if you write it, will they read it?

I do write for myself first.  I admit it.  It’s my process.  As I write for myself, if it feels “right on” in some way, I then have a desire to refine and share it with others.  I can’t keep it to myself if I discover something exciting, intriguing or fun.

Beyond writing for yourself, do you write for an audience…then, who is your audience? If you are writing a book, an essay, a poem, a trilogy, a novel or nonfiction, do you have someone in mind? By envisioning your readers, might you have a better idea of what and how your writing unfolds?

If you write it, will they read it?
A writer’s voice–it’s tone and cadence, it’s inherent poetry, the subject matter and author’s perspective–are some of the aspects of writing that gather an audience, a following of readers.  Then, there are less obvious things that make a reader choose your book off a bookshelf and take it home.  A connection that is felt…sometimes it’s the book title or cover.  A flip through the pages and a catchphrase that makes a reader curious to know more. Or it could be what you’ve written on the back cover of the book.  Or even the reviews from other authors.

I remember the slogan of a cement truck company in San Francisco from years ago “Find a need and fill it.”  That’s what writers strive to do.  Then, when all the other elements of a book are “in place,”  our audience grows up around this need and the author’s inferred promise of offering a solution.  Even if that solution is solely for the reader’s entertainment.

Remember this scene from Field of Dreams?  If only we had such a mentor as James Earl Jones when we are procrastinating on writing or hesitant to put it out there.




Inspired by a painting

The Dive
© by Christine O’Brien

Diving Bird by Christine 2018

Feet plugged into the
sticky resin springboard,
I note the space between me and
the crushing water below.
The form I hold.
Buddha stillness.
The grace I invoke
as I design form
gliding through space.
The breath I hold.
The breath I take
like thunder in a canyon
fills my ears.
The shadow of fear
remains at the other end
of the platform
while I stand on the edge
in focused repose.

This is not my first dive
though my raised shoulders,
clamped mouth and clenched jaw
could be interpreted as fear.
There is always that
but with prayer and practice
it quickly transforms
as there is no turning back now.
The dive grooms the diver
in this conspiracy of grace, form and space.

Originally, it was a dare from friends
that sent me up the hot aluminum ladder
on that sweaty summer day.
Now, it’s a drive from within,
neither towards perfection
nor for judges’ scores.
There is no competition.

It is the ecstasy of flight
that sends me to this precipice.
Neither bird nor stone falling through space,
I am a wingless angel
who rejoices in
those few seconds of airtime.
Body imprinting space
air molecules conforming, buoyant.
I visualize the flex, fold, arc,
the straightening as
I neatly incise the water with my hands,
barely a splash.

I surface a few feet away,
a different sort of Phoenix rising.

I was invited to write and read a poem for an art gallery event.  The invitation was to choose a painting from the gallery show and write a poem to complement the painting.  I had two days.  I had been on a poetic hiatus and there is often the doubt “Do I have it in me to write poetry?”  I strolled through the gallery looking for a painting that resurrected my poetic voice.  There she was, the girl standing at the edge of the diving board.  I sat with her and asked what wanted to be spoken.  I took a photo and notes and went home.  This was not the first poem that came…the first poem was the process that lead me to this poem.

Writing Prompt:
Give yourself this challenge.  Go to an art gallery, stroll through and stop when you feel that gripping connection with a painting.  Then, sit with it for awhile, take notes, take a photo.  Go home (or to a cafe–make it an artist’s date) and write your poem.  This is such a special experience.  Do try it.

Note:  Remember the first poem may not be the final poem (nor the second or third).  Allow yourself to be in process with what wants to be spoken referring back to the painting as inspiration.

Note 2:  The artist is Jan Wurm.  Her painting is called “The Dive.”  I was hoping to include an image of the painting.  However, I have not received permission from the artist to date.


I want to write, but…

Recently, a friend sincerely expressed how she wanted to write.  However, she didn’t want to write about what isn’t working in her life.  She was fearful of creating “more of the same” by putting it on the page.  I suggested that she give herself permission to have the rant in order to get to the good stuff.

Anyone, including me, can give themselves “reasons not to write today.”  A good way to address this is to take a reason not to write and write about it.  For example, I don’t want to write todaybecause I don’t want to put on the page how upset I am about my daughter’s choice of boyfriend.  I feel fierce and want to steal her out of this relationship and magically make her life better… 

Giving yourself permission to feel and say what you feel in the moment is important to your writing process.  You could write your rant on a piece of scrap paper which you later toss rather than including it in your journal.    Give your rant a time limit, five or ten minutes. Then, shake it off.

Once you’ve done your rant, what does your passion want you to write?  Can you return to the book, the poem, the prose or the painting and immerse yourself in what you’re here to do?

Yes, you can!

Writing Prompt:
If something is “up” for you, write a rant giving yourself about ten minutes to express it.  How did that work for you?
Or, do you have another ingenious way to creatively handle what is distressing you and then to get on with the writing you deeply desire to do?mermaid8

All Aboard!

Your bags are packed with everything you need and you’re ready to go.  You are excited!  You have your ticket.  You have a destination in mind.  You arrive at the train station in plenty of time.  The train chugs into the station.  You don’t climb aboard!


With writing or painting or any creative pursuit, you really do have to get on board and, though your destination could change, you are in motion.

Too many of us believe we have something to say (including me) or express creatively.  We talk a good game, but we roost.  Sometimes, stubbornly.  Waiting for some magically “right time” to manifest and then, we’re going to say what we want to say…write the book to end all books.  Or paint that painting that speaks to everyone’s soul.  If only, or when, or we’ll just know that it’s time.

I find this excerpt from Annie Dillard’s Book “Holy the Firm” grounded and inspiring.

