Thursday, May 31, 2012

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 is 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:

Get into wilding today. Go for a walk and let the wild enter. Notice how the flash of a black thing will introduce another thought.


Have you set aside or forgotten parts of your life?  Did you used to play an instrument, dance for joy, write or paint with ease?  

The greatest treasures in your life may be things you set aside long ago. Often it pays to go back and take a look. Replay aspects of youth in a different way.

Discover something new by retrieving an idea from the past.  Or rediscover a lost art.  

Just start writing and let the joy arrive.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The stone in your shoe

You carry a stone
in your shoe.
Its presence changes.
A toe rubs red,
or a heel bruises
to take your breath away.
You never know when
the irritation
will begin or end.
A callous arrives.
Take advantage
of the relentless spark
you cannot put out.

Describe the details to fit your perspective:

What type of shoe?
Where do you wander with it?
Why does it concern you?
When did you notice it?
How do you sleep?
Does everyone have one?

Try On Negative Emotions

Miriam re-read the letter, tears puddling on the envelope. She crumbled it into her fist and heaved it across the room.  Turning on the computer, she mumbled, "I'll outlast them." Miriam typed the next employer's name across the screen.

Let characters explore emotional subjects by trying them on like clothing.  Begin by giving your character a first and last name. Include a middle name or initial if it appeals. Try for a rhythm of two syllables in the first name and three in the last or vice versa:  Marion Wilson, Robert Atkinson, Henry B. Carlton.

Create a scene to reveal his or her emotional responses. Here are a few to try on: prejudice, insecurity, fear, misconception and misunderstanding, jealousy, resentment, disappointment, frustration, boredom, rejection, disillusionment.

Try on emotions by using body language, facial expressions, and dialogue.  Don't use the emotional word but develop the tension to make the reader feel it.  Write a paragraph for each. 

Bring your character to a level of emotional literacy and understanding of how to switch into a more desirable response to a negative emotion.  Let the writing help you discover personalities.

Now that you have created characters' reactions, does it help you assist with your own?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Write Change

Change evokes visions of coins or the challenge of behavior alterations.  What's difficult about it? 

Our minds and bodies never remain the same.  We change our clothes, shoes, hair styles, life styles, cars, housing, friends and underwear . . . .

What doesn't change?  So, why do we fight it?

Write about your notions of change.  Do you fight or delight in it?  Do you have the write change?

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!

Monday, May 28, 2012


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.

Write Not Quite Right

Eleanor Roosevelt's thought, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do,"  inspires me to wonder about needing to do something not quite right. By that I mean the word that strikes horror into many hearts - doing something imperfectly. That's a toughie.  

We often deny the goal of perfect and replace it with a euphemism like the search for excellence. It's still a balancing act to let some things go undone, not done well, or even forgotten about, and feel good about it.  

How to deny the search for perfection for a day?  

What will I do imperfectly and leave undone today. Something I like or dislike?  How about laundry. I won't separate whites and colors. Wash 'em all in one load. Hmmm, I already do that. I will leave my clothes tangled in the drawers. Yep, do that extremely well. One more . . . I'll leave dishes in the sink. Guess I can start with that one.  I usually hide them in the dishwasher.  

What if I let this blog just unroll as my mind has flown along?  Add a few more colorful adjectives, leave adverbs and not exchange them for active verbs? Now, that will prove I can go with the imperfection flow, right?  It feels like letting the drips go when washing a window. 

Lightbulb moment.

I'll wash windows and mirrors imperfectly today and let the streaks create patterns that light can embellish. I'll re-arrange my socks drawer into neat rows. Notice the adjectives and adverbs I've let populate my sentences above?   Whee!  Write not quite right.

Creative Unright Write:

Write to discover how to do a few tasks imperfectly. Take those chores and processes that you feel excellent about. Turn them around.  Ravel and unravel. See how the switch makes you feel.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What Bugs You?

