Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bloom with Verbs

Even though Shakespeare wrote "to be or not to be," 
discover active verbs to animate your ideas. Verb variety engages your reader. Choreograph sentences. Make verbs dance and tumble.

It feels natural to write sentences with is, am, was, and were, and contractions such as that’s or there’s. On a subconscious level, we move into the “to be” groove. 

Just because a favorite writer does it, you don’t need to. 
Make friends with verbs and play.

Consider verbs the work horses of your sentences. These power ponies add description, details, and action. If you alter the structure of the sentence, you can eliminate the use of the ‘to be’ verb.”

To practice, return guilty sentences to: subject, verb, and object. At first the alteration in sentence structure will provoke frustration. Style becomes altered as a result of eliminating the “to be” verb. When you realize new possibilities, your attitude will change.

Relent and deconstruct sentences. Begin to realize that  verb awareness permits also a selection of stronger subjects with fewer adverbs and adjectives. Believe in the possibilities of metaphor.

Go through a piece of writing. Circle all “to be” verbs and notice if a habit rather than a choice has developed. With this focus on awareness and the process of verb choice, you learn more than the elimination of the “to be” verb. 

The hunt for muscular verbs will help you move away from overusing modifiers. Select subjects with vigor. 

When you read work aloud, see the difference in rhythm. With more practice, you will feel less irritation and restriction.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Follow a Sentence, an Idea, an Image

"I get a sentence, an idea, an image, and I start. I don't know anything beyond it. I follow it."
 ~ David Rabe

I opened the door and then it happened. 

A force of wind re-arranged the . . . 

Out of the window . . .  into the clouds . . .

Follow a sentence, an idea or an image.  

Write where words fly, soar, and land.

Keep going.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Discover the Details

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. - Eleonora Duse

Search for details.  
           Breathe in colors and textures.  
                  Discover scents and sensations.

Taste beyond expectations.


Smile and send your sunshine into words.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Add spice and imagery to your writing by avoiding worn out modifiers and phrases.When you write an overused image like blue sky consider what else you could use in sound, scent, taste, or texture to pique the reader's curiosity and gain attention.

Notice the difference in imagery:

a broken tool          half a pair of scissors

a rusted car            Cadillac dappled with rust

beautiful woman     woman with a piano player's fingers

quiet day                 even the birds overslept

good friend              tasty as chocolate cake

Try these:  summer day, hot morning, wet dress, cheeping bird, frustration, anger, anxiety.

Where will you go with sensory metaphors today?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Life's Purpose

We violate probability, by our nature
The gift of life
Randomness united for a brief while
Then our borrowings dissipate back into the primordial soup.
The question is why
For what purpose?
The purpose that lives down deep, in our unconscious?
To express our uniqueness?
To manifest our interior beauty?
Or to catch electrons at the moment of their excitement
By solar photons?
                          - Rod MacIver

Consider the durability and tenacity of your ancestors. Many braved wars, plagues, famines, and accidents to assure your survival.

Recall relatives who had an impact. Search farther back in time for insights.

Discover a combination of ancestral traits that contributed to your unique identity.

Probe the history of your gift of life.

How do you promote Life's purpose?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Awareness Triads




Create triads similar to those listed above. After you have created your own sets, draw arrows and play with words for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Take your list for a walk around the block, to the beach or another natural setting.

Continue to observe the world around you and add to your triads. Find a place to sit, take a few deep breaths, read your list and write for fifteen minutes.

Permit observations and distractions to take you beyond the obvious into new thought patterns.

You will discover a prose piece or a poem.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Laughter Conquers All

Have you LAUGHED today?

L - Let anger and frustration go.
 A - Feel the Awe of Positivity.
  U - Utilize your funny bones.
   G - Give Ha Ha Hugs away.
     H - Heal with Humor.
       T - Terrorize with Tickles.
        E - End your day in Play.
          R - Rattle everyone with spontaneous laughter!

