Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Start in the Middle

Rainer Maria Rilke said, "It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin.  I simply skip what should be the beginning."

Take several pieces of your own or others' writing and begin them in the middle.  Jumble the story or poem this way to make a breakthrough. See where that takes you.

What did you discover?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Become a funambulist - acrobat or tight rope walker

In addition to rope dancing, funambulist also refers to a person with mental agility and skill - a writer. As writers, we struggle from concept to expression along lines that quiver with illusion and reality. 

Begin rope dancing with a thought, add a feeling, and a difficult aspect of life.  See where agility and skill move you.  Don't forget to add illusions and humor along with the reality.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Truth in Writing

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." He 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"?   - Laura Carroll, Your Life Quest

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

What's Left Out

Experiment with substracting elements from a descriptive passage.  Select paragraphs from your favorite writer or a piece of your own writing.

Describe a garden without the use of color.  Reveal music without sound, a meal without taste, a sunset without sight.

Write or re-write a passage to leave something out.  Rewrite it again eliminating another element. Notice where these ideas take you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Write About Your Guest House

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 points about life's randomness and how to deal with it.  

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unfurl Experience

The best way to write about an experience involves paying attention to the body and using physical detail.  Rather than tell the reader about love or anguish, show it in body language. Avoid abstract words and reveal emotions in sensory details. Rather than report the feeling, enact it.

Avoid your reader's comment, “Oh, this poet feels strongly about this.” Toss your reader into the full impact of the feeling.  Let readers experience all the related sensations themselves. 

Unfurl the story, layer by layer. 

Creative Write: Go for a visceral impact in writing a poem about frustration or joy.  What does it sound, smell, look and even taste like?  Grab your reader's attention and write a wild ride.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chasing Contentment

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
                                                 -  Henry Ward Beecher

Write about contentment that extends beyond a feeling of happiness.  What makes you feel Alive?

Develop a list of "common" things you enjoy.  Include five or ten.  

What does the sun feel like after a steady rain?  Cherish a taste of boysenberries just picked from the garden.  Recall a scent that brings a memory. Notice a robin, bluejay or sparrow and write about its movement and behavior. Sing a few notes of a song with words of delight. Revel in a dark night of stars and moonlight.

Deepen the experiences. Reveal how they add enrichment to your life.  Respond to the details of their nature. Explore contentment in a story or poem. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Past the Comfort Zone

Make today a Grateful day during your writing practice.  Begin freewriting to develop a flow about thankfulness.

Write on and on with speed and grace. Lasso words to attract everyone and anything that makes your life bounce and race with delight.  Take time to write about the inconveniences that also creep in.

You will realize the balance you search for arrives through the pen or while fingers bound across the keys.

After your gratitude exercise, delve into ways to expand your writing skills.

When have you stretched with writing way beyond your comfort level?  What did you write and where did you venture?

If you haven't yet pushed past barriers or climbed cliffs, write for them now.

Scribble with intrigue and fascination.  Make your sentences zing and ring with wonder and nuances. Feel the thrill of playfulness in words.

Writing the Bones

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone."
                                                                   - Reba McEntire

Today, write about a wish, a strength, and a chuckle. Combine all into a story or poem.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Present Yourself with the Present

Ode to the Present
       by Pablo Neruda

present moment,
as a wooden slab,
immaculate hour,
this day
as a new cup
from the past–
no spider web
with our fingers,
we caress
the present;
we cut it
according to our magnitude
we guide
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
it contains
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
growing at
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
our hands.
Grab it.
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t lose it in dreams
or words.
Clutch it.
Tie it,
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a bell,
a machine,
a kiss, a book,
a caress.
Take a saw to its delicious
And make a chair;
braid its
test it.
Or then, build
a staircase!
Yes, a
the present,
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
just so
you repair
the leaky roof.
Don’t go all the way to heaven.
for apples,
not the clouds.
Let them
fluff through the sky,
skimming passage,
into the past.
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It’s gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

In his poem, "Ode to the Present," Pablo Neruda advises us how to slip free and clear into the opportunity of the present moment.  The here and now is so ripe and willing, so malleable.  "Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume."  

