Where I write about writing.

For more of my writing on consciousness, nature and living deliberately, please visit my other blog, Living the Mess.
For professional writing samples, please see my Writing page.

How to Bring Readers into an Experience

The core of resonating with readers is writing in a way that evokes a response, either sensory or emotional. This kind of writing triggers readers’ mirror neurons—and mirror neurons are part of what neuropsychologists call the “resonance circuit.”

Widening Our Circles of Compassion

How do we find compassion for people who cause harm? It’s a trick question. We can have compassion without agreeing with them or liking them. We can have compassion for them and dislike their actions. And most importantly, we can have compassion for people whose perspectives are directly opposed (from ours and from each others).

Cutting Through the Woo

Woo comes from a desire to paint the vision of the world as entirely peace, love and unicorns, with nary a dark thought or fart in sight. But that’s not the world we live in, and—more importantly—that’s not the world your readers live in.

The Paradox of Language

The Latin-based languages comprise 26 symbols that, arranged in a mind-boggling array of variation, somehow connect us with one another. It’s pretty awesome, when you think about it. Yet it has limitations. Not only do most words have multiple meanings (like...

The Role of Conflict in Nonfiction

Every young writer is taught that the essence of story is conflict. But “conflict” is a loaded word. Most people see it as negative, confrontational and even violent. But it isn’t, inherently.

Mythology and Resonant Story Structure

The essence of story is change. In fiction, this usually means that something changes in the protagonist’s circumstances and/or awareness or personality. Think of your favorite novel: If nothing changes, if the protagonist doesn’t transform in one way or another, there’s no story.

Why Transformation Matters

The other day, I saw the above photo in my Facebook feed (photo © Kerry Dixon). “Transformation” is a nebulous word, kind of like “sustainability” was a decade ago. Few people identify their primary field as “transformation.” Rather, it crosses multiple sectors, from...

Storytelling and Transformation

Transformative storytelling is as much about the syntax, the language, the word choice, structure and energy underneath the words as it is about the subject. It also has to do with the state in which writing happens. In transformative writing, all the elements work together to evoke an experience in the reader.

On Transformation, Writing and Naming

“What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.” – David Whyte Language is a paradox. Words are symbols that can never capture the essence of what they point to, yet at this point in our evolution, words are the...

Music as a Teaching

I love music—who doesn’t?—yet it had never occurred to me that music itself could be a teaching, that it could bring people to the place, the experience, that spiritual teachers’ words point to, the transcendence that’s sometimes found in meditation (and often isn’t)....

The Long Darkness of Winter

When I first moved out west, someone told me it takes about three years to get used to the winters. It’s definitely easier than it used to be, but every year, the darkness descends and I have to put more concentration into my emotional well-being.

How Gratitude Changes the Brain

A few years ago, a friend said, “to me, every day is Thanksgiving.” (Except, I’m assuming, without the turkey, stuffing and political fights). At the time, that seemed kind of radical, though after five years of daily gratitude-journal practice, and two years of exchanging nightly “3 gratitude” emails with a friend, I feel the same way. It really is embedded—dare I say wired—into me. Even when I feel crappy, I can always find something good that lifts my mood, if only briefly. That’s the cumulative effect of regular gratitude practice. It rewires the brain.

Doing Less Leads to More

I’ve been firmly in the “stop the glorification of busy” camp since 2012, when my work came to a screeching halt for two years; I discarded all my old assumptions about how we “should” be and began testing out what made me most creative and productive

What Does it Mean to Wake Up?

[Please note: This post is from 2015] Until May 30, Sounds True is offering 30 streaming interviews with spiritual teachers on the subject of awakening. I'm listening to many of them and just basking in the wisdom. I've had multiple moments of recognition, of a-has...

I'm working on a different kind of project right now—if you love cats, you'll love this.Take a look.

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