“…There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead–as if innocence had ever been–and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved. So. You learn this studying any history at all, especially the lives of artists and visionaries; you learn it from Emerson, who noticed that the meanness of our days is itself worth our thought; and you learn it, fitful in your pew, in church.”

Writing Prompt:
Try a ten-minute free write in response to the question “What are you waiting for?”  Then, consider these questions:  Do you think there is someone else who is better equipped than you to write what you have been bursting to write (i.e., someone with higher education or credentials or older…or younger?)  Is there something that has been calling to you to write or paint–for years, perhaps?  Be honest with yourself.  And then answer this question, “If not now, when?”



The Enchantment of New Inspiration

In an earlier blog, “keep a door or window open,” I encouraged the artist to stay open so that more inspiration enters.  However, there is such a thing as Inspirational Overload.


This is dangerous territory for me.  I am a great creative idea generator.  There are people who get paid for being “Ideas Men/Women.”  Innovators!  That is their job title.  They do not have to bring the idea to fruition…they just have to keep coming up with new and viable ideas.  Then, a team of creatives runs with the idea, developing it into a product.

When I get a new idea, I want to run with it, abandoning all of the other great ideas that are in various stages of development.  This is troublesome for me because, then, I don’t bring an earlier idea in process to completion. I surround myself with puddles of incompletion. Recognizing that I’m only one person with a limited amount of time and energy, I tap into my own frustration and immobility.

In such times,  I have learned to choose ONE THING that won’t take more than a few days to complete.  I follow it from start to finish while quieting the niggling voices that tug at me from every side.  I play my favorite music and get busy doing that one thing.  Whenever I am tempted to leave it in a state of partiality, I don’t walk away.  I stay with it.  I see it through to the end…completing the tiny details of it whether it is a piece of writing, a painting or a fabric creation.  I get it to that state where I can say with absolute finality.  THIS IS DONE!

Hooray!  I’ve completed something.  I’ve moved the paralyzing energy of inspirational overload.  I’ve created a piece!  It’s important to take time to bask in that feeling for a little while.  (Isn’t bask a great word?)

I’ve proven to myself that I have the focus and follow-through to bring something to completion.  In bringing a project to completion, there is fulfillment of the promise that was sparked with the original idea.  Now, I feel ready to go forward with whatever is next having renewed faith in my capability to complete something.

Creative Prompt:
Have you had this experience of the enchantment of new inspiration?  What is your method of dealing with this?  Do you have too many unfinished projects?  Try working on and completing one small thing.  What is your feeling afterwards?

Please feel free to share your own thoughts under the comments.

Note:  Why not gather a few friends and give yourself a party to show off your creation…toast yourself with apple cider, champagne or your beverage of choice!


…keep a door or window open

I believe we are all flooded with creative ideas, many of which we  ignore.  If you want the ideas to continue coming, “keep a door or window open.”  Show appreciation by writing them down and following through on at least a few of them.  Sometimes, it’s an idea whose time has come…if you don’t express it, someone else is going to.  Other times, it’s part of your own growth and the ideas flow in to support your personal process.

Don’t ignore them.

As you make the commitment to pursue your creative interests and gifts,  you are initiating a flow of energy in support of this pledge.

For example, if you practice drawing and painting birds, new ideas on how to draw and paint birds are going to come to mind.  The mind is relational…it is always looking to connect the dots of our thoughts.  And to instigate something unique to you.

Realizing this, why not then employ the mind?  Why not send it in the direction of your inspiration?  If painting birds isn’t your thing, then what is?

In case you haven’t noticed, for me it’s drawing and painting faces.  I often have an idea in mind that I can’t wait to try out.  Whether the idea succeeds or doesn’t is irrelevant.  There are no failures. I am acquiring knowledge based in practice and exploration.

The universe is going to regale you with more than enough creative ideas.  Showing your dedication to the process puts you in that inspirational flow.  There is going to be more and more.  This is the key to abundant creativity–to be open, curious, then write, paint or make it–this leads to endless discovery and renewed inspiration.

Creative Prompt:
Don’t take my word for it.  Try it yourself. What are you committed to conquering in your art, poetry or other creative pursuit?





“Creativity is not Comfortable”

Awhile ago, I jotted down this quote from Billy Wilder,  “an Austro-Hungarian born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist….”  He is long gone from this earth plane…however, as you know, quotes live on.

Creative beings who’ve been practicing their art, know this quote–“Creativity is not comfortable”–in a deeply experiential way.  They understand the edges, precipices, walls; the angst, internal subterfuge and the pushing through.  They understand the daring and the doing despite doubts, fears and/or internal or external pressure to halt!

Why is creating so uncomfortable?  I think it is partly because when you are fully in the creative process, you, yourself go through changes as you create.

TRANSFORMATION could be a synonym for creativity.

Webster’s Dictionary, in defining transformation says “…to change a thing into a different thing.  Transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function…”


On the canvas, I resist because things are going to be disrupted and perhaps even “ugly” for awhile.  If I am attached to what is on the canvas, it’s going to be hard to let it go.  When I’m backed into a creative corner, I have to make a move that can feel forced upon me in some way.  There is a risk as I leave my comfort zone and engage the unknown. This whole process brings to my awareness the stuck places inside of me, the resistance and lack of daring.  It’s complex, right?

Ultimately, I love my creations, whether poetry, prose, painting or crafting.  And I often surprise myself with what comes.

Writing Prompt:
Do you prefer your “comfort zone” when it comes to writing or making art?  Or do you enjoy the adventure beyond comfort?  When you venture past the borders of the familiar, do you experience doubt as to whether or not you can create something that is “successful”?  Is that a fair requirement of yourself as you are in this process?  And, do you care about what others are going to think?  Do you make that more important than staying true to your artist’s journey?

Write your answers to these questions in your writer’s journal.  Be truthful with yourself.