Books I Recommend for Writers

By Melba Burns, Ph.D.

  1. Peterson, B. & Freymann, Sarah Jane. (2014). Your Life is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir. Seattle: Sasquatch Books.
  2. Bradbury, Ray. (1990). Zen in the Art of Writing. Santa Barbara, Ca: Capra Press, Joshua Odell Editions.
  3. Lyon, Elizabeth. (1995). Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write. Portland, Oregon: Blue Heron Publishing.
  4. Pressfieldl (2002). The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. New York: Black Irish Entertainment LLC.
  5. Atchity, Kenneth. (1986)
  6. A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision to Revision. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  7. Gilbert, Elilzabeth. (2015). Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. New York: Riverhead Books.
  8. Fox, John. (1995). Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
  9. Robinson, Sir Ken, Ph.D., with Lou Aronica. (2009). The Element: How Findng Your Pssion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin Books.
  10. Ueland, Brenda; (1987). If You Want to Write. Saint Paul: Graywolf Press.
  11. Goldberg, Natalie. (1986) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. London & Boston: Shambhala.
  12. Metzger, Deena; (1992). Writing For your Life: A guide and companion to the inner worlds. San Francisco: Harper.
  13. Rainer, Tristine. (1998). Your Life as Story: Discovering the “New Autobiography” and Writing Memoir as Literature. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
  14. Cameron, Julia. (1992). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
  15. Phillips, Jan. (1997). Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books Theosophical Publishing House.
  16. Gelb, Michael J. (1998). How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. New York: A Dell Trade Paperback.
  17. Pinkola Estes, Clarissa, Ph.D. (1992). Women Who Run With the Wolvves: Myths and Storis of the Wild Woman Archetype. New York: Ballantine Books.
  18. Welty, Eudora. (1983). One Writer’s Beginnings. New York: Warner Books.
  19. Burns, Melba. (2010). Romance Your Writer Within: and Reawaken Your Passion to Write.
  20. Zinsser, William. (1980). On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

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You Still Can

It has taken me a long time to know that my writing is good. It may take you that long too — but I hope you ‘get it’ sooner than I did. You see, what you have within you is unique, and what you write comes from that place — if you allow your true voice to be heard. What do I mean by that?

I mean that you have experiences that are uniquely yours. And some of those are not pretty — you know what I mean, don’t you? Some of those may be how you grew up in a crazy household and you don’t want to be disloyal by writing about some of those times; how your mother criticized you daily; how your father abused you; how your older brother dumped you into furniture boxes then closed the lid, so you’re now claustrophobic. Or, maybe your family was so quiet, keeping secrets, and you were told to whisper; your mother couldn’t stand noise, so you were supposed to tiptoe around — so you hardly ever knew your own voice. You could only speak to your dolls, or your pet dog. So you grew up thinking there was something wrong with you. Thus, what would you ever say if you thought of writing? Would your words mean anything to anyone else? Could you learn to whisper onto the page, but never share it?

Well, there are others in this world who grew up like you, and they want to hear your words; read your words; know they are not alone. They are hungry to know that they are not wrong or crazy, or that they too have nothing to say. It is important that you speak out.

But you say, “I’m too old now. I don’t know if I can even remember some of my past. Oh yeah? It is seared into your brain cells. You may begin to fall into some of the ailments of “aging” like sore knees, insomnia, soreness throughout your body, etc. — so you spend most of your time complaining about these things, and hanging out with those who relate to those ailments. But is this how you really want to spend your time? Maybe you have to work at a boring job to make ends meet. Or maybe you’re a caregiver to an aging parent, or to a sick spouse. Or, you’re just too busy to create anything!

But there are still people who want to move forward in their lives. Find them. They may be younger. They may be the creative types. They may be the unusual ones, those who dress funny. Or, those who are quiet and reserved. But when you befriend then, you discover they are interesting and have amazing stories from their past. These people are curious about life and want to explore it and live it well. These people will help keep you young. They have intriguing ideas and want good discussions. Find them. Let these amazing beings become part of your tribe. Do be careful who you hang out with.

If you come away from a coffee with a someone feeling you’ve never been heard, or feeling emptier than you were before, then pay attention to these feelings. An important thing to remember is that every person has a need to be seen and to be heard. You too. If you’re not being seen or heard then do something about that.

