How to tap into Inspiration

Do you ever look at a blank page and can’t seem to write a word? You have no idea at all what to write. You may start with something, struggle, and then, after a while, stop. You may even write several pages and then crumple them up because you feel dissatisfied with what you’ve written.

These are signs that you lack inspiration.

Inspiration, whose origin in Middle English means “divine guidance” and, via the Old French from the late Latin verb “inspirare,” means “breathe or blow into ‘from in-‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe.’ The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone.'” 1

Many people today know that by performing breathing exercises they engage in meditation. These kinds of exercises enable people to relax and “tap into” inspiration.

No rush here

If you want to be inspired, the best thing is not to rush. Forcing something will get you nothing but dissatisfaction.  It’s like trying to make a flower grow. A typical flower grows naturally when it’s well rooted in soil and receives enough sunshine and water. The process cannot be rushed. It’s the same way with writing.


I believe that time plays a great role in receiving inspiration. If you can’t seem to come up with something, take a break, relax and drink a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. This will put your mind off of forcing yourself to come up with something. As you relax, over time, thoughts will traverse your mind. One thought will lead to another and, all of a sudden, you’ve come up with an idea for your blog post, chapter or novel!


Although the thoughts will be brief and almost like ‘sparks,’ you then need to enhance them by adding more to what you’ve received. This is where the hard work of writing and editing comes in. You will need to ‘dig’ around the ‘flower’ of your thoughts, clear out the ‘weeds’ and make sure you add plenty of ‘water.’

Nurture your inspiration

The ‘sparks’ you receive need to be nurtured in order to bloom into the beauty that they were always meant to be:  an inspired project. You need to nurture the seeds of inspiration so that they can grow. In many ways, writing a good blog post, chapter or novel is like cooking a great meal. My Aunt Sue says that if you put love into your cooking, the result will be wonderful.  It’s the same way with writing.

Don’t overcook the meal

Adding too many words to a project can be disastrous because your literary inspiration could ‘go up in flames.’  It’s important to say just enough, but no more than what is necessary.

May you be inspired today.

Beautiful Swan

Image title:  “Beautiful Swan”

Photographer:  Luba Rascheff


1 Oxford Dictionaries

Distribution Channels on Amazon’s CreateSpace

One of the most attractive features offered by CreateSpace, an company and print publishing platform, is its distribution channels. There are six channels and they are all free.

Standard distribution

Selecting “makes your book available to millions of customers on” Activating Amazon Europe enables you to target websites belonging to Amazon in Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. And, you can choose to place your book in the CreateSpace online e-store.

Expanded distribution

By selecting Bookstores and Online Retailers, your books will become available to “thousands of major online and offline bookstores and retailers.” Choosing Libraries and Academic institutions will enable you to increase your book’s exposure to “public libraries, elementary and secondary school libraries, and libraries and other academic institutions.” Selecting CreateSpace direct will “make your books available to certified resellers such as independent bookstores and book resellers.”

The more the merrier

Having recently uploaded a third book to CreateSpace, I gladly selected all the distribution channels available. This is because the more distribution channels you choose, the more readers are exposed to your books, and the greater your chance of selling them and earning more royalties.


According to an article posted by CreateSpaceResources, “Book Marketing: Have you Tapped your Network?” by Maria Murnane, every author has a network that includes: where we went to school, who we share a favorite hobby with, our heritage, and where we’ve worked. It’s important to reach out to our network and tell them that we’ve written a book or books since this is newsworthy, according to Murnane.

From my marketing experience with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, I can assure you that there is a natural progression to exposure; that a fan base will develop; that readers share with other readers; and that your reading audience will become more and more familiar with your brand.

When readers comment favorably about you or your work, include their comments in the About section on your website called, ‘What people say about [put your name here.]’

In my opinion, it’s not a matter of throwing a lot of money into your efforts. Remember, CreateSpace offers absolutely free distribution channels. It is, rather, a matter of systematically exposing your work and what you’re about to readers. It’s something that you must do every day.

If you select the distribution channels that are made available to you at no cost by CreateSpace and you do your part by networking and marketing appropriately on social media, you will significantly increase book sales, royalties and become known.

Book distribution

Image credit: The Cadence Group, Book Distribution

How to Use Amazon’s Createspace

If you’ve written a book in, say, Microsoft Word and have proofread it, properly formatted it, and have a title page, copyright page, introduction, table of contents and distinct chapters, you are essentially ready to roll for Createspace.

Although a variety of trim sizes (i.e., book sizes) are available, I recommend selecting the 6” x 9” setting, B & W. Why this trim size?, you may ask. Choosing a 6” x 9” trim size will ensure that your book is fit for most distribution channels. Your title will be exposed to more potential customers hence increasing your chance of being discovered and read.

Once your book is in its most perfect form possible and you have zero spelling and grammar errors, go to the Createspace website and, if you haven’t already done so, open an account. Select the “add new title” option. You don’t need to worry about buying an ISBN; Createspace will automatically assign one for you if that’s what you choose.

