Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tracking Creativity

"Human beings are in a state of creativity 24 hours a day."   Raoul Vanergem
Many consider creativity only in its relationship to an art form. They forget that everyone displays a creative sensitivity a thousand times per day. These appear in connections, distinctive thoughts and novel ideas. Unexpected perceptions arise around every corner.

Observing forms and structures in nature provide Aha! understandings.

Restless originality and intentions abound in problem solving during daily activities. Paper clips and rubber bands often serve beyond their obvious uses.  If we remain open to different uses for common objects, we will benefit from the creative process.  Then we will learn to connect it with writing possibilities.

Creative Write:
  Track your creative notions, problems solved in unique ways, fleeting impressions and thoughts for a day.  Keep a list and write about the connections and possibilities. Reveal ways you move beyond bewilderment with ideas.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Writing with Bubbles at the Car Wash

Avoid the obvious when writing about nature, sky or the color of the sea. Search beyond azure or baby blue to pique the reader's curiosity. Use color to describe experience and stimuate readers' imaginations.  Cliches such as "green as grass" or "emerald green"  do not evoke a unique view. Take out other colored pencils to write your scenes.

Create a mood, reveal a point of view with color.  John Updike describes the sad ambiance of a street with "old asphalt sidings the tint of bruise and dung."

Discover visual imagery to fit the style and tone of your writing.  Search for offbeat but recognizable items to stand for colors and more.

If you're waiting in a lounge during your car's oil change, look around.  Notice the objects, upholstery, arrangement of chairs and food.  Then search the items in the service bays.  Later when you describe boredom, bring these images into the scene. Let the taste of waiting room coffee add discomfort.

What do you notice when driving through the bubbles at a car wash? Keep track of the collage of color to use in writing.

Sandra Cisneros colors the world of her novel, Carmelo,  through the senses of its Mexican characters.  A church is the "color of flan."  A woman becomes a "fried tortilla color."  She writes of shawls black as Cototepec pottery, like the huitlacoche a corn mushroom or fresh-cooked black beans.  She adds flavor and texture with color and metaphor.

Avoid using colors to describe emotions such as unhappiness connected to blue. Consider what will provide a color of delight. 

Look into white for texture, shapes and ideas. Do you find laughter in the rose?

Barry Lopez uses rainbow tints to described pottery such as raucous purple. coy yellow, belligerent red and ardent white.  Search the thesaurus for fresh ideas.  Then you can avoid using fire-engine red or white pearl.

Creative Write:

l. Observe a colorful eatery.  What colors can you list?  Transfer them to another environment to show emotion.
2. Describe the sea and sky during a storm without using blue, gray or green.  Be creative and fresh with color choices.
3.  Show an angry man in colors to reflect his emotions.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why didn't the earth replace the dinosaurs?

The American Scholar
  features, "What the Earth Knows" by Robert B. Laughlin, physics professor at Stanford.

Laughlin provides insights about how the earth survives - with or without us. The earth didn't replace dinosaurs, it just moved on. 

The author writes that our real problem of living involves overpopulation, overuse, habitat destruction; pesticide abuse, species invasion etc. He details how the earth does climate changes on its own routinely without asking permission or explaining itself.  It recycles and changes for its own needs regardless of our energy crisis.

He definitely makes one aware that human beings have little impact, regardless of positive environmental action taken on the minute level we "control."

During my morning jogs I notice the nature of human beings during their acts of unconscious or selfish behavior.  They toss cigarettes from cars, drive with knees while yelling on cellphones and drinking from cups. Not many will pick up paper that litters the sidewalk within their reach.  So many take for granted  that the sun will rise again in what appears like a lifestyle of irresponsible and entitled behavior.

Why do they neglect the earthstyle? Why miss the colors, scents and flavors of our living planet?  Would an earthquake or tsunami that removes their privileges of a comfortable life jar them into reality?

Sadly, regardless of our behavior, the earth doesn't need us so we can remain self-consumed.  The earth has suffered floods, volcanoes, meteors, upligts into mountains and abuses greater than what we'll ever inflict.

Laughlin's article lingers during my day as I avoid the media's concern with tragedy, BP and hurricanes. I can control only my attention to moments with respect and responsibility for myself. 

