Second Winds

“One may go a long way after one is tired.”   French Proverb

How true many athletes and peak performers have found this to be! And yet how often, many of us forget it during the day when a bit of fatigue bubbles up. We simply stop — and often lose the fruits of bypassing that momentary feeling and pushing forward.

Ever experienced this when exercising — your body wants you to stop but something inside you wants to keep going, so you push past your fatigue and find out that you still had some gas in your tank after all? Even if you don’t run or play tennis, you probably know the feeling: When you don’t give in to your desire or inclination to stop something you’re doing, suddenly you get a surge of energy – a second wind.

Getting to the second-wind stage can be tricky, but when you catch one, it’s satisfying, isn’t it? Pulling something out of ourselves that we didn’t think we had can be pretty exciting. Ww glimpse what we’re capable of: so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Here’s something I’ve learned through my writing: you can almost guarantee yourself a second wind if you make it a practice to keep going just a bit longer than you feel inclined to: to put just 10% to 15% more effort into whatever you’re working on when you reach the point where you feel like stopping. If you do this consistently, you’re likely to find that some of your most creative ideas and best writing surface during this “extra inning.”

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg observes “Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it’s just the edge of the beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.” Goldberg is talking about finishing a piece, but I’ve found this is true wherever you are.

Creatively, our tank is never empty: We can always go a bit further. Here’s a mantra I love that may help you keep going: “I am filled and thrilled with Divine Energy!” Write on!

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Rowling Rouses

Writing advice is easy to find — it’s all over the Internet. Don’t use adverbs. Don’tstarta book with the weather. Don’t check you email while you’re trying to write a novel. It goes on and on. But once in a while, I come across some practical advice from an accomplished writer that really rouses and encourages me. That’s how I felt when my wonderful sister Stephanie sent me a link on writing that included some tips from her website offered by J.K. Rowling.

Her intro: “I haven’t got 10 rules that guarantee success, though I promise I’d share them if I did … The truth is that I found success by stumbling off alone in a direction most people thought was a dead end, breaking all the 1990s shibboleths about children’s books in the process.

Rowling then goes on to list some of the strengths writers need: discipline, resilience, humility, courage, independence, and a voracious desire to read. Let’s unpack these briefly:

Discipline:  “Orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior: self-control.” That’s how my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines this quality. It comes down to intention and the systematic pursuit of a goal. Some people balk at the word, but consider it’s opposite: chaos.

Resilience:  As creatives, we know all about staying power. Rejection has to become our friend, not our enemy. Instead of making us slink away, we have to push forward, keep going, and fight through those “I quit!” feelings, which are just that — feelings.

Humility:  This is another word that often gets a bum rap. Many people associate it with meekness and timidity. Those are one aspect of the word, but it also means much more: a kind of innocence, a willingness to learn, a sense that you don’t have all the answers.

Courage:  Maya Angelou has said that courage is the thing you need most as a writer and Winston Churchill felt it was the core quality from which all others flow. I like General Patton’s definition: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”

Independence:  The strength to write what we want to write. To do the best job we can without worrying about what other people have done or what they’ll think. The drive to tell our own stories in our own unique ways. Without this, nothing original happens.

A voracious desire to read:  As Rowling says so well: “You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader.” To hone our craft, to improve our work, we need to read with an eye toward learning and growing.

Here’s the most wonderful thing about this list of qualities a writer needs: They are all available to us at any time. They are inner strengths we can bring to fruition all on our own. We don’t need a special degree or contacts or to attend scores of workshops. How fantastic is that!

For J.K. Rowling’s full discussion, visit:

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Moliere Muses

Molière, a French playwright, actor and poet, is widely admired as one of the greatest writers in the French language and all of world literature. He was incredibly versatile and wrote comedies, farces, tragicomedies, and more. Born on January 15 in 1622, he is still going strong! A gathering of his wit and wisdom to inspire us all:

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”

“The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them.”

“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”

“Grammar, which knows how to control even kings.”

“Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.”

“Beauty without intelligence is like a hook without bait.”

“People are all alike in their promises. It is only in their deeds that they differ.”

“Things are only worth what you make them worth.”

“Love is a great master. It teaches us to be what we never were.”

“Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book, and a good friend.”

“People spend most of their time worrying about things that never happen.”

“Man’s greatest weakness is his love for life.”

“It is a fine seasoning for joy to think of those we love.”

“Don’t appear so scholarly, pray. Humanize your talk, and speak to be understood.”

Bravo, Moliere! And now, amused and enlightened, let’s all write on!

