"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Unleash the Genius Within

Thanks to everyone who said such nice things about my interview. 

It hadn't really occurred to me that I might seem different in person!

If you missed the video, it's here:

Here's my latest writing course:

The Write Stuff

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell


Another trip down memory lane. This article has been reprinted and cited hundreds of times in the last decade...

Unleash the Genius Within

Rob Parnell

This is a three-stage process. 

First, you need to break down your preconceptions about what you think being a genius is.
When you call someone a genius, what do you mean?

* That they display characteristics that seem to be above the common herd? 

* That they think ahead of their time? 

* That they seem to be able to create perfect art with little or no effort?

Einstein was a genius they say. So was Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven and Van Gogh. 


Because they each displayed a unique way of thinking that separated them from the mainstream.

Did genius just bestow itself upon these individuals?

No, every so-called 'genius' is a crafts-person first. 

They learn the basics. 

They study them, copy them until they are implicit. So that, when it's time to create for 
themselves, they know and understand their influences.

Good artists express themselves with honesty and skill. 

They also learn - and keep learning - from other artists. No influence is a bad influence. 

It all helps.

Genius is a not a thing in itself. It is merely a qualitative judgment made by individuals and critics - usually after the artist is dead!

What marks you out as a “genius” is your willingness to be true – to yourself and to your art. 

In other words, genius is really about having the courage of your convictions - the courage to be yourself.

Stage two: some practical advice now.

Clear your mind. To do this, meditate or go for a long walk in the country, undisturbed.

First, try to visualize nothing

No feelings, influences or distractions. 

Try to find that inner essence that is pure calm, joy and strength. 

It’s there, inside all of us. 

Get in touch with it.

Then, calmly tell yourself you’re a genius. 

Repeat the phrase to yourself until it becomes almost meaningless. 

I am a genius.

Do this about three to five times a day for five days. (You can do this with any phrase you want your subconscious to believe.)

For stage three, when you’re ready, take the plunge and write.

Write a paragraph or two about a character or a situation that you totally believe in – even if it’s fictional. 

Edit it afterwards until all the words represent that particular view of reality, as if it IS true, 100%.

Read it back. Is it convincing? If not, keep rewriting until the logic of each word and sentence is, in your mind, incontrovertible.

That’s the trick. 

Make your work totally convincing TO YOU on your own terms. 

Do not write for others. It doesn’t work. Be true to yourself and others will follow.

In the end, it's about how much you believe in your own vision of the world. 

If you don’t really believe in something powerful then neither will your reader, no matter how clever you are with words.
In brief, to be a potential “genius” you must trust your instincts, believe in yourself and write from the heart.

To do any less is to cheat yourself – and your readers.

Keep writing!
 rob at home

"I love deadlines. I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Watch & Win!


Simply watch the video below...

... and answer a simple onscreen question - for your chance to win The Write Stuff - my latest and greatest new writing course!


Here's what you could win:

The Write Stuff

Soon to be $370 through The Writing Academy, The Write Stuff could be yours FREE - five lucky winners will be announced next FridayI

Hurry - full instructions are on the video! Play it now - and win!

Keep Writing.

Rob Parnell

  How to Believe in Yourself

Rob Parnell

There will be many times when your self confidence is tested. 

Sometimes to a painful degree. 

Don't you be one of those that falls victim to the idea that you lack the self confidence to succeed. You don't. All you might lack from time to time is self belief - a temporary aberration that is easily fixed.

First off, you need to understand that self doubt is completely different from lack of self belief. 

Self doubt is like getting a sniffle - it's one of those things that besets all of us at one time or another - and there's not much we can do about it except wrap up warm, drink cocoa and wait until it passes...

Everyone has periods of self doubt because that's the way our minds process what we've done - assessing our strengths and weaknesses and almost always finding that we haven't lived up to our own expectations. That's normal. It's the mechanism by which we improve - or at least aspire to improve.

Lack of self confidence is a more debilitating disease because it's based on something far more fundamental - our self worth, the edifice we've created since birth: our outward facade and our entire internal structure, including all our faults which, irrational as we are, we assume are probably obvious to others.

