Friday, December 31, 2010

Imaginative Journal Keeping

Happy New Year!      
       Begin a Journal Habit in 2011.

"Imaginative writing assumes that you will play before you work, dance before performing, doodle before fiddling with, fantasize before forming."
                           - Janet Burroway

Over the years I have tried a variety of techniques for recording ideas and vignettes. I've used loose leaf binders, spiral notebooks and fancy journals.At one time I had five or six notebooks going for freeflow wordling, ideas, stories, references and quotations.  What a challenge it became to find anything when I wanted it.

I have finally settled on one journal with a fancy cover that records it all: ideas, notions, creativity, letters, references, photos, reminders and starts, writes and wrongs. When one is complete, I begin another.  A system to keep track of entries has helped the process.

For me, a fountain pen provides pleasure and nudges creativity more than fingers tapping on the computer keys. A pen pony's scent and flow across the page creates rhythm and energy that feels like meditation. Use of colored ink also enthuses my writer's mind.

I keep a full stable of fountain pens filled with green, turquoise, yellow and magenta inks. I also employ red, rose-scented ink. Some barrels feel feisty to my touch like Thoroughbreds. Others create the syncopated rise of a Missouri Fox Trotter. I have quarter horses and a Morgan or two that move my words with a pleasing gait. My Arabians kick up their hooves on cold mornings. The sound of ink flow on pages stimulates my imagination.

How to keep track of everything?

At the back of the journal, I save several pages for an index. I write letters of the alphabet along the left side with ample room beneath each. After I write entries, I record them for reference by page number in the journal. For example: If I have a quotation by Rumi, it goes across from R. I also will cross-reference the subject matter under other letters. This becomes a reminder of areas I can refer to later.

At the end of December, I go through indexes of the journals of the year. I discover ideas to use to begin the New Year.

If you haven't relied on journals, make 2011 the year to begin. Start with a fresh page tomorrow. Find a quote that appeals and write to the end of the page.

I encourage you to discover your own stable of ponies to exercise daily in a fancy journal.

Share a journaling technique with us!

Design your Sentences

A sentence creates a bridge from writer to reader. Focus on the design of your sentences and paragraphs.

Every word moves the ideas and action. Add texture by naming the sparrow, hibiscus or magnolia tree. Stress key points with the details of color and sensory imagery. If you break long sentences into short ones you will attract the reader's attention. Create a breathing stop. To achieve emphasis, reverse the usual word order. Read your sentences aloud to gain rhythm, emphasis and impact. 

Word choice provides clarity. Active verbs intrigue and intensify sentences.  Avoid the use of passive voice and the "to be" verb. The subject needs its verb near the front rather than separated by a clause and stuck at the end of the sentence.  Ask yourself what does an adjective or adverb add?  Often they creep in like bandits and hitchhikers to rob your sentences of power.  Make verbs your heroes to defeat them.

Select a paragraph from your current work. Circle the adjectives and adverbs first.  Then use a green underliner to color your nouns and verbs.  Begin to re-arrange the sentences to add texture and movement to the sentence.  

It helps to sing your sentences!

New Year's Eve

Tonight, many will sing a Scottish folk song written by Robert Burns, They'll sing,“we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne" at Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve. Hogmanay derives from a French word for a gift given at the New Year.

Just after midnight, someone scrambles into the house of a neighbor o...r friend with gifts. This is called "first footing" or becoming the first person to bring good fortune for the new year. The first-footer is a tall dark-haired male. Anything else could mean bad luck.

Customs vary by region within Scotland and include, decorated herrings, fireballs, pipe bands, fruit cakes, song and whiskey. Scottish-American humorist Craig Ferguson described Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations: “It is a time when people who can inspire awe in the Irish for the amount of alcohol that they drink decide to ramp it up a notch."

Have a safe New Year's Eve. Get to sleep early! Then you will have a clear head to write your way into the New Year on Jnuary 1, 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bubbling for Ideas

A stack of bricks, a work shirt billowing on the line:
epics in the making. Each set of doubts a garden                                            
     - Lance Larsen from the poem, "Chancellor of Shadows"                       

How do you generate ideas for your prose or poetry? At times, inspiration may seem mysterious. Connection, collection and collation promote idea development.

Consider all the stimuli received each day. Take time to use all your senses as antennas to locate and pick up bits of conversations, body language, scenes unfolding and myriad opportunities for further investigation.

If you keep a small notebook handy or use a recording device, ideas will land in a safe place. Later you can return to see how they dovetail or grow additional wings.

