Sunday, April 30, 2017

Try a Clerihew

Was said to fake a deer;
Once caught, he ran away
And tried his hand at writing a play…

Edmund Clerihew Bentley, an English writer wrote a book, Biography for Beginners, published in 1905 under the name E. Clerihew.  He collected simple, humorous four-line verses about famous people.

Bentley started writing his verses as a high school student when bored with his studies. He did not call them clerihews. After the book appeared, his readers named them.

In 1928  a description of clerihews as "nice slack metres and sly points" appeared. Individuals have had fun writing their own ever since Bentley shared his.

When the news reached his old school, the boys celebrated with a clerihew.


Must have been alluring
To get made a don
So early on.

Clerihews have just a few simple rules:
  1. They are four lines long with irregular length and meter (for comic effect).
  2. The rhyme structure is AABB. First and second lines rhyme  and the third and fourth lines rhyme.
  3. The first line names a person, and the second line ends with something that rhymes with the name of the person. Biographical and whimsical, it shows the subject from an unusual point of view.
  4. A clerihew is always funny.
Write clerihews about characters from books, movies, comics, cartoons, etc. 

Read a few here:

Go on, write a clerihew!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Find Fun in Disorder

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." 
- A.A. Milne

"Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules." 
~ Mary Oliver

"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method." - Ishmael from Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

The word, oxymoron (from Greek ὀξύμωρον, "sharp dull") means a contradiction of terms.

Ishmael refers to whale hunting but he also means the art of storytelling. 

Develop ideas about "careful disorderliness." Let opposites collide. Go jaunty. Get untamed.

Play by creating a meaningful chaos, planned messiness, directed improvisation. Challenge your fun with playful experiments.

Consider the joy and power of rebellion and creativity. A determination to revolt against the usual may stimulate discoveries in living an imaginative life. 

Find a personal call of non-violent disobedience.

Rise and overthrow a stale notion, overworked idea, or any status quo you've experienced. Your vitality will soar as you shed numbing habits and traditions. 

Extend the rules. Pursue a rebel's jubilee. 


Friday, April 28, 2017

Learn to Wag More. Bark Less.

While enjoying breakfast at an outdoor cafe, I observed two couples with three dogs. Each time the dogs jumped up and barked, the owners said, "NO!" and gave them a treat.  How amusing that the owners did not realize they rewarded the negative behavior they wished to stop. 

If they had waited until the dogs became still and quiet, then said, "Good dog," patted a head and gave the treat, they might notice positive results in the future. The dogs might wag more and bark less.

NO! rates as the most overused word in the English language. It resounds everywhere especially when parents catch children in negative activities. Yes! appeals with optimism and elicits stronger connections to positive action. In our fast paced world, it takes patience to wait for the right time to reward behavior.  Consistency to catch good action works.

We can modify our writing behavior with the same techniques. If discouraged and we keep writing even if not on the topic, we move beyond frustration. Our mood changes and we feel more internal rewards than feeling upset that we stopped.  

Watch for opportunities to use Yes! instead of No today. Describe what it feels like to wait and reward positive behavior rather than reinforce negative actions.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Start the Writing Flames

"For the most part, creative writing, regardless of genre, is an art of words and ideas and that is the starting point for most authors: the generating image, vision, word play, or whatever gets the brain gears greased." - Jessica Day

Examine your idea sparking process. What fuels your creative fire?

In what ways will you doodle and play with words and sounds so they flicker?

Do you notice an image that sets off an idea?

Does an overheard word or conversation strike the match?

During exercise or a walk, do the brain gears shift and shake, then flare?

Will a mood or frustration develop a friction of ideas?

How do scents and tastes add to the fire?

Do questions start a search for kindling?

Examine the photographs above. Let the details set off flames.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Search for Self

"It is the child who sees the primordial secret of Nature and it is the child of ourselves 
we return to." ~ Lao Tsu

Take a walk to discover a self you've forgotten. Languish with each step.

Focus a cell phone on photo only. Turn off distractions like calls or texts.

Breathe and take in nature's nuances. 

Notice something unusual.

Listen beyond noise. Hear clicks, clanks, and bird song. 

Use fingers to surround textures. 

Breathe in for changes in scent. Revel in plants and flowers that greet.

Birds wheel in the breeze. Watch them.

Let every new sensation chase away fears or unwanted thoughts.

Imagine a world beyond the distractions of frustration and anxiety.

Poise yourself to uncover a treasure or two.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
      "Imagine" - John Lennon

Imagine Goodness.      
                         Catch up with that forgotten self.