Build a staircase. Yes, a staircase.  Climb into the present, step by step. Don't go all the way to heaven. 

Today, write about the present moment with Neruda's verve.  Seize the magic and free yourself.  Take a bite, another and another.  Fill your page with imagery and playfulness.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Editing Process

You touch one part of it, and the whole thing shivers, from one end to the other. It's such a delicate thing, revision, and revision is where the artistry is; and so you have to be ruthless, and put away anything--even parts you like the sound of, even the matters that speak from your secret self to who you hope you are--put away anything that does not contribute to the whole thing. And it is hard. --Richard Bausch

The editing process becomes as challenging as the initial creativity of the writing.  Dylan Landis author of Normal People Don't Live Like This her novel in linked stories, says of editing that she works the nails out slowly with a teaspoon.  Landis reveals that metaphor by explaining about the spoon from a tenth grade art assignment. They had to form an egg from wet clay.  After the gray eggs hardened, they polished them with the back of a teaspoon.  By the end of a week her egg looked like polished pewter.  She didn't understand the process until, twenty-five years later, she started writing fiction. Now she's discovered that egg-polishng gets her to character, story and conflict.

Do you have a specific way to revise your work?  List the editing techniques you use.  Do you read the words out loud or turn the pages upside down?  How do you discover areas to enrich or delete? 

Create a metaphor to represent your editing process. See where it leads.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Write Your Weather

Reciprocity rules in relationships that endure.

We also thrive in a reciprocity with writing. For writing to nurture us, we desire the thrills and rhythm to sustain our sense of direction. Writing must provide support as we struggle through the fog. Often this relationship feels unrequited. We push and push clutching for words that drown beyond our reach.

Similar to our relationships with others, we must figure out for ourselves what Aristotle meant by, “Know thyself.”  What do we know about our individual strengths and challenges when churning in a wordless maelstrom ? We have to re-create our self-assurance and find a Positive to remind us what works . A "learn thyself" process keeps us going.

Nine Preparations for inclement writing weather:

1. Stock your own life raft while the sun shines. What are your best resources? During the times of flow, write down what works for you. What have you done "this time" to push beyond?

2. Challenge yourself to discover ways to return to the page or screen. Turn up the music. Sit there and let fingers fly without worry about the result. Don’t become anxious to create a finished piece.

3. Learn your rhythm. Chart your mind's peaks and valleys by week.  Give yourself a day of rest and read a variety of words. Choose words that amuse or amaze. Write one word or one sentence on colored cards.

4. As you begin to learn about yourself, consider: Does creativity increase the closer you get to the deadline? Can you count on this? What other ways could you manage your creativity? Consider setting an earlier deadline to trick the "procrastinating creative."

5. When frustration floods, return to research and information gathering. Write a letter to your writing as a friend. Ask this pal for help.

6. Most breakthroughs occur when you move away from the project. Take a walk. Write about forces of nature deal with weather.

7. Consider improbable connections. Let your ideas rearrange in kaleidoscopic fashion

8. Write your process for all writing projects. Notice it does not progress in a linear fashion. This will become your Best Friend.

9. Create your own metaphor for struggle. Consider your greatest accomplishment and how you achieved it. Use all your senses to recall it in detail.

In a write relationship, no one can supply what we have the ability to discover for ourselves. Learning our rhythms and styles will support us through any weather and become habit. With habit and resilience, we will always have two Best Friends and will benefit from the reciprocity.

Creative Write:
Write about how you deal with all types of weather in your writing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Child's Mind

"Give me the mind of a child." - Pablo Picasso

All children share delight and curiosity in discoveries.  They seek direct experience of the world as it unrolls.  The joy of adventure becomes stimulation for their creative exploration.

A writer's intuition requires a similar sense of wonder.  Writers begin with awareness and write to expand and explore the images that flow.  They climb trees of possibility and feel the crust of bark with their hands as they spiral into the branches. A new world opens for playfulness with words.