Don't worry about beginnings, middles or ends, just become a collector of life's mysteries and events that unfold around you. Stephane Mallarme said, "Poems are not made of ideas, they are made of words. An idea, a possibility, may be in my head - or in the world - for hours or years, withnothing coming of it. Then one day, maybe taking a shower or a walk or driving, into my mind or mouth come a few words in a certain order, or maybe not even words, maybe a shape of grammar, sentence-sound: And then a poem begins, I hope."

Always stay on an idea hunt. No matter where you find yourself you can attract them. Take an hour to visit a park, coffee shop or other place where many people gather. Watch body language, sounds and add scents and tastes. Observe the seasons and their subtleties. Notice the animals that populate your days.

Look up and observe details others miss. If you begin this observation, a habit will form and you'll always attract bubbles of ideas. Let your ideas-in-training percolate. They will arise when you least expect them.

How will you bubble for ideas today?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mistaken Identities

Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee and thee with me.
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.     
                            -Walt Whitman

Do we travel away from who we really are because of the many roles we play? A few of the characters we inhabit during our life experience might include: spouse, parent, sibling, friend, employer, employee. As a result, our true self may stay hidden.  Or, we haven't taken the time to study the authenticity of ourselves because of myriad role responsibilities.
A writer's quest involves the process of discovering an authentic self. It takes a lifetime to explore and delve into the depths of one's inner world in writing beyond the chaos of daily life.

Take time to mine your curiosity.  Investigate beyond your mistaken identities for an inner voice.                   

Describe with concrete details what this voice sounds like. 
Where do you come from?
Where do you belong?

What is your contentment?

What questions do you have about the real you?
As you write into your depths of discovery, listen for a haunting voice of your true self.  What "other self" keeps you company as you dive deeper into your self-enlightenment process?
Start a dialogue and respond to it when frustrated, angry, needy and happy.  Return to ask and answer questions.

Creative Write: Today write about something unimaginable that might define you.

Prepare for the Write 2011

Prepare for your Write 2011  !

You possess all you need to activate your Write Life in 2011. You do not have to fret or feel concern. It’s all there. If you focus on your resolve and bring to mind the intention and commitment to write, you will achieve your true Write Mind.

A supportive state of mind becomes the best way to commit to a Write Habit. Nourish your resolve and direct your write energy with intention. Change your statements about writing. Instead of indicating that you want to write or you will write, think “Writing is my nature.”

If you permit your subconscious mind to work from a place of perceived inadequacy, the energy that supports your resolve weakens. A positive approach assists your level of contentment even during times of seeming frustration.

Energize into your Write Mind!

Move into your writing inquiries with Positive Responses:

1.  Why do you want to write more in 2011?

2.  What do you want to write?

3.  How will you practice writing?

4.  In what ways will you write past frustration in 2011?

5.  How will you permit yourself to write for Fun each day?

6.  What new areas will you discover?

7.  How will you reward yourself for writing?

8.  What do you need to accomplish in your writing?

9.  Do you need a writing pal?

10. What will you do to strengthen your writing resolve?

Keep your writing resolve moving with a smile!

Creative Write: Post one resolve you have for your Write Life in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stringing Experiences

"Words are the threads upon which we string our experiences."   - Aldous Huxley

The New Year looms days away.  Are you feeling consumed by changes you wish for in 2011?  Forget Resolutions!  Free your mind of distractions and explore without judgment today.  Relent to creative urges and stay flexible.

Imaginate:     Write a line of something that seems impossible.

Play:              Describe a playful activity.

Revitalize:      See an old problem in a unbelievable way.

Eye rolls:       Examine a familiar object with a new perspective.

No gravity:    What would you do today if gravity didn't hold you down?

Take the responses to your lines and re-arrange them.  Read them aloud.  Then put them aside and write for ten minutes.  How will you begin 2011 as a purple tummybird?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Word Glide

Glide into a stream of words without stopping.  Write the first word and let it take you trolling for more.  Be surprised, amused, free.

Try not to think as you write the next word that flows to mind.  Here's a first example:

Shield:   trap, gourd, greyhound, twilight, tendril

Write as fast as you can across the page:







When you're finished, look at your strings. Take a break, then write for fifteen minutes and see what percolates.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Lunatic, The Lover and the Poet

"The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact."  - William Shakespeare

We view all such characters in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream"  from which the line is taken. 
What is the world of the imagination for you?    Where does it nurture and take you?

In a lunatic's mind a dance occurs among demons, daring and dread.  The lover's heart and soul fill with sensory wonder.  Sounds, sights, scents and tastes become heightened.  The poem imagines beyond his or her reality and uses it to write about the world.