Everyone has a creature they don't admire. The list goes from spiders and slugs to snakes and beyond.  I love all wriggly living things except for flies and their children.  In respect, I wave the flyers out of my house. Maggots create more challenges and test my patience for their right to life.

In the past I thought calling someone a maggot was a slight.  It really means indefatigable and able to withstand onslaughts of chemicals. Drowning makes no difference; they rise to the surface.

On the day I discovered a mess of maggots in the trash bin, I tried spraying with water.  They moved even faster in the fluid.  Spraying the wrigglers with Windex, I took the bin to the street for the day's pick up. I returned later with more discards and warriors on the bottom had risen in a second phalanx attack.  Back with foaming cleaner, I covered these fellows in white.

On the way to my morning run I checked and the third layer had hopped onto the street.  They began popping out like corn.

In defeat,  I left just as the illusive Black Phoebe I've tried to attract to my yard flew into the muddle of squirmers on the street and feasted.  His feathers were all a flap with this gourmet breakfast.  Hurrah for the food chain.

Upon returning from my run, the trash truck had picked up the gang. I brought the fly maternity ward into the driveway to hose down. Only a white speck remained but did not move here and there.  I suppose they saw the gourmet potential of the truck?

The plastic can remained with a foot of water in it to erode all remaining nesters. Possibly the sun will dry the rest?

To prepare for the future, I tried an internet search of maggots. I discovered :  A teacher had students use non-toxic paint and let the little wigglers waffle around on the page in myriad colors.  Now that's a way to teach kids not to become afraid of ugly things, right?

Creative Write:  Write about an insect experience or a tiger you've tried to tame.

Write for Fun

Do you feel a bit weary about writing? Do deadlines loom and cloud your brain? Break from today's inner tsunami with word play.

Write responses as fast as you can:

l.      One sound like - gleek 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, May 26, 2012

Get Moving

You have decided to start a moving company. After you have created the company title to attract the most attention, decide on a name for your persona as the driver of the truck.

How will you define your expertise?  In what ways would you handle bulky items or pack the delicate China and crystal?  

Do you move pets?

What distinctive item have you moved in the past?

Describe a confrontation because of a surprise request at the first location you're about to move.

Have fun exploring possibilities for your moving company.

Learning about Yourself

“Has any man ever attained inner harmony by pondering the experience of others?  Not since the world began. He must pass through fire.”    
- Norman Douglas from Southwind

Writers need to spend time reading and pondering ways other writers create and produce writing. Collation of ideas sets a foundation. Then, the time to commit your own experience in writing arrives.

Gathering personal experiences provides fodder. Consider:

Search in writing to understand what makes you do what you do. Mine your emotions.

How do self-limitations get in the way?

What convictions do you have on life's questions? If you do not agree with another’s thoughts and ideas, know why and communicate the why.

Learn by writing into areas of anguish and fear. Deal with misfortune and write beyond and through it.  Every stop to regard fear develops strength, courage and confidence. Meet every situation as an adventure.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Explore it in writing.

Let listening skills lead toward mental elasticity and receptivity.

Nurture awareness with curiosity to let creativity flow.

Do you know how your self-esteem arrived?

Exercise your funny bones.

Creative Write:  How have you passed through fire? See where the writing leads. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Texturize your Writing

Discover ways to add texture to your writing.  Trace stones with your fingers.  Find smooth and compare it to . . . . Then rub the edges of petals.  Do leaves return a rubbery response?

Find bouncy in branches.

Decide if pollen feels like satin strips or granules of sand?  How does the magenta taste?  Describe mushiness.
Compare rose petals to man-made materials. Play with words: crinoline, organdy, gabardine.  What sounds do they suggest? What if you explored them with your toes?

Find a minty taste of sepals?  Do daisies taste like fried eggs?

Creative Write: Gather and glide into textures you've never explored.

Include: odd sounds, earth scents, tastes of sweet and sour, and a kaleidoscope of colors.

