11 Writing Masters Who Gave Me The Courage To Create

I thought I’d take some time today to share with you the names of some Writing Masters who have served as great influences for this blog: Courage 2 Create.

The following people either were essential to this blog’s creation, or their ideas impacted me to such a degree that they influence a lot of the content I post here on Courage 2 Create. Each one of them, in their own way, have inspired the style, substance, format, and voice of Courage 2 Create. You are probably already familiar with many of them since I have mentioned them in the past, but I thought it would be a good thing to honor them in this way.

Wherever they are, I hope they can feel my deep gratitude for how much their words influenced me and this blog.

11 Writing Masters Who Gave Me The Courage To Create

Julia Cameron

I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way only a few months before I started this blog. In fact, it was only after reading Cameron’s book that I got around to starting my novel in the first place. Without her, I wouldn’t have started my novel and this blog would have never existed. That’s how much of an influence Cameron has played in my life.

Cameron was also the first writer to give me the courage to follow my true passion, and the courage to embrace it wholeheartedly, without fear. She was also the first person to teach me that, in many ways, it was my duty to fulfill my passion.

She clarified so much for me and she healed so many of my wounds that I cannot thank her enough for everything she has done for me. At one point, on this blog, I think I said I would stop recommending her book because I didn’t want to sound like a broken record, but frak that: I think I’ll be recommending her book until the day I die.

Cherrie Moraga

Cherrie Moraga was my writing mentor for four years. Like Cameron, she was also someone who gave me great courage. Also like Cameron, Moraga instilled in me a sense of duty. She gave me the courage to express my identity as a gay, Mexican-American man with a working class background. She taught me how to honor my sexuality, my culture, and my class background in my writing. She taught me that it was my duty as a writer to tell stories from my unique perspective–and give voice to a type of experience that was not “mainstream.”

She’s quite possibly the best teacher I’ve ever had because she not only taught me a lot about writing, but she taught me so much about life, too. She taught me how to be my authentic self and how to be vulnerable in my writing. She was a once-in-a-lifetime instructor and a true writing master.

Thich Nhat Hanh

I came to Thich Nhat Hanh when I was still a devout atheist, and what do you know, he was the first one to bring me, unexpectedly, into a deeper sense of spirituality.

Hanh taught me the courage to move through this world thinking, speaking, living and writing in the language of love, compassion, and hope. He taught me that it was my duty as a writer to speak with words that heal, inspire, and offer light in the worst of the darkness.

It is because of Hanh that I choose my words so carefully today.

Mark Nepo

Nepo’s wonderful book, The Book of Awakening, is filled with a poetry that sounds like prose, and a prose that sounds like poetry. His writing is so beautiful and raw that it affected me deeply.

Nepo gave me the courage to be more poetic, more raw, and more vulnerable in the writing featured on this blog.

John O’ Donohue

Donohue was essential to helping me understand the fundamentals of the soul. He also gave me the courage to discuss and express matters of the spirit on this blog. His book, Anam Cara, is near and dear to my heart.

Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta, author of the blog Zen Habits, was the man who gave me the courage to blog, and the courage to push Courage 2 Create to greater and greater heights. He was also the man who gave me the courage to embrace simplicity, and to go against the grain if ever my beliefs conflicted with the mainstream.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert gave me the courage to incorporate my personal life into my blog. Her book, Eat, Pray, Love was able to blend travel writing, spiritual writing, and relationship writing all into one beautiful and engaging memoir about self-fulfillment in the modern world.

Gilbert gave me the courage to mix different styles of writing into one blog. That is why C2C is unlike any other blog out there: it blends elements of a writing blog, a journal (or memoir-type) blog, a health blog, a relationship blog, a career blog, and a self-help blog. This fusion is what makes the C2C feel fresh, and I have Gilbert to thank for giving me the courage to pull it off.

Darren Rowse

There is a type of physics to making sure people actually read your blog. Darren taught me those physics, and he taught me how to do it without forcing me to sell my own soul in the process.

Also: Darren’s posts are often so much more profound than your standard blog post about blogging. You’d think you’re receiving advice from a Buddhist monk and not one of the most successful bloggers on the planet.

Most important of all: Darren gave me the courage to treat my blog as a serious business, and not just another hobby.

Brian Clark

Just as there is a physics to blogging, there is also a science to marketing. (Er, a chemistry maybe?) Brian and his team over at Copyblogger taught me how to create a blog that people would want to subscribe to–and, again, I didn’t have to sell my own soul to make it happen.

Brian gave me the courage to take myself more seriously as “marketer” whose blog content is designed to market his brand.