Writers require this multiple personality to achieve a jounce of words into sentences that propel into paragraphs and pages.

Pulls of extremes, spells of things, passion, courage and persistence define a writer's life.  To live life on one's own terms requires intensity and perseverance. Once patience settles in, we write on and on.

Creative Write:  Consider stories that have shaped your life.  How can you explore them from the perspective of a lunatic, lover and poet?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do you know when to use that and which?

It's easy but they're often misused.

Use THAT when the following clause is necessary to the sentence's meaning. Use WHICH when you can leave it off without affecting the meaning. That may sound too easy. You need to know the definition of a restrictive clause to understand it. A restrictive clause is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. It specifically restricts some other part of the sentence. Here's an example:

Some apples that taste bitter cause stomach aches. (Do not use commas.)

The words - that taste bitter- restrict the kind of apples. Without the clause, the meaning of the sentence would change. You'd be saying that all apples cause stomach aches not just the apples that taste bitter.

A nonrestrictive clause - with which - can be left off without altering the sentence's meaning. It just provides additional information.

Apples, which come in a variety of red and green, can cause stomach aches.

If we leave out the variety of red and green, the meaning doesn't change. Notice nonrestrictive clauses are surrounded by, or preceded by commas.

More examples:

We had a forecast for rain today, which is bad news. If you omit the clause, the meaning of the sentence doesn't change.

You can toss out whiches without losing the meaning.

Cars that have hybrid technology get great gas mileage.

Leaves that are green contain chlorophyll.

It would change the meaning to throw out the clause in those examples, so you need a that. (Also note the that clause does not require commas. Restrictive clauses usually aren't set off by commas.)

Notice thats and whiches today! Sweep away the whiches.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why do you write?

Many ask if writing can be taught?  It's not about teaching how to write; it's about why to write.

Sandra Cisneros wrote in THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET:

I like to tell stories, I tell them inside my head. I tell them after the mailman says, Here's your mail. Here's your mail he said.

I make a story for my life, for each step my brown shoe takes. I say, "And so she trudged up the wooden stairs, her sad brown shoes taking her to the house she never liked."

I like to tell stories. I am going to tell you a story about a girl who didn't want to belong.

We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, but what I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to.

I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free.

Creative Write: Do you write so "the ghost does not ache so much"? Do you write your freedom? Consider the possibilities of your writing today. Share a line of "why" with us

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fun Stuff for a Wintry Day!

Do you feel a bit weary today?  Has inclement weather set clouds in your brain?  Holiday preps starting to take their toll?      Break from today's inner tsunami with word play.

Write responses as fast as you can.

l.      One sound like - greek or  kachung
2.     Use a different name for a color - like persimmon
3.     A memory of. . .
4.     A city name that's unusual
5.     A flower
6.     Song title
7.     Tell a secret
8.     Add a taste
9.     An animal's scent
10.    Material texture - like corduroy

Read what you have written.  Write the notions one after the other. Take another quick glance. Close your eyes and count to ten.  Then turn your sheet over write for a page.

Don't you feel better :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life Patterns for Reconstruction

"Gaining access to that interior life is a kind of . . . archaeology: on the basis of some informtion and a little bit of guesswork, you journey to a site to see what remains where left behind and you reconstruct the world."   - Toni Morrison

What matters the most in your life? 

Answers to that question change as you grow older and mature with experience in thinking about choices.  During a lifetime, we return to aspects of life that matter the most.  Writing about and through these experiences provides insight for future choices.

Think of an incident that shaped the way you view your life?  Was a hidden gift there, or a lesson you've carried forward? 

Did you make a choice in the moment that benefitted your future?  Could you have gone a different direction and altered where you reside in life today?

Recall an incident where you felt a real or perceived disadvantage of life.  In reflection, would you change the results?

Consider a choice you did not make or one that was made for you because of procrastination or indecision. How would you rewrite it from a third person perspective?

Remember a choice you did not make or one that was made for you because of procrastination or indecision. How would you rewrite it from a third person perspective?

Do you have unfinished business in an area of life?
What's your life's greatest decision.

Creative Write:  Freewrite to one or all of the above concerns.  See what the writing uncovers in the archaeology of your interior life.  Then, as Morrison suggests, "reconstruct the world."


Do you use humor to delight, entertain or beguile your readers?  If not, consider how humor involves the ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical and the absurd in human life.   Express the ridiculous and preposterous. Add more funny bones to your writing. 