Write your way into humor and spread the shine.
    Let laughter conquer all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hunt and Gather for Serenity

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound. - Zen proverb

Sometimes we need to distract ourselves from the funkiness of daily happenings that stir up frustrations and anger. As Robert adams says, "The only freedom we've got is not to react to anything, but to turn within and know the truth."

"As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance of the flower, so do the wise move through the world."  - Buddha

Search for quotations that have a positive effect.  Let them transport you to a place of wonder and encourage expression of insights instead of reactivity.

Place them on your computer screen or in a box near your work space.

When the mind monsters scatter your beneficial thoughts, read them and take a few deep breaths.

Imagine yourself in a natural place of tranquility.

Write to ward off the onslaughts of frustration and defuse anger.

Hunt and gather words for serenity. Develop your own word mantras discovered in nature's tranquility.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

R E L A X with Words

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which 
you can retreat at any time.  
- Hermann Hesse

If R-E-L-A-X-A-T-I-O-N appears more difficult in the frenzy and daze of life, take a moment to breathe with determination and cadence. Then, use words to assist with ways to calm and balance the mind.  

Develop a collection of words to use as mantras.  

Begin by breathing in four breaths and out five. Stay in the moment.

Turn abstract words into those with images that settle and focus.  

Pick favorite colors with a rhythm of syllables.

Begin with letters of the alphabet to ease into the idea. Breathe in and out with azure, beige, crimson, all the way through magenta to tangerine.

Let your mind collect apples, bananas, coconuts and the notions that arise.

Switch to sounds like trickle, whistle, trill.

Add the varied tastes of honey, licorice, vanilla.

After you have delved through the senses, notice how the mind halts its chatter.

Words will reveal ways into relaxation.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mine for Mysteries

The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” 
- Ken Kesey

A Chinese poem reveals the true measure of a mountain's greatness is not its height but whether it is charming enough to attract dragons.

Life gathers joy with mystery and fabulous.

What if you planted a garden in which strange plants grow?  How would you describe them by colors, textures, scents, and sounds they make? 

Imagine an orchestra or a wild concert of blooms. Discover magicians within the petals. Discover ways to choreograph the dance.

Place yourself into an encounter of strange and delve into the wonder and magic. 

Move from the actual into fun and fantasy with words.

Flavor your writing with mystery and see where it leads.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pounce for Words

I tried to catch a photograph of the brown pelicans as they sailed over my head during a morning run.  My camera did not adjust in time.  Woosh, they soared beyond my camera's eye. Waves surged and bubbled along the rocks but I only captured blurs.  I kept running and listened to drums of surf and breathed the spindrift. The wind brought scents of muffins. When timing seems off, I move into other senses.

Once in a while I will feel this way when deciding to focus on a piece of writing.  If I chase my subject I might miss the details that surround it. A pull back and patience always help.  I discover a new approach or another subject to consider.

This experience occurred as I noticed a cat posed like a pointer dog.  I could not tell just what it saw. Nothing moved or wriggled ahead of it. I felt its intrigue and my eagerness slowed to match its patience. Five minutes passed as I approached and rustled the camera out of my fanny pack. I could feel a pounce would occur any second.

Then. . . click and miss.  I looked at the photograph on the screen and by chance my camera had taken a second shot. Usually these turn out of my hands and feet.  This second shot captured the pounce. The camera had rewarded my patience.

Take time to become patient with your words today. You may have to wait through your freewrite until some idea takes you in a different direction. Let that happen.

Then pounce for words!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Once in a while
I just let time wear on
leaning against a solitary pine
standing speechless,
as does the whole universe.
Ah, who can share
this solitude with me?   Ryokan

On a leafless branch
A crow's settling
autumn nightfall
               - Basho

Basho's Haiku investigates the value of a singular moment. In Japanese, the word sabi describes an alloy of beauty and sadness. Sabishi expresses loneliness and solitude. 

An essence of impermanence pervades his observation.

Nurturing the vitality of the moment and its evanescence, write a paragraph about a solitary experience. 