Reflect on an event you observed in the past week with freshness and a twist. Take a mental stroll to a familiar place and observe it for the first time with a child's attitude and insight.  Notice the ocean as more than water and waves.  See color in variety and subtlety of gradation.  Hear a bird's music and the wind's roar.

Creative Write: Write about a moment of pure joy experienced with a child's mind. Or, write about the remembrance of a first gift received. Get into a rhythm a child might use to explain the situation.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Write about Obsessions

"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle," said the poet Rumi.

Does your writing reveal an obsession with something amazing or amusing?  Do you write about aspects of life confuse and confound?  Obsession with writing itself provides material to write about.

Make a list of three obsessions you would like to pursue that you haven't considered before.

Write from your point of view deep into a cavern of obsession. Also develop a character to fly to the flame.

Writers need obsessions to help them create works of wonder.  Always add a spark of humor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Horoscoping Characters

Read a few horoscopes and make a list of ideas and traits to create a character.


1.  Your character's favorite food, color,  choice of music.
2.  How does your character dress?  Add the details:  current style,  flamboyant,  sloppy
3.  Reveal your character's temperament in dialogue:  easy going, flashy, pouty, withdrawn, quick to anger. Add the opposite trait in some way.

Creative Write: Develop a scene after adding dimensions to your character.

Define a conflict situation and your character's reaction to it.

Your character has a series of mishaps: stepping in chewing gum, spilling coffee on new suit, car battery dead, misplacing keys. How do the small inconveniences in life affect your character?

Your character has to make a life changing decision in a time of frustration.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Take a Risk

 "I write of the wish that comes true - for some reason, a terrifying thought." 
James M. Caine

Tennessee Williams began his play,"A Streetcar Named Desire" from a mental image of a woman sitting alone by a window and looking sad from having been stood up by the man she was supposed to marry.

Recall an unfulfilled wish of your own.  How would your life have changed if the wish had come true?

What risk do you regret not taking?  Take that chance in writing about it.  What happens?

Scintillating Scenes

Scenes are major building blocks in fiction.  They describe any sequence or detailed episode. A scene might focus on one character's goals and obstacle, characters who confront one another, and those who speak dialogue.

Think of your story in a series of pictures or segments of scenes.  Visualize: love scene, fight scene, flight scene, or one of pursuit.  Become a moving camera to capture the situation.

Scenes should:

Reveal character, create tension, and move the plot forward.
Define a conflict; an encounter in which questions are raised and answered.
Clarify a location.  Where are we?
Provide a tense of time:  then, now, the future
Create atmosphere.
Express emotion anger, love, joy, resignation.
Provide a climax. The main character wins or loses or learns or doesn't.
The end of one scene should move into another.

All writers hear it again and again - show, don't tell.  Details stimulate the reader's imagination.  Reveal the character's emotion. Don't say, she's angry.  Show his or her actions. Describe dinner, don't just say they ate it.

The opening scene provides orientation.  The writer must hook the reader, introduce the protagonist or hint of one.  This includes a sprinkle of landscape, weather, mood or atmosphere.

Use summary scenes to show less important action and to bridge scenes.  Summary can cover long periods of time.

Creative Write:  Write a scene to engage the reader.  Create an altercation between two friends who meet in a park.  Show their moods through the action and weather. Use body language to enhance the exchange.

Messages and Myths

The Bini people of West Africa tell a story about a time when the sky was so close you could reach up and touch it with your hand.  The sky provided food and nobody worked in those days. Everyone just had to stretch their hands when hungry and break off a piece of the sky.

The sky demanded that individuals should only take whatever they needed for one meal, no more.  No one could store food.  Everybody obeyed this rule except for one greedy man who broke off a large piece.  Unable to finish this piece, he tried to store it but the food rotted.

The sky became so angry about this waste it shot up so far away where no one could reach it.  Since then people have had to work to get food.

Creative Write:   Recall the first story with a moral or message told to you during childhood.  Why does this message stick with you?

