Thursday, February 28, 2013

Simple in Spring

Ten thousand flowers in spring . . .
. . . If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.
        -Wu Wen 

Spring becomes the time of year to think about renewal in writing. Writers need an opportunity to consider how to prepare for writing rejuvenation.

Keep it SIMPLE:

S:   Savor the growth beginning around you in daisies, daffodils, crocuses, and tulips. Take time to watch nature’s daily progress. See the birds and insects prepare for spring.

I:    Invest in your imagination. Forget the stock market and the world’s concerns. Imaginate each moment. Make discoveries, connections and write. write. write.

M:   Meditate in your own way. Observing your breath creates awareness and relaxation. Focus on it for one or two intervals during the day. Sit comfortably, breathe in six times and out six times. Gradually extend your exhalations. Try for a fifteen minute period where you erase the jumble from your mind. Let thoughts flow by like clouds.

P:    PLAY. Distract yourself with fun and frolic.

L:    Let go. Enjoy humor and spread it around.

E:    Eat healthy foods and Exercise.

Celebrate YOU!   Believe in yourself and your writing. It will grow stronger when you add your own spring fervor.

Creative Write: Find a word (sycamore, pelican, dandelion, salmon) and create your spring renewal with suggestions for each letter. Play, get springy and have fun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unlikely Friendship

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time. - Georgia O'Keefe

What does it mean to become a friend? How does one develop a friendship? It takes skill and risk. Anticipation and expectation can destroy more relationships than misunderstandings.

Friends remain realistic in their needs. They give what they want to get. They take time - a lot of time, for one another.

Designing oneself to become the friend desired requires listening skills, empathy, compassion and reciprocity. A friend arrives like a cool drink on a hot day. An understanding glance and hug can do more than medicine to cure illness.

Laughter and play become necessities in all situations.

Respect and restraint help friends walk in different directions, yet side by side.

Friends build a two-way street of give and take. One way street signs do not exist in their relationship.

How do you survive friendships? Can you be there and be fun?

Creative Write: What friendship survival skills do you have to share? What three talents do you develop in yourself as a friend?

Have you shared an unlikely friendship? Write about finding a friend in a pet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Patchwork a Story

"She made the stories her own, chopped them up and clapped them back together in new formations, putting the enchanted princess in the loving embrace of a villainous wolf, marrying the charming prince to the wicked witch and giving them a brood of dwarfs to raise as their own."  from Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

Choose five of your favorite: novels, stories, fables, myths or poems. Transfer characters from one story to another. Exchange relationships. Alter history. Trade male characters for females.

Redesign the last paragraph. Play with settings, plots and characters by asking, what if? and then what? 

Change the setting and whale in Moby Dick. What if Dorothy and Toto land near a house. They walk in and see three bowls of porridge.

Imagine if Scarlet had married Ashley and moved to California during the Gold Rush?

Drop Piglet and Pooh into a Dr. Seuss world.

Take King Kong to the zoo.

What if Penelope had sailed on an odyssey instead of her husband?

Place Emma or Snow White in a scene from Water for Elephants.

Creative Write: Imaginate and use humor to patchwork a story.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Write the Storm

Before the storm, the sea flaunts its personalities. During their flights of defiance against the wind, seagulls ripple on the currents like kites. They evade the force as long as possible, wielding magic in the thrust of wings. Pigeons circle in formations catching the drafts. Subtle changes alert the birds' radar to seek shelter before intensity could whip them from the sky.

Pelicans and seagulls find protection on the edges of cliffs as winds broil. Cormorants rise into the branches of pine trees and preen. A winter sea and sky toy with the color wheel and capture a view that defies a camera's eye.

In India, darshan means getting a view. The clouds escape to reveal a panorama of the Himalayas from the foothills.  The Himalayas give up their darshan.  They're letting you have their view.

The Pacific ocean has provided a darshan on its day of wonder.  It doesn't show itself right away.  The tease encourages a search for your own words and imagery of discovery. 

The sky provides an opening.  Where does it lead?

As the storm passes, the sky returns to calm the sea and reflect the blue.  Seagulls ready their feathers for flight.

Creative Write: 
Capture a winter scene with words. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scent for Memories

"Tita liked to take a deep breath and let the characteristic smoke and smell transport her through the recesses of her memory."       From Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Scents have the power to bring back the past.  They transport us into memories. Think about your favorite and least favorite foods, scents or tastes. Reflect upon the first time you experienced each.  Does that first reaction affect your feelings now?

How about chocolate.  What images does it evoke from childhood?