You need to start SEEING yourself. Who are you really? Oh you have always thought you could write a book about some of the challenges and exciting experiences in your life — but there are so many excuses why you have never done so? Well, venture into doing that. Just put your pen on the pages or your fingers on your computer and allow your mind to wander.

Allow your imagination to flow. Ask yourself questions such as: What if a famous author asked you to write a chapter of a book, what would you write? What if you had all the confidence in the world and wanted to share how you got it? What if a being from space flew in through your open window and began telling you things you’d never heard before — and you listened in ways you hadn’t for a long time? What would that being want you to share with others? Keep asking that question: WHAT IF? It will lead you into stories you never thought you could share. It will lead you into characters you always wanted to meet — and you will start to write about them.

No matter how old you are, no matter what your challenges are, no matter how you’ve been whispering all your life, pretending you don’t have a voice, no matter what… YOU STILL CAN.

You still can create a story. You still can write your own story. You still can express those secrets you’ve held onto for years. You still can listen to your own voice and learn to trust it. Despite your self-doubts you still can write. You are unique. You have important things to teach others and you still can. You have gifts to give to us and you still can. You are a person of worth and you deserve to express yourself. It is time now. You still can. We readers want to read you.

Sincerely,

Melba Burns, (c) August 19, 2019

2 Responses to You Still Can

  1. Thank you! I was thinking of you today. I printed out the text of my latest project, to give it a final read and polishing, then decided it was garbage and I should just shut up.
    And then I remembered your voice, your encouragement.
    And now this. Thank you; I’ll keep on plugging away.

    • Melba Burns says:

      Hi Susannah,
      So happy to hear from you! And delighted to know that you will “keep on plugging away.” You’ve got a story to share, so please keep on with it. I’d love to see it when it’s done.
      Wishing you all the best always…
      Melba

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Feeling Stuck?

What do you do when you’ve committed to writing a piece, and it won’t come?

A few days ago I told my brother I’d write him a poem for his special birthday, but the words just won’t come. Oh, I’ve gone back into our childhood, looked at photos and pondered our younger days together. I’ve sat by my favorite public swimming pool, taken out my little notebook and pink pen; relaxed after my swim, I’ve thought about what he means to me. I have gone for long walks, then perched on a bench and gazed out to the water – but nothing emerges.

Now what? His birthday is in two days!

Okay, here are some choices:

  1. Call him, wish him a great birthday, and tell him I’m sorry but I just couldn’t get it together.
  2. I could struggle through, write whatever words splash onto the page, and pray that I’ll figure it out.
  3. I could look again at some of our early childhood photos and remember at least one story from the myriad of those curled up black and whites.
  4. I could just sit my body down and say, “okay, now is the time and whatever comes onto the page will be good enough.”
  5. I could let it go entirely – then feel guilty for months.
  6. I could trust that the words will come, the absolute perfect thoughts that he will absolutely love.

Okay, #6 is the one I choose to go with.

Right now, I’m going swimming to clear my head.

I remind myself that I always seem to break through on whatever I need to write, so why would I be so worried today?

Do you resonate with any of these thoughts?

Truth is, you are able, you’ve written many pieces before, so you can always trust  your Inner Writer to carry you through any self-doubts.

Six years ago, I wrote a book called Romance Your Writer Within: And Reawaken Your Passion to Write. So, I reach for it. In Chapter 23, “Release Self-Sabotage,” I find a few words of wisdom that provide insight as to why I’m conflicted, and eventually, soothe my soul this day:

… the Critic, the ego-self. It will attempt to lead you away from union with your great Self. Why? Because if you surrendered to your Creative Self, your ego-self believes that it would have no voice at all.” (page 83)

  “Open your heart and create the space, silence and willingness to work together. Do not scoff at this, but be willing to engage in the process of co-creating. When you engage, it opens wider the doors of possibilities, where you choose to create with more energy.” (p. 85)

“Ask your Writer Within for support and she will happily give that. Remember that you are not working alone in your creative endeavors. (p. 86)

Reading my very own words written way back in 2010, I take a deep breath and trust. A poem will come. I will relax and allow it!

Your words will also flow easily onto your page as you breathe into that supportive Writer Within. Breathe deeply, put your pen on the page and allow your small self to get out of the way. Then watch and smile at your results!

