Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Change your writing life for the better with this online workshop

Imagine being a creative, healthy, writing machine 365 days a year. Regardless of your genre, the tips in my online workshop Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity will guide you to realizing your potential as a creative person.

I have been sustaining good health and mountains of creative energy for many years by following this program, and I can help you learn the tricks then customize the program to suit your needs.

Writer Wellness centers around five fundamental practices:

  • Journaling
  • Physical exercise
  • Relaxation/meditation
  • Sound nutritional choices
  • Creative play

These components are already helping hundreds of past students who learned the particulars then organized each one around their needs and lifestyles. You can do this as well!

For the first time ever, I’m leading small-group online workshops that include all of the following:

  • Private online forum in
  • Self-paced lessons (12)
  • Live chats (weekly)
  • Discussions (online)
  • 24/7 access to the course and
  • One-year access to the online content
  • Print copy of the book* (signed 😊)
  • Bookmark
  • Membership in a private “graduates” forum when you finish the program
  • AND
  • Personal one-on-one 30-minute coaching session via Zoom with me at the conclusion of the course!

There are strict start dates for the upcoming Fall 2021 sessions. The next workshop begins on

13 September 2021

When you sign up, you’ll receive full access on the start date to the course content to read at your convenience. The workshop runs for four weeks with new lessons and suggested activities posted three times a week in one of the main areas (journaling, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play.)

This workshop has never been available to the public until now. Only private writing organizations and their members have experienced this course.

The special introductory price is $97.00 which covers the online course, a print copy of the companion book, everything listed above, and the private coaching session!

Registration is limited to 15 persons, and you can register by contacting me at writerwellness at gmail dot com. You will receive a response from me with instructions on how to pay for the course.

The price will go up after this session! Alert your creative friends.

It’s more important than ever to maintain sound physical, mental, and emotional health so that you can reap the rewards of good health and being able to write the stories you want to share with the world.

From the beginning of time, stories have served to bind us together. Your story matters. Tell it. But if you don’t feel good or your health isn’t what it should be, you don’t feel like putting words on the page. Writer Wellness is an individualized approach to keeping you happy, healthy, and creatively productive.

If you have any questions, send an email to writerwellness at gmail dot com, and I’ll respond as quickly as possible.

I look forward to opening the door to your better life and awesome writing.

Be well, write well,


P.S. This offer expires on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Please register before that date and feel free to share this offer with friends.

*Currently available to ship in the continental US only.

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50 Ways to Leave Your Muse is about staying creative

I grew up in my mother’s ballet school, so, of course, I’m familiar with the image of the flowy, beautiful Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance. I believe in the mythology of the muses, and I can easily play along with the notion when it comes to creativity, but if I sat around and waited on ideas to be gifted to me by some ethereal being, I wouldn’t have published as much or as long as I have.

From my love for studying history and literature, I have learned that the Greeks sought ways to explain their world and themselves. True, this ancient culture contributed a great deal to philosophy, government, education, and so on, but anything they couldn’t exactly touch, eat, or screw didn’t qualify to their norms of rationality and were obviously gifts from the gods who ruled their lives.

We’ve progressed a little farther from that perspective, but the image of the muse bestowing genius and inspiration upon a poet, writer, and others is still with us. For example, in between his writing advice to “work your ass off” and read, author Steven King claims that, “There is a muse*, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground.” (144-145)

As I see it, the problem with depending on a mythical character to do the grunt work is irrational and risky. And since my Scorpio roots ground me to at least listening to my intuition, I’m in between a rock and a hard place that are both falling in on me unless I take a pragmatic approach to things so I can get $h!t done. Because if I don’t, I don’t get paid, and I doubt if I need to explain the avalanche of problems that results from that precarious place. I actually have worked for food writing and posting social media for a local restaurant, so I know what it feels like to sell my ideas in exchange for a sandwich because that’s how they paid me—in calories.

The point is that inspiration most often comes from motivation. Even King explains that he wanted out of a distasteful, go-nowhere teaching job and that compelled him to write and submit until the strike hit the mark for him. He was motivated by survival despite his tongue-in-cheek nod to his muse which he describes as a “basement guy” who smokes cigars while admiring his bowling trophies but has wings and a bag of magic. The muse may have the magic, but the writer must have the motivation. Besides needing to pay bills, where do motivation and ideas come from?

