Saturday, February 28, 2015

Write the Journey

Consider the journey's metaphorical use in writing. Where do you begin?  What must remain behind?  Think of items necessary to make the trip.

Choose a road, a trail, or passage on a river.

Find a destination like a camp surrounded by trees. Does a house or inn appear in the distance?

Do you require a partner on the trip?

How do you deal with weather and temperature shifts?

In what ways do you manage discomfort?

Are you unnerved by surprises that meet you around the bend in the river or at the next turn in the trail?

What happens next?

Describe the wildlife and nature in detail.

Imagine you have no destination.

Find each step along the way and how it unravels the unexpected and mysterious without an arrival point.

Describe how
happiness or contentment evolve during the manner
of traveling.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Circulate Delight and Despair

Develop a mind that is vast like space, where experiences both pleasant and unpleasant can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle or harm. 
                                                   - Majjhima Nikaya

During a time of anxiety or worry, stop the mind chatter and develop an image from nature. Use flying clouds or the motion of water.

Write to move from discord into contentment and back again.

Notice what happens when you write from joy into sorrow.

Switch from struggle to a sense of freedom.

Use the metaphors of clouds and water to turn abstractions into reality. Show how they act and react.

Write to circulate distress and happiness to benefit from what each situation has to teach.

Make use of delight and despair in your life and writing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hummingbird Mind

Writing with the hummingbird mind requires free flight. Words flutter in all directions and investigate possibilities. Hummingbird movement employs the ability to make quick choices and changes depending on curiosity and mind currents.

Everything that flows from the fingers has value and its place.  Writing does not have to proceed forward.

Intention gains power. It involves filling an entire page without stopping to edit.

The need to control releases the outcome of the writing. Success arrives by the ability to make one word roll into another. The Unexpected evolves from twists and turns.

This playful process uncovers the ultimate in self-acceptance.

Write with flight and flexibility. Begin at the top of the page or screen and let the hummingbird spirit range with freedom and fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Write About Friendship

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves 

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” - Muhammad Ali

Photographs and cute sayings abound in the search for an explanation of friendship. Writers often delve into friendship's concept using abstract descriptions. What does C.S. Lewis mean by, "value to survival"? To communicate, a writer must show instances of emotion and affection.

Write to reveal how a friendship looks, feels, and sounds. Do taste and scent have meaning in a relationship? Will humor and play energize friends?

Examine a situation of friendship to demonstrate its intensity and meaning in a scene that shows how individuals connect.

Friends surprise one another with the unexpected. When have you felt the strength of caring from a friend?

Describe a time of need, beyond expectation, when a friend came through for you.

What behavior didn't you anticipate?

Add a time of disappointment and how it affected the relationship. Did expectation get in the way of necessity?

Do you ever feel like a one-way street?  How do you request reciprocity?

Consider a situation when you could have asked more of friendship.

Have you lost a friendship?  Why?  How might you rediscover that friend with a new perspective?

Take a break. 

Write about ways you can become a better friend to yourself. How does self-talk assist your daily process? In what ways do you consider yourself your Best Friend?

Delve into all aspects of friendship.

Write a note or an email to a friend to express gratitude. Add what causes frustration in the relationship. In your note, recall your ideas of a simple act of friendship.

Begin with, "I remember when you . . . "

Reveal details to make it real.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A View of Uncertainty

“The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty.”  Kenko

In the 14th century, a poet and Buddhist monk named Yoshido Kenko wrote thoughts on life, death, nature, manners, humility and simplicity. He lived in exile at a cottage where he composed his essays.

Kenko believed in 'zuihitsu' - follow the brush - as a method of composition.  He painted thoughts as they came to him on scraps of paper, then attached them to his cottage walls. They survived through the centuries by chance.  A poet friend collected them from the walls. Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness) became a part of Japanese literature.

He felt leaving something incomplete gives room for growth. Kenko disliked perfection, believing asymmetry and irregularity became better goals in life. His imagery included moons in the clouds, cherry blossoms strewn and faded on the earth. He admired the uncertainty of a branch about to blossom.

Here are three of Kenko's views.
How will you follow the brush today and write about them?

A certain recluse, I know not who, once said that no bonds attached him to this life, and the only thing he would regret leaving was the sky.

Are we only to look at flowers in full bloom, at the moon when it is clear?

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations—such is a pleasure beyond compare.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Try On Another Skin

Wallace Stegner, writer, professor and environmentalist, felt writers need to try on others' skins. He encouraged writing about a variety of characters with some feeling of identity.

Just for today become a movie star of your choice.  Try on a wild animal trainer.

How about living a day as the animal itself?

Imagine yourself as your best friend, parent, or child. Develop traits of someone you would never want to become.

For the characters selected, make a detailed list of clothing, personality traits, and reactions. Then develop a situation.

Discover where writing leads in your chose of characters.  Does a story or poem result?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ignite Creativity

Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making of something out of it after it is found. - James Russell Lowell

Sparks of creativity ignite when the mind plays with shapes and patterns. Avoiding  usual associations begins the process.

When gazing at the photograph to the left, someone might see stains on the sidewalk. 

Blink and imagine an elephant learning to play a piccolo. Viewed by a head turn to the right, the elephant poses on a duck's bill. 

How these lead to story requires a pen to let the mind jump further and make connections.  

