Writers & Mentors Videos

From time to time we all need a bit of inspiration to guide us through the writing process. Look no further. Here’s a short video featuring our high school poets in conversation with Narrative cofounder and editor Carol Edgarian and recent guest high school contest judge, Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown.

Here Carol Edgarian talks with former guest judge and Narrative Prize winner Javier Zamora about his journey from first submitting poems to Narrative during high school to becoming a celebrated writer.

Best Advice from Namoi Shihab Nye

Listen to Naomi Shihab Nye read her essay:

Dear writing friends of all ages,

Writers are often asked for their best advice. Mine is very simple:

1. Pay attention. Be observant, stay curious. It’s up to you. One of my heroes, Ashley Bryan, used to encourage others to find the child inside themselves every morning. What did you love doing before you had so much to do? Taking some peaceful solitary quiet time, regularly, every day, just to daydream or meander can help. It’s part of our job. We have enough times to be on task, but space is needed in between, for sustenance.

2. Find your mentors. Keep adding more. They will change. Watch what they do. Follow up with them. Share them. If you are a writer, it’s your job to find writers you like to read. Teachers and librarians will help, but it’s your job to follow up.

3. Feed your soul. Music, art, reading, writing, dancing, gardening, walking, running, whatever you do that’s healthy and legal—this might well be the most important part of life sometimes. And no one really reminds you to do it. Good morning. Feed your soul. You have to do it for yourself. Then this richness feeds everything else.

4. Create rituals. These too can change. I feel a day goes much better if it starts out with a cup of coffee, a single lit candle on a long blank table, a paper, and a pen. No email, no news headlines, no computer. Maybe thirty minutes, at least. This time of day becomes the tuning fork for what follows. It’s a personal launch, a private pivot from dreamland back into daily action.

5. Be kind to yourself. As Jack Kerouac put it, Rest and be kind, you don’t have to prove anything. Don’t be too self-critical. Ban the censor. Welcome the editor-self when the time is right. Don’t give the editor too much time too early.

6. Share something of what you do. You don’t have to share all of it. But it’s much more fun and fruitful when we’re not in a vacuum—finding peers who have similar tastes, activities, and interests. This is so basic—common sense—you’ve done it since you were little.

7. Always know the creative life begins again and again. Open page, open mind, open heart. See what happens. Keep exploring—each thing gives us something else.

    Naomi Shihab Nye

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