Happy writing!

©Melba Burns, July 28, 2016

You can find Romance Your Writer Within on Amazon.com

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Do You Keep Your Word?

Do You Do What You Say You’re Going to Do? 

Today, I awoke with the thought, “I am a divine instrument of love, so why would I ever put myself in a knot? I am meant to be peaceful, to inspire and to share who I am, no matter what. So, why would I ever doubt myself? Why would I get in my own way and trip over my own words and wonder if those words will help someone, or worry about any little circumstance in my life? I know I am always looked after and all is well, so why doubt that?

Have you ever had those thoughts? Have you ever doubted that what you have to say is good enough for people to read? Have you wondered why you’re here in the first place? Have you stirred up a storm in your head so you can’t think very clearly? Gotten a bit too busy so your purpose is put on hold? Well, maybe today is the day to begin to tune in to your True Self and ask again, “Okay, why am I here?” “What do you want me to do?” “What is my purpose?”

 I find that if I take time first thing in the morning to write – before I’ve even gotten dressed or had my green tea, before I’ve listened to the news, or answered an email… all those things that I normally do – then I write from a place that is closer to my dream state; it’s softer, actually clearer, and more peaceful. So, as I write this now, I am still in my nightgown and old socks, my hair’s a mess and I sure hope that nobody chooses to have a fire drill in this building. But I’m enjoying this time with you. I’m not thinking hard, just letting the words spill onto the page, and I trust that you can probably relate, eh?

So, first thing in the morning I can keep my word to myself – and to you. I stated on my website that I would write a blog, at least once a week (I might have said twice), but here I am. It’s Thursday and there are other things I need to do before the week ends – but I am determined to keep my word. Hope it means something to you. And I hope it encourages you to write your early morning thoughts and meanderings. Just like practicing those scales on the piano, for me, I know I must practice my writing – and I hope you will do the same.

You know you have good things to say, don’t you? So write them. They matter.

Have a wonderful day.

Sincerely,

Melba

 

© Melba Burns, Ph.D., Feb 27th, 2014

http://inspirationwomen.com

http://amazon.com/author/melbaburns

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Time is a Gift

While going through a book of my poetry on TIME, I came across this poem, and I thought I’d share it with you.

Once Upon a Time

 

Once upon a time,

People danced and sang and made merry.

Harvest times; good times

Winter larders would be well-stocked.

People worked together in the fields,

Raised their neighbor’s barns, helped out,

Took time to sit around their kitchen tables,

Break bread together, make time for tea,

Take time to ponder

Fruits of their labors, their futures, their navels,

Took time to be still,

To live in the moment.

Now, how many of us do this?

Do. That’s how we fill our time:

Doing, doing, doing…

Until we are spent,

All our allotted time spent.

Do we pause and just do nothing?

Not too often.

“I’m too busy,”

“Nope, can’t see you today.”

Time speeds up

We’re on a roller coaster,

Faster and faster we go

Till we can’t see straight,

Till we’ve altered our mood

And don’t have to think anymore.

Too busy to eat right

Too busy for friends

Too busy to create.

Seems, there’s not enough time,

Is there time to dance or sing?

Time to play?

Time to love?

Time is a gift,

Time is holy.

Why not treat it so, and live more fully?

Twenty-four beautiful hours a day.

May we use this gift well,

Not just let time pass us by.

 ©Melba Burns, June 22/ 05

(c) Melba Burns, February 17, 2014.

http://amazon.com/author/melbaburns

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Learn to Love your Creative Self

Here is it February, and are you feeling like you’ve let yourself down on the goals you set? Or maybe you didn’t set any on January 1st. Well, it’s not too late to look at what you want to do with your writing this year. Valentine’s Day is coming, so how about a little love for yourself?

On the back cover of my book, Romance Your Writer Within, And Reawaken Your Passion to Write, I state: “You may know how to romance your lover, but do you often forget how to treat your Creative Self With equal care and love?”

Some ways I suggest to love Self are: Gaze into her eyes; Buy her flowers; Don’t judge, accept her; Make time to meditate; Appreciate her; Lovingly reward her. These are just a few of the chapters, but let me expand upon four of them…

Gaze Into Her Eyes: Lovers gaze into your beloved’s eyes, and feel their relationship intensify. Writers need to do this too… When you do, you’ll see the loving qualities you have within yourself and how much more you have to contribute. So, gaze into your mirror and affirm that you’re willing to have a great relationship with your Creative Self. Don’t laugh, this works.

