Book Recommendations: Write Within Yourself and Fearless Writing by William Kenower

Book Recommendations

Two books written by William Kenower have made a lasting impression on my writing life. Today I want to share those books with you. The books are titled Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion and Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence.

Write Within Yourself

When William Kenower wrote Write Within Yourself, he didn’t intend for it as a book on writing. His purpose was to write a companion for the author, the writer seeking direction in a most important arena–“what it takes to write the book you most want to write.”

Kenower is a man committed to many things, one of which is finding that direction to take you where you want to go. In the case of a writer wanting to write that book, the writer needs to understand “what it takes to lead the life you most want to live.”

Collected within the covers of this book are essays and stories from the author’s life which help remind the reader he/she has always known where he/she wants to go. But knowing is not all there is to getting there.

“If my life has taught me anything, it is that there is neither such a thing as too far from myself nor such a thing as too close. The door to our heart remains ever open to our attention, and once within it, we can travel as deeply as we wish, that well-being the only channel through which life is ever known.”

— Write Within Yourself by William Kenower, p. 10

This is a book a writer will want to keep handy for ready reference. Kenower’s life lessons and stories should ring true with almost every writer.

Fearless Writing

Kenower’s subtitle for Fearless Writing is How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence. What author wouldn’t want to know more about boldness and confidence? The subtitle is what drew me to this book. Well, that and knowing William Kenower wrote it.

Recently, I was privileged to not only hear Kenower talk about writing fearlessly but also had the opportunity to attend a half-day workshop the next morning. Like his writing style, Kenower is an authentic personality with a great sense of humor sprinkled throughout presentations.

Don’t be fooled by those characteristics, however. His primary goal in life is to help other writers learn from his writing life’s journey.

Whether you are a beginning writer or a veteran with years of experience, there is much to be gained from reading Fearless Writing. Kenower defines fearlessness as “that elusive blend of self-acceptance, confidence, and curiosity. It is the defining quality he believes sets apart those who find fulfillment and success.

On the back cover, I love this quote from David Laskin, author of The Children’s Blizzard and The Family:

“William Kenower is as charismatic on the page as he is in person, and in Fearless Writing he has distilled his wisdom down to its electrifying essence. This is a book that any writer will cherish and learn from.”

My favorite quote from the book is:

“You will find your confidence and begin to write fearlessly the moment you stop caring about what anyone else thinks.”

— Fearless Writing by William Kenower, p. 10

These words have made a difference in how I face the page or computer screen each day. I believe this book will have a great impact on any writer who reads it.


About William Kenower:

William Kenower is the editor in chief of Author magazine, a sought-after speaker and teacher, and the author of the books recommended above. He’s been published in the New York Times and Edible Seattle, and was a featured blogger on the Huffington Post. His video interviews with hundreds of writers from Nora Ephron to Amy Tan to William Gibson, are widely considered the best of their kind on the Internet. He also hosts the online radio program Author2Author, where every week he and a different guest discuss the books we write and the lives we lead.

Kenower’s books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound. You may connect with him via his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Welcome to …

The Writing Studio

Not only a new place to hang out with my website and blog, but also a new name. A story in a minute to tell you how I came up with that name. I’m sure you’re wondering why the move. There are numerous answers to that question. I’ll be posting in coming days my reasons for considering the change.

New Name

Some months ago my husband, Bob, began designing a structure which started out as an extension on the end of our back porch. The extension would be in the form of a tower reaching up toward our Douglas fir trees. Like all designs, and yes blog posts, it went through several iterations. We jokingly talked about who space it was going to be and for what purpose.

Time for a Change

Having spent several months working from my recliner in our family room and still struggling with the comfort level of my office chair, I decided a change of scenery would be in order. I was further tempted by the fact that Bob’s design had turned into a writing space for me opposite our bedroom in the back yard. Here are a couple of examples of his handy workmanship on a difficult design. I still wonder what he was thinking when he drew this up as a hexagonal structure.   Several names were tossed around for this space–riter’s retreet (Bob), writing house (holdover from the days I spent in the Willamette Writers house), and then somehow we settled on The Writing Studio. Hence, the name for my site going forward. I want this to be my home as well as yours. A place where we can come together, share a cup of coffee or tea, and talk writing, words, books, or needy places in our souls. Hoping you’ll visit often.

Stepping Away for Awhile

Beginning Friday, June 9th, I will be stepping away from this blog, my book review blog, and social media as I recover from surgery. During my time away, I’m hoping to regain strength and energy lost during my 18 month battle with chronic pain resulting from a fall in January 2016. I’m also hoping to take advantage of the quiet time to work toward completion of my memoir and ready it for publishing.

When I return, or perhaps before, I may propose some topics for blog posts and ask for your input on what you’d like to see and read here.

In the interim, I wish you the sunniest days of summer, the sweetest of fruits from the summer harvest, and some time for yourself and your loved ones.

 

What I’m Learning About Self-Care | Writer’s Perspective (Part 2)

In my post a few days ago, I focused on the topic of self-care. I shared the things I believe I did wrong in caring for myself during my working life and the last few years as a writer. Today I want to share what I’ve learned along the way (and ignored). And I’ll share some new things I have read recently about caring for yourself as you write.

TIPS FOR INCLUDING SELF-CARE IN YOUR DAY

This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. These are tips that work for me IF I remember to use them. If there is something you feel should be in this list, I hope you’ll share it in a comment below.