Does your family tell a story based on a family happening that has become a myth everyone tells in a variety of versions?

If you cannot recall a story or are unaware of a family myth, create one today.

The Promise

In a story's beginning, a promise is made.  Something amazing exists in that room, down the hall, in that confrontation.  The writer must open the door and fulfill that promise.

If writing your life story, your writer's work could be a question, a promise and a truth.

What does a writer do when faced with a question the size of life?  It is an invitation to reveal the extraordinary.  Deepen the question, magnify the promise and see what flows.

Creative Write: Begin with the initial question of your existence.  How did your parents meet?  Describe the circumstances of their connection.  If you don't know specifics, develop your own creation myth.  Add details and sensory imagery.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Plot Simplified

Life is a flow of different experiences.  In fiction we frame it: beginning, middle and end.  A character exists in a maze facing a series of obstacles; not too many, not too few.  

To simplify plot, think about a character wanting something and someone or something getting in the way of that. The story involves the "and then whats." 

Three basic plots exist in the conflict situation:  man against man; man against nature; man against himself.

Consider the underpinnings of story as character, emotion, situation and setting.  The challenge becomes what to put in the middle as a tent pole.


Emotion         Situation

Creative Write:  Practice a few simple plots today and turn them around.  How would you rewrite Goldilocks and the Three Bears?  

Friday, November 11, 2011


"This is the moment I call epiphany . . . when the relation of the parts is exquisite . . . its soul, its whatness leaps to use from the vestment of its appearance.  The soul of the commonest object . . . the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant.  The object achieves its epiphany." -  James Joyce

The typical story carries the seeds of conflict.  Two men are rivals in conflict for a girl, a treasure or a corporation.  They are evenly matched and only the author's deceptive clues will tell you who is the good guy and who is the bad. The action can seesaw until eventually someone wins.

James Joyce dispensed with this formula and created short stories to reach a moment of revelation or epiphany.  In place of winnings and losings his stories dealt in nuances, illuminations, and sudden spiritual manifestations.

Joyce used epiphanies as both a way of seeing or hearing and a way of showing and writing.  Some are fragments of overhead conversations of strangers.  Some are accounts of dreams and others are brief dialogues betweeen Joyce and individuals he knew.  Some are uncategorizable.  They are poetic-prose statements or transcriptions of actual life.  He defines epiphany as the quididtas the whatness of a thing.

Life fades into the sunset or a silence prevails.  Often no one wins or loses and many characters do not reach self-knowlege in the moment.  They do not even realize how hopeless they are.  The stories reach their conclusions only in the minds of the reader,  Or, the whatness of a character is revealed like a light bulb over his head.

After Joyce introduced the concept, the meaning has become elastic.  Writers have attempted to use subtle effects of this technique to reveal character, attitude and emotion.

Epiphanies are used for short mood pieces because there's not enough action to sustain them.  The realization story may include urgency and a sense of something or the pain of discovery and self-realization.


Late in the afternoon, a married woman hurries to meet her lover.  The breeze shakes flowers from the cherry trees that bloom in the garden.  He is waiting for her and they make love with frightened haste.  With a gesture reserved for women who know that they are beautiful, she tugs her dress over her head and tosses it behind her like unwanted memory   -  Shulamith Wechter Caine

Creative Write:

1. Create an epiphany based on a quiet encounter with something that has always been out of reach.  Something always seems to have just turned its corner as you have turned your own.  This could be a moment in memory or pieces of a scene which needs dream and imagination to make whole.

2.  Build an epiphany for a character leading to an emotional realization.  Begin with fragments of overhead conversations, a ringing bell, or an emotional incident.

3.  Create an epiphany within a prose poem like the example above.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Premise

Fiction's premise involves what happens to the characters as a result of the major conflicts plus twists and turns in the story.

If a writer wishes to prove love leads to disaster, he shows Dan and Sheila falling in love and bad things happening.  Dan loses his job and becomes depressed. Sheila leaves him because he has lost his drive.  He falls into deeper despair and becomes homeless. He may end his life.