Nurture your creative side by taking a walk. Look at the hearts of flower petals and find an insect. What would you name him?  How will he advise you like Jiminy Cricket?

Do you see ballerinas warming up? 

Squint and find ideas in this fellow's band of stamens.

Who plays the middle trumpet?   

Is someone hiding to make a riddle in the rose? 

Monkey around to find the fun.

Ignite creativity each morning. 

If you start the day in wonder, a dark mood will lighten and worries will lessen. 

Sharing insights in writing and tossing ideas with a friend will affect the day's progress more than you know.

Kindle the fire.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Change Thought Patterns

Worry often gives a small thing a great shadow. - Swedish Proverb 

Our thoughts run automatically. By acknowledging the mind monkeys, we can retrain the brain to think less reactively. 

Observe normal thinking patterns without judgment. Take a look at the reactions. Ask why you return to the negative when possibilities exist?

Find ways to change thought patterns.

Make up a word to use for repetitive focus like a mantra. Play with sounds to remove yourself from the negative. Try for two to four syllables:  Karump. Padeetle. Begonia.  

Repeat them when you feel the negative thoughts arise.

Discover visuals to view like a rush of purple elephants, a flock of flamingoes or a flurry of white bunnies.
Sing a song, add another.

Consider these ideas to develop new thinking habits to nourish your creativity, eliminate frustration, and remove stress from situations. 

While we cannot avoid thoughts, we can discard the negatives after acknowledging their presence. Let them teach lessons, but not have a permanent residence in the brain. 

Play with words and imagery to outwit thought patterns that pull you down.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Elements of Life

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.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Turkey Vulture's Story

The fable tells of how the sun used to live close to the earth. It became so hot the animal kingdom set up a meeting to help the sun move farther away.

The fox grabbed the sun in his mouth and ran to the heavens. It burned him and turned the inside of a fox’s mouth black. The opossum wrapped his tail around the sun and raced upward. His tail scorched and that’s why no hair grows there.

The vulture had a head of rich feathering that all birds envied.  Knowing that the earth would burn up unless someone moved the sun, the vulture placed its head against the blazing ball and began to fly. With powerful strokes of its wings, the vulture pushed the sun farther into the universe.  

While the vulture could feel its crown feathers burning, it kept pushing to the applause of the animal kingdom. It set the sun a comfortable distance from the earth but lost its head feathers as a result.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Motivate Modifiers into Nouns and Verbs

Avoid the temptation to over-modify your writing. Instead of writing about a beautiful, cloud-filled, morning sky, show an example. Make the reader feel what you do. Let clouds ramble across the sky. Turn them into elephants, ducks and alligators.

Make lists of nouns and verbs to use when you feel the temptation to add adjectives or adverbs to your sentences.  Add to the list when you come across words with rhythm or sensation.

Silversmith    Flee            Wilderness    Peridot    

Gravel           Tromp          Tendril           Parka

Vagabond     Gaze             Leopard         Sprinkle

Arabesque     Trellis          Topple           Triumph

Baroque        Warp             Rattle            Jasmine

Wasp             Guess            Yearn            Maroon        

Marionette     Hunger         Appeal          Monsoon    

Feelers           Ratchet         Jingle            Locks

Fire                Rust             Shuffle          Trapeze     

Leotard         Smoke          Traipse         Sapphire

When you do a freewrite, play with nouns that can serve as verbs. Add raspberries and gleam with truffles.

Write for ten minutes using the words above. Try drawing vertical lines to connect them. Look for words in crosses. Circle words and let your eyes decide.  Bump and drive them across the page. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Catch Contentment

Write about what it takes for contentment.  Extend beyond happiness to a place where you can balance the challenges. How do you tickle creativity, laugh past frustrations, and find ways to win your day?

Peace of Mind and Harmony shout in abstract ways. How would you define them with examples of ways they look, feel, taste and sound?  Illustrate them with the power of imagery.

Show hate transformed to kindness as animals cavort.  Why do worries wriggle?  What simple steps lead to a thrill?  Where do expectations jump and jingle? 

Write ways to catch contentment. Go with the gleam.

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Honor of Philip Levine 1928–2015

Our Valley

Philip Levine
Philip Levine was born and raised in Detroit. He was 14 when he began working in auto factories, a formative experience that would inspire his work even after he left Detroit in the 1950s to pursue writing. With a BA degree from Wayne State, he began attending writing workshops at the University of Iowa, as an unregistered student, in 1953. He earned an MFA from the school in 1957. His first book of poetry, "On the Edge," was published in 1961.

Levine served as poet laureate from 2011 to 2012. He won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Simple Truth" in 1995 and two National Book Awards for "What Work Is" (1991) and "Ashes: Poems New and Old" (1980).
He taught at the University of California, Irvine, Columbia, Princeton, NYU, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, and Tufts. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Make a Discovery

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not  -Georgia O'Keeffe.  

Avoid taking nature's wonders for granted. Enjoy a walk. Snap a photograph. When you return, place it on the computer screen and zoom in.

Zoom in again.

Notice what appears with a story to tell.

Discover how the phantom horse races through the crimson tendrils.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day

Writers have mused and muddled about relationships for centuries.

Have you written a story or poem about romance?

Try a different point of view.

Mustang Love

Spill- a-minute,
in wild
of flesh and hug.
Climb back on
cool down.
Never a taming.
          - Penny Wilkes