Friday, August 31, 2012

Razor's Edge for 8/31/12 : Sharing Space

Today's prompt is a video along with words. The words might be sentence starters, or the essence of a paragraph, or perhaps your writing takes you in a completely different direction. Don't feel compelled to use the exact words, though you can if you like.

The video is about 20 minutes long; it is pieces from a performance.

Watch the video for at least five minutes before you start writing. But I suggest waiting as long as you can to start unless you are pulled to start earlier.

Start by reading the word prompts. Then start the video. Write when you are ready. Write for about 10 minutes.


[1]  Before I forgot what I knew, I thought that ....

[2]  Her arms touching my arms felt like ...


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Where's Your Energy?

I'm a couple days late with this post. With reason; without intention.

But the reasons did lead me to this topic. That plus my coffee with another writer on Sunday.

What I'm talking about is our creative energy as writers. As creative beings in the world. When we are working on something which excites us, that energy builds on itself and expands. If we are working on something which doesn't hold our interest, which we don't like, or we are feeling pulled from that thing we love doing, we can drag. Our energy diminishes if we don't have a passion.

I can hear people nodding and feel people holding back, thinking, "But I can't drop everything just because I'm bored or don't like it; I'd never get anything done." And, I know. I'm not saying that sometimes we don't have to hang in there with the projects which don't excite us. I know we do. I also know that sometimes being bored may stem from other things than it being something we shouldn't do.

What I do know, though, is that energy begets energy. I've just had that confirmed for myself. I started a new project, the basics which started - well, it's a long story. But this phase of things had the seed planted in June. And now that I've made a big step out of the little bubble in which I've been existing in this particular area, it is blossoming. Partly because I noticed that spark - a pilot light, if you will - inside which said, "look at me!" So I did. Excitement was there. Energy.

Did I immediately give up the responsibilities and projects which aren't as much fun? Or one in particular which right now is not creating energy? No. But I did move on this new one. And the universe today sent me a message in the form of an email in response to that seed in June; the answer was "yes."

The writer on Sunday was talking about a project which surfaced - a novel. She found a spark by listening to her inner voice and her "gut." She had renewed energy and a vision. She sat down to begin writing this novel and it was easy, it was fun, and she wants to do more of it.

Because she noticed the energy and she followed it. She realized that some of what she had been doing wasn't her, wasn't her passion. This is. I am excited that I will be able to read some of her writing as it progresses.

So: where is your energy? Where do you feel drawn? How can you incorporate that right now?

What is the vision of that energy place?

Write it. Or draw it. Or make a collage if the words aren't coming right now. Just do something creative with it. Notice. Look. Listen.

Where's the energy?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Razor's Edge for 8/24/12: Using a Lifeline

This is Friday. The day for another writing prompt post. I love searching for them, creating them, sharing them. And today started, on barely six hours of sleep, with a visit to the dentist. My second visit to the dentist this week. Wednesday's visit was a regular cleaning, plus xrays and an exam by the dentist.

Uh - oh.

The hygienist had noticed a little decay at the edge of a crown. The dentist looked further and said I needed to replace the crown right away, so the decay didn't spread into the root, which would mean a root canal. And, right next to that tooth which needed the crown replacement, is another tooth which has been holding up fine but which needs a crown. It's had a chip for a little while due to a large old filling, but hasn't changed since the chip. But it's the neighbor to the do-it-now crown tooth.

I gave in. Fine. Do them both.

That was my morning.

And I didn't have my Razor's Edge for today done.

I'm not feeling too badly, thanks to Arnica and a tincture from my Naturopath. But I'm not up to my usual creative energy, either.

So, rather than skipping a week [no - I will not let the tooth demon stop me from posting!], I'm going to randomly select two prompts from "Wake Up Your Muse: 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers," by Jan Christiansen.

Oh, and look, I went to the website and they're having a giveaway of that very book. What a lucky piece of synchronicity. Now you, too, can get a copy of the book for yourself. And if you're not a winner, buy it. It's a handy book to carry with you.

Check it out here: Wake Up Your Muse . Comment there for a chance to win.

On with the prompts for today...