Self confidence involves two central pillars - that which is based on our internal psychology and that which has been shaped by our influences.

Both pillars can be strengthened and reinforced to cope with lack of self confidence.

Your personal psychology, that is who you believe you are, and how you act and react, is basically, I believe, an illusion.

We humans extract great comfort from believing we are all made differently and have different likes, wants and needs to prove it.

Our brains are fabulous at accommodating this idea and like to give us minute by minute reinforcement of it - presumably because we fundamentally require an IDENTITY in order to function well as participants of the cosmos.

But I would suggest that at some level, deep down, we are all pretty much the same. Or we would be, given the same influences.

At least at the level of our DNA, the differences between us are infinitesimal - and any scientist will tell you we are merely different combinations of the same basic stuff.

I think this is why a good film or a good book and/or a great piece of music, for instance, can appeal to everyone - even those who might say it doesn't!

It's also why all of us can fall in love.

We have the same trigger points, the same emotions, the same ideas about what defines health and security and prosperity. 

What is different about us is how we respond to stimuli and how we interpret and process the information coming in, something I would maintain is mostly down to our conditioning.

That is: how we were brought up, what we are taught and by whom and how we are trained, through our experiences, to respond. 

The differences between us here can seem enormous, sometimes totally irreconcilable - and I think lead to almost all of the problems we currently face.

I believe that If we could just accept that in fact we are all pretty much the same - and want the same things for ourselves and for each other - then most of our problems would dissolve in an instant.

But how does all this relate to self confidence?


Once you accept that we're all the same, you know that everyone else out there has had similar issues to yourself. They have experienced the same feelings of shame, embarrassment, joy, happiness etc as you do, now or at some other point in time. 

Therefore, everyone who looks more confident than you has also felt your level of insecurity at one time - or may even be experiencing it as you watch them!

Therefore you now know that your own self confidence is a perception received by others - and not really a reflection of what you're feeling inside.

We know - because they tell us - that even great actors feel shy and insecure WHILE they're acting sometimes - and you'd never know it.

And here's the trick:

In order to function when you lack self confidence, all you need is to say quietly: "I believe in myself." 

Try it now. 

"I believe in myself."

Feels good, doesn't it?

It only needs to work for a second - just enough time to give you the courage to speak when you need to, to act when it's imperative, and to do something when you just have to take that certain step forward.

Dealing with your ingrained influences is harder - but not impossible.

The human body is habit forming. It likes to stop consciously thinking about the things it has to do and re-classify them as unconscious.

Things like breathing for instance - and walking around, driving and sleeping. It's much easier for us to function when we do things automatically, rather than having to think about them.

So how do we take an action or activity that we're unsure about and reformat it into a conditioned response?

Simple, make it a habit.

For example, if you're uncomfortable doing anything, simply do it some more.

Repetition cures all.

If you've ever tried to learn an instrument you'll know how hard it was to remember where to put your fingers until finally the necessary skills are - almost miraculously - re-classified and placed into your subconscious.

So it is with everything. 

Dieting, socializing, sky diving, all the things we think we won't like, remain that way until repetition forces us to recognize that our fears are wholly based on fear itself, ignorance and inexperience.

Do something enough times and the fear of it diminishes - as any psychiatrist will tell you. They know that anything can be undone - drug addiction, bad habits, self flagellation, lack of self worth, if a person consciously creates a new benchmark for themselves over time.

It's why we grow and change over the years - if our bad habits or learned self loathing doesn't kill us first!

You may still feel some trepidation as you push yourself into the limelight or try something new that stretches you, even after the hundredth time, but that's normal - you're supposed to feel excitement and some degree of fear. That's what makes us human - and fundamentally all the same.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking that because you don't feel comfortable doing something then that means it's out of bounds for you.

It's not necessarily the case.

Just say "I believe in myself" and do it anyway.

You'll often be glad you did!

Keep writing!
 rob at home

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."
John Lennon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

R&R Big Video Update

Robyn and I have just put together an update on yesterday's documentary release - feedback, new projects - which you can ask for! - and a special offer on my writing course "The Hero's Journey in Fiction".

