Monday, September 30, 2013

Writing About Formative Events

Reflect on a formative event in your life. Reveal its drama by showing it from conclusion to beginning rather than chronologically. Begin again by writing from the middle and see where that might take you.

View its impact, meaning and social effects. Will a first, second or third person point of view create the most effective elements of narrative?

How would you alter the scene from your current perspective?

Creative Write: Use details to draw the reader in. Begin with a weather setting of color, fragrance and sound. Show the reader the dynamics of the situation with active verbs.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Write Six Words

Respond to each question in six words.  Go for nouns and verbs.  If you must use an adjective, make it startle the noun.

Where do you discover amazement in life?

How does a scent remind you of an emotion?

Where does a taste take you back in time?

Describe a favorite song.

What makes you laugh?

Show a color's effect.

Write six sound words like kableem or skeech.

Creative Write:

After you create your six word responses, mix them up.  Notice where they might re-arrange themselves in a poem.

Let the words lead your writing with nuances and fun.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Change from the Inside Out

If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.  ~Kurt Lewin

Is it probable that greed, war and selfishness can give way to love, peace and compassion?  Or, are human beings set on a destructive path by nature?

Alberto Villoldo, anthropologist, believes we are moving into possibility. He has studied the healing practices of the Amazonian and Incan shamans for 25 years. Villoldo says, "You can only change the world by changing your inner life.”  

It sounds so simple but takes discipline and dedication to make progress in changing inner lives. 

Price Pritchett feels, "Change always comes bearing gifts."  If you made three recommendations for change in your inner life what would they include? 

Search for three gifts today. Begin by writing the ideals. You might start with: self-respect, responsibility, reciprocity.  Write into each of your chosen words to show examples of how you might accomplish them.  

The birds are molting.  If only man could molt also - his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions.  ~James Allen

Friday, September 27, 2013

Write for Balance

". . .all sorts of little objects I had collected about me over the years.  Clinging to a shelf was the brittle golden husk of a cicada I had plucked from under the eaves early in the fall.  To gaze at the intricacies of its crenellated body, its rent back where it slipped out as if shedding a Chinese jacket, made me wonder at the fragile tenacity of living things."  Liza Dalby, from  The Tale of Murasaki

Consider the strength and the fragility necessary in life. How does your tenacity serve you? In what ways do you relent to let a gentle nature take over?

Write about your balance of tenacity and tenderness.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shakespeare says . . .

Play today and invent words.  Go for rhythm and silliness.  Droodle. Drish and Dast into Dreams.

How does your dreedle dray?

Verbulate a bit.  It will get you into the verb mode.

Begin with A's and ambizoom. aftilate. adjedate.

Progress down the alphabet moving as fast as you can type.

Creative Write: After you have created your lists, smile. Then, write for ten minutes and notice the ideas that playing with words bring up for you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Describe a City

And the loved city? Only at a distance can it be loved. 
How else do those mean little squares and boulevards sprouting
   their haystraw weeds 
Become the Champs-Elysées and Princes Street, except in
Shadowy byways and alleys, wildflower chain linked lots 
Where a lover turned and smiled and did more than kiss, 
And corners where small hilarities gathered, teasing, 
But singing in unison,--these map happiness. 

The hated city. The loved city. The same city.   
                                             - Mark Jarman

Delve into the details of your city.  Create a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, sounds, and scents.

Which natural resources exist?  How do they add to the city's life?  Include the "haystraw weeds" and wildflowers.

Take the reader on a mental stroll. Turn corners. Sneak in to backyards.

Walk the streets and alleys. Add foliage and wildlife.

Describe characteristics, conversations and the variety of humanity one meets along the route. Include highlights of meeting places, restaurants and stores.

What do you dislike?  What attracts you?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Write into what has vanished .

"Writing is a window. It opens onto vanished feelings and vanished worlds." ~ Louis Menand

Emotions come and go. We can wrestle them to the ground or acknowledge them and let them fly. Even if they appear to vanish into the horizon, they will return in other colors, shapes and sizes.

Write about your window into feelings that vanished. Where did they go?  Did they return in other forms for reconsideration?  Write into, around and through them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Power of You

"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think; the wise reject what they think, 
not what they see." ~Huang Po

Make the change in season a time to investigate and write about the Power of you. Here are ideas to jump start a write renewal:

1.  Write about what you've learned at this stage of your life. See how far you can go with this for fifteen minutes.

2.  When you catch yourself thinking about what's broken, the economy, ill health and adversity, consider what you want to happen and how you can make it happen on your scale. Keep writing.

3.  Believe in living in the moment. Don't dwell on negativity. Write beyond it.

4.  Write about what you truly need to be content. Delve into why you think,“I'll be happy when I have this or that,” or “when I live over there,” or “when this happens.” 