Mix and match to texturize your writing.  Use your fingers and your toes to adventure into texture.

Writing about the Weather

Regardless of what's going on in life we chat about the weather. It affects how we feel and relate to others. It also provides a motif or framework for writing. Why do we feel such concern about the wild force over which we have no power?

Create Write:  Write about the weather.

Consider its influence on a situation and how the character in your story or poem feels powerless or indifferent to its forces.  Show the emotional effects.

Have a type of weather act out his or her own concern about the weather.

Create a dialogue between two characters where talk of the weather sets a tone and replaces the necessary discussion at hand.

Use weather in a humorous way. Devise a series of dilemmas based on changes in the weather for a character.  Let comedy shine through.

Describe a scene where you dealt with challenges of weather.

Weather the storm and play in the sun today!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Write Order

What if your doctor asked, "What's going well for you today?" or "What good order are you in?"  Then, after the doctor smiled and patted you on the back, he or she said, "Now tell me what you could change that's feeling a bit off?"

We'd almost feel good about a medical appointment that focused on our strengths rather than our dis-order.

What if you focused on the same questions when thinking about your writing?

Here's a start:

What's working that thrills you about what you wrote today?

What's your top writing strength? Add another and and yet another.

If you could change an aspect of your writing what would you do?

Write on the positive side of life. Let that order reign. Answer the above. Add three more positive statements about your writing.  Get into the write order.

Writing About Common Things

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

Happy-ness is a by-product, not a goal.  Write about contentment that extends beyond a feeling of happy.  To feel useful enhances life's pleasure. 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. How do you feel giving an unexpected gift to someone? 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, May 23, 2012

Writing the Moments

"These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot recapture entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart. There is a river, the town, my grandfather steering a boat through the channel, my sister fixed in that suspended rapture she would later translate into her strongest poems, the metallic perfume of harvested oysters, the belling voices of children on the shore . . . When the white porpoise comes there is all this and transfiguration too.
                                                  - Pat Conroy from The Prince of Tides

Human beings first shared experiences in the form of stories told after the hunt. They conjured tales around the fire and divided the meat among the group.

Storytelling helps us makes sense out of our lives.  Certain events and themes figure prominently in every life story.  We are complex beings composed of rich lives: sounds, sights, smells, tastes, textures and memories.

Listens to the voices.  Hear your parents, siblings, children, friends, enemies, teachers and heroes acting out their dramas on your life slate.

Sensing the voices in yourself will remind you of your relationship in the web of life.

Your people inhabit you. They will help you celebrate your myths, sing songs, and tell you legends.  They may help you through life's struggles.

Creative Write:  List a quicksilver moment, a fragment of time, a shiver of the heart.

Add voices of friends and family.

Combine them with a familiar place that made everything right. Bring in all the senses.

Crisis Default

When you're tackling a writing project,  how do you deal with speed bumps ahead?  What provides feelings of power over your territory?  How do you conquer the "terror-itory"?

Pay attention to your crisis default.  Do you crumble to pieces, charge ahead, place blame, or run away when the road gets rocky?

Forget prior behavior and investigate new ways of dealing with the pavement.

Confront your road ahead.  You'll have more choices with how to drive your writing.

Don't let someone take your keys and drive you crazy. Remember, it's not entirely the asphalt.

Write on into the sunset.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Write about Birds

"I pray to the birds.  I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward.  I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day - the invocations and benedictions of Earth.  I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear.  And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen."
                                                - Terry Tempest Williams

Did you know:

Coins in Greece had engraved owls to keep a watchful eye on commerce.

The sun is borne aloft by eagles every morning.

In Norse mythology the god Odin has two companions. The Ravens three were sent out every morning to travel and gather news of the world.  They returned to his shoulder at dusk.