The idea for my online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was originally motivated by an assignment in graduate school. I was motivated by getting a grade and inspired by the work of college English teacher and author Wendy Bishop. Her book Released Into Language: Options for Teaching Creative Writing has a delicious chapter on how she teaches her students to always be inspired to write and not dependent on the muse. She calls it “getting in motion” to write. I like that imagery, not only because of my dance background but because I really do feel like whizzing, whirring, buzzing, clunking, clanking, cranking writing machine when I’m in the flow.

Bishop has students write to and about their personal muses. Those examples in Bishop’s book inspired me to make a list of all the things that can, do, and have contributed to my life as a writer. A writer who is constantly on the run from writer’s block because it doesn’t have a place at my writing table. There’s a place for my lovely muse who eats daintily and quietly with a constant twinkle in her eyes no matter what I’m serving. She’s polite and inspiring, but like King, I always do the dishes, which is the hard work of procuring, pounding out, and proofreading the sentences. We have a lovely relationship, my muse and I, because I stay open to EVERYTHING. That’s what the workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” is about: staying open to the world so you never miss the whisper of the muse. And fun.

The next online workshop of “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks for Writers” is a self-paced course hosted by Hearts Through History Romance Writers of America. It runs June 1-25, 2021. You can register here:

Be well, write well!


Bishop, Wendy. Released Into Language, 2nd ed. Portland, ME: Calendar Islands Publishers, 1998.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribner, 2000.

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Cover of the Month Nominee!

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on!

I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys as possible. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here:


All good things,


Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity Joy E. Held

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50 Ways to Leave Your Muse Online Workshop in September Will Inspire You

Letter Quill SetThe idea for my online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was ignited by an assignment in graduate school. I was motivated by getting a grade for the assignment and inspired by the work of college English teacher and author Wendy Bishop. Her book Released Into Language: Options for Teaching Creative Writing contains a delicious chapter on how she teaches her students to always be inspired to write and not depend on the muse. She calls it “getting in motion” to write. I like that imagery, not only because of my dance background but because I really do feel like a whizzing, whirring, buzzing, clunking, clanking, cranking writing machine when I’m in the flow.

When I sat down and made a list of everything I do to stay healthy and creative, I realized that it was something I could share with others. The online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was born. Here’s a look at the lesson schedule:






Welcome, Schedule, and Student Introductions                                        (M)


LESSON 1: THE MUSE RUSE                                                                  (W)


LESSON 2: CURIOSITY*EXPERIENCE*TRAVEL                             (F)




LESSON 3: PHYSICAL FITNESS*NUTRITION                                   (M)




LESSON 5: JOURNALING*INCUBATION                                (F)






LESSON 7: ART*SCIENCE*WOOWOO                                                (W)


LESSON 8: GRIT*CONNECTIONS                                                        (F)




LESSON 9: READING*THE SENSES                                                      (M)


LESSON 10: SLEEP*DREAMS*INTUITION                                         (W)


Wrap-up, Resources, The 50 Ways                                                             (F)

I have the awesome opportunity of leading this online workshop in September ’20 hosted by Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers of America chapter. It starts on Sept. 7 and goes until Oct. 4. The price is very reasonable and anybody can sign up. Here’s the registration link:

The lessons are asynchronous (log in anytime) and we’ll also take a peek at the other inspiration for the workshop–Paul Simon’s 1976 hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

Please join me for this cool, fun, and energizing online workshop.

All good things,


Women with clean houses do not have finished books. ~Joy E. Held

WRITER WELLNESS COVER 2020_FRONT_Writer_9781951556051

Update third edition of Writer Wellness available now. Want an autographed copy? Email moi. joyeheld at gmail dot com.

Order here

Headline Books, Inc.

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Book Review: The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Occupations, and Careers

The Occupation Thesaurus Cover LARGE EBOOK







If there’s one thing writers learn early, it’s how important details are to the success of the work. Fiction, nonfiction, and everything else resonate better with readers when the content rings true. Getting the specifics correct says that the writer cares about the product and the consumer. It’s also a good idea to get the small things correct because readers know they’re reading good work by an author who went the extra mile to be sure the details are solid. Readers will applaud such effort with positive comments and buying the next book, but they will also let everyone know when something isn’t quite right.