5.  Write your successes. Examine mistakes and if you have failed to meet objectives. You have choices. Examine your priorities. 

Additional Points to Ponder:

6.   Choose wisely what you read, listen to and the people with whom you associate. Avoid letting negative individuals populate your world.  You cannot change them.  Move on.

7.   Learn to listen with both ears. Evaluate before disrespecting another's opinion.

8.   Examine how you take responsibility for yourself with healthy choices of diet, exercise and mind push ups. Nurture a spiritual force that supports your efforts.

9.   Take pride in the natural world and explore it daily with all your senses. 

10.  Work on the power of You.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The First Day of Autumn - September 22

That time of year thou may'st in me behold, 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
William Shakespeare 

The autumnal equinox begins today.  Equinox comes from Latin meaning "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year where the sun crosses the celestial equator. Temperatures begin to drop and the hours of daylight decline. Days get shorter than the nights.  

The Mayans built the pyramid of Kuklukan in Chichen Itza to honor the autumnal equinox. During the equinox, light creates an illusion of the serpent God Kuklukan slithering down the pyramid.

With winter ahead in a few months, notice how nature prepares for spring. 

With shorter days, and longer, cooler nights, biochemical processes in the leaves paint the landscape a variety of colors.

Watch the ways colors change in leaves and flowers that remain.

Notice changes in the sky and movement of clouds.

Creative Write: 

Describe your memories of transitions.  

Think of seeds scattering to bring new growth after winter.  

Which seeds will you scatter to prepare blooms in spring?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Take your Readers on a Bus Ride

Writers puzzle about the directive, "Show. Don't tell."  Drive readers into adventure so they will experience it themselves.  

Let details unfold. Avoid acting as the tour guide and pointing everything out for the reader. Don't go on and on about thoughts and feelings or share opinions. Drive into the drama of the situation and reveal the story.

The reader needs scenery to follow in order to connect to a writer's adventure. Sensory imagery that involves sight, sound, scent, and taste will pass the windows to deepen the texture of a story or poem.  Metaphors and similes provide images by referral or comparison.   

Express the colors and sights along the trip. Detail the squint in a person's eye or the thump of a fist on back of a seat. Use dialogue to show the frustration of a step into chewing gum before boarding.  Reveal the thunder of a passenger's mood.  

Creative Write:  What does stubborn look and sound like when stuck in a bus?  Search for sensory imagery and a metaphor to show it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Childhood Geography

We are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of the child at play. ~Heraclitus

Return to childhood to recapture an adventure, an emotion and an innocence. Define yourself by those incidents. How did you play?

Writer, Jack Gilbert says, "The only geography we have is the storybook of our childhood." What does this mean for you?

Ask questions:

As a child did you feel unquenchable?

Which moods did you express?

Do you recall a loss of innocence?

Creative Write:  Write to delve into your storybook of childhood. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


A relationship with the self weaves through patterns and moves in cycles. Habits can benefit or detract from well-being. In our busy lives, we often forget to ask ourselves what's needed.  

From time to time, it helps to freewrite for self-nurture.

Ask yourself how to achieve personal enrichment today. How well do you care for yourself? Begin with a focus on what will keep you steady and strong.

What pulls you down?  Do you know when to ask for assistance?

Write to inquire about how you're doing.  Go from the toes to the nose in your evaluation of body parts.  Then question the mind.  What needs to continue or change to provide balance and contentment?

Write the sensations, images and discoveries that arise.

After your freewrite, choose what you will do to nurture yourself today.  Enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jump off and write.

 "I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out." 
- Roy Blount, Jr.

All writers have the ability to get out of the way of themselves. Maya Angelou says, "What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'" - Maya Angelou

Often finishing a piece of writing involves timing. Critical thinking and creativity can bump heads.  Let one lead, then the other. Coax those synapses and just write. 

Forget your current project. Release dependence on a plan and delve into nuances for discovery.

Don't let initial ideas turn into a search for perfection.  Gaze out the window and let fingers pat the keys using all the senses. Move into sound mode. Write all the sounds that might apply. How would a bird sing your story?

Grab pens to write. Let the ink lead in colors.

Go into the scent arena and write connections.

Which textures and tastes arrive? 

Let your green heron out to play. Just jump off and write into the flow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Writer's Flight Plan

Autumn crisps the air to encourage writers to ponder these questions.

Why do you write?

What attracted you to writing?

What do you recall inspired your first writing? At what age?

Did anyone comment on your writing at an early age?

How do you define play? Does it show up in your writing?

Does sensory imagery spark your writing? Which sense dominates?

Are you aware of a seasonal or daily rhythm in your writing? Begin to track on a calendar your times of peak performance in writing.