[1] The lullaby sounded hauntingly familiar and out of place.

[2] I don't believe in seas monsters, but it's only my third day into the cruise and this guy just might qualify.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Step Away From the Computer

Sometimes we sit at the keyboard, waiting for inspiration or the perfect word. Or any word. Or we gaze at the unfilled paper on the desk, tapping the eraser of the pencil or the clicker end of the pen, hesitant to make a mark until we know it's work the ink and piece of tree.

Or maybe, sometimes, we try reworking the story or the page or the sentence over and over. And over. Until we get it just right except we pass the point of knowing what "just right" looks like. Then, next thing we know, it's 5:30 AM and the sky is lightening and birds are singing in the tree outside the window over the fireplace. Or whatever your particular brand of hanging in there a little too long may be. Perhaps it's passed out on the sofa with the laptop's battery running dry next to the now empty bottle of wine; and you're alone. Or maybe you're in bed dreaming of characters who are now zombies who have invaded your home and you bury deeper in the covers to avoid being consumed in their quest for satisfaction.

Yes, we must write to be writers. (Although I did read something a while ago which questioned the idea of writing being a requirement of being a writer. Hm.) But sometimes we have to not write.

Sometimes we need to get outside. To get out of our writing environment, leave the desk and the words and the projects behind. Step out.

I do mean literally to step out. Go outside. Explore your city. Maybe take a bus to downtown if you're not a frequenter of the area. Or ride a bicycle to the inner city lake with a bike path. If having a target destination helps, pick one. It can be familiar or new - it doesn't really matter. The point is to move and to immerse yourself in life outside of the writing womb.

I won't even mention the health benefits of taking an urban walkabout. We've heard about that many times and we now that a lot of sitting should be balanced with a lot of movement. Keep the circulation going, blood pumping, lungs breathing; all of that. Look anywhere and you can see information about how moving your body will benefit you.

But what I'm talking about is moving the energy around and getting away from the writing place. And being present. Mindfulness if you will; maybe I'll talk about that in an upcoming post. But for now I'm talking about noticing. Not walking head down and avoiding people and surroundings. But looking, noticing, seeing what is there. Being present in the world.

Which is why I say it can be beneficial and even enjoyable to try something new. Or something you haven't done in a long time if "new"makes you nervous.

Get out. Look. Listen. Smell. Feel.


In the world. Be. A writer. A writer in the form of a person who is not writing at the moment but is just living.


A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across this video. An illustrator talking about finding inspiration. In the world. Outside of the studio and house.

Watch and consider.

Where would you like to go explore?

In this episode of Epiphany, Maira Kalman, illustrator,  finds inspiration while walking the city streets and veering off the prescribed path.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Razor's Edge for 8/17/12 : A Salty Place

Today's prompt is a place. One of my favorite places, for relaxation and rejuvenation, for contemplation, for walking.

The beach.

Imagine yourself walking onto the beach.

Feel the wind and the sun, the change in the air. Smell the salt and sun screen, water and rocks, humans mixing the carcasses of sea life scattered along the tide line. Hear the gulls chatter and scold, the delighted children and the crying children and the friends laughing. Hear the quietness, the presence of waves on sand on rocks in the air particles between breath and above the humans' heads.

Does being here excite you? Calm you? Frighten you? Or bore you.

Look at the ocean.

Find your first thought when I say, "Why are you here?"


Monday, August 13, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Ennui, or Give In to the Feelings

Write every day.

Write three pages every day. A chapter. A scene. A poem or two or three. Write the crap and get it out of the way. Write whatever is there and move it through.

Just write. Keep the pen (fingers) moving across the page (screen).

Write when you don't feel like it. Don't wait for the muse. Hang in there. Keep going. Don't give up.

All true. Yes. I agree.

But, you know, sometimes. Sometimes, a writer needs a break. Or needs a little down time.

Or maybe I"m simply projecting what I need right now. That could be, too.