Creative Write: List three to five favorite scents and tastes. Recall when you first met them?  Take a negative experience and play it forward. Why do you retain its influence?  Write about how you can alter your sensations from the past and transform this taste or scent?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Warm up Writing A to Z

Do you need a mind tweek and brain twist? Playing with words for rhythm and first letter repetition may ease you into discoveries.

Pablo Neruda has a series of questions that inspire wonder and writing.  How does the rose admire itself by changing the color of its dreams? Where does the lizard's tail buy fresh paint?

Begin a series of free flow notions and questions. Go for absurd and unlikely as you make your way down the alphabet. Add the spice of humor.

Follow an Amazement into the Amazon.
Imagine ballooning into Beethoven.
Does a Cantaloup need candor?
Could a Donkey fit on a dime?
Erupt into pumpkin laughter.
Capture a flea on a flugal horn.
Gallop in a gallon.
Notice a Hologram in a harness.
Watch as an Idiot forms into an idiom.
Behold a Juror inside a jelly jar.
Catch a Klepto in a kitchen sink.
Smell a Lemon in a light switch.
Monkey with a maze.
Naughty the daylight into a nugget.
Find an Osprey in a owl's ear.
Petticoat in Petaluma
Seek Quiet in a quorum
Ride Restless in a rain forest
Will Silly pat the sycopant?
Tryst in a triptic
Rage in Underwear for Ulysses.
Sprout victorious in a vegetable garden
Get wistful in Kentucky.
Find x-rays in a Xylophone moment.
Yodel in yosemite.
Zoo into zenith.

Creative Write:  After you've zoomed through your list. select a few lines to develop.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Write the Vacant Space

Look inside. The Universe is waiting.

". . . one must reach inside and feel.  The moment the shock kicks in is very unusual feeling inside and all around you, and that is what you might reach into and feel.  It is there just before the tears come, and the despair, and the customary depression and the giving up . . . ." from The Elephant Keepers' Children by Peter H√łeg 

At times one reaches a moment of fragility. Normal instincts recede. The brain blurs without direction.  As in a gauze-filled dream, vacant space expands.  Gravity tugs, then whirls with the scent of fear.  Rapid as a finger snap, opportunity flashes for understanding.

Then, it clamps shut with a clack. Words flutter and flee when a haze of flannel descends. How does one cage the wind with nets of words?

Creative Write: Return to a time of confusion when nothing made sense. Define it from its source and also from renewed perspective. Take the plunge to write from the discomfort into the sunshine.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Year of Living

What does it mean to chase happiness?  For a year, author Gretchen Rubin searched for the wisdom of the ages from culture, science and philosophy to discover the elements of happiness.

She's not the first to study "the year of" approach to life.  Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond in 1845 for a two year discovery project.  Before him Plato, Aristotle, Bertrand Russell, Leo Tolstoy, and Blaise Pascal formed views on what it meant to live with happiness.

Stimulation in mind, body and spirit requires more than a search for happiness. It's vital to overall health to travel through emotions from the downs to the ups and muddle through the middles. Way too many individuals evade their frustrations and annoyances when they need to use them as springboards to gain self-knowledge.

Times of feeling down or "stuck in the middle" provide as many opportunities as a focus on a search for happiness. Take time to delve into your down time demons.  Ask questions of them.  They will reveal secrets to enrich your future action with insights.

Creative Write:  Make a list of five down times you experienced last year.  Return to them with all your emotions.  Write your gains from the struggles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Suitcase Mystery

Staff at the University of Abertay Dundee in the U.K. discovered a suitcase belonging to Margaret Maule, who worked as a nurse during World War I. It  contains Maule's diary, photographs, a newspaper article she wrote, and other WWI memorabilia.

"The contents of this suitcase are absolutely fascinating, but we know very little about the person who owned it," a staff member said. "There’s no record of her ever having been to Abertay, so how it came to be in our possession is a complete mystery."

Margaret had no connection to the University. How did the suitcase arrive there?
Creative Write: Write about a mysterious suitcase.  What would you leave behind in a suitcase that shares your personality and defines you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Write About Hands and Feet

We take them for granted, our hands and feet.  They assist us to move, write and touch the magic of life.

Write about hands performing a form of art. Detail their movement when painting, writing or sculpting.

Notice how fingers bend and splay. Observe the course of veins and design of freckles.

Focus on gratitude for feet and add a dance. Wriggle puppets of toes and imagine painted faces.

Creative Write: Write the mysteries of fingers and toes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Write to a puzzling question.

What do you take that you leave more of behind?

What is your puzzling question?

Here are a few:

Who am I?

What is love?
Why does something exist as opposed to nothing?