Do you journal? How often?

Do you carry an ideas notebook?

What distracts you from writing? How do you deal with it?

How do you spell procrastinate? Do you find creative ways to avoid writing? In what ways do you push beyond any down times in your writing?

Do you have a writing ritual? How do you “get into the mood”?

How do you decide on the focus of a notion to pursue?

When an idea arrives, what do you do? Where do you take it?

Describe your experience with reading over the years?

How does reading a variety of literature assist your process?

What aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and the least? Write about your work and the processes: creation, developing a text, false starts, revising and proofreading. Keep your reflections going for a month. Do you notice a change in your attitude as a writer. What do you believe accounts for it? 

Keep writing. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm possible

"Nobody can save you but yourself."  Charles Bukowski

Consider impossible situations.  Write about the force these situations caused that put you to a test.  Nobody could do it but you.  How did you?

Write the ways you moved from impossible to I'm possible.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

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, do they help you assist with your own?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Anything goes

Do you dream about revolution?  A revolving . . . of yourself?

What would you do if "anything goes"?  How would writing break barriers? Which high flying fantasies would you pursue?

Dream about ways to revolve and transform in outrageous ways. Write about how to make specific adjustments in attitude and behaviors that will make the change more likely.

Pursue your assets to help those dreams come true.

Free yourself from dogmatic beliefs.  Write to increase the capacity for an opening and renewal.

Write on and on!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ten Word Autobiography

An interviewer asked musician David Byrne to come up with a seven word autobiography.  Byrne produced ten: unfinished, unprocessed, uncertain, unknown, unadorned, underarms, underpants, unfrozen, unsettled, unfussy.

Try it. Express an essential truth about yourself in ten words.

Alternate the playful with the serious. Define yourself as a work-in-progress with positivity and possibility. Understand what you need and focus on becoming.

Drive into the center of yourself and spread out.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mine for Emotions

Search for ways to add conflicting emotions to your fictional characters or the personas used to write poetry. To mine for emotions and discover where words will take you, experiment with these mood sets:

grateful   empathic   playful   admiring   secretive   jubilant

anxious   fearful   angry   remorseful   lonely   rejected

The first line includes upbeat feelings. The lower line delves into the frustrations and negative feelings. Add others.

Use a spiral notebook for this exercise so you may move with ease through the pages. Begin by writing the first word in the pair across the top of your page.

Write for at least two pages to express every thought or feeling that the word arouses. If you need more information on freewriting, scroll down to my post on Wordling under Pages in the blue column to the right. 

Switch and write at the top of the next page the word that appears beneath your chosen word.
Write for two pages. Don't forget to use all the senses. 

After the writing session take a break. When you return, write for a page about what the mind has churned up regarding these moods. Do you see a character developing that intrigues you?

Become willing to go into uncomfortable places. If you have secrets to tell, create a character to reveal them. Do this by writing a first name when the idea arises and use dialogue to push the idea forward or write in third person. Let the writing amuse and surprise you.

Don't analyze or critique the results. See if you can generate the mood you write about. During your writing, do not stop or re-read what you have written. If you become sidetracked, let the writing flow where it wants.

Creative Write: Begin a story or poem with a potential character you've written into life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Creative Ideas Instead of war

Twelve years ago today at the time I'm writing this Blog entry, I watched the second tower fall on television. I had awakened that morning with thoughts of my father. I felt his presence in an odd way. He surrounded me for several days and I felt safer.

No matter where you learned the news, the exact scene still haunts.

Take time today to consider your feelings and memories of September 11, 2001.  At a time when we face yet another conflict with Syria, use creative thinking to ponder, "Instead of war, in what other ways could our country resolve issues?"

Write until you have exhausted every notion possible. Then keep writing.  You might spark an idea our government officials have not discovered.  Send a letter!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stalk the Questions

"Literature stops life for the purpose of examining it." ~ William Faulkner

Writers have posed and pursued questions since Socrates who said, "The unexamined life is not worth living," 

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, ". . . and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. 
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." 

American naturalist, John Burroughs wrote as he traveled. He claimed, "I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think. All the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see."

Discover ways to stalk the questions in writing.

Let longing and curiosity serve as a rallying cry.  Consider how to define "examine"?

How might you be, see, and do everything you love to do in writing?

Creative Write: Choose a writing quest where you ask questions that push to the limits and beyond.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Write a Situation

"A personal narrative is a mental journey and meditation of the mind.  It moves through thoughts and feelings to a small, subtle realization.  It is structured by the progression forward of personal truth." 
Phillip Lopate

Choose a situation you have experienced that provokes emotion and questioning.  How might you make visible this emotional a "slice of life" and combine experience with opinion?  Begin in the middle of the situation and see where it takes you.  Provide a different slant on the experience.