Types of humor:

Irony involves an intended meaning just the opposite of what is expressed.
Parody occurs where the writer imitates a piece of writing for comic effect or in ridicule.
Sarcasm expresses, in the form of irony, an intent to cut or wound.
Satire writing holds up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
Wit uses ingenuity and swift perception to evoke laughter.

The most important element in humor writing mingles the writer's point of view with an attitude of humor.  Humor evokes a sudden change.  The writer should convey a contrast: the reversing of the normal and abnormal, expected and unexpected.

To develop a strong sense of humor, examine what's funny in yourself!  What quirks, habits, biases and outlooks do you have?  You'll discover a perfect source of material.

Make it funny, keep it funny and don't pass up any opportunity to make it funnier.  You will learn that humor self-generates.  Make your readers laugh.  Once they've started, don't let up.

Do remember, humor is an iffy business. What will make you laugh might roll off your readers.  Keep in pursuit of what tickles your funny bone and don't give up.

Have fun writing and playing with these ideas:

l.   What irritates you about others?  Exaggerate their shortcomings.  Reverse and examine your own dislikes.
2.  What misfortunes have you experienced.  Notice the tricks that fate has played recently. 
3.  Your flaws make laughable material.  Write a few jokes about yourself.
4.  People laugh at two things: surprise and misfortune.  Surprise humor leads in one direction and then  
     takes a turn. Intermingle surprise and misfortune.
5.  Consider ways to use exaggeration or understatement to convey a situation.

Humor brightens inclement weather. Enrich your writing with lines to produce laughter!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Writing the Landscape of Self

Consider:  Where have you felt most at home?  Where do you feel comfortable in an environment?  Where do you feel you came from?

Use your curiosity and imagination to create a landscape of self.  List feelings as fast as you can. Begin with:  despair, joy, loneliness, fullness, confusion. contentment, silliness, seriousness, boredom, excitement.

Next, list landscape-related words: mountain peak, valley, hill, pebble, beach, seaside, waves, twig, leaf, desert cactus, swamp, meadow, fence, garden pond, creek, sky, prairie.

Combine your feelings with landscape imagery.

Open with, I COME FROM. . .  You might come from mountains of silliness, a swamp of seriousness, a twig of sarcasm, a tornado of anxiety, prairies of delight. 

Add colors, sounds, scents, tastes and textures

After you've collected imagery, do a freewrite.  Then, go in and circle the images that mean the most to you.  Where will you take them for further development?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Joining the Circus

"I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. When my characters join the circus, I'm joining the circus."  - Anne Tyler

What does it mean to join the circus?

Choose a circus member, take on the persona as your own and fly with it. Are you an elephant trainer? Or the lady who rides the white horse with a feather in his bridle? Would you like to become a fortune teller for a day? Could you tame the lions? How about swinging from the trapeze?

Delve into your imagination, let your writing flow and see where it leads.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Discover Details in Your Decades!

"I don't think you can be a writer unless you feel things not just for the moment but they live in you."
- Eric Bledsoe
Writers have an opportunity to mine for stories when considering five topics during life's decades. What memories fit into these A categories for you?

l. An Amazement   2. An Achievement  3. An Amusement  4. An Absurdity  5. An Amiable friend

Begin with a child's eyes and respond from 10 years and under.
Then, move into adolescence.
What memories come to mind from years 20-30?
Delve into the 30-40 era.
From 40-50 will provide additional insights
If you respond from 50 and above, notice how your wisdom reigns!

Write one line responses at first.  Then you can go back to detail the decades.

Absorption and Play

In the "Legend of Bagger Vance," Bagger Vance claims that life is a game that can't be won, only played.  The writing life becomes similiar. In the initial stages of creativity, it's not about winning or a goal.

We play with words, become immersed in our writing action and discover what we never expected. Play becomes serious and disciplined as well as liberating. An absorption takes over that removes us from structure and our surroundingss.  If we free ourselves to write just what arrives, the writing serves itself.  It may not win prizes or become publishable but that's not the purpose.  The writing sets us free to move to another level of possibility.

Writing is a solitary practice.  Like meditation, no one can do it but the writer. 

Rabbi Rami who believes in writing as spiritual practice, conducts workshops on writing alone and with others has three rules:

l.   Don't write what you know.
2. You can't write what you don't know.
3.  You must write.

Creative Write: Set aside a block of time and permit yourself the stillness, and freedom to write with a pen across pages for at least an hour. If you can spend two or three, you will amaze yourself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Go Wilding!

