Bruce Black today

Hi everyone,

My Featured Guest today is Bruce Black.

I know you will enjoy Bruce’s words about inspiration, the kind that drives writers to write. I don’t want to give away his message so read on and see for yourself!

Finding Inspiration
by Bruce Black

Where does a writer find the inspiration to write?

I’m not talking about inspiration for stories. Stories are everywhere. If you look closely at the world and the people around you, you’ll see them waiting for you.

Stories about the things we love and the things we hate. Stories about the people who make our lives a joy and those who make each day a trial. Stories about storms and ship wrecks and home runs and touchdowns. There’s so much drama in the world around us, if only we open our senses and allow ourselves to look, smell, hear, taste, and feel it.

No, I’m talking about inner inspiration, the motivation and drive to sit down at your desk or in a coffee shop or bookstore and open your notebook and begin writing.

Where does a writer find the urge to write?

And how does a writer sustain that urge from the first word of a story to the last, all the way through the first draft and the second and the third, through however many drafts it takes to reach a final draft?

These are the kinds of questions that every writer confronts, and each of us finds a different answer because that’s the way writing works: we find our own road, carve our own path into a story and out again.

Many writers are drawn into a story by a character who comes to them in a dream or walks out of their life into their imagination disguised (thinly or not so thinly) as fiction. Others are drawn by settings or find themselves weaving a plot of “what if” questions that lead them into a story.

Sometimes I’ve found my way into stories this way.

But more often I find the inspiration to write, the urge to tell a story, in the process itself and in the emotions that surface as a result of the process.

Most of the time when I begin writing–just as I began this piece–I don’t have the slightest clue about what I’m going to write.

It takes a number of false starts, a willingness to head down dead-end roads any number of times, before finding the road that feels right, that doesn’t end in a sinkhole or steep cliff.

It’s in the process of writing–the process of finding my way, taking this step and then another, retracing my steps, setting off in another direction, backtracking, trying yet another route–that I discover what I need to say. And what I need to say arises out of the emotions that surface as the words appear on the page.
There’s an interesting frisson that occurs as my hand moves across the paper, or as my fingers type the letters that form the words which appear on my computer screen. The combination of thought (“where am I going?”) and feeling (“does this feel like the right direction?”) leads me to a place where I find a thread of something to follow.

In the case of this piece, the thread was a question: where does a writer find inspiration?
But the thread can be anything–a sudden glint of light on the surface of the sea, the flash of a memory, the picture of a familiar (or unfamiliar) face, the taste of mint on your tongue, the feel of a spring breeze on your skin.

Whatever piques your curiosity is the key… and then you need to be willing to follow that thread wherever it leads.

The glint of light on the sea might lead you back to a memory of a boyhood vacation and a peaceful summer day on the beach with your father…

The flash of memory might be the red geraniums that you remember on the windowsills of your grandmother’s apartment in the Bronx…

The picture of a familiar face might be your eighth grade English teacher inspiring you to write…

The taste of mint on your tongue might lead you to the time you sampled freshly grown mint
from your brother’s garden…

The feel of a spring breeze might remind you of the last spring your mother was alive before cancer took her a month later…

Each image contains the seed of a story if we can immerse ourselves imaginatively and emotionally into the image and find its emotional core.

This process of immersion is what revisions are for.

Each draft of a story takes you deeper. Like peeling an onion, you peel away the layers of memory or darkness to reach the reason why the scene or image is emotionally meaningful for you.

Each word, each sentence, brings you closer to the emotional core of the story.

At the heart of the writing process is this ongoing process of discovery as we learn what’s meaningful to us and to our characters.

We write to find meaning, and in our search for meaning we make meaning of our lives.

That’s where a writer will find the inspiration to write every day–in the ability to see the blank page as an opportunity for exploration, and in the ability to see the process of revision as an opportunity for discovering something that he or she didn’t know before.

That’s where I find inspiration. What about you?

Bruce, thank you! For those who want to leave comments, use the boxes below.

Bruce Black tomorrow

Hi everyone,

Another week and another opportunity for me to introduce an outstanding Featured Guest. This week my guest is Bruce Black, a master at blogging and social communication in additon to his many other skills and talents that you are about to discover. Tomorrow I’ll post Bruce’s inspiring remarks. For now, here is a brief bio provided by my guest.

Bruce Black is the author of Writing Yoga, a book that delves into the nexus of yoga, writing, and life ( ). A graduate of Columbia University, he earned his MFA in writing from Vermont College. His stories have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines and other publications, and his blog, Wordswimmer ( ), was named one of the Web’s “Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs” by Online Education News and is included in Online Degrees Hub’s list of “100 Great Blogs that Young Writers Should Read.” In addition to serving for the past few years as a poetry judge for The Cybils: Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards ( ), he is the founder and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project (, and explores writing and yoga online at Writing Yoga With Bruce Black ( ).