Write in first person, present tense.

Set the stage:

   Where is this happening?
   What's going to happen?
   Why is this happening?
   Add insights and a new perspective.

Bring events into sharp focus and color them with emotion.

Hook the reader with a beginning sentence. Leave with the reader savoring the ending and wondering beyond it. Discover your personal truth.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Writing for Balance

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 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 expand knowledge about yourself.  Use dialogue and humor to delve into these concerns.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Corrugate Reality!

Regrets are sacred to me.  They inform my character.  They ear witness to my evolution  
- Richard Power

Glimpses of past choices reveal possibilities. View them suspended in time like insects trapped in resin. Regrets can provide insights.

A typo would turn them into re-greats.  Make past choices work for you. Play with the lettering until it responds and releases from the past's bog.

Turn defeats in to de-feets and stroll into new territory.

Everything in life's progression of experience creates potential. Passages through chaos and challenge reveals paths into understanding. Thinking and reaction change.

In any endeavor, the first mistake provides a message. Another made in similar fashion becomes a choice.

Then what happens?

Creative Write:  Write about your adventure into re-greats after the first flash of regret passes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Writer's Alphabet

Keep these as daily reminders and idea sparkers.  Write in response to them.  Create your own Writer's Alphabet.

A    Awareness of each moment in movement.

B    Books. Read. Read. Read.

C    Courage to Create

D    Dreams and Dedication

E     Effort and Enthusiasm do the work.

F     Flexibility provides a foundation.

G    Gratitude for the wonder of words

H    Humor conquers all.

I      Imagination rules.

J      Jump-start the day with a smile.

K     Kleptomania. Take ideas and make your own connections.

L      Laughter arrives from the bounce of words

M     Moodle  -  Write into and out of your moods

N      Nourish with quality food and drink.

O     Optimism attracts opportunity.

P      Process means everything.

Q     Question the world.

R      Resources abound from every corner.

S       Stay upbeat and stick to a writing schedule.  

T       Timing and talent are friends.

U       Understand yourself!

V        Victory arms up after each writing session.

W       Wordle for 15 to 30 minutes each day.

X        Xylophone.  Learn to play an instrument as a stress buster.  Music impacts blood vessels and keeps them open.

Z         Get lots of zzzzz's.  They control the stress hormone cortisol.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Autumn Welcome

The leaves are falling;
falling in love with the ground. 
- Andrea Gibson

I had my existence. I was there.
Me in place and the place in me.
- Seamus Heaney

Seasons change. Autumn tiptoes away from summer. Never a shoving, crimson flows into leaves with flickers of yellow. As green releases, replacements of magenta and gold brighten the sky and landscape.  

The time arrives to harvest feelings and ideas.

What would you like to change in your writing with the new season?

Write into the heart of ideas.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writing with Bubbles at the Car Wash

Avoid the obvious when writing about nature, sky or the color of the sea. Search beyond azure or baby blue to pique the reader's curiosity. Use color to describe experience and stimuate readers' imaginations.  Cliches such as "green as grass" or "emerald green"  do not evoke a unique view. Take out other colored pencils to write your scenes.

Create a mood, reveal a point of view with color.  John Updike describes the sad ambiance of a street with "old asphalt sidings the tint of bruise and dung."

Discover visual imagery to fit the style and tone of your writing.  Search for offbeat but recognizable items to stand for colors and more. 

If you're waiting in a lounge during your car's oil change, look around.  Notice the objects, upholstery, arrangement of chairs and food.  Then search the items in the service bays.  

Later when you describe boredom, bring these images into the scene. Let the taste of waiting room coffee add discomfort.

What do you notice when driving through the bubbles at a car wash? Keep track of the collage of color to use in writing.

Sandra Cisneros colors the world of her novel, Carmelo,  through the senses of its Mexican characters.  A church is the "color of flan."  A woman becomes a "fried tortilla color."  She writes of shawls black as Cototepec pottery, like the huitlacoche a corn mushroom or fresh-cooked black beans.  She adds flavor and texture with color and metaphor.

Avoid using colors to describe emotions such as unhappiness connected to blue. Consider what will provide a color of delight. 

Look into white for texture, shapes and ideas. Do you find laughter in the rose?

Barry Lopez uses rainbow tints to described pottery such as raucous purple, coy yellow, belligerent red and ardent white.  Search the thesaurus for fresh ideas. Avoid using fire-engine red or white pearl.

Creative Write:

l. Observe a colorful eatery.  What colors can you list?  Transfer them to another environment to show emotion.
2. Describe the sea and sky during a storm without using blue, gray or green.  Be creative and fresh with color choices.
3.  Show an angry man in colors to reflect his emotions.