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Monday, February 28, 2005

Take A Chance
Risk is an essential element in writing. If you play it too safe you will never really make the statement you have within you. You have ideas unlike anyone else and you have to risk putting them down on paper if you are to ever find your stride as a writer.  You can prepare for writing for days or weeks. No amount of preparation will move you ahead with your writing. For that, you must take some risk.
Have you ever watched children get into a swimming pool or a lake? Some cautiously tip the end of their toes in and very gradually ease themselves in to the point where they acclimate to the water or they decide it isjust too cold and they frantically dash out of it. Others steel themselves and take a long running leap and cannonball into the water. Which approach are you using when you look at your writing practice? Have you tried writing both ways? Why not set two ten minute periods and begin your writing each way, then consider the difference between them. The main thing is to take the chance and to begin the writing. Knowing how you work best is critical to your progress.  Write a paragraph on chance-taking now. Use each method once. Take a chance. Keep writing.
7:35 pm est 

Friday, February 25, 2005

Eventful Writing
One way to generate new insights and ideas for your writing is to read the local news and seek out events taking place in your area. At present, there is a wonderful art event taking place in Central Park in New York. There, a series of saffron-colored cloth "gates" are celebrating the Park after years of planning. There are many people out walking and enjoying this remarkable scene, and with Winter's snows the landscape has been transformed to something never seen before. The "gates" will only be there through the end of the month, though,  and then they will have passed to the memory of those who have seen them. The artists have designed  their art to be ephemeral, and so their works often come and go rather quickly in the physical world.
Events such as these do remain in the visitor's memory, and they become part of one's personal, social and cultural history. This makes it especially meaningful to witness or take part in them while they are present. Events such as this make an impression on the spirit and provide a welcome change and shift from daily and routine events. 
Your writing can be expanded, enriched  and enlightened by sharing in celebratory or cultural events in your community.  What's going on today where you are? Can you take advantage of some new venture with will possibly enrich your life and your work? Keep writing.
10:14 am est 

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Reading Writing
Many would-be authors forget to read the work of others. Reading the writing of others is one of the best ways to learn about your awareness and how to expand it. Reading poetry, short fiction or mysteries/novels gives you more than an interesting story or plot and characters. Reading the work of others takes you into another's world and, like a mirror, shows you your own world and awareness. You should really commit to routinely reading every kind of writing you can find and make time for.   Libraries provide every opportunity for browsing and spending time venturing into these worlds. Many bookstores provide areas for sitting and reading for long periods of time. These places are really like travel agencies affording you tickets for journeys to every place and every kind of writing you can imagine. Find a comfortable place to open a book of poetry, of short fiction, a novel, or nonfiction and open your mind. Your writing and your perception will be enlightened and perhaps inspired. Keep writing.
9:27 am est 

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tools of the Trade
Pencils, pens, computer, notepad, briefcase, desk. These are essentials for writing, but personal tools such as attentiveness, thoughtful listening, caring about language, watching one's words and reading the writing of others are just as significant. Take in as much information as you can on a day to day basis and believe in the power of your communications. Do not become discouraged if you have not produced something of substantial length by a given deadline. Toss out all deadlines unless you find them useful in reaching your writing goals. Belief in yourself and in what you have to say is your most important tool. Trusting that you know more than you think you do is critical. The writing process teaches one as much as the writing itself may teach. Know yourself. That is one of the most important tools of the trade. Once you know yourself--strengths, limitations, desires--then you can strive to know your audience, your market, and your readers. Tools of the trade, like writing space, most often lie within you, waiting to be taken out, sharpened, and put to good use. Keep writing.
9:22 am est 

Monday, February 21, 2005

Making Space
There are not a few books available on how to set up a space, an office, or desk, in which to do your writing. In fact, you can fill your shelves with the number of books out on getting a space in which to write ready.  What you can't find, though,  is a book which gives you the motivation to get on with the business of writing . For that, you have to find the internal motivation to make the space and time for your writing. You might find information in books helpful in terms of the kinds of resources you can use-- the tools, the ambiance, the atmosphere-- but you must use an internal tool to get yourself to work: your will, and your commitment. 
Review your internal environment. What are your thoughts? How much "space" is there in your mind to actually get going on a writing project and life? Do you have lists of things "to do"? Are there pressing concerns for house repairs, meetings, tasks, day-to-day obligations which crowd into your mind just when you begin to think of writing? If so, you might as well just do them, for otherwise they will not allow your writing to claim the space and time it requires and requests.
Beginning a writing program is like beginning a garden. You must select the location, remove surface debris, turn the soil, and prepare and cultivate the ground before you select the seed, consider the water source, and get some seedlings going. You must recognize that a garden does not develop overnight or even in a month or two. A garden requires a good amount of attention, care, and cultivation if it is to become a source of beauty, refreshment and nourishment. The first step is deciding that you will make the commitment and give the time and care to your garden. You must then continue to work every day to nurture it and attend to its development if you want to see growth and progress. You must make the space for your writing, but it may not just be the physical space. In fact, the the most important space for making your writing important and beginning your work is within you. Once you have cleared some true internal space for your writing, you can begin planning your garden. Keep writing.
11:35 am est 

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Write from the Heart
Love your work and put your heart into it and you will find your creative resources expanding. Writing from the heart takes courage and courage "is taking that first step, or a different path. It is the decision to place your dreams above your fears." Begin by writing a daily letter to yourself, or write in a journal about your writing life. Acknowledge your fears, your concerns, as well as your desires, your goals and dreams. After one week, review your letters or journal and write a brief paragraph or two about your week's letters. As you become familiar with your fears you can befriend them, and move on in spite of them. In fact, they may provide you with the basis for new characters or feelings your  characters may experience as you write your short story, your poetry or your novel/mystery. Getting to know your own fears provides empathy and understanding for yourself and your writing process and insight for your work and life. Keep writing.
9:35 am est 

