So you want to write…

But you do not know where to begin.

Coffee Cups Notes, R. Nial Bradshaw

If this describes you, or someone you know, then read on!

The desire to write may be a deep yearning you have felt for a long time. People you know have told you that you must write your story down. You have a story to tell, but the whole huge process of writing a book (yes I said the words) feels like an epic undertaking; a mountain to climb, and you do not know where you would even begin.

Daunting, intimidating, overwhelming, even frightening; these words invade your mind whenever you consider trying to begin your “book.” Somehow it does not even feel real to you.

Your ideas are vivid and intensely felt, and you feel like all you have to do is put pen to paper, or start tapping out the story on your keyboard. But once you physically try to start, you freeze! You crack open that inspiring orange notebook, and have your favorite pen in hand, but you have no idea what to put down first.

What word would you begin your book with? Sheesh, that is a big decision.

A Seemingly Daunting Task

Approaching the creation process from the perspective described above is likely to make anyone trying to write clam up. It feels like you have to move from zero to one thousand, and that is just too huge a jump to take.

What you need is a bit by bit approach that will help you break the process into manageable and actionable pieces. So we don’t want to start with thinking, I will write a book, but with I will put words on this page today.

This is where you need to begin on your quest to see your story on the page! You must start at the beginning to reach the end.

Your big dreams can be achieved if you begin at the beginning with simple tools that will help you take the first steps to getting words down on paper.

As a writer and editor I have been working at all this for more than half of my life, and I can tell you that this type of work is a continual journey of learning. That truly is what makes it so exciting, infuriating, and ultimately rewarding. I LOVE what I do.

Write now!

So today I give you a technique, an approach, a way in to thinking about writing exactly what is trapped up inside your creative mind.

Here we go…

I am currently taking a class on memoir writing to help me begin a book that I have had incubating for about 6 years (yes, sometimes ideas need ample internal creative time to begin their metamorphosis onto the page).   A classmate spoke of a writer named Pam Houston, and a technique she uses to write consistently called Glimmers.

Pam Houston is a writer whose work sometimes falls between the cracks of fiction and nonfiction or creative nonfiction, whatever you’d like to call it. She writes from real life but also sometimes fictionalizes what’s going on.  I immediately picked up her most recent book titled Contents May Have Shifted, and my brain has been cracked open by reading it. The way she writes is so new and brave and different from what I know that it has immediately kicked up my writing production.

My understanding of a Glimmer, from my reading and exploration of Houston’s writing, is that it is a bit or piece of an experience that resonates with you. And it can be anything you encounter, and it seems the more mundane the better (that is my assessment).

This may seem vague, but let me try to explain more here by giving you a short example.

A glimmer can be:

Me driving through the Denver 8th avenue neighborhood on a spring day an noticing that a magnolia tree is in bloom, and then the rest of the drive I scan every inch of the landscape for more magnolias. I remember being at Regis University in undergrad, and the huge magnolia trees on the campus, and the year I picked several branches off one tree covertly one evening after a late lecture, in the dark, the spring wetness in the air, and the light pink of the magnolias slightly greyed by the twilight. I took a handful of branches home, and woke the next morning with an incredible allergy attack.

That is a rough and short example. But that is something that shone in my memory seeing the magnolias the other day.
Now you write

Can you write, and let your mind make little links, putting the words down on the page, letting them flow together no matter how disparate they may seem? I find thinking of memories and ideas in terms of Glimmers helps me to bypass the over-zealous and meticulous editor that also resides in my brain. This “way in” to writing is extremely exciting to me, and I am going to begin using it regularly.

So…This is your task. Write one Glimmer and post in the comments below. I would love to hear if this inspires you in any way, and see the result of this tiny creative kick in the pants! And while you share your work, please read the work of a couple others, and offer your experience of reading their work.

Here are a couple links to hear from Houston about Glimmers:

Check out this blog by Patricia Harrelson on her site Editeyes
I also listened to this nice long podcast from Brad Reed on his site Inside Creative Writing

So whether you want to write a blog post, an essay, or a whole book, I think if you can begin by creating a Glimmer that is an excellent good place to start.

Coming Attractions: I will give you some insight into the process I use to help guide and mold your creative ideas. I call this process Book Growing.   You will learn why creating a blog is the first step to seeing your ideas take wing in the world, and how it also helps you create a following!

I look forward to your Glimmers!

Happy writing,

Click here to learn more about what I do



Write at Merge–Week 6

Dusting off my blog, here…my first try at the Write at the Merge prompt. I have wanted to write using one of these stimulating prompts since the first week of the year. Only 6 weeks late! The prompt was a stained glass window, and a line from a song, see it here


“You’re acting like such a martyr.” I’ve heard these words too many times, and at the time it felt unjust, hurtful.   I am not a martyr. I am a sufferer–not a martyr. I cannot relate my pain to a higher religious purpose. The Catholic Church contains beauty and elegance in its places, its statues and stained glass, and beautiful monasteries with gilded libraries; volumes of history, crispy parchment pages telling of the past. But their followers are a twisted mess.

Martyrdom is for those suffused with purity. Not for the suffering—the everyday sufferers just work to go through the pain now, hoping to make it through to tomorrow, and not loathe the fact that they’re awake and alive; existing in the dirty and precious, the beautiful and profane. Life is a warped dichotomy. This is why the depressed sleep a lot. Life is difficult to swallow, even while sanguine.

St. Cecilia, the patron of music, my confirmation saint, was martyred for her faith, and her desire to stay pure for Jesus or God…not sure who. I suppose if I Googled it, I would remember. But she died a martyr, destined to be a saint, at 13. I’ve lived within years of pain, long past 13, and how could I imagine dying so I ended up a saint. Existing in a way that denied the few pleasures I can wring out of this life…I am here for the love joy I can squeeze from the rubbish.

When light shines through a stained glass window, colors paint the floor with unrecognizable glowing. The pure light, crawls along the floor as the day evaporates. But have you seen stained glass in the dark? It is opaque—walls sealing you in—blackness, trapped by an endless spider web of lead lines, a diseased grotesque surface shuts you away. Some days, the dark tortured history of religion obliterates any feeling of love I had for the beauty, the ritual and order that I used to find comforting. Such a contrived cage built for wall-less souls. All I truly want is my warm bed, with the heat-filled body of my love next to me. And some days I wish we could fade in and out of the edges of our dreams, and the awareness of each other’s bodies, and stay asleep existing on the wire between day and night, between sleep and waking–forever. That is where the essential lives, where the spirit thrives…where love engulfs, and the daily grind does not gnaw at my soul. Registered & Protected