I love spring water and wild air, and not the manufacture of the chemist's shop. I see in a moment, on looking into our new Dial, which is the wild poetry, and which the tame, and see that one wild line out of a private heart saves the whole book. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings. - Jack Kerouac

During the '50s, “first thought, best thought,” became the mantra of the Beat writers. They wanted to capture a direct line to the subconscious through what flows in the mind. The Beats went after that wild line.

Wild, free, single lines evolve into a work of art. A sketch results from glimpsed nuances. It all started with the wild sketches on cave walls.

Free form art changed writing, jazz and painting. Jackson Pollock sought the wild image; Thelonious Monk after the wild edge in jazz.

Your first thought taps something deeper; it emerges out of the edges of imagination. Energy arises from that first effort. The spirit of a writer arises in a quick sketch. Depth of feeling, spiritual depth, emotional state of the moment all spill out.

The first impression arises to set a stage.

Creative Write:
Go wilding today. Sit in front of a window and write what you see within the frame of the window. Notice what passes in the corners of your eyes. Let the wild enter; the flash of a black thing will introduce another thought.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How would you spend. . .

A Maxim
     by Carl Dennis

To live each day as if it might be the last
Is an injunction that Marcus Aurelius
Inscribes in his journal to remind himself
That he, too, however privileged, is mortal,
That whatever bounty is destined to reach him
Has reached him already, many times.
But if you take his maxim too literally
And devote your mornings to tinkering with your will,
Your afternoons and evenings to saying farewell
To friends and family, you'll come to regret it.
Soon your lawyer won't fit you into his schedule.
Soon your dear ones will hide in a closet
When they hear your heavy step on the porch.
And then your house will slide into disrepair.
If this is my last day, you'll say to yourself,
Why waste time sealintg drafts in the window frames
Or cleaning gutters or patching the driveway?
If you don't want your heirs to curse the day
You first opened Marcus's journals,
Take him simply to mean you should find an hour
each day to pay a debt or forgive one,
Or write a letter of thanks or apology.
No shame in leaving behind some evidence
You were hoping to live beyond the moment.
No shame in a ticket to a concert seven months off,
Or, better yet, two tickets, if you were hoping
To meet by then someone who'd love to join you,
Two seats near the front so you can catch each note.

Read through the poem by Carl Dennis a few times.  Notice the humor and depth.  Use it as a springboard for a piece of your own writing.


A past job. A friendship requiring renewal. When you left your place of origin for a new experience.

How would you spend a day writing about that last experience?  How will you retrieve the wonder, the intensity and humor?  Revisit the moments in movement and see where they take you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where do I . . .? Your Question Engine

Do you have ideas but feel challenged about where to begin, what to place in the middle and how to finish a piece of writing?

Alter your typical approach. Avoid writing an outline. Outlines often restrict ideas if prepared in desperation or too soon in your process. Instead of thinking in terms of structure, develop a series of questions. Don’t respond, just continue with the questions for a full page. They perpetuate forward movement.

A journey with questions will open possibilities you have not considered. You will discover what you’re trying to say while questioning. Questions will help you write beyond frustrations and chronology which both get in the way of creativity.

Here are a few to start your question engine. Remember, write for a page and don't answer them.
What’s beyond the focus of this piece of writing?

What’s necessary to this writing?

What’s troubling about it?

How and where will the reader become most curious ?

What happens next? Then what?

In what ways could I become outrageous with this writing?

Will humor help?

What would the writing say to me in dialogue?

What if I begin with the conclusion?

Would the middle provide a different beginning?

Do I want the reader to follow along, feel frustrated or satisfied with my ending?

What if I leave the ending open to a variety of interpretations?

How will my sentence structure help with the tempo of the writing?

Creative Write:
Take a piece of writing that has not performed for you. Ask questions. Ask more. Let them sit for several hours while you’re doing different things. Then return and ask questions of the questions.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Terrain of Self

Mel Bucholtz writes, “The body is the landscape of the mind; where the dramas of our early life are still happening.”

At first in childhood, we wander into the unknown and experience mysteries without fears. Then someone advises us to become afraid and we agree and become fearful or rebel and create ways to conquer our fears.

Throughout life, we develop a terrain of ourselves through mimicry, curiosity, and an instinct for playfulness. Our self-esteem escalates each time we confront a frightening situation and accomplish a successful outcome.

Consider the fears and frustrations that defined your childhood.

In what creative ways did you get stronger and develop your terrain of self?

Take time to write about the obstacles you overcame.

If you wrote a letter to your child-self, would you encourage more risk-taking?

