A READER’S JOURNAL
Being a writer and trying all the time to study more and more about this fascinating art, I happened to receive an e-book one day as a gift on subscribing to a newsletter.
I saved the gift and for some time I forgot about it. After a few days I received an email from the author asking if I read the e-book.
“Wow”… I said… “I almost forgot to do it”.
So, I copied the e-book from the original folder and added it to my desktop. But life can be amazing sometimes, so being invaded with lots of other things to do, again I forgot about my gift.
And… after another few days I received another email from the author asking for my opinion about the e-book in case that I have read it.
Why am I telling you these things? What’s my point here?
Well… what I want to point out is that if you have a website and your subscribers are waiting for your newsletters, don’t forget to ask them directly what you want to know.
Being persuasive is not a crime if you are doing it in a polite way. More than this… not only is it not a crime… but maybe in your readers’ lives are sudden eruptions with lots of events that take away from their attention to you and what you want to know about them.
So… I am asking you as a newsletter’s sender to politely persuade your readers because it is a good chance they may be really interested in your product; and it’s even a greater chance they will find your services very useful. You have only to remind them about what you have to offer.
Coming back to the gift that I received, after the author reminded me twice to read it, I finally opened the book’s covers.
And… what happened… well… for sure I wasn’t expecting this to happen.
Before starting to explain, let me first give you some details about what I am talking about.
The gift’s title is “Power for the Page” and its creator is Doug Kurtz.
He’s own words state: “Doug is…a slightly left-of-center, spiritually inclined, outdoor-loving dad, husband, novelist, coach, speaker, entrepreneur, paraglider, hiker, mountain biker based in Boulder, Colorado”.
Will you ask me now if Doug Kurtz knows what I am writing here? Well… the answer is No. He has no idea and he never heard about me… until now of course; because after formatting the journal produced by my own mind while reading his book, I intend to write to the author; because he himself directly asked for my opinion.
A long time ago I read “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch; in fact I read it several times. I always found it fascinating the way in which the author talked with God. Maybe this happened to me also and many times the conversation was not with God Himself … but with parts of Him.
So, a few days ago… I received a book as a free gift for an online subscription which I’ve made. I opened the book, started to read… and from the first words… guess what? I found my mind visited by Doug.
In my country we have a custom that whenever you have guests, even if they are expected guests or not, you must treat them well with the best things you have. Forgetting to ask Doug, my quest if he prefers tea or coffee, I instantly decided to serve him with a bit of my brain. So I used my conversational capacity to strike up a short conversation with the author, making an experiment… I wrote the thoughts which came into my mind while I read his words. Let’s see what finally resulted… anyway, sincerely speaking, the reading of his book was not even for one moment boring.
[This was my introduction for what will follow. I am trying only to correct my spelling bellow and for no reason to alter the feelings born during the reading process. And I will include this, as my first online Journal. So… come with me please, inside this author’s book.]
CONVERSATIONS WITH DOUG
While the Writer inside me crossed a huge and deep so called Writer’s Block
The first page… the author’s introduction.
“Remember that you are not alone” Powerful words! I was down until some moments ago and suddenly the author caught my attention; completely.
I am wondering what made me be so interested in him? The affirmation that I am not alone on this path of ups and downs, as a writer, brought inside me a spark of hope.
Am I supposed to be happy because other people are also struggling with this powerful so called ‘writer’s block’? Or am I interested in the depth of the idea that we can easily do anything if we share the same feeling and are together involved?
I like authors who make me think a lot. And this book didn’t even start yet… but I am already in a deep thinking mode.
The book just started. Silence, please. I want to hear each sound made by the turning pages.
1 – The first statement for writers…
“Be grateful. If you practice gratitude, the power, creativity and potential you unleash will echo through everything you do” I suddenly heard Doug’s voice.
Don’t ask me how I know is his voice. I simply do.
Yes, I was down before reading it. So my reaction on what I just heard was in accordance with my state.
