THE Place To Claim Our Power

THE Place To Claim Our Power

In a writing class years ago with Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down The Bones, she read poetry and excerpts from novelists including Hemingway.

She told us, “Good writers don’t ask ‘Why’–they ask ‘HOW’?”

Recently, in a writing class I was taking in NYC, while reading other people’s writing, I noticed it’s common for a young writer to pontificate with questions:

Why did he do this? They’d write. Or, Why did I feel this way? Rather than writing with specific, clear details that SHOW us the scene.

Always answer a question, I made notes on their paper in the fashion of my former teacher.

Too often, as writers, we leave other people hanging, expecting them to fill in the blanks we haven’t as yet answered.

With LIFE, this is also an important lesson:

Don’t ask why! Ask HOW.

“Why?” is born from self-pity/victim and stops us from pursuing a deeper understanding.


Whenever you hear the voice in your head asking:

WHY . . .

. . . is this happening?
. . . am I SO overwhelmed?
. . . don’t you get it?
. . . can’t I do this?
. . . is it TOO hard?

Instead, remember you have the opportunity to ask a different question:

  • HOW is this happening to me?
  • HOW could I be more aware?
  • HOW am I creating this situation?
  • What if I COULD do this but my mind – which is only a judge – is short-changing me?
  • What if it didn’t have to be as hard it seems?
  • What if I’m being given exactly what I can handle as a test to stretch me and help me grow?

As a writer and in life, when WHY arises, I use these statements as a gage to pay attention to how I might stretch myself creatively.


Are you asking yourself questions like these?


Can you ask HOW instead of WHY you feel a certain way? Get more specific and look deeper?

Here’s to a week in which you CLAIM your power!