  1. Remember, self-care is not selfish. To meet the needs of family, friends, and others in our community, we must first care for ourselves.
  2. A daily schedule which includes a start and stop time for work helps many working folks. When creating a schedule, build in time for exercise and at least 30 minutes for a lunch break.
  3. Find a way to spend part of your day standing for certain tasks.
  4. Taking breaks from sitting to stretch and/or walk around a bit is a good idea. A good thing for both body and mind.
    • A recent article in the New York Times Morning Briefing offers a way to do this. The writer advises getting up every hour to walk five minutes. Using a timer, either an app on your computer or somewhere you have to get up and move to turn it off, is helpful. Be diligent as this is one of the things I ignored years ago while working as a legal secretary. It would not have changed the condition as diagnosed. But it would have provided flexibility in my joints and skeleton as a whole.
    • In leaving a comment on last week’s postJoan Hall shared a link for Tomato Timer. I checked out Tomato Timer and found it is somewhat like the Pomodoro Technique®. The technique is based on working on a task for 25 minutes and then take a break, say for 10-15 minutes or so. After four sessions, take a longer break (20 minutes),  etc.
    • NOTE: Neither of these tips may be workable for writers. A screenwriter commented on the NY Times article that he cannot leave his work in this way. Once he’s creating a scene and interacting with characters, he can’t maintain momentum if he takes a 15-minute break. Others mentioned the same on last week’s post here.
  5. When lifting heavy items, remember to do it correctly. See Mayo Clinic’s slide show on Proper Lifting Techniques.
  6. Last June Zapier posted Productivity and Ergonomics: The Best Way to Organize Your Desk. This is one of the most up-to-date articles I’ve found. It includes an infographic, diagrams with measurements, and more. The post includes every element of work space–desk, computer, chair, lighting, plants, and color.

A CHALLENGE FOR YOU

Take a few minutes to assess your own working environment, no matter how large or small. It may surprise you to learn what you do or don’t find. Then try one or more of the tips above and note any change in physical problems you’re experiencing.

If you have tips for work spaces and building better backs, I’d love to see them shared below in Comments.

If you’re willing, check back with me to let me know what this post changed for you and what the impact of the change was.

FYI, I have not yet begun employing all the tips I’ve shared above as I’m still in recovery mode. I’ll try to let you know when I do begin practicing what I preach!

What I’m Learning About Self-Care | Writer’s Perspective (Part 1)

The term “self-care” has been on the lips of many for some time, but not as often as since the election of 2016. In the days and months following, many were angry, frustrated, discouraged, depressed even. Self-care was the pathway for many to place those emotions on a shelf.
Putting the election aside, I want to look at self-care from a writer’s perspective. Based on my working and writing life experiences, I’ll share bad choices I made in caring for myself. Over the last 14 months have had time to ruminate over the past and how it played a part in my current situation.

BEFORE THE FALL OF 2016 (AND HERE FALL ISN’T AUTUMN)

Over the past year and almost three months, time on my hands left me rethinking poor choices. While I pondered the struggle I faced in recovering from a fall, I began to wonder just how this had happened to me.

Because of degenerative disc disease, I’ve faced big hurdles including two spinal fusions. There is a history in my family for this particular spinal condition. And it doesn’t help that I have slight scoliosis.

When I retired in 2006, I was ready to put aside the long, 10-hour days sitting behind a desk. I was ready to write my memoir and get on with a simple, stress-free life. What I’ve learned is habits are set in stone and can only be reversed if we take the first step on the pathway to change.

[tweetthis]Habits are set in stone and can only be reversed if we take the first step on the pathway to change.[/tweetthis]

WHAT I’VE LEARNED

As I thought back over my working life up until 2016, I realized I had severely overstressed my body. I had taken no thought of what long hours sitting at my desk continuously was creating.

Retired 11 years and writing nine of those, my work habits carried over into my writing life. And by then surgeries and scar tissue compounded the bad habits.

Let me explain:

  1. From the start of each day, I sat all day except for restroom breaks and a stop for coffee on my way back to the desk.
  2. Pre-retirement, opportunities to stand came my way. For example, copy projects requiring several minutes needed someone to babysit them. But, we had an in-house copy service. I usually opted for their help because of my heavy workload.
  3. At noon, I rarely left my desk. I packed my lunch at home and ate it at my desk. During that lunch hour, I continued to work while eating.
  4. Until the last five years of my working life, the height of my desk or computer wasn’t adjustable. Secretaries insisted on the ability to raise and lower a section of our desks to provide the option to stand up. Yet, the feature was rarely used. With the pressure of court and other deadlines, we didn’t have time to make the adjustments.
  5. If required to work overtime, it included the dinner hour and on into the evening. This meant more hours of sitting in the same place, same position, and doing the same tasks. I’d already been doing this for the past eight hours.
  6. I loved my job, and I admired and respected the attorney for whom I worked. Always wanting to please my superiors, I never changed my working style over a period of 35 plus years. (This is perhaps a carryover from my childhood attempts at pleasing an abusive mother.)

WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

A lot of things. My spine surgeons, my neurosurgeon, and physical therapists provided recommendations. The choice was mine, and I made the wrong choices. Yet, my spine surgeons also told me that what had failed in my back wasn’t my fault. It was the fault of a condition that was going to happen no matter what. And it did.

As I look back, I regret the damage I may have done to my back. Even though my surgeons directed the fault elsewhere, I still wonder what I might have done. There are certainly elements of self-care I wish I had taken the time to inject into my daily schedule.

On Thursday, March 22nd, I’ll share tips on caring for yourself at the desk and computer

Share your thoughts below on self-care, your own struggles with caring for yourself while writing, and bring any concerns you have to the discussion.