“Are you kidding me? It’s the first time in my life when I feel so down; and this is only because as of yesterday I’ve had a blank day… accompanied by a completely blank brain. Almost no intelligent idea came outside my mind. Of course, is it my ego again? Before deciding to be a writer two months ago, I thought I was the smartest, the most talented, gorgeous, and so on… alive human being on this planet. And now… all my trust has been ruined. It seems that to be a writer, has become the challenge in my life. And what did I just read here? Are you telling me to be grateful…? Give me a break!” I angrily replied to Doug’s statement.
Ups… I just had a flash… he is right. Just now life became interesting again. I now have a challenge!
So… I am grateful… and let’s go on!
I am reading and my brain is working hard. I realize that when I opened the book, I told myself… why does the author want to review his book? He mentioned this in his three emails… asking for his reader’s opinion. There are only 9 pages here… what is there to review? And now… while reading the second page… I realize that this is the kind of book which my brain likes the most. The kind which makes me think even if it only tells me a few words.
Oh… wait… seems that we also have an exercise here… let me read it first.
“OK. I already fulfilled the first Exercise… there are indeed so many things which I am grateful for. What was that feeling of being down all about? Was this just because I couldn’t write one day? I am even grateful for this also; for sure I needed a break. Thanks Doug Kurtz for reminding me this. Thanks for just giving me a hint without trying to impose your ideas over me” I told him while I suddenly felt released of the huge weight on my shoulders.
2 – The second statement for writers…
“Stop judging!… The antidote is love” again Doug’s voice crossed my internal unseen eardrums.
I am smiling in this moment. Is this guy a wizard or what? I have his book in my computer since I downloaded it many days ago and I didn’t even try to read it; even if his email asked the reader to tell his/her opinion. Yesterday I really had a weird day in which that thing called “the writer’s block” invaded my mind. Of course before this, I was saying to myself whenever I read about it…
“Who? Me? Me.. having a block? No way! The block doesn’t even exist. This is an illusion!”
But the illusion erupted in me also and I was stuck into an abyss of non-writing activity. Why an abyss? Well simply because many things depend on the writer inside me. In fact is that my whole life from now on is relying on this writer.
And now Doug is saying to me… “Don’t judge; especially don’t judge everything around you, including yourself”.
Sincerely speaking this was the only reason for being down till now. I was judging myself. And believe me; whenever I do anything, I am doing it with all my heart; completely and totally.
So, now I am smiling. I just realized that I have in front of me a book written by a wizard. He really knows what he is saying here. He’s describing my states from a day before.
I am wondering… what would the book be about if the day before I would of written like a very inspired writer? Would the book be about this also? Or here we can notice again how true these words are “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
And after reading the second exercise, I hear the wizard’s voice asking me…
“Feel the relief?”
“Yes! For sure, Yes!” I silently replied.
3 – The third statement for writers…
“Be who you are… Your job on the planet is to figure out who you are and fearlessly strike your own note” continued Doug in his calm voice.
“Yes Doug! For sure you are right. I feel insecure about my creative decisions. I decided to change my whole life choosing to be a writer. And because of that first block (wow… am I somehow admitting that there will be a second one in the future? If I admit it, how it is possible to be so calm and to still smile?) this insecurity came over me. I don’t recall being in this situation many times in my life”.
Going on with the reading… Interesting.
The author is asking if I am afraid of being judged by others, if people would not like me. Well… for sure it’s not my case. I don’t care and never cared if people judge me. And more than this, people usually like me.
“My fear here is that I am the one who judges me. And believe me, this makes me freeze. Is this because I don’t express myself fully? If I do this, will I disappear like you say in your book? Will the old blocked me disappear and the new brilliant and creative me arise in its place?” I thoughtfully asked him.
I really enjoy the chain of thoughts which has started due this book. I feel in this moment that I would even be able to write a book based of this chain of events.
“I will follow your advice for sure! Starting from this moment, I decided to ‘fearlessly strike my own note’; even if the only judge here is me”.
The third exercise I will do later; it seems to take a lot of time to make the required list… now I want to go on with the reading.
Ok… I had to take a pause for a phone call. And after this, I had to finish an urgent project for my daily job. I am curious now what effect the book will have after disconnecting myself from it some hours ago.
Hmmm… it is really like an experiment.
So… lets go on!
