path of the storyteller / blog

The worst writing advice, debunked

mindset writing advice Jun 21, 2023

I saw someone give the worst writing advice the other day. I’m still feeling a little spicy about it! 

Now, let me be clear: Writers need guidance. They really do. They need real training and mentorship.

I feel strongly about this! It’s why I started Path of the Storyteller to begin with.

What writers don’t need is uninformed advice that makes them doubt themselves needlessly, without giving them the tools they need truly improve.

You can get bad writing advice in so many places. Sometimes it comes from so-called experts. And a lot of the time it comes from people who don’t have much expertise at all.

Bad advice is everywhere, and writers can get so confused by it. In today’s livestream, I’ll talk about some of the most common types of bad writing advice out there, and what you should do about it if any of it comes your way.

I share why I think it’s so pervasive, and what some of this...

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Are you brave enough to write?

mindset Jun 21, 2023

Jumping into the void is scary, but writers do it every time we sit down to work. How can we make that never-ending leap with confidence and joy? 

Writers are so brave.

Why do I think so? Humans dislike uncertainty. We tend to resist leaping into the void.

And for good reason. Our nervous systems are trying to keep us safe, and the unknown is just that—unknown.

Yet we writers must continually cross that scary border from knowing to not knowing, from certainty to uncertainty. 

We’re always plunging into the blank page, the scene we haven’t written yet, the plot we’re still figuring out. 

No wonder we resist writing! From the outside it looks like we’re safely at our desks, but inside, our nervous systems feel like we’re jumping out a plane every time we sit down to work. 

I suspect this is why I get so many questions about process — what do we have to “know” to start writing, how much...

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You’ve lost faith in your work. Now what?


Have you ever lost faith in your work? 

Faith that it’s good? 

Faith that you’ll finish it? 

Faith that this writing thing is even worth pursuing? 

Writing can stir up so many feelings, my friends. And there are times like this, where our resistance transcends mere frustration or fatigue or “why is this taking so long?” crabbiness, and sinks into a deeper kind of doubt. 

The kind that makes us feel like we no longer believe in what we’re doing. 

We all go through this. We would not be human if we didn’t. 

Today I want to talk about this powerful idea of our faith in our work. Where does it come from when we have it, and where does it go when we lose it?

Is there a way to get it back?

Do we even need to have faith our work to keep going? The answer might surprise you. 

p.s. – This topic is in response to a real question submitted to me...

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Is fiction all a lie?

mindset story structure Mar 28, 2023

When it comes to writing great fiction, you might want to loosen your grip on reality!

Big confession today, storytellers! It’s ALL A LIE.

I’m talking about fiction of course.

By its very definition, fiction is a made-up story. It’s not pretending to be factually true, although it may contain many details that are, in fact true. 

But fiction not history, not memoir, not journalism. 

It’s a story, pure and simple.

I often say that storytelling is how we tell the truth about what it means to be human, but there is so much about good fiction that is nothing like real life! Some quick examples:

In real life, our days can be repetitive. People are creatures of habit and our day-to-day routines are fairly predictable.

When something happens that is way out of the ordinary it’s a big deal, and often quite shocking, either positively or negatively.

In real life, we don’t always have a clear sense of mission. We minimize or...

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What is your writing worth?

mindset money success Mar 11, 2023

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

My writing is worth money. 

Deep breaths, storytellers! I would love to know your answer. You can leave a comment below and tell me. I read every one.

But here’s what I’ve observed during my years mentoring writers. When posed with this question, some—we’ll call them Group A—will immediately protest:

“I just love to write! I don’t care if I make money at it. I do it for me."


“Money would be nice, but really I just want to get something out there and published. That would satisfy me.”

You might find these responses attractively modest, or nobly artistic, or both. If so, you’re probably in Group A.

Then there’s Group B:

“Sure, I’d love to get paid to write! I get story ideas all the time. But I know I can never make a living at it, so I don’t even try anymore.”

Ouch. That’s a hard place to land....

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You don’t need to save it all.


