Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living in Halluzanation

The town felt quiet for mid-October, temperature average for the northeast.  Offshore breezes kept the bugs away.  The village of Halluzanation had sometimes-cruel elements which could close everything down for a couple of days.  Once you arrived, you just couldn't leave. 

Leaving doors unlocked became a common practice.  There hadn't been a break in since Father G's little boy took Gordon Nelson's truck for a joy ride into the sea.

Consider creating a persona for yourself. What lifestyle will you choose in Halluzanation? Will you own one of the businesses on the main street?   How will you begin your day?   Take a walk and tune into sounds, scents and textures of the village. Sniff with curiosity. What happens when the fog rolls in?

Creative Write:  Create a one page portrait of your persona.  Describe one day in your life in Halluzanation.  During the week return to write about interactions in the village.

Use these to spark your writing:

l.  Choose a theme for your village.  Does it represent opportunity, freedom, success, restriction or ?
2.  Write about an encounter with a tourist and a local.
3.  Use changing seasons to affect the village's character.
4.  What event or disaster could affect the village's character
(flood,earthquake, tidal wave, fire etc.)
5.  Is the village thriving or fading?  How does this affect y our persona?
6.  What happens "out of the picture" on all sides of the drawing?  Bring this into your narrative.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Take a break from your usual writing today!

Choose a character from literature or mythology. Create a different twist of fate. Or, bring him or her to the present day.

Ask a few "what ifs."

What if Zeus became CEO of Disney Productions?

What if Cupid ran an online divorce service?

What would Pandora do with her curiosity as a reporter for the "National Inquirer"?

What if Ulysses had taken his wife along with him?

Play!  Do a few freewrites to see where your character will take you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What's RIGHT!

Today in yoga class, our instructor had us hold poses longer. In the middle of an intense "hold" he suggested we focus on what we were doing right.

It seems rare these days that anyone asks us to do focus on right. The media blitzes us with broken aspects of life and what needs fixing. Has America become a disability culture? Why do we need a disease-based model to describe aspects of our society?  Do we even have a model of right?

Thomas Armstrong in his new book, Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and Other Brain Differences suggests that instead of calling the above "conditions" dysfunctional, we should view them as aspects of the brain's function. He focuses on the brain as an ecosystem rather than a machine.

Brain differences among individuals become as essential and enriching as differences among plants and animals. He would like to use the concept of neurodiversity to reverse the trend to medicalize and patholgize people who respond differently to life's challenges.

Armstrong says, "Knowing we are all connected to each other just like ecosystems means we need to have a greater tolerance for those who neurological systems are organized differently."

Funding for brain research deals with what's wrong with the left hemisphere of the brain. Armstrong indicates, "Little research, however, exists on an area in the right hemisphere that processes loose word associations and may be the source of poetic inspiration,"

He hopes researchers, teachers and families will assist these "labeled individuals" to discover their places in the web of life rather than to let them exist as outcasts with dysfunctions. They need to learn what they are doing right.

Spend a day acknowledging what's right about your experiences, challenges and writing!

Creative Write: Today write about what you do right!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Stillpoint

Except for the point, the stillpoint,
There would be no dance
And there is only the dance. - T.S. Eliot

What does the stillpoint mean in your writing practice? Is it a stop to change direction? Is it a resting place before the next surge of momentum? Can you move from the frenzy of worrying about your writing to the place of stillness? Will you bow to your ego and laugh?

For high energy individuals, progress requires intensity in writing.  You also need stillness, a form of meditation and ways to trick sprinter minds into observation and silence.  Then, intuitive juices will feel free to come out and dance.

You may need to cancel a day of rigid appointments and even end your writing time to stare at the clouds.  Notice what percolates in without forcing anything.

Don't permit exhaustion or frustration to set in before you take a break.  That's not the best time to stop because of its conditioning effect.  Next time you're in the flow of words. Stop. 

Even if you  believe you will lose the train of throught. Stop. Look around. Move away from the pen or keyboard. 

Permit solitude to arrive in a variety of forms from silence in sounds, an absence of tastes and textures to a bombardment of newness in sensations.

A change of direction helps to enable the momentum to arise anew.

You will return to the dance of words revived!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Many students have difficulty saying, "I'm a writer."  Saying it should feel like a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you write today, you're a writer today.

Writers early in their careers feel uncomfortable when asked, "What have you written? Where have you published?"   Do doctors and lawyers get similar assaults? "How many moles have you removed?" "Have you sent many felons to the chair?"  Of course not!

Writers need to believe from the inside out. Shout about your art!

Start today!  Have ready responses at meetings or parties when introductions arrise. Don't let anyone intimidate you. When asked, "What do you write?"  Declare you write on every available surface, in the car, often in the shower, even in the dark. When asked what you write:  Say you scribble your thoughts, feelings, frustrations with all your sensations. Have them hold out a hand and write on it. Then challenge them to a duel of words.

Write on!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Observant Omnivore for Details

Writers learn to become observant omnivores. We take in stimuli with a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, scents, tastes and textures. Words arise from taste buds and fingertips that Braille the edges of life. In this way, ideas percolate and incubate awaiting a time to slip into the next word brew.

If you wish to gain the reader's attention, expressing an abstract word such as beautiful  must imaginate beyond the obvious. Why and how is beautiful?  Reveal it in detail like a photographer or painter.
How do you see into a rose for beautiful and express its qualities?  Do the ridges appear like fans or curtains and then what? Where is the scent?   Does the sound of dew hitting the rose ping or pop or snuggle amidst the petals?

Sense of focus and specificity intrigue. Express the opposite of beauty also to enrich the experience.  Create an image that reveals a judgment.  Would you include weeds that blossom and stretch themselves beyond the concrete?