Yet, I do think it's also true that writers need some time to get away. To do the thing which restores you and, while I could list activities or escapes, I also know there is not a one-size-fits-all writer's getaway. For me, a trip to the beach works wonders. One where I can walk on the sand, getting my feet wet and sandy and cold (the Pacific Ocean is not warm, for those who live in places with blue warm water), feeling the layers of warm and cold air blowing over the ocean. Or sometimes a swim gets me into a zone where thoughts flow and energy surges. Or a week in a cabin in a forest near a stream and away from the highway sounds heavenly right now.

Today I'm telling you that writers need to pause. Once in a while. Keep your good habits. Look at the ones which aren't working. Write regularly.

And stop.

Notice what you're feeling. Try dancing it out. Or painting, drawing, chalk, or charcoal. Make up a song and sing it out loud.

And stop.

Be quiet a little longer than is comfortable.



Today a friend sent me this video. I saw it once before but it had completely slipped from my mind. In mid-August, this is kind of how I'm feeling. And maybe, sometimes, as writers, we need to just sit back and say, ah. Okay; let go for a little bit.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Razor's Edge for 8/10/12: from the word bag

Today's prompts are words picked from my word bag. Actually it's a lovely orange envelope of words given to me by Ariel Gore in a writing workshop a few years ago. I still carry it with me, re-adhering it to the inside cover of the new journal as I fill one up and move to another. I still keep the orange envelope of words inside the bigger red envelope with an oversized jack rabbit picture pasted onto the front. I know the rabbit is oversized because it is a giant in comparison to the scene in which it was placed. And I added a picture on the front of the orange envelope; something I found in a magazine or on an art opening postcard, it inspires me.

The word bag idea, and the words themselves, come from another amazing and inspiring writer, Lynda Barry. They're from one of her books and she gives permission to copy and carry them with you. She has several versions of these handy inspirations, including a set of questions to copy and carry to help move you through the stuck places.

So, all in all, this is a very useful word bag to have with me. Words and inspiration passed down from author to author to author and so on.

So, write a story with the two words I will now pick from the magical writerly envelope. Well, what do you know, I pulled out three words. So here are your three words:



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Not So

Today's topic is not so radical. Hence the title. Brilliant, right?

Okay. So I'm not feeling too brilliant and certainly not radical at this moment in time.

Recently there has been a discussion in a an online writing group about feeling like the writing is without meaning and how to get through or past that. Feeling stuck. I'm not sure if this has been mentioned, since I got behind in reading the responses, but I don't think the originator meant "writer's block." That's not what it's sounding like and that's not the place I'm in now.

Again. I wouldn't say that I feel my writing has no meaning, but I am in a place of wondering where I'm going. Where I want to to go, my path, the composition of the pathway. I don't necessarily need to know exactly what's at the other end - but I would like a bit of direction.

And then I started reading two of Steven Pressfield's books: "The War of Art" and, just recently started, "Turning Pro." I'm enjoying reading them. And right here and now I will admit that "Turning Pro" felt challenging just reading the back cover. So I started thinking, in addition to "where's the road?," about what I would be willing to lose to "be a writer."

I really like Pressfield's quote about needing to be willing to lose your friends and family and relationships and house (or whatever his exact words were) in order to achieve your dream. I like what he says and the concepts behind it. And I'm not willing, three years from having it paid off, to lose my house. I'm not willing, on the cusp of my 30-year relationship, to lose my relationship. So the next thoughts were: Am I really a writer, then, if I'm not willing to lose everything to achieve that dream?

Wait! I am a writer. I may not be making my living solely from my writing, but I am a writer.

Maybe the question is more of a "what will it look like when I arrive at my creative dream?" because it still probably won't be just writing. I do more than write.

But they're good questions Pressfield's writing is bring up, even if I can't go "exit, stage left," in the words of Snagglepuss, into the woods for a few months to just write. That doesn't mean I can't have a dream and work towards it.

And how did I wander down this path? Oh, right. I was talking about not feeling brilliant and not feeling radical. Althought maybe a little rebellious in response to Pressfield's requirements for success as a creative. I have a feeling I will be revisiting this issue in a future post.

So. I was thinking about not feeling brilliant or important or radical. And that we still have to keep writing. When we think we suck. When the muse isn't around, if we even have one. When we're tired or feeling out of sorts. Or when we just discovered that we can't drink caffeinated coffee any more and decaf just doesn't taste the same and green tea ... oh, that's me. Never mind, I'm not going wandering down another path.