New book and post by Bruce Black

Hi everyone,

If you didn’t happen to read Bruce Black’s post on Sunday, I recommend it. Here’s the link. He’s talking about a subject of interest to many successful writers.

Today I’m also passing along some good news about Bruce’s new book. He sent me a note about it and I asked his permission to post his note. He said yes so here it is. Congratulations, Bruce!

More good news is that Bruce has agreed to be one of my upcoming Featured Guests. I’ll let you know when we get closer to the time.

Dear David,

I’m pleased to let you know that my new book, WRITING YOGA, was released earlier this month.

Written to help people keep a practice journal, WRITING YOGA is part guide, part memoir, and describes my journey into yoga and the discoveries that I made –on the mat and in my journal– about my practice and my life.

Even if you’ve never stepped on a mat, you might enjoy reading about how I struggled to kick up into my first handstand or continue to wobble in tree pose. More important, you might enjoy the reflections that I share about how finding my balance on the mat helped me find my balance off the mat in my writing and in my life.

Here’s a link to the publisher’s webpage where you’ll find the latest reviews, a brief bio and description of WRITING YOGA, and an excerpt of the introduction on keeping a journal:

I’ve been so touched by the warm reviews that the book’s received so far and by the responses from friends (and strangers), and I hope you’ll enjoy the book, too, if you get a chance to pick up a copy.

In addition to wordswimmer, my blog on writing  (, I’d like to introduce you to my newest blog, Writing Yoga With Bruce Black. I hope you’ll visit to learn what keeps drawing me back to my mat and journal day after day. Here’s the link if you want to take a look: /

Thanks so much.


How cold is it?

Hi everyone,

How cold is it where you live? I got in a contest in 2003 with Ryan, a 12-year-old boy in Pennsylvania, to see who could outdo the other in describing the wintry weather in our respective areas. It went on for some time and Ryan discovered that he could be pretty creative with his responses.

“Dear Ryan,” I wrote that winter,

“It’s so cold in Springfield that a robin in our yard got its tongue frozen to a worm. We had to bring them in and boil them to separate them. The grateful robin went back outside but the worm refused to leave the boiling water.
‘This is the first time I’ve been warm all winter!’ it said.”

* * *

“Dear David,” Ryan responded,

“It’s so cold in Pennsylvania that people’s words are freezing. We have to bring them in by the fire to hear what everyone is saying!”


* * *

The battle was engaged!

* * *

Hey, Ryan!

It’s so warm here this winter that I saw a snowman by the roadside thumbing a ride north.
It is so warm that our furnace is in therapy because it doesn’t feel needed anymore.


* * *
Ha! That’s nothing!

Mid-term exams are so hard that I saw one kid’s brains run out his ears.


* * *

It’s so warm that squirrels are returning nuts to the trees.


* * *

Mid-term exams are so hard that one boy lost his mind and still hasn’t found it.


* * *

Guess what, Ryan!

We had so much lightning here the other night that all the lightning bugs took on supercharges. Now we have to wear sunglasses at night in our back yard.
Beat that!

* * *

It’s so hot here that we tried to visit family today, but had to postpone due to the fact our tires were melted to the pavement.
OHH YAA beat that!


* * *


It’s so hot here today that squirrels are running around in thongs!


* * *

It’s so hot here we were going to go swimming, but decided to cook pasta in the pool instead.


* * *

Beat this.

The ground is so hot that I saw a millipede wearing sandals.
The turtles on rocks around the lake are slathering on suntan lotion.


* * *

No problem.

It’s even hotter here due to the fact that the air intake vents on the window air conditioners have melted shut and no longer work.


* * *


Just when I think I have you on the ropes, you come up with these beauties! Not fair!
It’s too hot to think. Give me time!


* * *
It’s wet here too,

The other night it rained so hard we had a whale in our back yard but it drowned.


* * *

Hey Ryan!

It’s so hot here that the paint on our house just peeled down to its undercoat!
Can’t get any hotter than that!


* * *

Yes it can.

It’s so hot in our house that when we open the door, all the bugs fly OUT!


* * *
Obviously we both enjoyed the game. If you think you can top our braggadocio, jump right in. How cold is it where you live? (Our young readers are invited to join us.)


My thanks to Bruce Black who included me this past year in his series of interviews. Yesterday I received this note from him telling me that he has posted excerpts from his guests, including something from my interview. If you would like to be reminded of all of Bruce’s guests and what they had to say, here’s how to get there.

I just put together a collection of quotes from folks who were kind enough to share thoughts about writing with wordswimmer over the past year and thought you might like to see the post:
Thanks so much for being a beacon of light to other writers.
Hope you’re well, and that 2011 brings many more wonderful stories from your pen!
( /)