Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Child Mind

Do you recall your childhood association with words? Did you create names for animals and plants? Did you tell stories?

Where’s your child’s mind today? Do you still have a loving relationship with words? Frederick Smock, a teacher of creative writing, learns daily from his students to think with a child's mind. One student astonished him with her words when she wrote from the point of view of a coconut. “I never have to go on vacation because I carry the waves inside of me.”

Today, expose yourself to possibilities and let your words scurry around corners and under bushes. Look into the sky to capture connections. Consider all your areas of knowledge: animals, insects, gardening, travel, economics, and relationships.

How will you communicate the awareness that makes your days and nights glitter? Let your words flee and flourish. Delight in metaphors to tell your stories.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Writer's Charm

Do you have a writer's charm?

Many athletes observe pregame rituals and have lucky charms. Michael Jordan believes in his underwear. Serena Williams claims her wins result from a pair of lucky socks.

When I played competitive tennis, I had a racquet named Stanley. He never broke a string and helped me in tense situations. I didn't always win but I felt confident holding his grip. I believed!

My desk smiles at me with a variety of icons. I have a wizard with his arms in the air who has accompanied me during years of writing journeys. Other artifacts from travels move around to uncork my creative juices.

Scientists have found that beliefs like this may help, at least for people doing physical or mental tasks. Several studies at the University of Cologne in Germany conducted tests where students brought in a lucky charm and then did memory tests or word games.

Students performed better when they had their charms than when the charms were left in another room. They felt more confident with their charms.

Charms or rituals may reduce tension, create a feeling of control , and boost beliefs in your ability to succeed (self-efficacy). Like the placebo effect, they can encourage hope, optimism and confidence. Charms do not substitute for talent and hard training, but “engaging in supersititious thoughts and behaviors may be one way to reach one’s top level of performance,“ researchers concluded.

Creative Write:  Do you have a writing ritual or favorite charm that helps your writing? Write about how you discovered its magic.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yes! Yes! Yes, and. . .

Do you even feel that NO! has become the most overused word in the English language? It deters us from creative thought and action.

In a moment of decision, try to consider what YES would bring to the situation.

Dutch author, Berthold Gunster, inndicates we need more, ‘Yes, and…’ He explains that ‘Yes, buts’ get in the way of creativity and innovation. We think: Yes, but it didn’t work before. Yes, but what if it fails. As a result the’ Yes, but’ creates limitations, hazards and obstacles.‘Yes, and ‘ looks at possibilities and process.

Notice ways to think and Yes your way to success in your writing.

Gunster says, “ Start by looking at reality in a different way and deconstruct a problem into a fact so you can move from ‘yes but’ to ‘yes and.’ Look at the bare facts and examine what you can do with them.”He also indicates ‘Yes, but’ has a positive side for balance.

He leaves us with the notion, “Yes, and people invented the airplane; Yes, but people invented the parachute."

What will - ‘Yes, and’ - do for your writing practice today?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Learning to Accentuate the Positive

I feel renewed from an old song by Johnny Mercer :

You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
And latch on to the affirmative,
Don't mess with Mister In-Between.

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Li'ble to walk upon the scene.

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark.
What did they do just when ev'rything looked so dark?
Man, they said "We'd better accentuate the positive
"Eliminate the negative
"And latch on to the affirmative -
Don't mess with Mister In-Between, no, no,
Don't mess with Mister In-Between."

Life throws a variety of challenges at us each day. We can choose to see them as flat lines of negativity or take action to draw a vertical line through the horizontals. Taking action always makes something happen to keep us moving, regardless of mood. Humor colors life with vibrancy.

The next time you feel frustrated or angry, see if you can hold your breath longer than your anger.

These exercises will help you create more Positivity in your life:

1. Focus on your sense of humor to provide buoyancy in all types of weather. Laughter strengthens the stomach muscles and releases chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, to elevate the mood.

2. To practice laughter, begin with a breathing exercise. Take five breaths in and five out through the nose. After five repetitions, let the out breath go with: ha ha ha ha ha. Notice how energized you feel. Remember this exercise the next time you feel stressed.

