race, gender, culture etc. are things that are bound to be different from person to person that you meet. Now is the time to embrace this diversity. The message to spread love and understanding are more important than ever in our day and time. The history of intolerance is a long and brutal one where people who don’t fit a criteria and set of expectations are not accepted in our society. There is also this irony that exists. It is this idea of people wanting to live and experience new things. People want to travel the world and get to know new cultures and taste new foods. This excitement to know people who are different from us for moments to be tourists but in reality not accepting them and spreading love to them in our own lives. The trouble arises when we are not spreading love or understanding for people in our own neighborhoods who are different from us. They might be of different backgrounds, identities or faiths. Practicing love and understanding should be a norm for everyone. The dream to travel and see the world starts in our own towns.
Talking to our own neighbors and being active in our own communities. Getting out there not being just satisfied by things we know exclusively from media and newspapers. Get out there and see for yourself. There are places in our own communities that have so much rich culture and history that can inspire us and can teach us more about the people we share the world with. If you want to travel the world and gain amazing experiences and meet new people, I suggest you start in your own towns and cities. Get out there expose yourself to new environments and practice spreading love and understanding no matter who you are or which place in the world you live in. It is one thing to do an internet search about a particular group of people or a city to find out what it is like. It is a completely different experience to be out in that city and meeting people for yourself.
We live with billions of other people in this earth. We have so much to learn and so much love and understanding to share with one another. This is what our world needs. We don’t need everyone to be the exact same carbon copy of one another. We should instead embrace and celebrate how special and different we already are. Being judgemental and not appreciating just how vital diversity is in your life should be a thing of the past. Do not overgeneralize people because everyone is a unique individual take time to see the diversity of people in your own life.