Notice where metaphorical thinking connects to a secret inside not yet explored. Trace the ridges and boundaries. Delve into the center. Unfold, release, relent to your imagination.

Creative Writing.  Spend a day studying a detail in nature from all  your senses.  See its opposites
What is the story waiting to unfold?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Marionette a Character

You're the master string-puller in this writing adventure.  Create your puppet.


Start with a name. Google names for intriguing qualities.
Search for:
l. Identity in the name to define the character.
2. Rhythm: First name three beats, last name two. First name two beats, last name three. One beat and two. Sound it out!     Jeffrey Johnson     Mary Singleton
3. Add a nickname.

Introduce your character by name and how he or she feels on a rainy day.

Hey, I'm Julian Denton. Some call me Dent. I'm not made of sugar. Rain won't make me melt.
Add Traits   

What is your character's heart's desire? Show traits that will make this happen . . . or not.

Is your character patient? What does that look like?
Does your character seek adventure? What does that look and sound like?
Is your character willing to change?
What is your character's greatest weakness? Fear? Inappropriate behavior? Poor choices? Bad habits?

What individuals get in the way of your character's needs and wants?

Do a freewrite considering the above questions and others you could use to design your character with personality traits.
You're on the way to imagining your character. Place him or her in situations.

Try one of these:

Show your character:
l. React to a frustration, comical situation or embarassment.
2. Attend a ceremony: wedding, funeral, graduation
3. Uncover a secret

After you have completed the above exercises, let go of the strings and write to see where your character will take you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the Street Where You Live

Memories and writing ideas arise from street names and landmarks experienced throughout your life. List street names from childhood, adolescence, early adulthood and where you live now.  Notice how writing the names brings memories to the surface.

After you collect the lists, make notes with additional ideas and imagery they evoke.  What scents do they bring to mind? Do sounds remind you of  their locations or translate to other scenes?

Creative Write:
  After you have collected sights, scents and sounds, visualize a situation that involves the streets you have collected.  Write a memory or current situation.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Use of than

We hear in daily conversation: I like it more than him. I like it more than he.  Another example:  Art likes Mary more than I.  Art likes Mary more than me.  Meanings of each sentence define the use of  I or me.

A preposition combines with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that modifies an object or action: by herself, before sunset, behind the door.

The noun or pronoun becomes the "object of the preposition." So in the example behind the door, the word door is the object of the preposition behind. And when you're using a pronoun as the object of the preposition, it must be in the object case. In other words, you use object pronouns such as him, her, and us. Behind her; behind her; behind us.

Some grammarians argue that than is a conjunction. They say the case of the pronoun after the word "than" is determined by its role. Conjunctionists argue that the sentences: Art likes Mary more than I and Art likes Mary more than me are both correct but have entirely different meanings.

Both use than as a conjunction, but when you use the subject pronoun I, you're saying I like Art more than I [ like Mary], and when you use the object pronoun me, you're saying Art likes Mary more than [Art likes me].

If than is a preposition, always use the objective pronoun me and  the same sentence would mean both things--you don't care for Mary as much as Art does AND Art prefers Mary to you.
If you wish to avoid ambiguity, clarify the sentence by finishing it with the verb added. Mary is wiser than I am. He likes her more than he likes me. With a verb present, the choice is obvious.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kite to Freedom in Writing

During a writing period that feels empty or dry, we need to discover ways to freshen our thoughts. 

Soren Kierkegaard believed in the rotation method to keep the mind fresh. He indicated that a farmer can't grow wheat year after year. They must replenish the soil by sowing beans one year. It also may need to remain fallow.

Albert Einstein used "combinatory play."  Imagining he traveled on a beam of light and glancing back at a clock created break throughs for him. He visualized letting go of a coin in a free-falling elevator.

Any changes in thinking and perception jostle the mind. Distractions help to reset thoughts from focus on a single task and its implications, concerns and consequences. It helps us move into to a new venue where creativity blossoms.

Try, "See the Kite" approach.  If you want to divert someone in conversation, point to the sky and say, "What a Kite." An individual will look up and stop speaking, thinking or doing. You can use the distraction to accomplish whatever you need.  Divert an unpleasant situation, steal a bite of someone's desert. . . or even a kiss.  Adapt this idea for your writing.

Use unexpected incongruity. Try writing to these examples:

What do eagles, Robinhood and pencils have in common?

Consider  baboons, Monterey and chocolate and their differences?

Combine kittens, cranberries and the Pacific ocean.

What skitters in and out of the hole below change?

Intuition ticklers, absurd thoughts and humor intrigue the mind and provide unexpected insights.

Creative Write:  Use the kite approach and search the sky for ideas.  Try three unrelated items, extend to more.   Freshen and free your writing spirit.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Collate Nouns and Verbs

Silversmith      Flee            Wilderness    Peridot    

Gravel           Tromp          Tendril          Parka

Vagabond     Gaze             Leopard      Sprinkle

Arabesque    Trellis            Topple       Triumph

Baroque        Warp            Rattle          Jasmine

Wasp            Guess           Yearn          Maroon         

Marionette     Hunger         Appeal        Monsoon    

Feelers          Ratchet         Jingle           Locks

Fire               Rust             Shuffle         Trapeze      

Leotard        Smoke          Traipse        Sapphire

Make lists of nouns and verbs to use when you feel the temptation to add adjectives or adverbs to your sentences.  Add to it when you come across words with rhythm or sensation.

When you do freewrites, play with nouns that can serve as verbs.  Add raspberries and gleam with truffles.

Creative Write:  Write for ten minutes using the words above. Try drawing vertical linesto connect them. Look for words in crosses. Circle words and let your eyes decide.  Bump and drive them across the page.  Go beyond!