Due diligence by a writer where the nitty-gritty is concerned is how the helpful line of books from authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi come in handy. These two word nerds (term applied lovingly) have done more than enough leg work to help any writer get the facts straight. The latest addition to the Ackerman/Puglisi library is THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO JOBS, VOCATIONS, AND CAREERS. Not only does this work offer a treasure trove of information and the all-important details, the title is a tiny thesaurus in and of itself (occupation, jobs, vocations, careers.) Why would anyone fall prey to the dreaded “word echo” (using the same word too often on a page, in a paragraph, etc.) syndrome when books like the Occupation Thesaurus exist?


In addition to offering concise job descriptions, the Occupation Thesaurus is a handy tool for coming up with ideas. When the brain seems dry but the deadline looms, reference tools such as those crafted by Ackerman and Puglisi go the distance when inspiration is sought.


Before you think that the book is simply a list of careers and what they do, glance back at the full title. It states that this work is a helpful tool for writers, and the content proves this by suggesting a range of writing helpers to further inspire and add depth of understanding. For instance, each vocation provides an overview of the work done followed by juicy details such as training necessary, character traits, reasons why a character might choose the profession, and so much more.


For a quick and different perspective on this book, if you work in any kind of career counseling or services, this book should be sitting on the top shelf in your office. It’s an amazing collection of who, what, why, and what if about the work people do.


Ackerman and Puglisi have previously published other books in their thesaurus line as well. The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is the crown jewel that cracks the code for crafting realistic character occupations that adds detail to the work. This information contributes to what readers want: the real deal. Thanks to Ackerman and Puglisi, writers have a tool to help them create authentic characters that readers will believe.

You can look deeper at The Occupation Thesaurus Writers Helping Writers

Have you checked this book out yet? Others by the Ackerman/Puglisi team? What did you think? What do you write and did this book help you in any way?

Disclosure: The reviewer received an advanced reading copy of the book from the authors.

All good things,



Writer Wellness

Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, third edition is available for pre-order now at Headline Books, Inc. 




August Online Workshops to energize your writing and your health



My flagship online workshop is based on my book Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity. The awesome writers at Orange County Romance Writers of America chapter are hosting Writer Wellness 100% online August 10-September 4, 2020. Registration is open and anyone can take the course. There are twelve lessons posted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with ongoing discussion throughout the month.


August 3-28, 2020 I’m leading the online workshop Reflective Writing: A Journal Workshop for Writers. This course leads participants through different kinds of journal keeping as well as a look at how some famous published authors utilized their journals in life and work. The workshop host is Romance Writers of America San Diego chapter. Registration is open and anyone can take the course. Lessons are posted three times per week with ongoing discussion throughout the month.


I hope to see next month in an online workshop!


Be well, write well!

All good things,





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Writers, Have You Heard About the Occupation Thesaurus?

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!

Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.

Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles…or bringing you joy and helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills. It’s okay, you aren’t alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. (Here’s one of the job profiles we cover in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)


To celebrate the release of a new book, Writers Helping Writers has a giveaway happening July 20th & July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within our Writer’s Showcase. Stop by to enter!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past. What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!

Be well, write well!

All good things,



Fear takes longer to experience in the human brain


I’ve been rereading The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, edited by David Glover and Scott McCracken. I can’t explain why except that the current upheaval in publishing is making me ask questions about the history of the business. In Chapter Six “”Reading time: popular fiction and the everyday,” editor McCracken makes some important points about what happens to readers when they read. Knowing more about reading and how a reader’s experience might affect my writing is definitely a question worth asking. McCracken provided me with a variety of diving boards from which to jump into my own head or other texts. I am drawn to this sentiment from Chapter Six:

The thriller thus allows for different forms of attention, which rely on a comprehensive knowledge of what to expect from the genre, a knowledge culled not just from written fiction, but also from film and television. Yet despite the familiarity of the structure, like the popular song, the successful thriller has to have a ‘hook’, an intriguing element of originality, which draws the reader in (Cambridge 112).