Creative Write: Ponder the first question of what's left behind and go for three answers. Do a freewrite about a puzzling question. Shift your point of view. Answer it in third person as a friend of yours.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Write a House Personality

Design an identity for a house. Give it a name. Write the details of furniture in rooms and spaces. Include sounds of cabinets and doors. What do the windows view?

Write the home's style and personality.

Imagine a family arriving.  How will the house greet them?  Will it play tricks?  Would it turn faucets on or send sounds and lights flashing in the night?

Develop a story for the home above.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Challenge Your Thinking

"We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do by learning the answer itself."  - Lloyd Alexander

Spend time asking questions.  Let your thoughts latch onto weird and soak up strange and unusual.  Absorb the unfamiliar.  Explore and expose your mind to patterns and irregularities in nature.  

On a volatile subject, revolve your perspective to the opposite view. Write a response to: what if I believed . . .

Ask a series of questions about a topic that puzzles you. Notice how one question leads into different territory. Avoid answering the question. Keep asking and writing,

Move away from the concern and wander in free flow writing. Look at the photograph above and start writing. Let your mind swim in the sky. Begin with a "what if." Add playfulness and absurdity.  

What if I write about a cloud formation?  Will it wrap itself around me?  Can I outrun a sparrow?  How high could I jump without gravity? 

Notice if writing away from the issue that puzzles you brings insights.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Explore Texture in Writing

Promote zest in your writing by adding elements of texture.  Explore a variety of surfaces, materials, and natural substances. Discover the nuances.

Write rough, light, and grainy.  Feel and describe with velvet, organdy, and silk.   Find folds, cracks, and pebbles.  

Avoid using adjectives to create descriptions.  Promote metaphors.  Imagine a quilt of sand and sky, embroidered by waves and wind. 

Express temperature by revealing the intensity of heat or frigid air. Walk with barefeet on grass, sand, and hot pavement and describe the sensations. Use your fingertips to explore fabrics and flowers.

Examine roughness and silkiness in leaves and petals.  Feel the breeze on your face and eyelashes.Walk in sea spray or rain. Study pigments and dragons in shadows.
Make notes while experiencing all imaginable surfaces.  

Create your own words to reveal texturization.

Petalize your writing while noticing whiffles and stiffles in geraniums.  Granulate and pebblicate words that sound like layers of gritiness.  Add the scents of edges and odor in roughness of stones.

Invent colors. Let light and dark swivel into sentences. Look for shapes and contours that reveal stories.

Follow a butterfly's shadow dance.

Imagine a fish having to describe finning and tailing in a stream.  Describe a bird feathering in air.

Admire reflections in bubbles.

A story or poem will triangulate from your discoveries.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Hearts Day!

Hearts abound in nature.  

Shapes appear in myriad colors.

They arouse and amuse.

Discover one around a corner.

Search inside petals.

Listen to the sighs.


Look up, down and squint.

Look inside and beyond a heart.

Celebrate the day!

Creative Write: Write about varieties of the heart. Consider the beat, the shape and movement.  

Fling into a new view.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bird Legs

Once upon a time a King, who ruled a small kingdom, controlled everything around him by bullying. Never sharing a kind word, the ruler demanded attention to this needs.  Eating became his favorite pass time  His cook worked night and day to prepare meals but never received praise.

One day the King whined that he needed variety in the preparation of meals. He told his cook to accompany him while hunting. A gourmet of tastes and textures, the ruler wanted a new flavor. They searched through the castle grounds for pheasants until they came upon a Blue Heron by a pond.

"Why does the heron stand on one leg?"  the cook asked.
"I can make him do what I wish, I'm the king." The king clapped his hands and the second leg appeared and settled on the ground.

As they wandered, the King clapped at each bird he noticed until both legs came down.  "See, they do exactly as I command."

"See my power, " he clapped and the next bird flew.  The cook just shook his head.

The King finally decided upon a pheasant and took it with one shot. He smiled and said, "Now you will prepare this one to perfection."

The cook injected the breast with Chardonnay wine and rubbed the bird with spices. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and curry filled the air. He tasted and experimented for hours. Scents swirled the kitchen to make him salivate. When he removed the delight from the oven, the cook could not help himself.  He had to taste his delicacy. He plucked a leg and munched with vigor. The juices ran down his chin. The cook saved a portion for later.

When he served the King, the cook surrounded the pheasant on its side with potatoes, carrots and asparagus so the monarch wouldn't notice the missing leg. The cook returned to the kitchen to savor his leg.

Yells exploded from the dining hall.

'Where's my other leg?" shrieked the King.

The cook's stomach churned as he hurried into the dining hall. He approached the angry monarch and stook tall.

The cook took a deep breath, "Just clap," he said.  "It will come down. Only you have the power."