What does alone feel like?  Notice if sensations of impermanence percolate.  

Define words like loneliness, freedom, or solitude without using them in your essay. 

Develop metaphor and sensory imagery.

Invite the reader into your moment of solitude.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mind Bandits

"One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child.  This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it."  -  E Tolle

Ram Dass said, "Oh my personality. I don't take it so seriously anymore - I think of it more as a pet."

Have you ever felt the mind bandits that try to steal your well-being? They take away that childlike joy, wonder, and bliss. 

Sparking cheerfulness and humor during challenging emotions can carry one through a dizzy day. They have the potential to develop patience and calm in both difficult and delightful situations.

Reactivity does not result in anything but frustration. Once we let go of the mind bandits, we can play with a pet mentality and nurture curiosity. 

Find that "pet" to nurture with curiosity. 

Eleanor Roosevelt believed curiosity became a child's most useful gift. For Dorothy Parker curiosity cured boredom. She felt curiosity had no cure - thankfully. Albert Einstein claimed he had no talents. Life turned him "passionately curious."

Curiosity begins in wonder. It travels like sparks once the fire ignites.

Looking up the word in the dictionary will reveal something else along the way. 

Mysteries emerge in areas that we take for granted. While the media conjures negativity; our minds can search for positivity from the ruins.

By snagging a snapshot of attention, ideas leap in. 

Playfulness and imagination extend the image.

Words in response to pictures help reflect and interpret the world. They form a relationship. 

Sentences search a world of paradox and investigate with creativity and positivity.

Find the pirate in

the petals

There's a duck

in a rose.

Defeat the mind bandits with curiosity and playfulness.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Find Your Funny Bone

Defining humor and how to write about it creates the first challenge. Humor relates directly to the sensitivity of one’s funny bone for the nuances in life. The discovery of humor in unlikely situations takes talent.

What makes me laugh might not do the same for someone else. I don’t give up a chance to make a humorous connection in my search for silly because laughter’s my buddy. I humor on.

Humor must have evolved as a survival skill. Imagine primal humans hunting all day and suddenly a sabre-toothed tiger charged from behind a bush. One hunter said to the other, “Distract him while I run back to the fire and get help.”  Almost any situation can lead to a twinge of humor . . . for someone.

Dave Barry, a universally appealing humor writer, feels humor relates to fear and despair. The series, M*A*S*H, delved into these stressors of life and played with dark humor. Having the ability to add a humorous twist to any tragic situation, Shakespeare must have had strong stomach muscles from chuckling as he wrote. Even scientific research has shown the benefits of laughter in the healing process.

If we didn’t have laughter to keep us buoyant in a world that twirls way beyond our control, gravity certainly would keep us grounded. We need to stimulate our funny bones to release fears and anxieties. As Dave Barry says about humor writing, “A, keep it moving, and B, spend a lot of time writing it. And C, after you're done, show it to somebody.” I’d add, show it to someone who likes to laugh.

Find humor in a serious situation. Lewis Grizzard said when you write humor, you only have to look at the world from the front of your eyelids forward and soon you’ll see something funny to write about.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Freedom to Explore

You don't dance to get to the other side of the floor. 
- Alan Watts

In our goal-oriented world, we often neglect the process of getting somewhere.Time and rush compete to finish a project or reach a destination. 

On any journey, the sights, scents, and sounds mean as much, if not more, than the ending.

When dealing with ideas and creativity, the mind requires freedom to explore  The quality of attention and focus will expand as rhythm enters and circulates with a creative write.

Take a walk in a park that provides a variety of nature's treasures. Search for balance with simplicity. Enjoy performance as a ride over the falls. Relax into movement in each moment. Permit patience to ride along.

In this way dreams will move into possibilities as the moment unfolds.

Persist in the search for awareness. Watch the shifting and changing mind as it connects with curiosity.

Write to overcome self-imposed goals. Let the words flow without judgment to force limitations aside.