True fact: I rarely leave a restaurant without a box of leftovers tucked under my arm.

I’m not sorry about it, either. I never like to let food go to waste. Even if there’s only a little bit left, it’s enough to pop in an omelette, or throw on top of a pasta, right?

And isn’t that how many of us treat our writing, too?

We hate to cut stuff. We worked so hard on those bits! Surely there’s a place to use them. Into the refrigerator they go.

And if we’ve been working on something for a while—maybe it’s our first whack at a novel—we hate, hate, hate to admit that it might not be workable at all.

One more rewrite? Ten? We know we can save it!

“Waiter, bring me a box to put this messy draft of a novel in! I don’t want any of it to go to waste.”

Now listen, dear storyteller. I have news for you.

Most of our work is not our best work.

In fact, most of our actual writing labor will never see the light of day at...

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Why is it so hard to focus? It’s every writer’s complaint.

focus mindset process Jan 29, 2023

So there I was, sitting in my local coffee spot, sipping my Americano and mulling the question at hand:

What should my livestreamed talk be about this week?

—when my focus was upended by a conversation at a nearby table.

Reader, I eavesdropped. An intent young man was sharing his hopes and dreams with a patient young lady, who nodded in time to his drumbeat of earnestness.

He listed one ambition, then another, and then two more (you can find out what they were here).

Flushed with feeling and caffeine, he concluded, “That’s it! I’m just going to focus on these four things. Oh, and my music, too!”

That’s five things, but never mind. I knew at once that my topic would be focus. It’s every writer’s complaint.

  • How hard it can be to maneuver ourselves into work mode to start with.

  • How easily we get distracted.

  • How frustrating it is to finally buckle ourselves into the writing chair, only to tinker aimlessly with our work-in-progress...

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How shame holds writers back

mindset Jan 19, 2023

The always inspiring Brené Brown defines shame as an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” 

Is there anyone who hasn’t felt this at one time or another? 

Shame is a tough feeling. It can stop us in our tracks. Even talking about it feels shameful!

My work teaching and mentoring writers over the years has shown me this truth again and again: All the story structure and writing craft expertise in the world won’t matter much if the writer’s mindset gets in the way of actually doing the work in the first place.

All those stubborn, hard-to-admit beliefs that we’re not talented enough, or that what we have to say is not interesting enough, or that our dreams of writing are too foolish and impractical to even admit to others?

That’s shame talking.

Shame holds writers back in so many ways. It...

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What writers can learn from....pickleball?


ENROLLING NOW! The Path of the Storyteller program starts in January, and seats are still available. Click here to learn more. 

It’s the game that’s sweeping America, and the world: Pickleball!

I too, have happily fallen in semi-obsession with the new national pastime. It's good for writers to get fresh air and exercise! 

But I also find it’s really good to be learning something new.

It’s stimulating to be a beginner. It puts the focus not on “how good” we are, but on how open we are to learning.

This is a real life skill. The process of learning is the same no matter what the subject matter is. If we cultivate becoming good at learning, we can learn anything. 

Including how to write really good fiction.

See, you knew I’d get to writing eventually!

In my many years of teaching and mentoring writers, I’ve found that writers sometimes have unrealistic expectations about what...

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Today’s the perfect time to do this!

careers mindset process Dec 07, 2022

ENROLLING NOW! The Path of the Storyteller program starts in January, and seats are still available. Click here to learn more. 

A question for you: When is the perfect time to act?

To start a new project?

To break an old habit?

To finally drop something that’s not working?

To pivot? Reboot? Change course? Face facts?

I think most of us know in our hearts when SOMETHING needs (or has long needed) to change. But that doesn’t always mean we take action.

Often, there's a panicked answer that rises within us:

Not now.

There’s too much on my plate.

I’m already overwhelmed.

After I get these ten other very trivial things sorted out, THEN I'll be able to finally deal with That One Important Thing that I’ve been putting off for years

We’re all this way. People (and writers are people, don’t forget!) never seem to run out of ways to say “Eek! I’m not ready for this."


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