In the next premise, love leads to bliss.  Bill and Bonnie meet on the subway.  Love transforms their dull lives as an accountant and teacher into an ongoing series of delicious moments.  After they get rid of respective spouses, they buy a farm and grow old together.

Discover your story's premise and take it through all the twists and turns of  possibilities.


l.  Trusting someone leads to disillusionment.
2. Greed leads to alienation.
3. Courage leads to redemption.
4. Nothing can crush the human spirit.

Creative Write:

l.  Outline a premise based on the above suggestions or your own.
2.  Start with a character and give him or her a dilemma.  Set your imagination free and let writing take you on an adventure.

Tone in Writing

Tone is a changeable aspect of a writer's voice. It indicates the writer's attitude. While the writer's voice always shows through, the tone may show as angry, comical or ironic, depending upon the piece.

Creative Write:  Use word choices to create tone.

Begin with the words - It would be much too dangerous to talk about.  Write with a frightened tone and then with humor.

Write a humorous approach to:  Can you tell the truth in a small town?

Seeds of Traditional Story

A traditional story structure revolves around a series of events (plot = action) where the main character (protagonist) faces a problem (conflict). Dealing with the problem causes a change in the hero and a conclusion of the action (resolution).

The protagonist, the story's main character, wants something that brings satisfaction or resuls in misery.  The more this character wants, the more intense the struggle to get it becomes.

Plot creates a harmonious fit for a series of events.  It unites and controls various scenes and characters in a cause-and-effect pattern.  Each event promotes another to happen until a resolution occurs.  During the unraveling of the story, the reader learns that the conflict either can or cannot become resolved.

Is this a story?

Joe gets up for his big meeting of the year, drives to work, presents his advertising campaign which meets with success.  He meets his girl friend for a drink and goes home to sleep.

No story results because Joe only follows a sequence of events. No conflict or action arises.

How about this?

Today is Joe's big meeting of the year.  The alarm never goes off so Joe gets up late.  His car doesn't start.  He pushes it to a gas station  just as a Brink's truck filled with bank robbers turns the corner and hits him broadside.  They kidnap him but he breaks free.  He eventually gets to his office late for the meeting.

Lots of conflict created!

In order for the resolution to tie up the story, we need to see a change in Joe.  How does Joe change?  Does he walk right in after his adventure and win the account?  Has all the chaos made him realize how his life is a whirl and he needs to slow down.?  Does he go along with the bank robbers and discover a new career path?

Joe needs a personality to prepare him for his struggle. He needs more dimensions.

Fictional characters are constantly making choices and solving problems; some good, some not so good.  Opposite dimensions of a character always tug at him.

Joe needs strengths that give him the ability to strive (courage, love, altruism, ambition) and flaws that lead to a breakdown if not checked (fear, lust, power-hunger) to become well-rounded.

Creative Write:   Develop a story idea in five to six sentences.  Introduce your character to a problem he most solve.  His efforts will only worsen the problem yet is he is relentless.  Move the story in wild ways.  Stay open to nuances.

Outline a problem that will help your character learn about his flaws.  Have him make a final, enormous effort, overcome the flaw but never triumpth over the story problem

Create an event that grows from a character's successes in the past or one strength of character.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Common Things

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” -  Henry Ward Beecher

Write about contentment that extends beyond a feeling of happiness.  What makes you feel Alive?

Develop a list of "common" things you enjoy.  Include five or ten.  

What does the sun feel like after a steady rain?  Cherish a taste of boysenberries just picked from the garden.  Recall a scent that brings a memory. Notice a robin, bluejay or sparrow and write about its movement and behavior. Sing a few notes of a song with words of delight. Revel in a dark night of stars and moonlight.

Deepen the experiences. Reveal how they add enrichment to your life.  Respond to the details of their nature. Explore contentment in a story or poem. 

A Writer's Voice

Finding one's voice is a challenge.  It takes time to develop and becomes the individual writer's mark.  Even though a fiction writer may speak through different characters, voice reveals the writer's  fingerprint.  A writer promotes his or her own linguistic quirks, sentence rhythms, tone, and recurring imagery.