McCracken’s “forms of attention” triggered my curiosity about how I could understand his meaning and apply it to writing romance. While McCracken focuses on thriller novels for this thought, he is really talking about the tension and pacing of a novel. Romance has a sub-genre of romantic suspense, but all romance fiction has some degree of tension derived from the question “will they or won’t they?” The suspense of not knowing the answer and vicariously living the struggles the heroine and hero endure on the way to resolving the question is the same as “will the detective figure this out?”

McCracken emphasizes his premise with three primary examples that thriller novels can/do focus on different forms of attention, and I wondered what that meant in terms of how the brain deals with time (which underlies McCracken’s chapter) during different kinds of stress/excitement/worry/etc. Why does one form of attention in a thriller appeal to readers more than others?

I found a kernel of an answer in  The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life’s Scarcest Commodity written by Stefan Klein who says:

The way we judge the length of an interval of time depends not only on the gauge the brain uses to estimate the elapsed time but also on the degree of our focus. If consciousness is occupied with other matters at the same time, we underestimate the time that has passed; if we are hyperalert—for example while watching an act of violence in a film—the seconds expand (62-63).

My interpretation of this is if a reader (or viewer) is thoroughly absorbed by a scene, paying more focused attention, the time will feel longer to them. The less engaging the writing or the acting, time will seem to pass more quickly for the reader/viewer because the brain is susceptible to distraction. It’s the difference between quickly scanning the pages of a magazine (distracted focus) and examining every detail of one particular page for several minutes (deep attention.)

Klein claims that during intense action it is the “sense of dread that makes the scene seem agonizingly long—like waiting in the dentist’s chair in view of the drill” (63) that captures the reader’s brain and holds them spellbound.

Therefore, my writing needs to include more showing and less telling to increase the reader’s vicarious experience with the action, and this will have positive effects on the degree of tension and pacing in my story.

All good things,



Klein, Stefan. The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life’s Scarcest Commodity. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007.

McCracken, Scott. “Reading Time: Popular Fiction and the Everyday.” The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction. Ed. David Glover and Scott McCracken. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 86-102. Print.

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GUEST POST: Staying Productive in the Cold

Snowy Greensburg J.D. Cook

Welcome J. D. COOK, a fellow student at Seton Hill University. It gets pretty chilly in January during residency in Greensburg, PA, but J. D. sees some benefits. Read on!

“Staying Productive in the Cold”

By: J.D. Cook

This past January the Seton Hill Writers in Popular Fiction Residency reached sub-zero temperatures. There was some delightful snow and ice on top of that. Additionally, my hotel sat on a large hill, the city of Greensburg is filled with hills, and Seton Hill is, obviously, on a hill. Suffice it to say; my car did a fair amount of sliding. I may or may not have seen my life flash before my eyes a few times, but when all was said and done, I managed to make a productive week of it. How is that, do you ask?

Low Temps J.D. Cook

Well, since it was so cold no one wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors. Networking was at a minimum, and I only went out to eat with friends once. So, I did what any writer should do when trapped by nasty weather. I wrote. I didn’t outline any new novels, and I didn’t make any major plot breakthroughs, but I did grind away at some revision ideas. Additionally, I accomplished something I’m not sure I’ve ever really done before.

I wrote, read, and got assignments done while away from the comfort zone of my desk. Most writers should be familiar with the odd sense of Zen that pervades their desk. I’ve taken this to a ridiculous extreme by refusing to part with the desk I’ve written on since middle school. It’s a little beat up, but I’ve done my best work on it by golly. So, you can understand how big of an accomplishment this was for me.

While writing away from my desk was new for me, the wintry weather was not. I hail from the mountain town of Hazleton, which is one of the highest elevated cities in the state. The thing about the extreme cold is that you have no excuse not to hunker down and focus on your writing, or reading. You can’t say, but it’s such a lovely day, and I need to be seizing it. You can’t say that you should be seeing that movie everyone’s discussing. No, you are stuck inside, and as long as you don’t go all ‘Jack Torrance in the Shining’ on anyone, you should be able to get whatever you need to do done. It can be incredibly relaxing just to let go of the outside world for a few hours and focus on a single thing in your house, or in my case a hotel room.  Then, when you come out of your isolation, you’ll leave with a newfound sense of accomplishment.