Keep Writing!
The Easy Way to Write

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I See DEAD People - new video

Hi Peeps,

I've been working on a documentary project for a while now. It's called "I See DEAD People".

I'm fascinated by those folks who consider themselves psychic or clairvoyant - my beloved wife, Robyn Opie Parnell, being one of them! This doco is a kind of investigation into the phenomenon.

It's in glorious HD at YouTube, so it's good quality - but if you're having trouble watching it, just lower the quality using the little wheel in the bottom right hand corner of the screen on YouTube.

(I only mention this because here in Australia we have connections SO SLOW we can rarely watch HD online! Thanks to Telstra - yuk!)

Anyway, feel free to leave comments, Subscribe to R&R and share the vid if you like it.

More from R&R coming soon - much more!

Your Success is My Concern

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When You Don't Feel Like Writing

The Write Stuff
I hope you're well and happy and full of The Write Stuff today.

Almost finished the first part of my new doco - "I See Dead People". Yay! I should be able to put up the first nine minutes on YouTube later today. I think it's working well...

When it's complete I'm going to try and get it on the festival circuit - and apply for post production funding. 

Plus of course the new HD camera means I'll be working on lots of new projects this year, including Easy Way to Write stuff and a couple of exciting drama features in the pipeline.

After the doco, I'll be trawling the planet for a couple of young actors!

Keep Writing.

Rob Parnell


When You Don't Feel Like Writing

Rob Parnell

Just because you start writing doesn't mean you know where you're going - or even that you feel like doing it. 

Sometimes you get days like these, when you know you must write (to live or eat or to fulfill the promise you made to yourself) but inspiration is lacking, or your circumstance or head space isn't particularly conducive to creativity. 

Heck, when I was slaving to make a living back in the 90s, most days were like that. I'd get so frustrated knowing that each hour spent in an office or on a factory or shop floor was a precious set of moments I could never get back - time when I could have been doing something worthwhile. 

Writing, in other words.

And then, during the evenings and weekends feeling dog tired and uninspired, hating myself for never having the time to write - and as a consequence getting drunk and hungover to compensate for my self loathing. 

Which, of course, always made the situation worse.

God, how I hated Sunday evenings, enduring the creeping dread that accompanied knowing the working week was about to begin again the following morning...

Maybe it was just me. Nobody else I knew appeared to feel the same way. Nobody else hated the system that made us work for a living as much as I did. Or so it seemed.

Of course, what I didn't realize at the time was that the prison I felt I inhabited was self imposed. That I lived that life as a kind of subconscious self punishment mechanism - like Thomas More wore a shirt with hair on the inside - to remind him of his own sins.

But I did feel trapped. The money I made working 9 to 5 was never enough to pay the bills anything but two or three months late - and still there were the toys we had to have to make life bearable, but actually just compounded the misery...

A couple of times I tried to make the break. Gave up work to write. Didn't work either time because I felt guilty, didn't try hard enough.

The final time it worked because I meant it. 

God knows, I have to admit I prayed for help that final time. Help that came in a round about way. Getting sacked for writing a novel at work - and my boss smiling and saying, "You and I know, Rob, you shouldn't be here. You should be at home, writing." No malice, no anger in her voice, just a kind of complicit understanding when she added, "Just think of me as the bitch who made it happen."

Now, I see the wisdom in her words. She was an Earthbound angel, really, forcing me to face up to what was in my own heart.

That I had to make a decision - and stick to it.

And the way to make a decision stick?

Act like your life depends on it - and that there is no alternative.


Nothing to fall back on, no safety net, no soft place to fall.

It's like that every time you write when you don't feel like it.

You must summon that energy somehow, even if there's only a tiny spark left - and focus it on one word after the other.

Force the words out, even if they're just nonsense or a direct reflection of the mood you're in. You've just got to get started.

And trust that your inner instincts are right - that you are a writer first. And that getting words out and on to a page is what you're supposed to do...

And knowing that the agony of wrenching words from your soul is actually part of the problem and the solution - the cause and the effect all wrapped up into one. 

Of course writing should be easy but that doesn't mean it's wrong when it's hard. I've known writers for long enough to know that getting the right words down - hell, any words down - sometimes is a monumental feat for a writer, for anyone.