Buy Her Flowers: Don’t you love receiving flowers from a loved one? So BE the one who demonstrates love by investing $5.00 for your desk or coffee table. It will make your writing area more sacred.

Don’t Judge, Accept her: Would you stay in a relationship with your lover if that person continually judged or criticized you all the time? I sure wouldn’t. So then, would you expect to have a loving relationship with your Writer Within if you judged and criticized the output? Do not judge your creative expression because it will stop the flow of ideas, and you will find all kinds of excuses not to write at all. Accept your creative output with loving eyes — then return later and edit it.

Appreciate Her: When you appreciate and acknowledge your lover, that person feels expanded in your presence, because he/she knows they are loved. They feel as if you are on their side, as if you are growing your relationship together. So, appreciate your Creative self and see the beauty of what she offers. Recognize and be grateful for your own writing. Read it over and see it lovingly. This will restore your zest for your own projects.

Tune in tomorrow for more tips to love yourself and your writing.
And write up a storm.
All the best,
Melba

You can find more of these in the aforementioned book, Romance Your Writer Within. Check out my site for this book and others: http://amazon.com/author/melbaburns.

© Melba Burns, February 10, 2014
melba@inspirationwomen.com
www.inspiratonwomen.com

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Choose to Be Happy

I have chosen to be happy because it’s good for my health.”

Voltaire

Choosing to be happy is a wonderful idea for your all-round life, let alone your health.

But how do you choose happiness in a world filled with sorrow? How do you choose to feel happy when you’re experiencing really tough times? How do you turn your dark days into light ones? Your anger into peace? Your money worries into acceptance of what is, so you don’t lie in bed wondering how you’ll pay your phone bill this month?

Well, I believe it is a choice.

But you say: “Oh sure, even when I’m annoyed that I just can’t seem to get published? I can’t even start my book because I have so many distractions. I have so many self-doubts about my writing that I’m not sure I should go on. Besides, I’m too old now to think I could ever get a book written, let alone published. Anyway, I don’t see most people walking down the street smiling.”

But you could be one of those people walking down the street smiling.

How?

Let me suggest a few ways that I use in my life.

*        Smile, even when you’re sitting at your desk. Sure you feel silly, but nobody’s there watching you, and you’ll soon begin to smile, for real. Maybe even chuckle.

*        In your journal, write a list of all the things that make you feel good: Like walking in a brisk breeze and you can feel your cheeks reddening (mine did today). Like watching the dogs zoom around at the dog park, sniffing each other, then chasing like they’re in a race; having a grand old time. Like having a sudsy warm bath. Like listening to good music. Like having a good chat with your best friend. You get the picture. Create your own list.

*        Breathe deeply and feel the oxygen enter your lungs. You’re alive. What are you planning on doing with your precious life?

*        Write a gratitude journal. What are you grateful for in your life? If you can’t come up with much, start with being thankful for your fingers and toes, your body that works, your voice that speaks to people. After getting into this ‘attitude of gratitude’ you’ll start noticing that there are more and more things to add to that list.

*        Forgive any grudges or angry glitches going on between you and a dear one. There are too many wars in the world, so isn’t it important to heal the battles with people you love? This can really lead you to a happier life.

*        Be Kind: Do something nice for your neighbour, smile at a stranger, look into your partner’s eyes and tell him/her that you love them.

*        Meditate. Take time out of your day to be quiet, to tune in and listen to your own inner voice. You will begin to feel happier.

Okay, these are just a few things that I do and they make me feel happy. Try them and notice what happens.

 You’ll find more suggestions like these in my newest book, Write a Journal So Your Soul Smiles. Visit http://amazon.com/author/melbaburns for other books too.

Have a happy day.

© Melba Burns, Feb 8, 14.

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Thank The Ones Closest to You

Thank The Ones Closest to You 

Do you ever realize that you spend more time developing friendships outside of your family? Do you take these primary members/siblings for granted? Or only raise them to iconic status after they’ve passed away? This was something I was doing; unaware of it – till now.

Why now?

