Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Today, I’m focusing on Steve Cummins, a member of the Writing Gym. 

He has just completed the VIP Program where writers finish their novels, and I’m excited to share some of his amazing celebrations.

Steve is working on a character-driven medieval fantasy novel. The book touches on themes of sexual inequality and racial inequality, both of which are very relevant today. 

Now 48, Steve began his journey with this book when he was 22. He couldn’t sit long enough to write, and the novel sat neglected for a good decade before he picked it up again in his 30s. 

He got halfway through, and then set it aside for 5 more years.

Until he and I started talking.

Steve is obviously passionate about his novel. So why did it take him so long to finish?

Time and fear. 

Steve was frustrated with his writing experience. He spent hours trying to reacquaint himself with the characters and what they were doing in a particular section, resulting in only getting 45 minutes of writing done.

 Setting aside time to write is hard, folks. You have a lot more free time in your 20s, and then you start to make bigger commitments as you move into your late 20s and 30s. By the time we get to a certain age, we have a lot of commitments.

Despite all his commitments, Steve found the time to write—which is a huge celebration. I want to commend him on that.

How did he find the time? 

Steve’s personal life was so busy, and the friends he talked to about his novel would say, ”Please, you’re never going to finish.” His parents knew he had dreams of being an author, but they probably thought, “Okay, we’re going to die without seeing that happen.”


So, he just had to commit. In terms of finding the time to write, Steve told himself, “I’m going to write in the mornings,” especially because his brain is clear in the mornings.


What Steve found was that if he didn’t get an hour every morning like he wanted, he found 45 minutes in the evening to continue working. He gave himself a weekly goal, and if he missed a day, he carried that hour over to the next day. 

What Steve utilized was the power of decision.

We are going to have moments where things are happening- recessions, natural disasters, and other events out of our control. I mean, we’re in a pandemic. It is a unique time.

Taking the power to decide to write and standing with that power is so important.



I asked Steve, “What are some of your experiences in the celebrations you have, things that you were able to see that you hadn’t ever thought of before?”

He said there is a theme with the mindset, both relinquishing control and taking control. There are circumstances where your best-laid plans won’t go the way you want, because life gets in the way. 

Instead of letting circumstances defeat him, Steve tries to recognize the parts that can’t be controlled and remember that it’s okay. 

“Instead, I focus on how I am I going to respond and what I’m going to do? I think about it, and then I move on and focus on what I’m going to do in the present.”  

“It’s about getting rid of the resentment for the things that happened outside of my control, and focusing on what I can control for my next steps.” Such an amazing philosophy.

Through joining the Writing Gym, Steve rediscovered the fun of writing, and also realized his dream of writing a book was not something he gave up on 15 years ago, but a dream he could actually fulfill.

What else did Steve get out of the Writing Gym? He got a community and the personalized help he needed to fully commit to writing his novel.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but as an extrovert, Steve had a hard time on his writing journey alone. Through the Writing Gym Facebook page, he was able to see all the different celebrations on the page and feel a sense of camaraderie with his fellow writers.

Our Writing Gym coaches, Gretchen and Jill, allowed Steve to share his thoughts and ideas with other writers, and get personalized comments on his writing while also creating room to build his creativity.

Steve loves the Writing Gym, and would recommend joining as a solution to any writers out there who feel stuck. 

Why is the Writing Gym so helpful?

  1. It creates commitment to make the time to write, instead of using the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.”
  2. The neuroscience behind the writing process helps writers remove fear from their writing and embrace creativity
  3. Weekly writing sessions focus on building creativity, and receiving personalized help on whatever writers are working on.
  4. There is a sense of community

All these reasons help Writing Gym members speed up the writing process to get you to publishable- fast. 

Steve has grown so much as a writer during his time in the Writing Gym, and I can’t wait to continue working with him and help realize his dreams of becoming a published author. 

Don’t put your writing dreams on hold. Let’s work together to get to publishable. If you’re interested, let’s chat. I’m happy to help. 

Until next time, happy writing.


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The REAL Cause of Writer’s Block? Probably Not What You Think

The REAL Cause of Writer’s Block? Probably Not What You Think

The REAL Cause of Writer’s Block? Probably Not What You Think


Many of you may know that I’m a little bit obsessed with the Middle Ages.

Recently, I was sitting in this middle-aged “laverie,” which is where the people would come to wash their clothes. There’s a structure above that the river runs through so people can wash their clothes. This is something that really captivates my imagination.

I feel as though I can see the people here, see them working, living, being human. 


We all get our inspiration and our imagination from different sources and different things.

One of the things I’ve learned in my years of working with writers is it’s important to know how your brain works, and how you get inspiration. You may have seen some of the work that I’ve done with writers here in the group.

One of the things I do is tap into into my study of neuroscience to find out:

      1. what kind of thinker you are
  1. what kind of creator you are

By learning these two details, we can optimize your creativity and tailor our methods to suit your individual needs.


 If you’ve ever participated in one of our salons, you know sometimes people talk about writer’s block. “I’m so stuck, I don’t know what to write next.”

I’ve got a lot of strategies to help with through studying how the brain learns and creates. Through this approach, I can help you get to a beautiful, expansive place of imagination.  