But it's the wanting of it that's important.

The wanting is the key to the door that unlocks the inner you.

The you that was meant to be.

This is why habit is so important. Our bodies, not our minds, crave regularity. 

The need to breathe and eat and sleep is written into our DNA - the cyclical patterns that sustain us. We need to make writing as important as our need to breathe, to eat or sleep.

And when we write every day, we make that happen.

Purely by repetition do we convince our subconscious that, yes, this is our modus operandi, that writing is a daily part of who we are. And that by writing, we are sustaining ourselves.

And like any habit, anything done with regularity, when we do it we get the mental reward, the serotonin rush that causes us to feel satisfaction so we can relax and enjoy the process...

And guess what that brings?

Yes, oh yes.

We are writing again - and all is right with the world.

Keep writing!
 rob at home

“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” Tennessee Williams

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Becoming a Better Writer

The Write Stuff

Funny week - me trying to battle the overgrown garden in between getting to know my new camera (a gorgeous Canon XF300). And Robyn out of the house, busy in the city...

This week I thought we'd celebrate our ten years online by going back to the very first article I wrote for the Easy Way to Write. I got $50 for it, courtesy of Booklocker - thanks, guys.

Keep Writing.

Rob Parnell

Becoming a Better Writer -
A Ten Step Guide

Rob Parnell

The urge to write fiction seems God given for some, a learned skill for others.
One thing is certain – it requires practice and a particular mindset. But, if you’re a beginner, where do you start?

The following 10 tips will help kick-start your writing habit, whether you’re a complete novice, or perhaps a pro who has lost their way!

1. Step Away From the Car, Sir.

Slightly detach yourself from your surroundings. Stop participating and begin observing. In social situations, watch people, see how they act and – more importantly - interact.
Don’t pass judgment. Take it all in – and draw on it later when you write.

2. Look Harder, Homer

Stop and look around you. Consciously notice the buildings, what’s underfoot, overhead, and what’s right in front of you.

At home, look at something you take for granted. A kettle, for instance. Find yours and study it.

3. Write Thinking Will Be Rewarded.

A simple technique. Your mother is making tea and you are chatting to her. Take a mental step back and describe the scene.

Similarly, when you’re outside, describe your environment to yourself as though you are writing it down.

4. What Reasons Do You Need?

Don’t wait for inspiration – just write!

Force yourself to write anything at all. A shopping list. An overheard conversation. Describe your bedroom.

It doesn’t matter how personal it is, or how trivial, just get it down!

5. Wakey Wakey!

Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier than normal.

When the alarm goes off, get up. Don’t dress, bathe or eat. Don’t even make coffee. Just stagger to your writing space and write the first thing that comes into your head for five minutes.

6. Oh God – Not That!

Think of the most awful and embarrassing thing you’ve ever done - the more cringe-worthy the better. Now write about it. All of it, in all its gory, horrible detail.

Then hide it away for a year or so before you read it again!

7. Like Your Style, Baby.

Don’t limit yourself. Write poems, songs, dialog, fact, fiction, even practice writing advertising copy or horoscopes.

Your expertise improves in all areas – an improvement in one area can reap benefits in another.

8. The Sincerest Flattery

Take out a classic book from your bookcase. Copy out a paragraph. Think about the words as you write them. Don’t be intimidated!

9. Wanna See My Invention?

When you’re not writing, string together stories in your mind. Think of plots, characters, settings, denouements.

Ask yourself what you should do next to improve your writing.

Develop this technique into a habit.

10. It’s A Goal!

When you start writing regularly, set yourself small goals. Anything from 200 words a day, or just a commitment to writing in your diary.

Later extend to finishing a short story, or an article or a poem. Perhaps one in a week.

The trick is to set goals you can achieve easily.

That way you’ll get the writing habit - and you won’t forget to enjoy it!

Keep writing!
 rob at home

"What is art but a way of seeing?"
Saul Bellow

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writing's On The Wall

 The Write Stuff

Welcome, my dear subscriber! 

You're in an ever growing army of writers who receive my newsletter every week. Thanks for all the positive feedback you send me - daily!