4 – The fourth statement for the writers
“Honor your needs” says Doug
Hahaha… this is indeed funny. I can read here his words… “Life is more like ‘have to’ than ‘want to’. Everything is hard, writing included, and you wonder where the ‘old you’ went”.
I was just thinking about this exactly before starting to reread this book. For sure this wizard Doug Kurtz catches my whole attention; because he entered into my mind and wrote a book about my thoughts, even before I was thinking of it.
“These needs… for sure they must be honored. And not only honored from time to time, but I also noticed that when ever I fill my desires, the happiness which I feel makes me be instantly creative. But there is also an ego thing here… the ego must be fed. Our earthen happiness depends on this ego for sure. But… a question arises in my head now… What is this feeling of happiness in fact?” I ask and without waiting for Doug’s answer I keep going on with my reading.
The third exercise I will do it later. Sounds funny.
5 – The fifth statement for the writers
“Find your people. You feel isolated, disconnected.“
“I got you here, Doug! You are definitely wrong about the red flags if you are talking about me now. I didn’t stop at all to talk with my loved ones about my writing activity, but contrary… they didn’t allow me to do any house chore from the moment when I announced to everyone that I wanted to be a writer. I am treated like a Queen and everyone wants to protect me and my inspiration” I take a pause for a deep breath and go on after this.
“Your “shifting to power” points exactly to what I am in this moment. I am lucky enough to not need to look for the right people because they are already near me”.
“Actively engage the writing community. Take a class, go to a reading and seek out others who do what you do” again Doug’s voice entered in my ears.
“Nice advises for the next exercise! For sure I will join your Writing Power Hour teleseminar. I hope that you’ll record it because I am sure we have different times on this planet”.
6 – The first statement for writing
“Learn something new”
“Yes, that’s me. My ego is again thrilled because you are speaking about me. I felt uninspired yesterday; completely uninspired. It seems that I now know how to handle this; all that you point out in the book, I’ve already done. And for this reason I opened your book” I am telling him while my face radiates due to the huge smile that appeared.
“Fresh knowledge is a cattle prod to the writer’s soul” I can hear without seeing the owner voice.
“The exercise looks good Doug, but I don’t have time to do it now. I will go back with the reading; it’s a promise! Oh, don’t think it’s a promise made to you, but to me. I know my interests and I am already more than sure that I need your book to go on whenever the ‘downs’ will return” I replied knowing that my ego is still happy to see that it was right.
7 – The second statement for writing
“Write badly… If you don’t give yourself freedom to write without inhibition, your best stuff will never see light because you’ll never unearth it”
“Why am I not wondering about what I just read now?” I asked wondering why once again I have a feeling that in fact Doug is speaking about me again. Are there so many humans on this planet who experience the same feelings as me? My ego again… I thought I’m a unique person. I was wrong; but at least I am happy… I am not alone in this entire field.
“Wait, wait! I just found something brilliant here! I will post it on the wall near my desk… Give yourself freedom to write without inhibition!!! This reminds me of a similar advice… Dance like no one is seeing you! Thanks Doug! I’ll do it!”
Without even letting me fathom my new discovery, the voice said “… silence the perfectionist inside you and write with total abandon”.
“This exercise blows my mind now! It’s like a revelation!”
I was thinking before this seventh statement that I want to quickly finish the book. As soon as I found the previous statement which didn’t suit all my expectations because I was already doing all that was there, I thought … ‘That’s it’.
There is nothing new for me here and I will get bored soon. Until now, even if I already knew about the advices from this exercise, no one could make me want to practice them; I always postponed the action. This time, the chain of ideas exposed here had such a form that they succeeded to move something inside me.
“Are you asking me if I smell the roses, Doug? Yes, I can really smell the roses in this moment!”
8 – The eighth statement for writing
“Use a sledgehammer… readers are confused by your writing… you’ve lost track of how much to say, what to reveal, what to conceal“ says the voice.
“Yes, I totally find myself here. I don’t have any readers yet because my first novel is not ready. But for sure, I am the one who is confused… wow… I am so powerful… I am my only reader now and I succeeded to confuse myself after only 2 months into it!!! I lost my track in such a short time without anyone even interfering. I am a genius!” I told Doug while I was stupefied about my new revealed powers.
