The price we must pay for brilliance is attention.
In a world of increasing distractions, attention is a scarce commodity. We are bombarded with tweets, pings, and telephone rings. How do we quiet the noise, pay attention, and write brilliantly? The ancient practice of mindfulness, with a few modern innovations, might be the key.
USE DISTRACTIONS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
In my work as a psychotherapist, I recommend two things to every client. Practice journaling and develop personalized mindfulness practices. Before you book your ticket to meditate in the Himalayas, I must point out that meditation is only ONE type of mindfulness practice. Here is an alternative that is a bit more user-friendly:
This method helps you accomplish a few things:
It helps you disengage your judgmental voice. Making it more likely you will eventually break the habit. If judgmental thoughts are not dealt with effectively, they can wreak havoc. You may engage in the habit more to cope with the negative emotions they create.
You learn to refocus. Often, people think of mindfulness and meditation as a static state of fixed attention. However, the intention is to teach your body/mind to refocus on your objective (observing the breath, sensations, or repeating a mantra). The more you practice refocusing, the faster this process occurs in everyday life, and it will start to appear as if you never lose focus. When actually you’ve just developed lightning-fast refocusing super-powers.
Gently and slowly, bringing your attention back to your characters by imagining how they may react in this present moment will possibly spark some ideas and reignite the drive to continue writing. Who knows? You might even go on to use some of the sensory information you’ve gathered in your story.
Now that you’ve overcome your scrolling habit, you may have time to spare. Use it to check out “The Mindful Writer” by Dinty Moore for more great tips on how to reclaim your attention and release your brilliance.
Brentom Jackson is an award winning poet/writer, actor and psychotherapist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With poetic voice, theatrical flair, and socio-emotional expertise Brentom tells stories that explore the universal lessons within Black-American history and heritage. His debut picture book Elijah's Easter Suit with Doubleday/Penguin Random House is available for pre-order now. Follow him on all social media @brentomjackson. www.brentomjackson.com
By Melissa Stoller
It’s winter – a season filled with holidays of many faith traditions. Take some time this month to breathe in the joy of the season and add some holiday rituals and magic into your storytelling.
Here are a few seasonal prompts to help you dodge into December with ideas!
1. Write about a ritual, custom, celebration, or heirloom from your faith tradition. What memories do you associate with the holiday season? Incorporate sensory details into a story scene.
2. Remember a childhood celebration. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of your memories. Perhaps a book title will spring to mind, or even a full story idea.
3. Think about the foods associated with the holidays. Conjure the smells and tastes. Perhaps browse family recipes or bookstore holiday coffee table books. Capture any ideas generated from your research.
4. Look through old family photos of past celebrations. Study the expressions of the people in the photos. Write a story based on the emotions you notice.
5. Watch holiday movies and TV shows. Maybe a plot will inspire a children’s story!
I hope these holiday-related prompts help you dodge into December ideas. Let me know in the comments! Happy Holidays!
Melissa Stoller writes to bring connection, joy, and a bit of magic to her readers. Her newest picture book, Hazel and Mabel: Two Hearts Apart, illustrated by Anita Bagdi, releases from Gnome Road Publishing in Fall 2025. Melissa is also the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island, and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; Sadie’s Shabbat Stories; Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom; and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written). Melissa is a Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story Judge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, a Book Meshuggenahs member, a Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Advisory Council member, and a past school and Synagogue Trustee. She also interviews authors and offers resources on her blog. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer/editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Central Park walks. Melissa is represented by Jonathan Rosen at The Seymour Agency.
CONNECT WITH MELISSA:
We love children's book creatives so as we wrap up our final weeks of the Ultimate Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books, and head into the end of the year, in the spirit of gratitude and giving, we have a special token of our appreciation, with a lovely FREE GIFT!
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Yabba dabba doo and wait for your goodies!
Sending much love,
Dr. Mira and the CBA gang xoxox
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break