Overall, the January Residency is usually freezing. It’s a good counterpoint to the June Residency, which is carefree and warm. In January you get to spend more time doing the dirty work of writing. You get to hunker over a hotel room desk doing work. There’s something just as wonderful about that as there is about mingling with my fellow writers, but I could still do without the icy roads.

J. D. Cook Headshot

-J.D. Cook is a Creative Writer in Training. If you are interested in learning more about his journey check out

Thanks, J. D.

Be well, write well!




Joy E. Held is the author of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, a college educator, blogger, and yoga/meditation teacher. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Romance Writers Report, Dance Teacher Now, Yoga Journal, and Woman Engineer Magazine.

Photo: K. Held

Photo: J. D. Cook

Copyright 2018, Joy E. Held




Am I Meditating?

How Do You Know If You’re Meditating?



There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Relaxation/meditation, creative play, fitness and exercise, journaling, and nutrition.

“Success is never a destination—it’s a journey.”                 ~Satenig St. Marie,

Unless we have a homemade brain wave monitoring machine, we usually don’t have the means to measure our level of success with meditation in a scientific sense. We can feel certain changes and measure them to a degree. The average meditation journey should experience three specific measurable stages:

1.Tension-this is where we notice just how tight our jaw bones are, how sore our backs are and how busy our minds tend to be.

2.Letting go-this is when we notice some of the tension releasing and our breathing is slowing down.

3.THERE-this is when we become aware of very few things, less and less bothers us physically and mentally we realize our thoughts have slowed down, and we can control whether or not we want to follow monkey mind down its ragged path. We do not follow monkey mind.

These stages coincide with known and studied brain wave activity.

1.Tension = Beta (busy, busy, busy mind)

2.Letting go = Alpha (focused awareness on our breath and what it’s doing, fewer thoughts)

3.THERE = Theta (just about to cross the hazy boundary into slumber-ville)

Sleep isn’t meditation, and theta is the gatekeeper of sleep, so the goal is to remain relaxed and aware at the alpha level. Regardless of how messy the day has been, a successful meditation session need only give us a conscious pause from the issues we’re dealing with and that’s enough. Yep. It only takes a few minutes a day to meditate successfully. But what does a successful meditation practice “feel” like?


This brings up the question of goals. Should we have goals where meditation is concerned? Is it better to let things take their course and follow along?

Like yoga, meditation is a blend of healthy balance. It’s right to set a goal to meditate for a specific amount of time each day. It’s right to practice particular habits like sitting still and watching breath flow. But it isn’t right to set expectations beyond the realm of the realistic. Why? Because unlike measuring the fact that our brain activity actually slows down during meditation, it creates more stress to attach a measurement or a benchmark for meditation. “If I don’t find perfect peace in my life in three months of meditating, I failed and will give up meditating.” Or “I should notice a major shift in my actions in a set period of time, and if I don’t I will stop meditating because it just isn’t for me.” These are normal examples of our “quick fix”, I-want-it-now mindsets, and this doesn’t work with meditation.

With meditation, the less you expect, the more you receive.


To answer the question of what successful meditation feels like, beyond the physical and mental releases (which may not feel gigantic, but they occur,) the positive results of regular meditation show themselves in our everyday actions.

1.We are more patient.

2.We smile more.

3.We laugh bigger.

4.We appreciate little things more.

5.We share more.

6.We hold the door more often.

7.We focus better.

8.We are healthier.

9.We are brave.

10.We trust more.

11.We think the best first.

12.We are less critical of ourselves and others.

13.We are more accepting.

14.We are more loving.

15.We are more truthful.

16.We are more understanding.

17.We are more creative.

18.We are more of who we were meant to be.

19.We are better drivers.

20.We are better listeners.

It’s a long journey worth every step. Do you have any meditation stories to share from your journey?

Be well, write well.




Joy E. Held is the author of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, a college educator, blogger, and yoga/meditation teacher. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Romance Writers Report, Dance Teacher Now, Yoga Journal, and Woman Engineer Magazine.


Photo: K. Held, 2011

Copyright 2018, Joy E. Held

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