Paulo Coelho

Coelho is a more recent influence, but he is a deep influence nonetheless. In his book, The Alchemist, Coelho speaks so matter-of-factly about the journey towards fulfilling one’s purpose (or one’s “personal legend” as he calls it) that, after reading his book, you can’t help but wonder why you were ever concerned with anything other than fulfilling your “personal legend” up until now.

Coelho gave me the courage to speak with more seriousness and exactitude about fulfilling one’s purpose in life on this blog.

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau gave me the courage to be more philosophical on this blog (in fact, he taught me what being a true philosopher really means.) He gave me the courage to include social commentary about our modern world in the blog as well. Finally, HDT gave me the courage to live boldly and “move confidently” in the direction of my dreams. His seminal work, Walden can be challenging and meandering at times, but it is powerful and transformative if you give it a chance to reach you. Thoreau was a true American sage.

Thank You Master Writers!

Thank you to all these masters!

If any of you are still not familiar with them, make sure to check them out. Learn as much as you can from them. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

much love,


What masters gave you the courage to create? Who has influenced your blog, book, or other work? Please share the names of these masters in the comments below!

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14 comments on “11 Writing Masters Who Gave Me The Courage To Create

  1. Ollin, what a great list of inspirational writers. Anam Cara – beautiful book–my copy is much-worn with love. One of my favorite quotes of O’Donohue’s is “Time is eternity living dangerously.” Makes me want to make every moment extraordinary!

  2. Andrea Lewis says:

    Elizabeth Gilbert also inspired me to write my memoir. I loved her book Eat, Pray, Love. Her openness about her personal life and self-exploration really resonated with me.

  3. themagicviolinist says:

    I’ve always loved to write. Even before I could write I would tell these fantastic stories that made no sense at all. But ever since I was six and I started reading the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling with my parents, I’ve loved reading and writing even more. I finished the series at seven, and ever since then I have read it over and over again and I write whenever I have time.
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was also a great series. That first book and a dream I had helped me create an idea for a story I am currently writing.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks for sharing! I need to read Hunger Games. I keep getting recommendations…

      • themagicviolinist says:

        At first I thought I didn’t want to read it because of the premise, and then my parent’s book club read it and they all liked it a LOT, so I thought I would give it a shot, and I LOVED it! 😀

  4. I want to name two people who started me along my writing path. The first is Marie Cartier, an extraordinary woman living in California now, who was my first writing teacher. She was teaching mostly poetry then but she also taught screenwriting. What I didn’t realize she was teaching me at the time was to write to heal myself. She inspired me in her gentle and loving and talented ways to write, and to make my first commitment to writing – to journal daily for one year. The results were astounding because at the end of that year I uncovered a secret I had withheld from myself since I was a child. My writing made me feel safe enough with myself that I could face anything.

    The second person who had a profound effect on my writing was Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) and it was Marie who introduced me to her ideas about writing. From Natalie, who I consider my second writing teacher, I learned how to dig deeper, how to “go for the jugular,” how to keep going no matter what came up in the writing.

    I would like to have a one-on-one relationship with a writing mentor, but have never found anyone except those who charge quite a bit of money to do that. I will keep hoping for that relationship and stay open to someone showing up. I have had several people, though, who believe in and encourage me to write.

    I’m going to name one other person because of the spirituality I have gained and learned from her. Tama Kieves, author of This Time I Dance and Inspired & Unstoppable, and teacher of A Course of Miracles. She has stood by me, encouraged me, help me discover miracles in my life, and just loved me. Love does heal. Love lifts us up. And many times, love really is the answer. I learned to follow and to surrender to my passion, writing, from Tama.


    • Ollin says:

      What a beautiful, thoughtful comment about your many mentors and influences. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Dana! We appreciate it.

  5. pamelacook says:

    You mention so many Masters I too have been inspired by – Julia Cameron, Henry Thoreau, Coelho – just to name a few. Another who set me on my writing path was Natalie Goldberg. Years later I still pick up Writing Down The Bones and read it over again. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  6. […] 11 Writing Masters Who Gave Me The Courage To Create […]

  7. Ollin, I just discovered your blog doing some research. What a lovely article! Many of these books are my favorites too. Like you, I have found the “courage 2 create” and am pursuing my dream of writing full time. Just this morning I picked up The Artist’s Way. It seems that every step of the creating journey Julia’s wisdom resonates with me in a new way. I read this quote on page 194, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.” I call bliss: Be still, Listen, Intend, Surrender, Soar – b.l.i.s.s. Another huge book for me is Stephen King’s book – On Writing. It is such an inspiration. I was on a teleseminar today with author, Tim Ferriss, and he couldn’t say enough about Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. I know several friends who love that book on writing. I haven’t read it, but intend to. Am looking forward to reading more from you. Best wishes on your novel!

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