How do you define your childhood terrain today?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Oddies

"People have a natural sense of wonder," Harold said. "I try to provide them with a little oddity now and then. Takes them out of themselves and away from their own troubles." from SARAH CANARY by Karen Joy Fowler.

Write about oddities today:

What mystified you as a child?

Recall observing someone "different" and your reactions.

What mysteries can you discover by hiding or revealing your "little oddities"? Create a character.

Follow shadows today and search for peculiar.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dealing with Rejections!

"All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why. " James Thurber

James Thurber, humorist, became one of the most important staff writers for "The New Yorker" magazine. Starting in 1926, he submitted over 20 pieces and received that many rejections. "My pieces came back so fast I began to believe "The New Yorker" must have a rejection machine," he said.

Thurber began working at the "New York Evening Post." He kept working on his humor. One night living in a basement apartment, he set his alarm clock to go off 45 minutes after he'd fallen asleep. In a drowsy haze, he wrote the first thing that came to mind. It became a story about a man going round and round in a revolving door, attracting crowds and the police. He eventually setting the world record for revolving door laps. It became his first piece to be published in "The New Yorker."

Questions about rejection:

How do you deal with the rejection aspect of writing? Do you send your work back out as soon as it returns? Does your humorous side kick in?

Share your ideas about dealing with the demands of rejections and your relationship to them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writing Warm UP

Warm up before your "real" work:

Write for 15 minutes:

Begin writing about the color tangerine. What does it evoke?

After five minutes, switch to magazine. Keep working on the "ines" - Consider limousine, benzine and aquiline.

What other "ines" can you add?

Exercise your Point!

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never.” – Sir Winston Churchill

We clash with the F word from time to time – Failure. Don't let it send shock waves through you just to see it written. It’s just another F word – a Fact of life. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself beyond your comfort territory into the terror-itory where breakthroughs occur.

Mistakes teach us to make different choices. Even the uncomfortable consequences will lead us toward our goals. Push on with a smarter approach. Make mistakes and thrive! Resilience keeps writers on task and in process.

It takes more than hard work and good intentions. Avoid a focus on how hard you’re working. A commitment on results becomes part of the writing process.

Reinforcement becomes key to progress. Make certain you have a support system for your writing.

Remember, a pencil has a point and an eraser. Wear down the eraser and also make certain you exercise the point!

Creative Write:  What will you write if you break your pencil's point today?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beyond Avoidance!

Gandhi said, "I never let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet."

Through the power of awareness and in a centered state, we can notice the temporary nature of harmful thoughts about our writing. We have the ability to choose thoughts that enrich us. They will become self-enhancing. In that way, we avoid the dirty feet of guilt and self-rejection.

Take time today to notice your stormy emotional "weather." Respond to it rather than suppressing the emotions through negative behavior or avoidance.

Pain, loss, and sadness are emotions - part of life. Suffering, guilt and resistance/avoidance are behavioral choices. Like physical training, mental training takes time and practice, but over time, your mental muscles show strength.

Use writing to maintain centered awareness. Develop your sense of wonder. You will discover its indestructible quality!

Creative write: What dirty feet did you avoid by writing today?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learning Human Behavior

Zhuge Liang in Mastering the Art of War, reveals how difficult it becomes to delve into people’s natures and really know them. Although good and bad seem different, their conditions and appearances are not always uniform.

Some people appear nice enough but steal. Others reveal outward respect but inward distain for others. Often tenacious individuals feel insecure inside. On a team, players may have talents that help the team win but they do not show loyalty to their teammates.

Zhuge Liang uses seven questions to learn individual behavior:

l.    When questioning individuals about right and wrong, observe their ideas.

2.   Exhaust their arguments and discover if and how they change.

3.   Consult with them about strategy to notice their perceptiveness.

4.   Announce that there is trouble to test their courage.

5.   Get them drunk, to observe their nature.

6.   Present them with the prospect of gain to see how modest they are.

7.   Give them a task to do within a specific time, to see how trustworthy they are.

As difficult as it might become to know individuals, writers need this information to create well-rounded characters. Take a character you have created and present him or her with these questions. How does your character respond? Share one response with us.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alain de Botton writes, "We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure can anything grow."

Consider what you find difficult today. How will you bring successes from the past to your present moments of discomfort?

Write to discover and overcome a diffculty by pushing boundaries in your writing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writing Goals

Writing Goals for 2011

It's 30 days away from the new year. Begin to think of your writing purpose and goals for 2011. New Year's Resolutions don't stick. Don't consider your writing aspirations as part of a resolution. Make them revolutionary!

