The Importance of Choosing

With the New Year around the corner, many of us are excited to start new writing projects or dive into old ones. If you have multiple writing projects on your plate, it can be challenging to decide where to spend your precious time and energy. How to Focus Your Writing Time and Energy That can be even harder if you’ve been working on your memoir for a long time. Stories grow and change over time, and sometimes we need to let go of an outdated vision in order to make way for a new one. Other times, the beating heart of the project is still there, waiting for us. The trick is in consciously deciding. Oftentimes, we put off choosing in a misguided attempt at keeping ourselves safe. But that just keeps us stuck. And it keeps our dreams on the back burner.  So […]

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What are You Really Writing About?

What is Your Memoir Really About? With memoir, it can take some digging to get to the heart of what we’re really writing about. There’s the story of what happened, and then there’s the meaning we’ve attached to it. In memoir, it’s not enough to tell us what happened—we need to know what that event meant to you. To help with that clarity, here’s an exercise I did with a recent class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. “Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events; it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the larger sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.” Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story […]

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Writer’s Block? Try This

In my Memoir Mastery course and Mastermind workshop group, we’ve spent the past month talking about structure. There’s the craft and technique of writing memoir and then there’s the pulling together of all the pieces. That can be daunting with a book length project. It can be easy to fall into overwhelm. Memoir Writing Tips Today I’d like to invite you to bring curiosity to your project. To approach your memoir with inquiry instead of overwhelm. Instead of shutting down into “I don’t know how,” try opening into inquiry: “How can I?” This can be a powerful reframe, helping us write from an open and expansive place vs. a stressed and constricted one. Here’s an example of how this played out for me this week: For the past month or so, I’ve been circling around a structural problem with my current memoir. Forcing […]

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Course Correcting, Compassion and Forgiveness

In my Memoir Mastery course, we talk a lot about course-correcting. Writing a compelling memoir isn’t the straightest of paths. There’s exploration and play, deepening and thickening, and the final piece often looks different than expected. That’s why we start with a plan, then compassionately adjust as we go. It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. –E.L. Doctorow Part of the writing process involves course-correcting our expectations. We often think the process will be easier and quicker than it is. That’s where compassion and self-forgiveness come in. If we get stuck in the inner critic loop, we’re done. I’ve learned this the hard way. In the past 20 years, I’ve written five books, two of which have been published. Course-correcting has been an essential part of this […]

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How to Fill Your Creative Well

Filling Your Well vs. Burning Out In capitalist Western culture, we’ve been taught to prioritize hard work in exchange for “success.” Many of us work harder and faster, without taking the time and space we need to refill our well (health, happiness and well-being). I find this all too often translates into our creative work as well. We’re taught to write every day, do more, work faster, blah blah blah. I call BS. Because if you’re on constantly on task/ under the gun and you’re not feeding your creative well, you’ll eventually burn out. That’s not why we’re here. Art is meant to feed and inspire us. But it can’t do that when we’re trapped within the confines of urgency and perfectionism—hallmarks of capitalism and white supremacy culture. What’s Filling Your Creative Well? What’s Inspiring Your Writing?  Now that my kids are fully […]

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Reboot Your Memoir

Community and Support for Your Memoir One of my big takeaways from the pandemic is the importance of community, especially for us writers. Today, I’m excited to share two offerings that have come out of this challenging year. First up is Reboot Your Memoir, a 4-week class I’m offering this June to help you reboot and reinvigorate your memoir. (Keep reading for more info). I’ll also be offering a beautiful new Writer’s Circle community for accountability and support designed to support the serious writer. Priority will be given to Memoir Mastery alumni, and we’ll start in July. More info coming soon! Reboot Your Memoir Writing your memoir can be an especially rewarding journey. At times, it can also be quite challenging. On bad days, it can feel like you’re shooting at a moving target. There’s a reason so many memoirists get stuck, particularly once the initial […]

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Which Creative Seeds are You Planting?

Change and transition seem to be my watchwords these days. Spring, the Covid vaccine and pivotal birthdays have been going on in my corner of the world, inspiring me to think about ritual, thresholds and what inspires real change. All the more so after Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict here in the U.S. last week. It was a drop in the bucket, to be sure. But finally, a bit of accountability. Let’s keep it coming, folks. We have so much work to do with Black Lives Matter, climate change, gun reform and anti-Asian violence, to name a few of the shifts we’re currently navigating. With biracial children and a Japanese American husband, the recent spate of anti-Asian violence has hit especially close to home. (See a list of anti-Asian violence resources here.) All of which has got me thinking about what enables change and […]

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How to Motivate Yourself to Write

How to Motivate Yourself to Write If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably had some challenges getting motivated to write and/or sticking with it. Inspiration and motivation can be challenging on a good day, and all the more so during a pandemic. I get it! When things got tough, I used to hunker down. Try harder. Should myself into being. Can you relate? We could do anything, we think, if we only had enough willpower. Determination. But what if I told you that willpower isn’t the solution? What if relying on our willpower is actually part of the problem? And what if we’re setting ourselves up by relying on this overly-simplistic equation? Instead of white-knuckling yourself into submission, what if you could approach your creative work with curiosity and excitement? What if you could approach it with a sense of expansion instead of […]

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Spring 2021 Offerings

If you’d like support for your writing, here are my spring 2021 offerings: Memoir Mastery (a 9-week comprehensive course) and the Writer’s Circle (a small, 3-month writer’s group). Both offerings start in early April; descriptions are below. If you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend starting with Memoir Mastery. It’s my flagship course and will give you everything you need to know to write a compelling memoir. MEMOIR MASTERY In this comprehensive 9-week course, you’ll go from feeling alone, confused and overwhelmed to feeling excited and supported in the power of your story, clear in its scope, and confident in the craft and technique of creating a compelling memoir. With 6 online modules, 6 live coaching calls and a private community forum, you’ll get plenty of support and accountability as well as laser-focused coaching within a wonderfully supportive community. You’ll leave this […]

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When the World is Burning, Is Art a Waste of Time?

Last week, I watched this incredible TEDx talk by R. Alan Brooks, one of my colleagues at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. Wow! I hope this talk will be shown to teens everywhere. And adults, too, for that matter. As you’ll see in Alan’s talk, it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Especially in these intense times, when there’s so much at stake. (Spoiler alert: Brooks quit his day job in insurance to write comic books. Wait until you hear what happened next.) Here’s a short excerpt: “If art really has no power, if it’s really a silly waste of time, then why are dictators afraid of it? Why were Nazis burning books and paintings? Why was McCarthy so dedicated to blacklisting artists in the 1950’s? Why was Stalin’s government so focused on censoring artists in Russia?” I hope you find this talk as […]

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