Creative Write:  Write a bird story.  What would you write about a bird standing on one leg?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spread Your Wings

Poet, Karl Shapiro said, "The proper reaction to any work of art is joy."

Reveal joy in writing.

Let it result from observations and reactions with a sensory perspective.

Take a walk and record sights, sounds and scents that bring feelings of wonder.

Focus on how you relate to the natural environment.

Take a breath and fill your lungs with the freshness of the day.

Marvel at birds that populate the sky. Can you name them?

Discover the tinyness around you.

Color your feelings. Move your thoughts with scents.  Listen for the warmth of the day.

Creative Write: Write without using the word joy.

Bring your reader into the experience with words that bounce and spread their wings.

Capture the moment of ecstasy with words.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Touch and Feel

The sense of touch taps into our bodies and minds for exploration. The body becomes receptive to sensitivity through fingers, toes, arms, legs, tongues, lips, skin, neck, noses, and even eyes. Our minds interpret the pressure, pain, tingles, itches or tickles.

Imagine the touch of a dear one's eyes on your face and body.
Celebrate with high fives and hip bumps for fun.
Ah! feel the tingle of kisses.
Tickling stimulates laughter.
What do colors feel like?
Could you feel a song on your arms?
Try to cuddle a scent and taste.

Coming alive with sensory discoveries
helps you write with vigor.

Creative Write: Tickle the keys with your fingers. Surround objects with your arms and keep your eyes closed.

Feel with your calves and let your toes wander into cool places. Try warm sensations too.

Use all of your body parts and mind to bring emotions into the sense of touch.  Make notes and do a freewrite.  Does a story or poem result?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

In Your Next Life?

Do you wonder when you overhear someone say, "Well, in my next life . . . ."

Adventure into your "next life" in writing.

Delve into your imagination. What will you become in your next life? Write the details of your expectations and plans.

Will you assume a secret power? What will you give up from this life to get in the next one?

After writing about your future talents - stop.  Take a look.  What if you can do what you've written about in this life?  Begin writing from that perspective.

Creative Write:  What are you waiting for?  Define a special power to put into use right now. Smile and develop it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Write About Life's Discards

During my morning run by the sea, a discard by a trash receptacle teased my curiosity. I returned to take its photograph, intrigued by experiences that had etched into the wood.

What types of books or letters had rested there?  How many items did it support: unpaid bills, receipts, sandwiches, drinks that satisfied or overwhelmed?  Did it sit by a window?

What happened to the light bulb and shade?  How many conversations did it overhear?  Did others' pledges and pains circulate its length?  Which conversations needed taking back? What else remains broken where it lived?

How did it lose its light?

Creative Write:  Have you discarded something recently?  Does the photograph reveal a relationship to what you have thrown away?

What would you write about the loneliness of an abandoned lamp table?  Where will it travel next?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sounds of Familiar

We live within a symphony of sounds in our homes.

Pops, creaks and bangs abound.

Rap. Rup. Rip.

Doors slam. Keys jingle to unlock them. The squeal of a garage door announces an arrival of family and friends.

Pets patter, scratch, tweet, meow or arff.

We become accustomed to pipes that gurgle. Water ticks from roof tops. Dribble. drip. drip. tap. tap. tap.

The grind of a garbage disposal accosts as a dryer rumbles in the background, jostling clothing.

Scrapings and screechings circulate throughout the day. Walls shake from furnaces turning on and off. Floors squeak. Wind shimmies windows. As clocks tick in metronome time, echoes bounce from walls.

A rhythm percolates.

Cacophony trumpets a sense of identity and ownership. Sounds bond us to our home. Often a feeling of security results from the familiar. 

Creative Write:  Map the geography of sounds in your current living space. Travel back in time and do the same for a childhood home, from a living space at school or a favorite location.

Add behaviors to the sounds. Who walked in, slammed a door or closed a drawer to avoid an awakening?

What sizzled on the stove? Did a boiling pot gurgle like a friend's anger?

Who arrived with a tinny ringing of the doorbell and feet scuffing on the door mat to make the heart race?

Who turned the music on?

What did a message on the answering machine reveal after the beep?  Whose feet shuffle and scurry on the stairs.

What permeates the silence?

Paint the Day

Play and bounce words that shimmer and shine.

Notice colors, forms and texture as you pass through the day.

Compare shapes and sizes that shout beige, aubergine, or tangerine.

Sherbert your words. Let purple shampoo the page with champagne icing.

Trample leaves for crimson. Melt doubts with a raspberry gaze.

Find dappled hues in a fog-flanneled sky.
Notice blueberry moments 
from the corner of your eye.

Bubble for O's in yellows and greens.
Greet a fellow in feathers 
and watch how he preens.