The secret is, once logged on and moving through the process, to find the link that leads to Createspace’s interior templates. Download the 6” x 9” template to your computer. Copy and paste your ready book into the template. Visually check that the pages are numbered sequentially; that your chapters are correctly numbered; that your headers alternate between your name and book’s title appropriately; and that you are completely satisfied with how the book appears. The template will ensure that your book’s margins, fonts, pagination and other settings satisfy Createspace requirements. If you’re careful, patient and thorough, this will save you time later. Export the file as a PDF and upload to Createspace.

After you’ve inputed the book’s title, have selected an ISBN, category, and successfully uploaded the book’s interior to Createspace, you’re now ready to create the cover.

In the same way that Createspace offers the right template for your book’s interior, Createspace has a cover creator. The creator comes with a variety of styles to choose from as well as images. If you choose an image from Createspace, make sure to read the fine print about what doing so entails. Alternatively, you can upload one of your own images. The steps you’ll need to complete while using the cover creator are: Theme, Title, Subtitle (if applicable), Author, Front Cover Image (yours or one offered by Createspace), Author Photo (optional), Publisher Logo (optional), Back Cover Text and Background Color. Createspace will take care of the bar code for you.

I enjoyed uploading my own image and experimenting with different styles and colors offered by the cover creator.

After completing the above, Createspace will suggest that you use its interior reviewer. I highly recommend that you do so. If you haven’t embedded your text, do not worry. Createspace will do it for you.

Createspace offers a range of distribution channels. The more channels you select, the more exposure your title will receive. I personally selected the minimum price threshold for my book (generated by Createspace) since this guarantees the lowest possible price for my readers.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be prompted to submit your file for review. You’ll receive an e-mail within 24 hours with further instructions. In my case, I was congratulated, told that my file was printable, and asked to do a final review which I did.

The Story of Iannis V.

Writers are storytellers.

As I thought about a story to tell you, I settled on the story of Iannis V. *, a rich and influential Greek businessman.  I thought about him because he made an impact on me.

Even though Iannis owns over thirty homes, he mostly lives in two, one of which is a beach house.  He called me recently and asked, ‘What do you know about roses?’  I was flattered that he thought to ask me.  He explained that he wanted to plant them near his beach house and sell them.  ‘Near your beach house?’ I asked incredulously.  ‘Yes, yes!  I researched it and they’ll grow here just fine.’  I replied that I didn’t know much other than to mention Bulgaria’s Rose Valley.  It hardly surprised me that at an advanced age Iannis would attempt to cultivate roses near a beach for export.

To spend or not to spend

When we first met, he told me that, once upon a time, he didn’t have much money at all.  ‘When I didn’t have money, I staid home.  When I had money, I’d go out to the restaurant.’  It was an astonishingly simple yet powerful statement.  He then made some disparaging remarks regarding the spending habits of younger Greeks. 1

On a separate occasion, Iannis said, ‘When I was a teenager, my friends wanted me to smoke even though I didn’t.  One day, they bunched up on me and forcibly held me against a wall as they tried to stick a cigarette in my mouth.’  Iannis laughed out loud as he remembered, his perfectly intact, white teeth flashing and his brown eyes dancing.  ‘I fought back by kicking them hard.  I don’t smoke!’ he said earnestly.

Not only doesn’t he smoke, Iannis told me that he goes to bed at sunset and gets up at sunrise.  He told me he’s done this his entire life.

Good behavior, bad behavior

Iannis seems to attract scandal to him like a magnet.  Some people love him, while others hate him.  He’s even received threats.

In spite of it all, though, I think that Iannis V. is an extraordinary character.  Although lacking a formal education, he is brilliant, highly disciplined and an amazing businessman who knew exactly what he wanted from an early age.


* Name changed to protect identity.

1 He was referring to borrowing from parents and the use of credit cards.  Note that this conversation took place prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

2013-01-02 17.00.51

Image title:  ‘Sunset over the Acropolis’

Photographer:  Luba Rascheff

Reality is in the Detail

How much attention do you pay to your environment?  Do you notice what’s happening around you?  How careful are you regarding details pertaining to, for example, your job?

Pay attention

Many people go about their daily business as if they wore blinders.  They focus on a goal yet ignore everything else.  It’s as if nothing existed but their singular aim with the rest of the world meaning next to nothing.  This is not the right approach to take because:  details do matter.

Lost opportunities

Glossing over important details means that you will lose golden opportunities.  Your understanding will be diminished; you will be more rigid and less flexible; your capacity to enjoy life will be curtailed; and you will miss out on life-transforming knowledge.

Intricate interconnectedness

We are not isolated beings single-mindedly following personal agendas.  We are socially-interconnected beings whose behavior affects everyone and everything around us.

High-definition reality

In order to fully experience the richness of our existence, we need to stop “blindly” pursuing limited, personal gain.  Our gain will come in full when we admit that we are interwoven into the social fabric.