We do not know when or how the earth will react.  It certainly will outlast and not replace us either.

How I interact with and appreciate the natural world matters, even if it has a mind of its own.  Sunrises and sunsets, roses and stargazers, squirrels and pelicans will enrich my moments in movement.

Creative Write:  After reading the article, choose a concern you have with "civilized living."  Does it matter what we do?  Must we have systems like religion, ethics, politics and self-responsibility to control us since we have no control over our planet?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How's Your Write Habit?

You've made plans to write and even established a writing ritual for an extended period of time. You feel so proud! 

The words flow until a beast creeps up behind or jumps down on your shoulders. You miss a deadline or stop in the middle of a writing project.

Does this sound familiar?

You may feel trapped like the creature below.

This behavior is part of the writing game. Don't let your broken promises and frustrations get you down. Play with them to boost your creativity and determination.

All writers need a Write Habit with a written plan. To establish one, develop a system of strategies to refer to when you slip into behaviors that betray your writing skills.


Write a contract for your Write Life.  Begin with what you do Best in writing. Include behaviors that get in the way and how you will overcome them.  Name your Beast and write to it. Set up your writing dreams with deadlines.  Indicate that at a 11 a.m. you will write  . . . no matter what arises. Set a time limit for how long and then stick with it even if you begin to write what does not please you.

Include a contract between you and an imaginary writing mentor.  Give him or her a name.  When you feel like you're about to fall off the writing wagon, write a letter to your mentor and include a response. 

Create a dialogue between You and your Beast. Make it funny.

Just Write. Write for 15 minutes on the project. Then stop before frustration sets in. Always stop when you feel you could write forever.

Take a walk and write as you go.  Add humor.

Read several paragraphs from a variety of books, magazines or read poetry aloud.  Distraction engages the judgment nerves and stimulates creativity muscles.  Return to do a freewrite about why you do not want to write today.

Remember, writers are human beings with fluctuations in moods and needs.  Use your moods to your advantage. If you feel cranky, respond to that mood.  If you feel despondent, write what the opposite mood would feel like. Name these as characters and have them interact.

The more you set up a structure for your Write Life, the more familiar you will become with your writing temperament. Use your creativity to trick your way into a flow of words.

Write on!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mindful Moments in Writing

". . . wanderer, the path is made by walking.  By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again."    Antonio Machado.

During the last 100 years, our nervous systems haven't changed to accommodate the action of modern life.  In that time frame we have experienced more changes and challenges than in any other period in human history.  With the speed of technology, we often feel caught on a hamster wheel when we need a rafting trip down the river.

Nick Carr has written The Shallows that discusses what the internet does to our brain on a cellular level. Others claim the internet will not make us stupid. Some researchers have attempted to connect cell phone use and brain tumors. Regardless of the anecdotal accounts, we need to return to self-reflection.

Mindful moments in writing create a flow beyond the rapidity of life's requests that bombard our psyches.

In writing we pay attention to the moments and row away from focus on efficiency and productivity. When we feel the most frenzied, we can escape with a pen or fingers on the keyboard. Then we can wander and relax in the stream of words without a goal.


Creative Write:
  Robert Frost said poetry will "take you to a place you've been to before and thought you'd never return to." Consider what that means for your day of mindful writing.  Enter your emotional core and connect with thinking in the moment. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Athletic Writing

During the NCAA Track and Field Championships, athletes searched for the win through dedication and struggle. Happiness trailed as a by-product. Hours of mental and physical training prepared them. Then the moment took over. Choices, endurance and patience engaged so each athlete could push past the pain. They traveled through their realm of emotions to achieve a balance.

Athletic writers move through experiences that align them with their self-images and intentions. They know the highs and lows and thrive on challenges.

Consider how to become an athletic writer. This takes determination and desire to "know thyself" in mind, spirit and body. You must train in all areas to become comfortable with the vacuum that writing can create. You will learn to keep writing when you don't want to and stop writing when you feel your best. They you can create positive habits.

Creative Write:  How will you define yourself as an athletic writer today?