I’d love to talk about where you are with your writing,  where you’d like to go, and how you can get there and be successful in your writing career.

If this sounds like you, let’s chat. Until next time, happy writing.

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Do You Want LIFE-CHANGING Feedback on Your Writing?

Do You Want LIFE-CHANGING Feedback on Your Writing?

Do you want LIFE-CHANGING feedback on your writing?

 I want to talk about what we do over in the Writing Gym and why we believe what we believe. 

I’ve talked to some of you about peer-to-peer feedback, while some of you have also asked me about beta readers.

Feedback is something I wrote a lot about in my book “Storytelling for Pantsers,” including peer-to- peer feedback and beta readers, and why those are not the best ways to get feedback. When I say this, people look at me like “what do you mean?” because so many writers use that technique.


Writers that rely on these types of feedback end up giving up and not finishing their manuscripts; they get confused because they get lots of different types of feedback. 


 When writers get the wrong kind of feedback, they oftentimes will give up their manuscript. People have been kicked out of writing groups, left writing groups, been insulted, and more. You wouldn’t believe the stories I’ve heard about frustration and uncertainty.


Mostly, what people end up getting from peer-to-peer or beta reader feedback is too many ideas at the same time.


One reader says, “Well, I think you should do this,” and another person says, “No, you should do the opposite,” and then there’s the author in the middle just confused. I bet you have a story like that, because so many writers have talked to me about it and how they feel frustrated.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There is a method of feedback that’s actually effective and helps you to grow as a writer. You may have heard about or seen videos about the writing salons we do over in the Writing Gym.

A lot of writers say they are life-changing. 

These salons are based on the neuroscientific research that I did during my tenure as a teacher.

As a professor, I did some work at MIT’s brain imaging lab and some work on Harvard’s campus. The work I’ve one focuses on optimizing your brain’s function.  That’s what we do in the writing salon. You will get quality feedback, and it can be optimized to the way your brain is meant to work. 

People have said that their confidence increased, and they felt like a real writer after they attended a salon. There have been many incidents where people write non-stop for days. I had one person come to one of these writing salons, and after she wrote for the entire weekend. She has since published five books.

The writing salon is really, really powerful and I hope that you can join us there. 

To find out where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there put yourself on my calendar:

Feedback Horror Stories

Feedback Horror Stories

Feedback Horror Stories 

One aspect of writing that we talk about in Write to Publish is feedback, and within that topic are feedback horror stories. Many writers say to me they feel like nobody really understands their writing, and they get feedback on the wrong things. They want input on one thing but get input on another, and worse, on things not as important or meaningful as the content of their writing.  

This happens for many writers, and it hurts their writing. There is also the possibility it can hurt your brain, which I wrote extensively about in my book.

 Getting the wrong kind of feedback at the wrong time can reprogram the neural pathways of your brain. So yes, there are consequences to getting bad feedback. 

I’ve heard stories about personal attacks people suffered because others were jealous of or didn’t understand their writing. I’ve also heard about people who wrote a ridiculous number of pages, simply because they had inconsistent feedback and weren’t sure what to do. 

Here is a dating analogy. Let’s say I love to date bad boys, but keep wondering why they’re so bad for me. Or I only date selfish people, and keep wondering why they’re so selfish. This is the same with writing.

Many writers keep getting bad feedback from beta readers, other writers, and other people, but never get themselves out of that pattern.

What these writers have to do is change. To help their writing careers, they need to experience real and positive feedback, something they’ve never experienced before. 

It doesn’t have to be a feedback horror story.

In the Writing Gym salons, we give you feedback that boosts your confidence and inspires your writing. We give feedback based on neuroscience. In my book, I wrote about how your brain is intended to function in a certain way. 

Let’s say your knees and elbows only bend one way. You know this fact, yet you want to run a marathon. You won’t be able to run that marathon, because your body parts weren’t meant to do things like that. Your brain functions the same way. If you’re in a writing group that utilizes beta readers, that is the equivalent of my marathon analogy. 

If you would like to know what it’s like to be in a feedback situation with a group that optimizes your brain’s natural function, then I’d love to speak with you.

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How is FEEDBACK Related to Publishing SUCCESS?

How is FEEDBACK Related to Publishing SUCCESS?

How is FEEDBACK Related to Publishing Success?

Recently, I was featured in our local newspaper. They gave me a full page, which was kind of a big deal. During the interview for the article, I was asked how I felt about one of the big local writing groups. This group was huge in our city; they have many participants, and I’ve actually taught as an instructor. 

They might have been looking for a bit of sensationalism when they asked me this question. The reporter read my book, Storytelling for Pantsers, and knew how I felt about bad feedback, especially from this writing group. Of course, I answered the question—I’m not really one to disparage and believe that there is a place for free writing groups.

In truth, free writing groups are only great for camaraderie.

So what is the difference between someone who’s a hobbyist and someone who wants to be a professional?