Place a sheet of paper where you'll see it every day. Over the next weeks, make notes of what you expect to play with, discover and accomplish in your 2011 writing.

Along the way, add in several daring goals to push yourself beyond limits.

In the last two weeks of the month, lock in your goals and then determine three actions for each.

l. What you will do (specifically) to accomplish your goals given your current writing climate and resources.
2. Who might be able to help you. Contact that person with specific requests.

3. Write a scene of what to expect when you meet your goal.

Creative Write: Share a line of what it will feel like to accomplish your writing purpose this year!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do you Love to CRE8?

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

In her book, YOUR CREATIVE BRAIN,  Dr. Shelley Carson shares the psychology and neuroscience of creativity. A Harvard psychologist, Dr. Carson defines creativity as something novel or original and useful or adaptive to some portion of the population. She focuses on the distinction between originality and creativity. Carson indicates that many things are original but aren’t particularly creative. She cites the “word salad” speech of a schizophenic as highly original but it does not appear to have a utility, even to the person uttering the words.

Psychologists used to believe the left brain analyzed with an involvement of sequential thinking and the right brain handled creativity. The a movement developed toward the front-back brain division. The front brain became the gatekeeper and controlled the input from the back brain. Now we think it’s more complicated that either model. It depends upon which stage of the creative process you’re in.

Dr. Carson feels contentment is the enemy of creativity because the creative mind constantly hungers for stimulation.

Creativity involves novelty-seeking. Studies of cognitive behavior have shown you can change brain activation states, alter neurotransmitter levels and the receptors for those neurotransmitters and receptors. Dr. Carson believes, “if we have the ability to change our brains with cognitive behavior therapy, why not use that power to become more novelty-seeking and more creative?’

She adds, to increase creativity, “keep learning new things. Take courses, read widely, and learn how to play a new instrument or how to cook Tuscan food. Learn, learn, learn! Second, try not to judge the things you’re learning. Keep an open mind. Everything you learn is a possible element that may make its way into some future creative idea that you can’t even imagine today. And the more open-minded you remain about what you learn, the more likely you are to see how it can be combined with other information to form a novel and original product or idea."

Creative Write:  What could you do to develop a novelty-seeking ability in your writing today? Share an idea.

Your Life Story

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) felt writing, "The easiest thing in the world. . . I sit up with a pipe in my mouth and a board on my knees and I scribble away."

At 70, he decided to write his autobiography. He had tried before without satisfaction, then decided to dictate his autobiography. Twain felt he could speak with a "whole frank mind."

Moving away from a chronological account of his life, he decided on a structure he described like this: "Start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale."

He called it a "complete and purposed jumble" He claimed this autobiography and diary "ranks with the steam engine, the printing press lamp; the electric telegraph." Twain left 5,000 pages of unedited memoir, and did not want it published until he had been dead for 100 years, when he'd be "unaware, and indifferent."

Mark Twain died in 1910 and the first volume of his autobiography was published just this month. It reached the No. 2 spot on the New York Times best-seller list weeks before it was released. There are two more volumes of autobiography, which will be released in the next five years, edited by a team of six scholars at the Mark Twain Archives, housed at the Bancroft Library on the UC Berkeley campus.

Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography:

It was during my first year's apprenticeship in the Courier office that I did a thing which I have been trying to regret for fifty-five years. It was a summer afternoon and just the kind of weather that a boy prizes for river excursions and other frolics, but I was a prisoner. The others were all gone holidaying. I was alone and sad. I had committed a crime of some sort and this was the punishment. I must lose my holiday, and spend the afternoon in solitude besides. I had the printing-office all to myself, there in the third story. I had one comfort, and it was a generous one while it lasted. It was the half of a long and broad watermelon, fresh and red and ripe. I gouged it out with a knife, and I found accommodation for the whole of it in my person — though it did crowd me until the juice ran out of my ears. There remained then the shell, the hollow shell. It was big enough to do duty as a cradle. I didn't want to waste it, and I couldn't think of anything to do with it which could afford entertainment. I was sitting at the open window which looked out upon the sidewalk of the main street three stories below, when it occurred to me to drop it on somebody's head. I doubted the judiciousness of this, and I had some compunctions about it too, because so much of the resulting entertainment would fall to my share and so little to the other person. But I thought I would chance it.I watched out of the window for the right person to come along — the safe person — but he didn't come. Every time there was a candidate he or she turned out to be an unsafe one, and I had to restrain myself. But at last I saw the right one coming. (From Autobiography of Mark Twain, edited by The Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, published by UC Press, 2010.)

