Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Heartful Points

The idea is to write it so people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.  -Maya Angelou

What will you write that amazes and amuses?

Consider a positive impact to arouse the mind of the reader.

Write so words circulate to the heart and out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Add Ha Ha Ha to Writing

Do you use humor to delight, entertain or beguile your readers?  

Consider how humor involves the ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life. Express the ridiculous and preposterous. Add more funny bones to your writing.  

Types of humor:

Irony involves an intended meaning just the opposite of what is expressed.
Parody occurs where the writer imitates a piece of writing for comic effect or in ridicule.

Sarcasm expresses, in the form of irony, an intent to cut or wound.
Satire writing holds up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
Wit uses ingenuity and swift perception to evoke laughter.

Humor writing mingles the writer's point of view with an attitude of humor.  Humor evokes a sudden change. The writer should convey a contrast: the reversing of the normal and abnormal, expected and unexpected.

To develop a strong sense of humor, examine what's funny in yourself.
What quirks, habits, biases and outlooks do you have?  You'll discover a perfect source of material.

Make it funny, keep it funny and don't pass up any opportunity to make it funnier. Humor self-generates. Make your readers laugh. Once they've started, don't let up.

Do remember, humor is an iffy business. What will make you laugh might roll off your readers.  Stay in pursuit of what tickles your funny bone and don't give up.

Have fun writing and playing with these ideas:

l.   What irritates you about others? Exaggerate their shortcomings. Reverse and examine your own dislikes.
2.  What misfortunes have you experienced. Notice the tricks that fate has played recently.  
3.  Your flaws make laughable material. Write a few jokes about yourself.
4.  People laugh at two things: surprise and misfortune. Surprise humor leads in one direction and then takes a turn. Intermingle surprise and misfortune.
5.  Consider ways to use exaggeration or understatement to convey a situation.

Humor brightens inclement weather. Enrich your writing with lines to produce laughter!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Poke Holes in the Clouds

Trungpa Rinpoche advised pausing to look at the sky or stopping to listen intently. He believed in using gaps in life and called it, "poking holes in the clouds."

Take time to notice the space between breaths.

Discover a gap between thoughts.

                  Stay in a moment of awe.

                                  Relish an instant of curiosity.

Pause for creativity to take over.

Remain present without negativity or judgment.

Find a pen in the clouds and write into the mystery.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Need to Write

Margaret Atwood presents several one liners about her need to write:

To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten.  
To excavate the past because it has been forgotten.
To satisfy my desire for revenge.  
Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. 
Because to write is to take risks and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive.
To produce order out of chaos. To delight and instruct.
To please myself. To express myself. To express myself beautifully.
To create a perfect work of art. To reward the virtuous and punish the guilty; or – the Marquis de Sade defense, used by ironists – vice versa.
To hold a mirror up to the reader.
To paint a portrait of society and its ills.
To express the unexpressed life of the masses.
To name the hitherto unnamed.
To defind the human spirit and human intergrity and honor.
To thumb my hose at death.
To make money so my children could have shoes.   

Rainer Maria Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet said, “Go into yourself.  Search for the reason that bids you to write. This above all, ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: Must I write?  Delve into yourself for a deep answer.”

Imagine yourself in an isolated location. Consider Atwood's responses and how you might reply. Use the following or create your own scenario.

You're at the top of a mountain in a Zen-like teahouse with food and drink.  You have three days alone. What will you write?

You have three days on an island with fruit trees, fresh water, and fishing equipment. What will you write?

You find yourself isolated for a day in a hotel room in a city of discomfort. What will you write?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Unwanted Gifts

"People come into our lives without our bidding, and stay without our invitation. They give us knowledge we do not seek; gifts we do not want. But we need them all the same." 
- said by Mrs. Sparrow in The Stockholm Octavo
by Karen Engelman

With a major holiday completed, unwanted gifts create the possibility for story. Did you receive packages, relatives, acquaintances or friends that fit that category? 

Examine gifts brought to you in a variety of ways. Include negative influences that caused positive results. Gifts can include knowledge gained of yourself through the tribulations of a relationship's needs.

People change and needs change. How have you met changes and needs?

Detail the gains from unwanted gifts. Discover a treasure or two.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holidaze Writing

Don't let the chaos of the Holiday season cause distress and down time in your writing journey. Incorporate surprise, laughter, and delight into your days of writing and notice what happens to your attitude toward life.  