I enjoy painting. I’m not very good at it, but I really enjoy it. I can spend time with other painters, share ideas, give each other a little feedback and such. This is great because we’re having fun doing our hobby, but not one of us dreams of becoming a professional painter one day. This is the same as writing groups

If you’re a hobbyist and you just want to write for fun, these free writing groups will meet your needs. However, if you actually want to become a professional, and are looking for professional results, you need professional feedback.

Let’s take another analogy: If I want to become a professional skiier I won’t just hang out at the ski club. Instead, I’ll hire a professional and dedicate a lot of time to training.

To be a professional writer you need professional training.

Are there anomalies to this? Yes. However, most of us would need training, support, and feedback that will make us successful professional writers. 

In Write to Publish, you will find the same sense of camaraderie with other as those free local writing groups. However, here we focus on bringing you to the path of publishing success. We provide different tools that can take you to this end goal. The feedback that we do here is based on my study of neuroscience. You might have heard me mention about my time at the brain-imaging lab at MIT and how I study and teach how the brain impacts creativity. 

What we use in the Writing Gym is just that: neuroscience-based feedback. And we do it well. If you are ready to learn more and speak with me about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there, put yourself right into my calendar. 

Too many cooks spoil the cupcakes: How to solicit the best feedback from the get-go

Too many cooks spoil the cupcakes: How to solicit the best feedback from the get-go

Too many cooks spoil the cupcakes: How to solicit the best feedback from the get-go

Writing tips how to get good writing feedbackIt is said “too many cooks spoil the cupcakes,” or something like that. Was it soup? Broth? Doesn’t matter; the point is: the same is true for excessive feedback on writing. Once we’ve solicited a lot of feedback, it can be difficult to figure out which voices to listen to in order to discover the final direction for a piece of writing.

Here are some writing tips to keep your sweet little nuggets of writing genius from going sour.

Know when your piece or writing is ready to share. To everything a time and a season.

There’s a moment for creation and a moment for polishing. Imagine you were going to bake cupcakes, so you take out all all the ingredients, then invite me over. You show me the flour, the mixing bowl, and the cute little paper cups. “What do you think of my cupcakes?” you ask.

Now, if I start meddling in your process, asking questions like “Why did you choose vanilla instead of chocolate?” or offered advice such as “Use multicolored sprinkles on your frosting for better appeal,” you might feel so overwhelmed by all the possibility that you never follow through and make the cupcakes.

The same is true for the creative process. Like baking, if I share before a piece is fully formed, I will get feedback that both impedes my creative process and the piece’s potential to come to fruition.

Writing tips how to get good writing feedbackImagine instead that you bake the cupcakes and then invite me over for a taste. Then I might ask questions such as “Why did you make vanilla over chocolate?” to help me understand your process. But it’s more likely–because the cupcakes are fully-formed–that I can go deeper and give you feedback that will help you make better cupcakes next time. As your friend who cares deeply for your development as a cupcake baker, I can offer suggestions such as “Use more egg next time for lighter cupcakes.” or “Use less sugar in the frosting.”

This type of feedback will really help you to improve your baking rather than confuse or overwhelm you.

The bottom line is: don’t confuse the creative process with the critique process. Critique should only happen once a piece is as fully formed as you can get it.

But what if you’re stuck and want feedback to move you forward?

When this happens to me, when a stubborn character won’t move or I don’t know what he says next, I come up with one specific question and play a “what if” game.

For example, recently I decided to add a plot line to a novel I have under revision. I knew the general direction I wanted to go, but I also wanted a spur on my creative self. So I sat down to dinner with friends and said “Suppose there’s this mysterious couple living across the hall….”

After I’d explained the scenario, my creative friends threw in lots of “what ifs” that helped confirm some plot ideas I had and gave me a new direction for my thinking. The conversation also had the added benefit of re-energizing me about my work. My friends’ enthusiasm rubbed off on me, and I approached the plotting with new eyes. All of this happened without a single bit of feedback on what I had actually written or conversation about the plot as it stood. I protected the piece from premature scrutiny, and was able to spur myself back into creativity.

Get the right kind of feedback at the right time

I once read about a famous women’s lit author who gets through the loneliness of the creative phase by having a celebration for her writing. In order to hold herself accountable for completion, she pledges to provide X chapters to her friends every month, week, whatever. During the creation phase, her friends only tell her what they liked.  This positive feedback helps her to move forward with the creation phase. Once she’s completed a finished product, she’ll revise and then ask for content feedback.

There’s an important distinction between the creative function and the critique function–you are using two separate parts of your brain. Keeping those functions separate is an important part of enhancing creativity and bringing a piece to completion.

Writing tips how to get good writing feedbackTo continue the cupcake analogy, you don’t want intricate baking advice from someone who can’t really evaluate the situations. Sure, we all love cupcakes, but that doesn’t make us experts on baking them. It only makes us experts on what we like and don’t like. Readers and writing workshops can give us feedback on what they like and don’t like, but they don’t necessarily have the technical expertise to talk about how to increase tension, where to enhance or reduce dialogue, or when  to use understatement. For that kind of quality feedback, you need to work with people who truly understand the intricacies of quality writing, how to explain it, and how to help a writer to implement it.

It’s important to have a coach or critique group who knows the difference between the creative process and the critique process and when and how to give feedback one each.

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