Well, I was trying to think of a thank you gift for my brother, and felt stymied because nothing seemed good enough. Nothing could match the kindnesses received from him recently.

You see, we live 3000 miles apart for 6 months of every year – and an even greater distance when he flies off to Asia for the rest of the year. So, when I visited him two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect: we don’t spend much time together; seldom talk on the phone; email is sporadic and our lives are very different. Yet, we are the only ones left in our primary family – and that is significant. After Mom and Dad passed away, and our “big brother” died too young, well, we are the bond of family. Or not.

I can write about our brother, Jack, because he’s gone, and we both loved him; his wildness, his foibles are heightened, laughed at; not derisively, but proudly.

So, my other brother is still here. And occasionally he has joked, “So, do you have to die to get written about?”

Good point.

Do any of us actually pay much public tribute to those in our family? Or do we only speak our testimonials in eulogies at their funerals?

What a shame!

So, I want to publicly thank my “little” brother for all of his kindness, his generosity, his gifts, his patience while trying (vainly) to each his technophobic sister computer skills – and then giving her a fully loaded notebook. For driving me here and there throughout Toronto, for his delicious meals, and for also making more room in his home for my son and his two daughters. I am grateful. And I wanted him to know this.

So, thank you Don! 

P.S. Do you have a little bro? Have you thanked him recently?

Hey, that’s one way of writing up a storm, isn’t it? Give it a try.

 

© Melba Burns, Ph.D.

9/17/13

http://www.inspirationwomen.com.

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Keep At It — No Matter What

I just returned from a trip to Toronto and wonderful visits with my family. Really a loving and happy time.

While there, I realized that my brain needed that holiday, I was more tired out than I’d thought I was.

Upon returning to Vancouver, it took me about a week to settle back in, to review some of my writing and to truly ‘get it’ that I do love writing — and must keep at it, no matter what.

So, I’m writing this to encourage you to do the same thing: Take holidays when necessary and your brain will work better, your creativity will flow more freely. But no matter what you do, keep on with your writing. It is a best friend. It is a deep connection with your soul. It is a sacred way to begin your day. And it opens a pathway within to access ideas that are just awaiting your calmer mind.

Trust that you have much to express. Trust that new ideas will always flow to you. And trust that if you steward them, they will go out there and inspire others.

I hope you continue to tune in and listen to your Writer Within and express what “she”wants to say.

So long for now.

Sincerely,

Melba Burns, Ph.D.

Sept 13/13

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Finding Support

While walking along the seawall,  I passed a woman who was carrying her baby in a pouch in  front of her body, and she had not only covered the infant’s head with a yellow piece of fabric, but she was also holding her babe’s head with one hand – very firmly place against that precious head. Lovingly. Supporting her.

Now, wouldn’t we all love to have a mother’s loving hand supporting our head? Our overly-full brain that is jammed with: all that info from our most recent webinar; all the ideas we now have to do; our own teleseminars; all the challenges we face; all the excitement of new plans we have; all the visions we have now for our future, both personally and professionally. Wouldn’t we love that support?

But often, we don’t have that. Besides, we’re grown up now (well, older), so we’ve become accustomed to lack of support. Well, almost. We know no one’s going to hold our head and coo and speak that sweet talk to us – well, at least I know this. Do you?

So, what to do? How do we find support?

 There are lots of Meet-ups springing up in my city, Vancouver, so I can invest $5 and find people of like-minds. There are also great teleseminars and webinars on the net.

But what if there’s nothing out there that really interests me?

What I do is this: I go inside and ask my higher Self for support. Yes, I pray. And I also sit quietly and meditate daily – every day, without fail. This is where I find my support – by giving myself time to create the space for my soul. When I do, I feel like that tiny babe supported by her Mom.

So, no matter who or what seminars or friends are out there, it is within myself where I find peace, love and full support.

 Try it. I know it works. There really is a Writer Within.

Then, write about it.

 I’ve written more about this in Romance Your Writer Within and Reawaken Your Passion to Write – it’s here on my website, and on Amazon.com., and in my latest book on Peace (which is not quite published yet, but will be!) Enjoy the process of tuning in to your Writer Within, and watch as your words flow easily onto your pages.

 

© Melba Burns, Ph.D., Oct 3rd, 2012.

www.inspirationwomen.com

melba@inspirationwomen.com

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