Take time off from your usual worrying or trying so hard to please everyone else.  Make a list of the five biggest worries on the left side of a sheet of paper.

Opposite each worry write why they never-in-this-world-will-happen.

You'll discover you worry using creative improbabilities not creative reality.

Write a Dear Child of Me letter.  What would you like to do that's really fun, daring or outright wild? As you write, try to remember your fearless self.

Take a timeout and write yourself into Fun.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Memories

‎"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." 
              ~ A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas*

The season stimulates memories in the form of anecdotes, conversations, and relationships. Events turn over and over in the heart and mind. Will the memory fulfill itself in the events of the moment?  Will those who have left return home to celebrate?

What do you wish for to complete your holiday celebration? Would you request a return from a deceased relative for the day? Will you return to a childlike self for the festivities?  

Do you require a day of youthful pleasures? Do you recall when someone told you about Santa Claus? How might you transport yourself in words over the miles and years?  

Bring memories to the fireside and write.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!" ~ Charles Dickens.

*Full Dylan Thomas text:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Word Playground

Words tug at me like magnets.  They greet me from signage, menus, and roar from upside down. They tantalize by association with scents, sounds, textures, and tastes.

I noticed "Stop Rust" at an automotive shop. I thought, Good Luck. My mind began to twirl  - Arrest Rust!  Can't keep up with rust so dust it.  I thought of the music group from the eighties - Rust Never Sleeps and extended it to Rust Never Rests. Rust has power.

Then a sign nailed my attention because of the framing possibilities that would add more to its dynamic.

                                                            Jump your wires to possible.

Playing with words stretches my mind. As they gambol about, connections occur. They surge and become available when I need them.

Set up for a Word Playground

I choose a word that has more than one meaning. Also, it must bring in sound, scent, texture and even taste.

Here's a chart of early connections.  I've started with KNOT which could exist in a tree, a muscle, or a ship's speed.  I can tie a knot to make it SECURE.  Then it could unravel and smell like creosote used to protect it.   Imagine the sound of a knot rubbing against sails of a ship. A freewrite from the scent to the ship might develop into a story or poem.  Also, I might add a wild notion or two.

LIGHT also provides delight in play. She lights fires beyond the radiance of a sun. Candles sputter as a scent wafts throughout the attic.  ENLIGHTEN takes her to another level. She does not want to feel left in the dark.  Drip. Drip. Drip.  Is that the candle or. . . a nuisance in the night?

Writing to communicate an idea requires word choices. If we play with words on a daily basis, they will travel our synapses and appear in a variety of wonders during the writing of a story or poem.

Start with ball and think bawl also. Then search the dictionary for less familiar words to play with.

Go wilding with words!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Become a Thrillionaire

It's the Holiday season. Everyone has a gift to give. What are your talents to share with others?

Former Wellesley College President, Diana Chapman Walsh, described what "thrillionaires" do when she handed out the UN Declaration of Human Rights to each graduating senior from the class of 2000: 

“With rights come responsibilities to preserve the institutions of freedom; with privileges come duties to others less fortunate than you; with wisdom comes an obligation to use your knowledge in the cause of justice; with power comes the opportunity to remove that which subverts love.”

You become a thrillionaire if you can recall a time when you experienced a real thrill when you gave something away: money, time, kind words, or ideas.  

You create feelings of a thrillionaire if you light up when you think about giving.

Write for the thrillionaire in YOU. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Use Stillness this Season

"Like the center of a spinning top or the eye of a hurricane,our inner center is always calm." - Yogi Mir

Imagine a hummingbird as a statue on a branch with its flurry of activity at rest. 

'Tis the season to feel the rush of chaos everywhere. The frenzy for many appears
endless. How would it feel to quiet your day?

Take time to sit and find your center. Breathe in six breaths, then breathe out six. Continue until you can extend your exhalation to ten.

Consider this time of silence when you slow the breath, feel stillness and relax. Sounds may arise around you but they represent energy when you put yourself into a focused state.

Notice that the space around you opens. Nothing will overwhelm you when you pay attention to the rhythm of your breath.  Give this feeling of rest a name as you search for balance.  Use the name and revisit its calming effect from time to time each day.

Choose a name for your tranquility and sense of peacefulness. Dialogue with this new friend.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Celebrate Winter Solstice

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Berthold Auerbach
December solstice occurs on December 21st. The Romans celebrated Brumalia as a winter festival. It also became known as Saturnalia (the “waxing of the light") to honor Roman Gods, Saturn, Demeter and Bacchus.

