Reinvigorate Your Writing

Learn prolific food and culture writer Monica Bhide’s secret to staying passionate and stoking your writing fervor. by Monica Bhide
Author:
Publish date:

“Put the drama on the page,” advises my favorite writing guru, Julia Cameron. While I take her advice seriously, I surround myself with friends who—thankfully—don’t. They wear their passions, their dramas on their sleeves and regale me with stories of the exotic, the experiential, the practical and the mystical. They are always “on fire.”

Let me introduce you to my friend Jim. He used to hold a high-profile position in the Department of Defense but now works for a private firm offering creative business solutions to clients. He is the type of person who frequently tells “I caught a fish this big” stories, with one major difference: His stories are all true. Whether he’s been in Baghdad or Philadelphia, when he talks, his stories command attention. His larger-than-life tales are told with the eagerness of a curious child. More than anything, though, what attracts me to his stories is the passion with which he infuses them. Here is a man who has the right to be jaded, and maybe even should be, based on all the horrific scenes he has witnessed in war-torn zones around the world. Yet he isn’t. His curiosity about life is contagious.

“I want to travel to Australia and spend time with this tribe on this remote island,” he tells me. Why? It has nothing to do with what he does at work. “The world is so big, there is so much to learn. … How do they do what they do? Can it help us? How does biology help us? How does physics? I want to be out there and learn.”

And that he does, occasionally running away to Japan, or to Arizona to study the border patrol solution and learn how to apply those principles in other areas. He just has a lust for life and its adventures—one evening with Jim and you want to fly to the Himalayas and see what it takes to climb them, or to Vegas to see how the Bellagio really runs.

Julia Cameron advises “Artist Dates,” solitary activities you partake in to revive your artistic soul. My writer friend Lisa, whose elegant prose makes me quiver with appreciation, refers to herself as a tigress: She like to prowl alone, to look at the world in wonder by herself. I am not like that. Writing is already such a solitary process: I sit at my coffee table all day and stare at the china cabinet as I try to describe the ideal way to prepare a cinnamon-spiced stew, or recall how to select the perfect sea bass, or recount my travels to the Middle East. Eventually, the solitude wears me down and when I am running on empty, the last thing I want to do is spend more time alone.

I will go on an occasional solitary date, but mostly, I call one of my buddies. If I need the history of anything, I listen to my friend Rami. Janet has taught me how to enjoy nature by learning about the leaves, flowers and little creatures that inhabit our neighborhood. My friend Nazu, a writer, spends her free time as a clown doctor; her stories teach me humility. Randy, a New Yorker, goes out of her way to feed and clothe children she has adopted in a Bolivian orphanage. Her stories have taught me the world is not always about receiving. Andrea’s on-target advice about life and her willingness to share her experiences have opened avenues I never knew existed.

All of these friends have full-time jobs, but that is not what defines them; what sets them apart is their passion. This is what makes them different. Their varied ethnicities and backgrounds lend completely different flavors and seasonings to their tales. Their ardent fervor for life lifts my spirits and refills my creative reservoir with wonderment. They are not all Pollyannas but they do all have uplifting positive energy.

It’s true that while just one conversation with any of these people results in the birth of innumerable ideas, more important, it reignites my own passion for my work. The love they have for what they do resonates with me. Their stories hark back to the reality that the world is so big and there is so much to explore and so much to write about.

It reminds me why I write—and why I love to write.

Visit Monica Bhide at monicabhide.com.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.

Brandt_1:14

Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.

plot_twist_story_prompts_moment_of_doubt_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.

dr_caitlin_oconnell_finding_connection_and_community_in_animal_rituals_author_spotlights

Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!

new_agent_alert_zeynep_sen_of_wordlink_literary_agency

New Agent Alert: Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Henick_1:13

Mark Henick: On Memory, Healing, and Languishing Projects

Author Mark Henick shares how he was able to turn a successful TEDx talk into a memoir, even when the project didn't come as quickly as he expected.