3. When a negative emotion crosses your mind, write it down. How often do you write frustration, anger, worry or fear? What emotions counteract them? Give them names and write a dialogue between the opposites.

4. Make three columns and list your three greatest accomplishments. In each column, write ways you accomplished these Feats of Fantastic. Keep the list with you and add to it. Include problem solving techniques, strategies and anyone you contacted for assistance. If you feel frustrated during a challenge, refer to the list to see how you succeeded in the past.

Take time weekly to write about what makes you feel good about your accomplishments. Also probe in writing choices that get in the way of what you want to achieve. Continue to ask what you learned about yourself and how you meet challenges. Bring these talents to a new situation?

5. Who is a Hero in your area of expertise or life in general? How does this person achieve success? How do you suppose this person greets failure?

If you spend time working on the above five areas, you will develop Positive habits that will grow into your Best Friends during times of need. 

What will you write about in one of the areas today?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Writing for Aliens?

"Writing, we work alone, yet we're part of a conversation whose scope we can only just begin to imagine." Rachel Kadish.

Questions for a writing weekend:

Questions provide a way to write to strengths and understand objectives. They also enable a writer to ponder areas that require more work.

Take time to freewrite to these questions:

l. What do you strive for in your writing: self-satisfaction or writing for a reader?

2. What obstacles do you push beyond to achieve your goals?

3. How do you deal with a disappointment and turn it into an opportunity?

4. Do you feel vulnerable showing your first drafts to others?

5. What do you do with feedback on your writing?

6. How do you balance your readers' comments with your ideals?

When you complete your responses, see if another freewrite might provide additional insights.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Uncage the ordinary!

Do you feel caged in ordinary ?

During my process as a writer, I nurture my awareness to notice, collect and collate daily experiences. I transpose ordinary walks into adventures. Restaurants provide eavesdrop appointments with conversations around me. Body language shares slants of life to extrapolate for future writing. Each moment fills with curiosities and sensory input for the pen.

In the Autumn 2010 issue of “The American Scholar,” author Tony Hiss poses a notion of “deep travel" in his article Wonderlust. He writes, “deep travel has a distinctive taste. It often surprises us, stealing over us unawares. But it can be sought out, chosen, practiced, remembered, returned to.”

Hiss mentions the need for wonder to bridge into deep travel. “You slow down, you may stop altogether. You’re lost. You’ve got to find, and soon, some way to proceed, and so your senses are wide open, for the time being, everything and everyone is a potential source of information.”

Today, take time for wonderlust. Notice the questions that arise from everything around you. All you have to do is move through the day with all your senses open to make the extraordinary appear for you.

Creative Write: 
Fly with your pen  from your cage of ordinary!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nourish with Words

When you think of word nourishment in writing, what comes to mind? Do you employ writing that reveals all your senses to make your writing rich with imagery?

You nurture others with this style of writing. Readers will recall the great chef you became and the food of words you offered. They become fed by having the ability to move into the sensory world you have created. Their stomachs will fill and taste buds tingle.

Consider meals you have spent with family and friends. Focus on the details of outdoor cooking time in the summer. Recall the sizzle of meat upon the grill. write about the tang in the air that floated barbecue sauce and sweet scents to the table. Have you shared ethnic dishes from around the world.?

Many experiences nourish a life of words and food. Recipes inspire word usage in condensed forms. To cook, all you have to do is read. Like writing you can ad lib and add to taste also. That's the fun of a free flow of words and fixing a meal.

Creative Write:  Cook something in writing and share it with us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tasteful Writing

Consider spending a day writing with taste as your focus. See what you can develop using only the sense of taste and texture.

List emotions and feelings and see what might correspond in tastes to go with them.

Have you tasted the cranberry of curiosity?
Did you bite into the mushy apple of apathy?
With the grief of grapefruit, the tang races to the back of the tongue.
Consider a vanilla afternoon where you add malt to perk up the flavor.

How does your morning taste? Like pear juice with spritzes of almond?

What do rum-flavored buttercream frosting and meringue inspire?
Creative Write: Share your creative tastes below. Make us drool!