Developing one's voice takes time. It results from practice with the flow of many words. A writer learns to love the successes and disasters of the writing process. Reading other writers with a focus on their style helps determine one's own.

Do you know what distinguishes your writing?  List characteristics you feel define your voice.  Do you vary your sentences?  Does your style include poetic devices and sensory imagery? Do you include details in the narrative and spark it with humor?

Creative Write:  Write about a great surprise in first person.  Change it to a third person perspective.  What have you gained or lost from the switch?  Does this help you define your voice?

Situation to Story

Every work of literature has both a situation and a story. The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has to say.” ~ Vivian Gornick

When writing about a situation, bring in all the senses.  What does it smell, sound and feel like? Add taste and temperature. Define it by adding these details interwoven with your emotions.

When you return to relive the situation in writing, what insights arrive from your current state of mind?  What wisdom did you gain? Include the texture of your experience to create a story or poem.

Creative Write: Choose situations you've found uncomfortable or uplifting.  First, define what happened, where it happened, and how it happened.  Who else became involved?  Add details to share this experience with the reader.   


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Gratitude Write-a-thon

You're the running back in your game called life. It's a team sport with many individuals creating lanes for your success. You cannot exist in this world without the assistance and support of others.

Make today a Thank You write-a-thon.

Write a Gratitude note to someone who has helped you in the past.  Acknowledge a family member of friend who has always run by your side in times of need.  Thank someone for memories and fun.

Pen a supportive letter to a supervisor for someone who aided you recently.

Send written applause to the checker at the market, a store clerk, or someone who fixed your car.  Share your gratefulness for all the performances.  Give someone an uplift in writing today.

Post a line or two here to show how you spell gratitude.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Taste of Wonder

As knowledge increases, wonder deepens - Charles Morgan

Today, open the dictionary and learn five new words you've never seen before.  Then spend time wondering and writing about it.

Look deep into flower faces and smell the breeze.  Write three gratitudes and keep the weather sunny inside.  Eat meals with gusto and delight in the textures of foods.  Hug several people today.  Surprise someone you don't know.

Celebrate your knowledge and deepen your wonder.  Love the world with words!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Language of Fragments

Potential for stories appears everywhere as you travel your day.   Stay alert for words and conversations.  Use your cell phone to photograph phrases from billboards, road signs, and cafe menus. Collect lists of overheard conversations.  

Play and rearrange this language of fragments and bounce ideas off the photographs. 

Observe a cafe scene:

The buzz of conversations and clicking fills the room.  Forks, spoons, and knives clash with dishes to provide a symphony.  To entice hungry diners, scents of cinnamon rolls and bacon release out the door.
“The only reason she went back. . . “
“And after that he….
“Do you really want the same result you got last time?”
“Can’t believe they actually. . .”

"Oh really, then what did you tell her. . ."

Creative Write: Have fun and add to the dangling conversations.  Notice if a story or poem appears from the language of fragments and dangling conversations.

Ways to generate a poem

Try these five ways to unlock your poetic notions.

l.   Make a list of five experiences.
2.  Write three names for colors that have a rhythm (magenta, aubergine, tangerine)
3.  Add three scents and three sounds.
4.  Write three questions you'd ask if they were the last questions you could ever ask.
5.  Write an extreme sensation you've felt.  If an animal, which one would it be. Describe it.

Once you've responded to the above, you'll have lots of material.  Use one of the questions as the first line, each of the senses more than once.  Use other parts in any way that works.  Your description of the animal might describe a friend.

Try for a poem with 20 lines. Let each line be ten or more syllables long.  Think of the poem as a dream  and don't force it. Let the music and senses speak through you.

Transport bits of your life into a poem.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Multiple Personalities

Play and explore your multiple personalities.  Describe yourself in three different ways.  You might begin by describing: Me, Myself and I.

Name these personalities with first and last names. Try for two syllables for the first name and three for the last name.  Add a middle name for rhythm.  What nicknames will you choose?  Make one personality an insect or fish.

