Have you read the story Ming Lo Moves a Mountain by Arnold Lobel? The story goes like this…
Ming Lo and his wife live in a shack right next to a mountain. The roof has holes from falling rocks from the mountain, vegetables don’t grow because the mountain is always blocking the sun. One day his wife has finally had enough, and she tells Ming Lo to go to a wise man and ask him how to move the mountain. The wise man tells Ming Lo and his wife to try all kinds of things, like ramming a tree into the side of the mountain, banging pots and pans to scare it, and finally bringing cakes up to the spirit who lives on the top of the mountain. Nothing works.
So finally, after Ming Lo has tried to push the mountain, scare the mountain, and ask/bribe the mountain to move, the wise man tells Ming Lo to do the special mountain dance. Pack up your house stick by stick, and all your possessions, the wise man says, and then close your eyes and then put one foot forward, and then take two steps back. Do this for many hours without opening your eyes.
Ming Lo and his wife immediately pack up their shack and follow the special mountain dance for many hours. When they open their eyes, they are in a beautiful valley with warm sunshine. The mountain is far, far away.
What are the mountains in your writing life? The things that no matter what you throw at them, they will never ever move?
The Stoic philosophers understood mountains to be anything outside of our inner lives. The things that happen in the external world and therefore completely out of our control.
Oftentimes, the mountain in the writing life is the validation we seek from other people...
I am soooooo excited to share some news!
This week, the How Writers Write Podcast broke into the top 50 Fiction Podcasts on iTunes! We hit as high as #26! We are closing in on 1000 listens in just a few short days. Thank you to everyone who is supporting this podcast. I am out of my mind excited! But, I still need your help. If you haven't yet, be sure to rate, subscribe, and share this podcast. We're just getting started!
Today's interview is with an author who I have admired and widely read, Victor LaValle.
As I was preparing for this intro, I found it so hard to pick a few highlights from this episode. Victor is a wealth of knowledge and a model of what it is to be a writer. This guy is a true professional. I loved my time with him and before we go any further, I want to send a huge thanks to Victor for his time.
That said, here are a few things that really stuck out to me.
At the beginning of our talk, Victor details his development as a writer, and how he started writing stories. There are so many moments of wisdom in this section. I actually had to edit out all of my “yups and uh-huhs” because I was lost in what he was saying.
We also discussed how his writing life changed with the birth of his first child, and how that changed his routine and focus. You know, I think a lot of times we see the addition of big responsibilities like a child as a negative to the freedom we want to write, but Victor shares how he learned to be more productive and write EVEN MORE after he became a father.
Victor and I also dive into what it means to write thought the emotional pain of our lives. We both shared personal stories about how writing has allowed us to engage with the hurt we’ve experienced. There is so much insight that Victor shares about getting your heart onto the page and loving your work.
There is so much in this episode. I know you’ll love listening as much as I loved spending time with Victor.
Welcome to Monday Motivation #1. Today is launch day! I am so excited! I cannot believe the How Writers Write podcast is finally live. Thank you so much for joining me on the journey.
One of the reasons I decided to start the How Writers Write platform is because I’ve struggled so much with limiting beliefs, and I felt as if the writing world just wasn’t talking about the emotional, mental, and spiritual strength it takes to write. I said this in episode 0 and I believe it… most people quit writing because they lack the inner strength to keep going, not because they lack the ability to write.
On this first Monday Motivation, I want to talk about five core beliefs about writers and the writing process.
These beliefs are the bedrock of not just this podcast, but the entire How Writers Write platform.
These are words I’ve spoken to myself when I’ve felt beat up and needed to dig just a little deeper to get my story onto the page.
1. You have a seat at the storytelling table because you have a story to tell. I believe that our stories are gifts from the gods, but even if you don’t believe that, the story in your heart is yours to bring to life. It means you are part of a tradition of storytelling and writing. Boiled down, this means your story is unique and it counts.
2. You are exactly where you should be to tell your story, regardless of your age, experience, or education. All writers start somewhere. While some people are born into writing families, others not. It doesn’t matter if you had every advantage, every pedigree. You are a combination of brains, natural talent, experiences, a body, and countless other factors. How those things arrange themselves are unique to you and will deeply reflect the story you are here to tell. But, those things should never be a reason not to write. They are fuel, not excuses.
3. The difference between someone who writes and doesn’t write is discipline.
4. There are always going to be excuses not to write, and you’re going to have to write through them. You have the time. You may not have much time, but you can find some. You are smart enough to write. You can fill in your excuses, but they will always boil down to a binary decision to either listen to the excuse and not write or blow through the excuse to write anyway. Just keep writing.
5. Process counts. I know writers and creative people hate the “P” word, but a process is simply a tool that enables you to consistently create good results. Process is a combination of a bunch of little things, that when you do them over and over again, they add up to make you a more effective and joyful writer. Like little shortcuts through the mechanical parts of writing. The key elements to my own process are to write early in the morning after a good night’s sleep, lots of hot coffee, and I already know what I’m going to work on. It doesn’t matter how these individual things look for you, only that they consistently help you get your story onto the page.
I hope as you go about your week, some of these beliefs will inspire you to move closer to your writing goals. Remember,
1. You have a seat at the story telling table
2. You are exactly where you should be to tell your story
3. The difference between someone who writes and doesn’t write is discipline
4. There are always going to be excuses not to write, and you’re going to have to write through them anyway.
Hello and welcome, this is Show #1! TODAY IS LAUNCH DAY!! Huzzah! I am so excited and thrilled and out of my mind.
I’m kicking off the podcast with a really special interview. I spent the afternoon recording with the one and only Ann Hood in her Greenwich Village apartment. From the moment I met Ann, her warmth was so apparent. Ann has had times of great joy and great sadness in her life, and we talk about all of it in this interview.
We dive into Ann’s working habits. How she wakes up. When she writes. How she comes up with ideas for her work. Ann’s written 14 novels. She is just a true powerhouse. And she just drops so much wisdom.
Ann also discusses her research method that left me nearly speechless. It seems as if the more authors I interview, the more I see how unique each writing process is to the writer.
We talk about Ann’s journey after the death of her five-year-old daughter, and how it impacted her writing. I was so moved by her story and her deep courage to share it with me.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed speaking with Ann.
Okay, without any further ado, here is episode one with Ann Hood.
Before we kick off the show on November 4th, I wanted to take a moment and explain why I decided to start another writing podcast in the first place.