And thank you for being a crucial part of The Easy Way to Write!

Keep Writing.

Rob Parnell


The Writing's On The Wall

Rob Parnell

I was thinking about this phrase as I woke up this morning...

Where does it comes from? Which wall do they mean, anyway? Who put it there? And since when has graffiti been so prophetic?

Whatever the origins of the phrase, we all know its implied meaning: you have to live by the consequences of your actions. Or - fate has a way of catching up with you. Karma, in other words.

Being a writer at home is one thing - you can be private and most of what you do will have no major effect on the world - until the day your words get published in some form or another.

Fame or some kind of notoriety will often bring you and your words, deeds and actions out into the public eye.

Later, you may have cause to regret some of things you wrote or did - especially when you - and your life - become the object of scrutiny, whether by the media, your fans or your biographers.

Little sins during your youth can become blown out of all proportion by people seeking to find the origins of your appeal - or clues to the ambition that drove your success.

This is why you need to be careful of what you do in private - right from the beginning. Because, if you have guilty secrets, chances are they will be made public at some point later, probably when you least want them to be known!

Of course, people are generally more forgiving of scandal these days.

Celebrities get away with all kinds of mischief. Some of it actually helps increase their star status - their name recognition.

But for the rest of us, a good rule is to live our lives as though we are to be held accountable for all our actions. You'll find this helps when faced with
decision making on a daily basis.

There's some debate as to whether we are born with an innate moral compass - or whether we develop a conscience from watching our parents - or whether it's simply a matter of learning how to do the right thing through experience.

Most of us probably don't have much cause to question our sense of right and wrong. We don't have the power or influence to cause a stir even if we had the opportunity to err on the dark side...

But I've noticed that people talk - and take notice of, most especially,

When you publicly state one thing and privately do things that are in opposition to that stance, you run the risk of losing all credibility - and being exposed as a fraud. And of course, that can lead to all kinds of problems, especially if your hard earned reputation is built on your apparent integrity.

As Spider Man's father said, "With great power comes great responsibility!"

If you have any kind of aspiration to be rich, famous, powerful and influential,
you have a duty to behave with a heightened awareness of your own potential faults. You need to curb your darkest desires - like greed, irresponsibility, cruelty and spite.

Because they may all come back to bite you one day. Hard.

No amount of public spin can undo the damage if your heart is not in the right place. 

The public forgives mistakes - especially when you are obviously penitent and remorseful. But relentlessly holding on to convictions that are patently evil or at the very least suspect, will destroy your reputation in an instant - and have you labeled as 'inhuman'.

Okay, so that's an extreme - but it's worth bearing in mind that the mighty have fallen for some very minor character flaws in the past.

Because the problem usually starts with small things.

A simple decision you made twenty years ago, for instance, can snowball into an horrendous sequence of events and outcomes that undermine everything you stand for in the present day.

And you have no-one to blame but yourself.

It's hugely important to, as my Dad used to say, 'watch yourself'.

Be aware that everything you do and think and justify to yourself will have consequences one day.

That a little bit of theft or double dipping or misrepresentation of facts may not be all that bad in the great scheme of things but...

... it can say a lot about you.

If you do bad and and get away with it - and feel no guilt - it says a great deal about who you are: your moral code (or lack of it!)

Nobody's perfect, that's true. We can't always be pure.

But if you behave as though everything you ever do will be held up for public scrutiny one day, you'll live a cleaner, healthier and hopefully more guilt free existence.

Of course there will always be those sociopaths out there that feel no guilt - they're the ones you need to watch. I know a couple...

But Robyn and I have this credo that the more of us with integrity and a strong sense of right and wrong there are, the more influence 'the good' will have on this world.

It may be idealistic of us - it certainly seems like a curse at times, especially when there are so many self-seeking con artists out there - but we actually think it's right to fight for justice, truth and fairness and transparency - you know, all the normal things that make for a happy and successful life.

As they say, if you want to change the world, you've got to change yourself first. You've got to be good on the inside before you can expect others to see the good you outwardly project.

We know this to be true.

It was written on a wall somewhere.

Keep writing!
 rob at home


"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."
Lewis Carroll

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!