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Fighting Through

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”   Babe Ruth

“There is no mistake so great as not going on.”   William Blake

Wow! William Blake and Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino, not only quoted on the same page, but they are are on the same page when it comes to quitting: Don’t do it!

“Don’t quit, can’t fail” – this is a mantra well worth memorizing. Right now, you may be facing something tough on the creative front or perhaps in your personal life, which is affecting your creative work. Right now, you may feel like folding your tent, throwing in the towel, having a pity party, giving up. Don’t do it! Hang on ‘til you catch on.

Here’s a simple antidote to that “I quit” feeling: “Fight through it!”

Fighting through that urge to quit isn’t as hard as it sounds. It just takes intention and a bit of grit. Instead of quitting, take one more step: Do something, anything, to make a little progress. Doing this will signal to yourself that you’re pushing forward. A few small steps on the way:

You can take one word on a page and find all the synonyms for it and pick one of them that’s more colorful – a better choice.

You can reorganize the sentences in a paragraph so that it flows more smoothly. Right away, you’ve made an improvement, and hope may return to uplift you.

You can reread a paragraph or even a story you’ve written that you really like and take a little time to think through why it works. Then see if you can take the same approach with a piece of writing that’s not working.

You can pick three random words from the dictionary, then take 15 minutes and weave them into a story. This may get your juices flowing.

Fighting through it isn’t all that hard: It’s a choice. Let’s make it and write on!



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Something Wonderful

May the sun

bring you new energy by day,

may the moon

softly restore you by night,

may the rain

wash away your worries

may the breeze

blow new strength into your being.

may you walk

gently through the world and know

its beauty all the days of your life.

Apache blessing




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Pressing Forward

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”   C.S. Lewis

What a helpful, hopeful way to think of the work that lies before us not just today, but in the future! How freeing it will be if we can truly embrace these words of wisdom from a gifted writer and scholar. Consider some of the baggage weighing us down that we can leave behind as we press forward with our creative work:

Self-doubt:  Those gnawing rumblings that crop up during the day that say we don’t know enough, we’re not good enough. They can sap our energy and weaken our resolve. Self-doubts: let’s dump them overboard – let’s leave them behind!

Rejection:  We’ve all experienced this one time and again: It comes with the territory when you are putting creative work out into the world. We can let it knock us flat or we can reframe it: see it as feedback, learn from it and move ahead. We can make it fruitful instead of fatal. Rejection: let’s dump it overboard – let’s leave it behind!

Comparison shopping:  This can be helpful when you’re buying a toaster oven or a new stove, but it’s not a great idea when you are creating and writing. Comparing where you are and what you’ve done so far on your own unique journey with other people isn’t a winning strategy, it’s a recipe for rejection – for rejecting yourself. Rating ourselves: let’s dump this impulse overboard, let’s leave it behind!

Holding back: Being too timid, too self-effacing, too wary to take the bold step, to really say what we want to say without fear or favor – none of this is going to help us become the best writers we can be. Let’s not hold back – let’s go all out! Timidity: let’s dump it overboard, let’s leave it behind!

OK, I’m feeling lighter already! How about you? Now we can see what lies ahead:

Opportunities:  The Land of Possibilities lies before us – let’s dwell in it as we write!

Improvement:  Every day in every way, we can get better and better. Let’s do it!

Sharing:  We can build our tribes and support each other, giving freely of our gifts.

Joy:  We can be grateful and radiate joy as we feel fulfilled yet challenged every day.

Opportunities, getting better and better at our craft, sharing our gifts, radiating joy – what wonderful things lie ahead for us each and every day as we all write on!



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Contest Alert

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”     Dorothy Parker

Short stories appear to be making a comeback and that may suit some of you perfectly. If so, then you may want to check out this contest: the Winter  Short Story Award for New Writers. Deadline: January 31. Have some gems of literary wit and magic that you’ve polished until they sparkle? If so, why not step them out?

The Masters Review, which is devoted to emerging writers, is sponsoring this contest. The winner will receive $3000 and publication on The Masters Review site Second and third place prizes will each also be awarded publication and a small cash prize.

The contest is open to emerging writers only – The Masters Review focuses on offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections and novels with a small circulation are welcome to submit. Writers with works published with a circulation of less than 5000 copies can also submit to the contest.

Both multiple and simultaneous submissions. are invited to submit. You can submit the same story across any of categories: everything is considered for publication. If you submit a work that it is under consideration elsewhere, please let The Masters Review know immediately if it is accepted so it can be removed from consideration.


  • Winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review
  • Second and third place prizes ($300 / $200, publication, and agency review)
  • Stories under 7000 words
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • International submissions allowed
  • $20 entry fee
  • No identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication

For more details and to submit visit:

Write on!

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