Have fun and do a freewrite from each persona. Create dialogue among them.

If additional characters move in during your freewriting, keep expanding their traits. Notice those you might invite to enter a story or poem.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writing about Hope

How you do anything is how you do everything – Zen proverb

Beginning to write about a difficult experience signals that we
 have chosen hope rather than despair.
 Conversely, when we’re in despair,
if we write we become more hopeful. – Tom O’Brien

The discipline of work provides an exercise bar,
so that the wild, irrational motions of the soul become formal and creative – May Sarton

Writing is a way of recovering what is lost.  -  Isabel Allende

Emotional territory we live in and manage provides powerful, authentic potential for writing. Our challenge is to allow feelings to emerge as we write; to let ourselves experience them and use them to deepen our writing.

Often writing uncovers emotions that temporarily make us uncomfortable.  If we can tolerate these feelings, our writing will become enriched by the self-knowledge gained.

We need to dig in and take risks to explore unresolved puzzles or ongoing concerns. We will discover greater range and depth in artistic expression.

Writing about troubling life experiences makes us healthier and able to achieve a level of understanding of our lives that only writing can provide.  In part, this is because writing distracts us from our problems.  Through writing, we cultivate the quality of absorption – becoming deeply immersed in our work.  Writing regularly fosters resilience.

Writing as an observer, we regard our lives with a certain detachment and distance when we view it as a subject to describe and interpret.

Creative Writes:

1.  Choose a quote above and begin writing.  See what flows from your pen.

2.  Consider what puzzles, confuses, or troubles you.  Make a list. Choose one topic from your list and then write from the perspective of the third person – “he or she.”

3. Think of  “tangled emotions” – emotions where you feel conflicted.  How can you write to untangle them?

4.  Define someone else’s problem you’ve already solved.  How did you solve it?  How did you change your relationship to trauma?  How did you transform despair into understanding?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writing Gathas

When birdsong is loud in the trees
I vow with all beings
to put down my work and to listen,
recreated as song.  - Robert Aiken  from The Dragon Who Never Sleeps

A gatha is a Buddhist vow that expresses the interconnectedness and interdependence of an individual with nature.  The first line sets up a situation in nature beginning with the word when or whenever.

When planting lilies in my garden
When I hear the sparrows sing
When I smell sea spray

The second line, "I vow with all beings" represents the basic commitment of the Buddhist gatha. You might substitute another commitment or promise.

I promise to myself
I make a commitment to the earth
I pledge myself

The last two lines tell of the promise and begin with to.

to put aside worries
to stay focused
to engage with . . .

Gathas focus on everyday aspects of life and express how all beings and things connect.  The gatha form becomes meaningful way to express the interdependence felt when observing nature.

When I hear the Black Phoebe's call
I promise to us both
to remain in the moment
and sing of love

Creative Write:  Arrange your gathas today to connect and express your interdependence with nature.

Grab Experiences in Writing.

Research has revealed that money, status, and relationships don't keep individuals inspired and happy over time.  New experiences, alone or with a friend, spouse or family member, provide the greatest satisfaction in life.

The mind becomes stimulated by constant learning, visiting new places, developing connections, and writing about them.

Creative Write: Today, recall an experience that lead to different ways of thinking.  Did you feel apprehensive about trying something new?  Did you bring friends or family along for the ride?

Delve into emotions and frustrations that accompanied the situation.  Write until you discover the inspiration that resulted from your ability to learn from the experience.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writing Success in November

To have a successful writing life, we need to occupy the pen or keyboard and write.  Like training a muscle, the more written, the easier the words flow.   We just need to plant ourselves with dedication and avoid judgment.

Today National Writing Month begins.  November unfolds with thirty days to experiment with words.  Even if you don't plan to devote extensive time each day to meet the 50,000 deadline on November 30, make word awareness a priority this month.

Write your definition of writing success.

Outgrow your fears and have brainstorming sessions with your alter ego.

Everything will be Just Write!