Friday, June 11, 2010


In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust's a narrator dips a cake into his tea.  When he sips, the crumbs blended with the warmth of the fluid transport him into an altered state.  He's filled with pleasure and joy that dissolve his former feelings of mediocrity and mortality.

Creative Write: Consider how to use the sense of smell and taste in your writing.  How would you combine the details in sensory imagery with warmth and texture to describe a state of mind?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Magnetizing Words

I had a horseshoe magnet in childhood. It pulled on metal objects such as forks and spoons.  I felt like a magician and sifted through flower pots and along the lawn to attract black whiskers of metal from the earth. What fun to watch them spread out at the magnet's ends.

Writing to break the mind set can happen this way also. If I decide to write about time. What else will my mind moves attract?

What's time, an illusion created by someone who did not know what to do with sand. Scrunched it in an hourglass. Saved time, a ridiculous notion in any case to preserve a potion clutched by a dragonfly's feet. Kidnap time, hold it hostage. While time melts, I sigh and look out the window to see the pepper trees have murbled the clouds. Leaves burbled their shouts of green way past noon. The crows did not nap till a phoebe moved a flicker and feathers tickled the morning.. Blue can't be taken down or swept around. The breeze brightens past sounds like taffeta. schwoooosh. I smell cinnamon buns baking somewhere with frosting that drips from my chin. Raisins scrunch, looking for a home. Time teases a word past the tail of a mockingbird. White rabbit clutches his watch always late. late. late. Go race ahead of my fingers. Can rabbits spell and spill incongruity before screams invented yogurt? It tastes all naughty and smells like fun. Sunlight slathered the mad as if a pattern fell off and tasted a trickle of sensibility. Dragons of daylight spew their fire burning clocks and digital chicanery. Dawn and Dusk try for the green flash at the horizon. No one wins. Time's friction of fingers could sustain their breaths past 2 pm. Those glows of green that awaken you in the morning.

Creative Write: Try magnetizing words for fifteen minutes. Write about time.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where is Truth

Auguste Rodin said of the first time he saw clay, "I felt I was going up to heaven . . . I understood everything at once . . . I was in thrall." When he talked about his work, he described his deepest aspiration as revealing "the hidden meaning of all things."  - Laura Carroll, Your Life Quest

Rodin saw art as "one of the paths to a deep knowledge of reality" and sought to bring his sculptures to life, to reveal "expressive truth." In how he described his purpose he saw the question: Where is the truth in the "matter"?

Write about your search for truth in writing.  Explore a freewrite to discover "thrall."  Uncover a hidden meaning today and write on!


Guest House
      - Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi makes his points about life's randomness and how to deal with them.

Everyone lives in a house with four rooms physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Acceptance, gratitude, and laughter help us achieve balance when challenges arise in our rooms.

Creative Write:  Write about your unexpected visitors and how they expanded your knowledge of yourself.  Use dialogue and humor to delve into these concerns.

Poseidon's Inhale

Light Saving

Didn’t you realize a career as lifeguard involves water work?
Even with posted warnings of riptides and undertows,
people wander and plunge into the currents.
Many do not understand the use of sunscreen.

When their screams coil into spindrift and arms
rise in signals of distress, you will feel needed.
Dragging orange buoys into the sea, your
shouts to the waterlogged probably won’t help.

The water thrashers will clutch and scratch,
and draw you down. You might keep their heads
above water . . . for a time. Engage your kick,
as your breath surges into a sky bright with blue.

Don’t try rowing a boat to the needy. They will
clamber atop one another and swamp it. Then
you’ll paddle back to shore, fingers and toes
ridged into prunes, eyes salted nearly shut.

Purchase a flashlight on your next trip to the beach.
Try light saving from the shore. Resist all distress calls
by counting back from one hundred. Plug your ears
and learn to hum your own tunes. Breathe.

Twirl the light, bounce it off slants of rocks.
Make hand shadows into kaleidoscopic notions.
A few will notice and follow the light to shore.
Others might stumble, blinded by the sun instead.

Keep time with the light and your days will bloom wiser.
Linger, wriggle ten toes in the sand. Smell the spray,
until the ball of fire eases beyond the horizon
and day glides without force into night.

Creative Write:  Choose a metaphor about a challenge or a resolve.  Create a light saving to write about.