“When in doubt, use a sledgehammer”.
“I am not in doubt, Doug! I am completely sure that I am a genius for what I succeeded to do! Can I still use that sledgehammer? To be sincere, I really feel this need” I found myself saying.
“Rewrite the scenes with a sledgehammer and don’t pull your swings” the voice repeated like I didn’t hear it the first time.
“The exercise, I will try to do it. But I will again postpone it now because I am eager to read more from your book!”
9 – The ninth statement for writing
“Build with concrete… Your prose has no punch or snap. Your readers aren’t passionate or polarized“.
“Ok, ok, I got it!” I replied wishing that his dagger didn’t enter so deep inside my skin.
I continued to read. Another quote to remember: ‘details are the lifeblood of fiction’.
“Wait! Wait a moment… are we talking about vampires here? I like blood, I love vampire themes, but for sure I never tried to write about it. But I will remember John Gardner’s words, I will apply your advices and meanwhile I will think about these fascinating beings. Who knows? Maybe one day I will meet one. And I will ask him/her to give me details, as many details as are necessary to be filled by their lifeblood”. I found myself talking while I was stupefied of how my brain could land on this field; the vampire’s domain.
But Doug again didn’t let me chew too much my new ideas: “List five abstract descriptors… Turn them into nouns so specific you could hold them in your hand”.
“Good, the next exercise looks inciting enough for me to want to try it”.
10 – The tenth statement for writing
“Embrace Conflict… Your fiction feels static, anecdotal and flat. It has no sense of movement or purpose” I heard the same voice while I was smiling.
“In fact I was afraid to not make my readers dizzy due to so much ‘sense of movement or purpose’. And again I will be against what you say because I discovered that my ‘language, style and things like that’ (to mention your words) are flat enough to express the included conflict. What am I to do in this case, Doug? Give me some advice. Write another book for me and I promise I will comment on it again!” I desperately asked.
The voice asked if I tried the variant of “somebody wanting something – as big as galactic dominion, as small as a doughnut – and struggling to get it”.
“Without conflict, plots don’t move and characters don’t develop and you don’t have a story” again I heard this and this time I was wondering why he insist on this theme.
“I have the story; I have the conflict. The exercise… I will think more about it. Thanks for the ideas!”
“Keep the power on! Celebrate!… Celebration is the key additive to the fuel that keeps us moving forward. Use it“.
“OK Doug. It seems that you are the optimistic oriented type. I love it! I’ll follow your advice and will use as fuel the celebrating action. But what can we do? I am so perfect and I have so many things to celebrate that my life will become a total, constant, eternal celebration. Will I find time for writing anymore?” I giggled knowing that he is right.
“Replenish and refuel. You skip from one project, engagement, obligation to the next without pausing to catch your breath”.
“Hey… are you somehow digging into my mind? For sure you are talking about me here. I am the perfect jumper from a project to another. And yes, I need a break but… I simply can’t say no when I see a new provocation. I have to calm myself down”.
“List the activities that replenish and restore you: sleeping in, sex, sushi, massage, acupuncture, exercise, meditation, bird watching, singing, whatever” he continues.
“I got your point… will choose sushi for my next pause”.
I am stupefied now; 11 pages. In fact there are only 8 pages of content.
I am an avid reader and up to now I’ve read thousandths of books; some of them multiple times. Some of them were very powerful!
And this book is one of the most powerful ones I ever read.
Because it’s short. Because it’s making me think a lot; because it gives me the freedom to work with myself without trying to impose any ideas.
Imposing something on me always makes me fight against the imposer. This wizard author really knows how to manipulate me. He is practically telling me what to do, making me think that I made the decision to do it and that it was only my idea involved here.
Great book! It’s a must-read book!
And for me… I will keep it as a Manual.
Until now I’ve printed lots of e-books, read them, took notes and classified them in files. But this one… I will keep it on my desk. I will not pretend that each reader will have the same reactions as mine while reading it; but for sure this e-book is exactly my style.
Simple, concise, easy to handle… directly crossing my heart and brain.
Thanks Doug Kurtz for the free gift which you gave to this reader and writer at the same time.