Friday, October 26, 2012

Life Lessons—Mining for Gold

by Reba J. Hoffman

Gold doesn't hang from the trees.
What would you do if you could walk outside and gold would be hanging from the trees and sprouting from the grass? You’d stop reading this blog post right now (sorry Edie), grab a bucket and head outside, right? Of course you would.

Well, while gold isn’t hanging like an ornament from the oak tree in your front yard, writer’s gold is everywhere. Great authors take advantage of that wealth, understand it on a deep level and invest in its growth.

Each and every day of life is chocked full of precious golden nuggets of truth and wisdom. And yet writers—and people in general—expend an overwhelming amount of energy trying to avoid it.

I wrote this in one of my books of long ago: True wisdom is forged on the anvil of suffering. It’s absolutely true. All the hardships you face in life hammer out a wisdom that will be intricately and uniquely woven into the fabric of your story. But, it’s completely up to you whether or not you mine for it.

Here are some steps you can take to turn the calamity in your life into award winning novels.

  • Embrace it. No, I don’t mean lay down and let everyone wipe their feet on you. I mean recognize whatever is happening as a gold mine of emotional insight and decide to use it to make your books better.
  • Feel it. Whatever it is, go ahead and let your emotions feel it. If you’re anxious, let your emotions feel it for a hour or two. Don’t stuff it. Experience it.
Capture your feelings in a journal
  • Record it. Write the feelings in a journal. I’m not referring to something like, “I have a doctor’s appointment today and I’m feeling anxious about it.” That’s not gold. Instead, how does anxious feel? Is your heart pounding in your chest? Perhaps your palms are sweating or your hands are shaking. That’s what needs to be recorded.
  • Index it. After you record the emotion, you need to have an easy way to find it when you need some insight about that particular emotion. Develop an indexing system that will easily and quickly point you to that emotional thread when you need it.
  • Use it. Once you get into the habit of mining for gold, you will have a wealth of wisdom to pull out of your pocket at your disposal.

Life is going to happen, whether you take advantage of it or not. So why not capitalize on it? You’ll not only feel better during the situation, you’ll store up an arsenal of emotions to make your characters come alive! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Do you record your emotional responses anywhere? How does that help you? Share it here.

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching ( She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @RebaJHoffman.


  1. Thank you, Reba. God has sure brought our family through some deep waters since I started writing, but it's great to see Him at work in the midst of them. Mining for gold helps provide an eternal perspective!

  2. An emotion journal -- spectacular idea! As I think about all that has transpired in the past ten years, I wish I'd started this a long time ago. Thanks, Reba.

  3. Great idea, Reba. I keep a journal and it's often filled with emotion. those pages have often been the seeds that sprouted more than a few blogs and stories.


  4. I spent a few minutes of my time reading your article and i must say it's really good, it's written in a way that people could understand easily and the most important is that it's full packed with good and useful information.