Friday, February 18, 2005

Powerful Words
A friend recently told of a Japanese experiment with rice. Three jars of rice were set out. Every day researchers spoke either kind, harsh or no words to the jars of rice. Over time, amazingly, the rice spoken harshly to or the jar of rice which was ignored wasted away. The rice spoken to with encouragement and appreciation flourished. Furthermore, when words of like kind were typed and taped to the jars the same responses occurred. What will you say/write today? Keep writing.
9:01 am est 

Thursday, February 17, 2005

We have an amazing opportunity if we utilize our full awareness, to appreciate the variety of different kinds of light we experience in a day. Flaubert was keenly aware and appreciative of this reality. In his book A Sentimental Education the quality of light and descriptions of it flows like changing light itself. Flaubert's descriptions beautifully convey the sense of the character's world and reality with a warmth and radiance that shines through to us this very day, as we experience and become aware of light and its movement, nuance, and power in our lives merely by following Flaubert's descriptions. Allow yourself a day recognizing the subtle changes and shifts in light and compare your own feelings to the descriptions in Flaubert's books. You may find yourself learning something about writing you had not imagined. Spend some time today writing your experience of light in one place and at one time in your life. Keep writing.
9:24 am est 

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Nothing New?
Sometimes it seems that nothing new has occurred. We tell ourselves we have nothing to write about, but this is more a statement about our awareness than it is about what is going on. Expanding awareness is worth your investment. Sit quietly and comfortably in a room for about 30 minutes. Notice every sound, every sight, motion, changing light. There is a wealth of activity occurring. Spend some time noticing that nearly everything is new every moment. You are also new every moment, so the number of things you can write about are endless and ongoing. Jump in. Write about what is new.
1:27 pm est 

Monday, February 7, 2005

Ten Words A Day
An exercise using your own imagination is to write down a list of ten words that first come to your mind. Once you have them listed, write one paragraph using each word in that paragraph at least once. You can use this exercise for the development of practice in short fiction, poetry,essay or nonfiction. See where it takes you. Don't underestimate what ten words a day can do. Keep at it and by the end of a five day week you will have five pieces which from which you may gain ideas for more developed and lengthy projects. Keep at it.  
1:23 pm est 

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Daily Practice
To develop skill and ability in any area, there needs to be a commitment to daily practice. Writing requires this kind of commitment. Some block out a particular time each day, others carry a notebook or materials with them to make notes during the day while waiting for an appointment, while riding on trains or plane, or just while having tea/coffee at a bookstore. There are so many opportunities for writing if we just make it a priority.
Just as writing is a practice to commit to, so is reading. We learn from the writing of others. We learn perspective, insight, understanding, and skills. Making time for reading daily is also important if you are willing to commit to the practice of writing. Do you have a half an hour to spare daily for each? If you do, you will change your life and your writing. A daily practice can begin today. Keep at it. Let yourself be amazed at what comes of it. The practices of writing and reading will bring insights you can learn from anywhere you are... any time you make space for them.
1:16 pm est 

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Writing As A Way
Journal writing attracts some but also actually turns others off. There is something to be said for keeping all of your thoughts, feelings, observations and reflections in one place. There is also something to be said for letting them go, once you have reread them. Journal writing or life writing can give expression to difficult feelings and can help illuminate ways to deal with complex situations. We work through challenges by making our internal dialogue available to ourselves one aspect at a time. In the process we may discover deeper insights and feelings we were previously unaware of. Writing as expression and as a way conveys the most raw and unprotected side of our lives to ourselves.  Does this seem self-indulgent? Or does it give one perspective which otherwise would not be available? Life writing captures and holds one's insights and ideas so that they are accessible for future investigation and writing. Less expensive than a therapist, as immediate as a notebook, and confidential as a trusted friend, life writing as a way makes telling your story to yourself as valuable a resource as you might ever have close at hand.
2:17 pm est 

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Words to Live By
When you write, you are creating possibilties. When you write you are making realities possible. Words are powerful entities which have texture, color, impact. Words may convey the essence of your values and your vision. When you write, you make a difference in the world you write in and for. Never underestimate the power of your words, your thoughts, and your writing, whatever form it may take. Using words well involves being perceptive, thoughtful, insightful and judicious. Choose your words well. Make them words to live by, whether you are writing fiction, poetry, criticism, essays or non fiction. Your words convey the  quality of your mind, the content of your soul, as well as your aspirations for the world we live and write in. Words can open insights or close minds. Make your words as carefully as a potter shapes a vase of clay, with attentiive care, and a firm hand,  but with a thoughtful, appreciative touch. 
7:10 pm est 

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Not Much to Say
There are days when you don't feel you have much to say, or to write about. Those days you may, in fact, have the most to say... if you take the time to begin writing. You may, in fact, learn something about yourself that you might never have learned otherwise, and that is different each time you take a bit of time to write something, even a brief statement or paragraph or two.  The important thing is to allow yourself to express your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, hopes and/or desires in complete candor. Getting the movement of your thoughts down is just as important as getting good exercise for your body. You need to write. You have the ability to learn from yourself in the process and others may also learn from what you have to say. Don't underestimate your ability and don't put the brakes on what you want to say, particularly before you even begin to write.  Writing is as much a process of living as eating, breathing, sleeping, or dancing...take a few steps...invent the dance...create the script...play the part..soon you will be letting go of the old ideas that you don't have much to say...and in the process of hearing what you do have to say you will become a more observant, and better listener to yourself as well as others.  Write a note to yourself on what you want to say to yourself about this note. Send us a note about it if you would like. We're listening. 
2:49 pm est 

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