The festival included feasting and merriment to celebrate the victory of the sun over the cold and darkness of winter. 

Everyone celebrated with dancing and carousing.

Enjoy the season's rhythm. Create a winter festival of fun. 

Choose a theme and decide on guests to invite from other times in history. Mix and match your delights and let the story evolve.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Travel Inside

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have begun our real journey.  
- Wendell Berry

 ". . . wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again."
- Antonio Machado

Metaphorical thinking helps the writer connect to the secrets and mysteries inside. If one decides to experience what lurks behind the door or deep inside one's own cavern, self-knowledge awaits. 

Robert Frost felt, "poetry takes you to a place you have been and thought you'd never return to."

Return to the darkness. Bring a lantern for revitalization. Illuminate sensitivities.  

Take on the night!

Friday, December 19, 2014

One Step

All things are completely melted into one step. What is one step? One step is mountain. One step is weather. One step is you. One step is the true way to live.  - Dainin Katagiri

During the writing process, we remain in the moment. Fingers push keys with rhythm. Pen strokes send loops, lines, and ink across the page.

A thought or feeling translates the mind's mysteries into meaning.

The moments in movement avoid distraction as words percolate from forgotten ideas or memories. 

Connections energize and erupt.

Writing awakens the senses to discover life's mysteries.

Participate in one step . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Meaning of Acceptance

"In the order of nature, we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. Pay it away quickly in some sort." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

During a recent morning run by the sea, I noticed a gardener on the sidewalk ahead holding two white rose bouquets. He tried to give them to passersby but no one would take his offering.

I approached and took one. His smile enchanted when he tried to give both to me.

Continuing on my route, I also attempted to share the joy of roses with walkers. I explained the gardener's gift, but they shook their heads. One person said, "Thanks. No."

I did not understand why no one wanted my gift on this day of blue sky, sunshine and surf.

Determined to share the blossoms, I kept running and offering them with a smile. Two individuals took several with thanks.

Eventually I decided to keep the remaining petals for myself.

The gardener gave me ways to consider gifts. I needed to learn to accept a gift, keep and nurture it.

The roses reside on my desk as a reminder of acceptance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Write about punctuation marks. Notice the shapes and squiggles. 

Add a setting. 

Let them reveal a story or poem.

They attract as couplets
near the hors d’oeuvres.

I’m an apostrohe in his life,
jus' a place saver. She shoves

a bitten chip deep into
the bean dip.  He never talks

about us. I'm in parenthesis when
he talks about times with others.

“You seem a misplaced modifier,”
The newcomer shares.

He leans forward to wipe
the dip from her cheek.

“He hates commas,
They slow him down;

a semi-colon adds sophistication
he doesn’t understand.”

She turns away, fancies herself
an ampersand; a ballerina.

Head down, with drowsy eyes,
she throws ellipses

to another man with whom
she will never miss a period.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fascination of Flight

The fascination of flight begins as I feel the swoosh and awe of lifting beyond gravity into the unknown.

How does this silver bird do it?

Since the tale of Icarus and the Wright brothers' experiments, creativity and technology have evolved. Wonder weaves into my thoughts when considering the amount of trust involved boarding a plane. It takes the pilot's skill to reach a destination.

Concern disappears as my mind settles and plays with patterns in the wild blue.

Holes in the carpet of fleece reveal a miniaturization of landmarks. My running routes and birding areas evaporate as we rise.

I imagine how to wriggle my toes in the textures. What would those marshmallows taste like? They might sit on my tongue or melt into sweetness. Movements in hearts and dragons, frogs and falcons arrange in and out of focus.

When we begin our descent, moving through the clouds feels like easing into a bubble bath. The bubbles calm me into comfort. Jasmine combines with roses. No sounds escape beyond the rumble of engines.

Immersion into this world of sensory experience ends with the jolt of landing gear. Another day's fascination of flying has sheltered and shuttled me back to earth.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Imaginate and Create

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. 
- George Bernard Shaw.

See the world in a variety of angles, colors, shapes, and sounds.

" I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables me to laugh at life's realities." - Dr. Seuss

Imagine their frowns upside down.

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. Without it we go nowhere." - Carl Sagan

Observe birds and other animals in different poses. Imagine a story unfolding.

Set yourself free to imaginate beyond the ordinary.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Write 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.  

Write about your unexpected visitors and how they expanded your knowledge of yourself. Use dialogue and humor to delve into these concerns.