The 5 steps to seeing detail and increasing awareness

  1. Observe  Your ability to observe (whether documents, people or situations) will increase your acumen.  The power of observation (i.e., paying attention to minutiae) will draw you closer to reality.
  2. Remember the details you see  After observing important details, write notes to help you remember what you’ve seen.  You could, for example, keep a work-related journal and use dates and times to record matters of importance.
  3. Incorporate what you’ve seen  As you re-read your journal entries or notes, remember the details you described using the written word in your mind’s eye.  This will increase your ability to:  connect with the world around you; develop your memory; and, ultimately, improve your work performance.
  4. Understand the relevance of detail  When you read your journal, you will realize the high degree to which people and events are interconnected; where you belong in the story; and the great importance of minutiae in all things.
  5. Enjoy your new, heightened awareness  It would not be an exaggeration to say that paying attention increases awareness.  Paying attention to the details (e.g., of your job) will enhance your ability to hear and see; focus; and make connections that will increase your awareness and, in turn, result in benefits.


Perfect Mind Discipline Produces Perfect Writing

Aaaaaaaiiiieeeeeeee!  This is the ‘war cry’ that Bruce Lee emits before performing a series of moves that incapacitate his opponents perfectly.

In the same way that Lee disciplines his mind to execute the moves that categorically put his opponents ‘out of business,’ we need to discipline our minds before writing.

Economy of speech

Although it’s tempting to use a multitude of words to say something, we should be sparse in our speech. In the same way that Lee uses economy of movement–to produce best effect–we should do the same with the written word.

Best effect

The best effect results when there is harmony between thought and word.

Remember your goal

Your goal is to express an idea in the simplest and most elegant way.  Your aim is to immediately convey something powerful to your audience.


In the same way that Lee strikes selectively, we should ‘precision strike’ with keywords.  Keywords are the action words that make our story come to life.  They are the punchline.

A constant state of awareness

In order to maintain the effect of suspense, our writing must mirror our constant state of awareness.  This is our commitment to remaining alert to the details of our lives.  As we purposefully pay attention to what surrounds us by disciplining our minds, this will invariably reflect in the quality of our writing.  As we become better and better at acting when we must and speaking when needed, our writing will reflect our state of mind.

Mind creates words

Our thinking creates what we write.  How and what we think are intimately tied to what we write.  They cannot be separated.

Let the fight begin

We begin the fight–to produce the perfect story–by developing techniques that help us discipline our minds so that the product we produce is a reflection of what we’ve achieved.

The outside mirrors the inside

What we write mirrors what we think.  For best effect, we must have the ‘best’ thinking, so to speak.

Take your time

In the same way that it took years for Bruce Lee to attain the level he did, it will take you years in the field of writing.

Remember, the secret to perfect writing is perfect mind discipline.

Keep Your Voice

The late American author and philosopher, Joseph Campbell, said that when you like an author, read everything they’ve written and then read authors they’ve read.  This is the opposite of reading as much as possible by as many writers as possible.  What Campbell was pointing at was that we should follow ‘threads,’ not follow blindly.  This is why Ted, Babbitt’s son, (Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1922. Print) must, as Campbell advocated, ‘follow his bliss’ rather than do what Daddy says.

It’s the old story of individuation.  You need to write about what’s in your heart, what’s true to you, rather than allowing yourself to be influenced by well-meaning folks.


When we read, we get influenced.  Fearing that we somehow may not have what it takes, not be on the level, we may get wrongly influenced.  We may even begin to adopt the style of another.  This is not good because in doing so, we give up a big part of ourselves, the part that’s unique and makes us stand out from the crowd.

Your voice

They say that we learn how to write by reading much and writing much.  This is true.  But equally important is what we read and what we write.

Don’t fall into abstractions

One of the worst things we can do is fall into abstractions.  This is when we don’t have anything substantial to say yet, feeling the need to say something, start twisting and turning words in such a way as to sound erudite while, in the end, saying nothing or next to nothing.

The old story

Individuation is an old story because it’s the story of our race.  We have, since time immemorial, been trying to define ourselves as separate from others and communicating this definition.

An ongoing struggle

Keeping our voice, our true identity, is an ongoing struggle which starts in early childhood and ends in old age.  It has to do with fighting against being pigeonholed; falling into the trap of directional questions; being able to say ‘no’ when everybody else is saying ‘yes;’ and appreciating someone the world disdains.

If the myths and legends are true, (Campbell, Joseph and Moyers, Bill.  Flowers, Betty Sue (ed.).  The Power of Myth.  Doubleday, 1988. Print (Paperback)) then we have much more to draw from than we thought.  There is, in fact, a vast reservoir of archetypal material we can ‘extract’ and use to individuate and find our voice.

Once we’ve found our voice, we need to keep it since it is precious and defines who we are.

Cover of "The Power of Myth (Illustrated ...

Cover of The Power of Myth (Illustrated Edition)