But what I've been thinking about is this Nike-esque "Just Do It" mentality. And it's true. There is also the 12 Step or therapist saying, "Fake It Until You Make It" which goes along with the theories about how many days it days to instill a new habit. Like doing something for 21 days will etch it into your neural pathways so you'll keep doing it; some studies say 30 days.

I know, you've heard all this before. If you're a writer and you ever struggle with writer's block or the creativity wall (or well of darkness), you've heard all kinds of things about hanging in there, getting through, push through it, wait it out, and so on. But I think the simplest thing is, tada, write. Write the crap. Write about your dream or that you didn't dream or that you were hot and couldn't sleep or about the yummy lemon ginger tea you smelled on the bus the other day or whatever. Keep the words coming out, whether that's a pen/pencil moving across paper or fingers on a keyboard or the vocal cords for a speech-to-text software. Keep the words going.

Simple. Right? I know.

It's true. And I do know it's not simple sometimes. But just write. Okay? Don't fuss and fume about it being crap or worthless.

As an example, I'll toss out Richard Foreman. I know some of you have never heard of him. I admire and respect his work. And he just writes. Every day (or most days). And those daily generated writings are available online. He shares them with others to use as they will; giving credit where credit is due, of course. Locally there has been a Richard Foreman mini-festival, which I hope continues; I'll save details on that for a later post - it deserves its own space.

One thing I love about Richard Foreman's writing is that it is just words put together into thoughts sometimes; sometimes it is fairly coherent dialogue, at least for a while. Connections aren't always there - just the words, sentences, some paragraphs, dialogue. He writes. And from that spring plays and a theater, and other people take pieces and create other theatrical works. I'm curious in all the ways his work has been used; I'm guessing it's not all theatrical or performance, but I have no proof.

So. To get through. Just write.

And as an example, here is a tiny snippet from one of Richard Foreman's "Notebooks." I'm going to click on one at random and copy a few pieces from it. This came out of the "Deep Stories" notebook :

This is the story of a man
who said meaningful things--
in the presence of other people who claimed the things he said were not
in fact

Were these things said in friendship?

Right. Youíre right to be frightened

I didnít say I was frightened

But you are, I can sense it

Do I look frightened?

Now that the subjcts been raised, itís hard not to be aware of a certain, veneer of fear, underlying the most ordinary things

Perhaps this is one of my stories

I would say itís not a story, itís a simple hypothosis.

I would say thatís a story.. A very meaningful story. The story of your elusive fear, which may well be justified. The story of the meaningfulness of everything I present for your consideration..

Wouldnít you agree that itís meanimgful for me to say that-- if I am not in fact your friend-- this fact, could in fact, be for you a source of energy.
Yes, if thereís hostility betwene people, people are energized as a result.

There have to be better ways.

Ah, thinking about better ways-- thatís potentially meaningful. But it is also potentially meaningful to reralize that all energy is perhaps the result of hostility on some level, between people, and that energy is not necessarily desirable because it only seems desirable in the context of a world in which every possible relationship is colored by a certain degree of hostility.

I choose not to entertain that vision of the world.

You entertain a vision of the world?


Describe it.

I donít have words to describe it. Sorry if that makes it less meaningful

Oh no. That makles it more meaningful-- donít operate under the delusion that decription equals meaningfulness. No-- description is as best the corelation of a fact and a particulAr sub-system, and sub-systems are mere conveniences, buffers against the truth.

Which is?



Friday, August 3, 2012

Razor's Edge for 8/3/12: Place

Today's prompt is a location and backstory.

Your character is on walking off a recent conversation. She took the three-hour train trip to spend the weekend with her friend. But something wasn't quite right from the time she arrived. Her friend doesn't want to talk about it, but there is something going on which is distracting the friend.

Your character sets off to get some air and let the tension move through, rather than getting stuck in, her body. She has no idea where she's going; she's only been to this part of the city once before.

She turns the corner and finds herself in this lush, overgrown yard. A presence in the house seems to be pulling her closer ...

...Go... Write for 10 minutes!