In Native American myths, the thunderbird was the grandson of the sky spirit who created the world.  The water spirit tried to rid the world of people by flooding all the land. Then the people traveled to the highest hill and prayed.  Thunderbird came to fight the water spirit sending a great bolt of lightning that split open the earth and drained the water spirit saving humankind.

Crows and their raven cousins have held a spot in mythology as symbols of occult knowledge and power.  Associated with the otherworld, war and death,  these corvids have accompanied figures such as Apollo and the Celtic goddess Morrigan.

Creative Write:  Choose a bird to write about. Consider what's happening with the osprey in the above photograph.   Tell a story, begin a conversation, get into bird.

Dewdrop World

This dewdrop world
Is but a dewdrop world
. . . and yet?

A delve into roses inside out.
                                        The petals fan and flair with the nurture of dew.


Shadows pose behind and beyond; shapes and curtains flow.

Harmony of upside down and turn around in traces and hearts unfurl.

What self-conversation stumbles among the shapes that reveal a secret core?

To peer, without haste and permit the eyes and nose to investigate. The hands and body bend to each shrine of nature. 

What musicality trails the leaves.  A taste of tart and surprise entreats.

. . . and yet?
Awake in the wild of impermanence, the temple
draws an adventurer.

What do I know of secrets I don't understand?
Like dew, a phantom or the flare of sunset gone.  With hope revisited.

and  yet . . . to awaken and arrive again at dawn.

Creative Write:  Write about impermanence.
Choose a metaphor to expand.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crouch for Curiosity

During my morning runs I ponder and play with words and ideas in my mind.  I stop occasionally to photograph moments and make connections.  Today I approached the seaside part of my running route and noticed an object that looked like a blue crab half the size of a basketball on the rocks.  It moved.  It moved again. Woah, my mind whirled.

At first I thought it needed saving and asked a couple seated on the rocks above if they noticed it.  They shot blank stares back at me.

I scrambled down the bank to the shore and my heart leaped as the creature moved again.  What fun I thought; a discovery of the day.  I will take a photo and help the crab back into the sea.

What did seem to be a sea creature, reality turned into a deflated birthday balloon.  Waving to the couple, I called, "Just a balloon."  Where were their curious minds anyway?  Curiosity sated, I forgot to take a photo.

Take time to follow your curiosity in writing today.  Don't take anything for granted.

Writing in Inclement Weather

Reciprocity rules in relationships that last. 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 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. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Animal Instincts

"Like the owl, I want to be paid in mice and falling stars, take my midnights in the middle of the day." 
- Lance Larsen 
from the poem, "Chancellor of Shadows"

Consider the above description and how to develop a character based on animal instincts. Make a list of animal traits to bring to your character's description. 

Take a look at some of the stories in this site for Aesop's Fables:

Other possibilities to try on yourself for development:

If you had donkey skills, how would you show stubborn? Or, are you a beast of burden?

With fox instincts, what does sneaky sound like? 
Lion strengths include ferocity. Are you also a kitten at times?

A Black Phoebe is a workaholic, flying dawn to dusk capturing one insect after another. Does that apply to you?

Rabbits and Roadrunners are speedy. Are they as calculating as a tortoise?

Does a hummingbird's attention span define focus?

Elephants never forget. What do they do with their memories?

How would you combine several animal characteristics into one character?

Creative Write: Develop three lines to begin your character sketch. Then see how to mix and match.

Challenges and Choices

Major conflicts in stories revolve around choices made in the past and re-selected in the future. Or, the same choice repeats with similar results.

Create a scene where a character faces a challenge.  The character has met this situation before and now must make a different choice.

Create the opportunity to fail and then succeed by turning a different corner or making a different choice.

Create bitter.  Then turn it around to better.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Every single thing
Changes and is changing
Always in this world
Yet with the same light
the moon goes on shining
                        - Saigyo

Stories and songs abound about individuals who try their best to change the world.  Then they finally realize that by changing themselves more results occur.

Write a song about changes you plan to make.