Creative Write: Begin your life story. Start with a temptation like Mark Twain's above. Share your first lines with us!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menagerie Stories

The earliest known artists and writers used animals as their first subjects. Images of creatures dominate cave walls of Lascaux and Altamira and tell stories of the prehistoric world.Teaching stories and fables arrived later. They reveal, through actions of animals, ways to show children how to behav...e and the consequences of wrong choices.

What menagerie could you create to tell a story?

Consider two animals who collaborate. An elephant waded into the pond at a Wild Animal Park. With the sound of a trumpet, it tossed water from its trunk onto its back. Ripples from its skin sent droplets over the large frame. A bluebird happened by and noticed this refreshment in the heat of the day.

“Hello,” the bird sang as it flew above the trunk.”How do you do that?”

“Ah, “ the elephant responded. “ Would you like a spray?”

“I have flown from the north and would like a drink and bath,” the bird flapped just above the gray trunk. Soon the water sparkled from its feathers. “What a wonderful mechanism to have.”

“You’re fortunate also to have wings,” smiled the elephant. “I’ve always admired birds in the sky and how they can travel.

“It looks like we have ways to share our experiences,” said the bird, drying one feather at a time with its beak.

“So many animals here have talents to learn about,” said the elephant.

“Aren’t you frightened by the fierce ones?” the bird asked.

“Each has his or her own specialty,” said the elephant and moved deeper into the water.

Ears wriggled from the water as a large head appeared, then the body of a hippo.

Creative Write:  Where would you take this story? Start one of your own!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Write Mind

Do you realize that you possess all you need to activate your Write Life? You do not have to fret or feel concern. It’s all there. If you focus on your resolve and bring to mind the intention and commitment to write, you will achieve your true Write Mind.

A supportive state of mind becomes the best way to commit to a Write Habit. Nourish your resolve and direct your write energy with intention. Change your statements about writing. Instead of indicating that you want to write or you will write, think “Writing is my nature.”

If you permit your subconscious mind to work from a place of perceived inadequacy, the energy that supports your resolve weakens. A positive approach assists your level of contentment even during times of seeming frustration.

Energize into your Write Mind!

Answer these questions from a positive perspective:

1. Do you believe your writing results from talent, hard work or the struggle that moves you beyond rejection and disappointment? Why do you write?

2. Do you write needing praise and attention for your writing?

3. How do you practice writing?

4. Have you quit in frustration only to return with renewed vigor after a break?

5. Do you permit yourself to write for fun?

6. What do you discover when you write?

7. How does writing provide contentment?

8. What do you learn each time you write? About yourself? About process?

9. How do you overcome the fear of publication and its hype?

10. What will you do today to strengthen your writing resolve?

Keep your writing resolve moving with a smile!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hook your reader with your first words.

If the paragraphs don't tease, annoy or astonish the readers in some way, they'll stop reading. You also have to provide a bit of character, mood and setting.

Margaret Atwood in her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood (2009), begins:

"In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise. She uses a mop handle for balance: the elevator stopped working some time ago and the back stairs are slick with damp, so if she slips and topples there won't be anyone to pick her up.

As the first heat hits, mist rises from among the swath of trees between her and the derelict city. The air smells faintly of burning, a smell of caramel and tar and rancid barbecues, and the ashy but greasy smell of a garbage-dump fire after it’s been raining."

Creative Write: Look at the photograph above. Create a character based on the above information. Provide a few lines to intrigue!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shine up your Whines!

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”  George Bernard Shaw

Are you a whiner?

Do you worry too much and have serial complaints that take up brain space?
Stop the chatter and take up a pen or go to the keyboard. Write, don't whine.

l. Use awareness to learn about your complaining moods. Who or what sparks your whine tones? What area three ways to eliminate or minimize your exposure to these sparks that set off your flames? Add a humorous line.

2. Gratitude saves the day. Write three things, people or opportunities that make you feel grateful. Don't stop with three!

3. Take a breath before you gripe! When you feel a whine whirring about in your brain, toss a thought in its path. Write about overcoming blame. Keep thoughts handy for the next toss for gripe deflection!

4. Let creativity spark your troubles. Start with positive statements and write a few humorous lines about how to solve problems.

Creative Write:  Share a whine with us today. Turn it around and make it shine!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mood Changing

Consider how a scene can set a mood or reflect a variety of emotions.
Respond to the image above with sounds, scents and textures of emotion. Keep your visual comments to a minimum.

Then, write a response that changes the visual cues. What opposite view will your writing reveal?

Use words to alter the anticipation that these visual cues offer.