Tag Archives: “writing tips”

care4

So more about the care and feeding of your writer……morning pages. They are the creation of Dorothea Brande to help her writing students learn discipline, and Julia Cameron included them in her Artist’s Way as a tool. You wake up in the morning and you write, long hand, three pages. Morning pages can be used to help you begin writing, they can be used when you’re in a stall, and they can be used to calm down fear. The idea is that you just pour whatever is inside onto the pages. Some say it drains away the negativity. (Much of morning pages is whining.) Some say ideas began to crop up now and then. Some say if you go back to the pages after a period of weeks, you can find a little gold, evidence of your talent or an idea for a story.

I once took a creativity course in which we had to do morning pages for six weeks. At some point near the end, we sat down with our pages and reread them. We had notecards on which to write anything interesting. There was a lot of drivel in mine, but also some really descriptive touches that pleased me very much and helped me later write about the death of my sister. The late Ray Bradbury used the idea of morning pages as a leaping off place. He woke with dreams still in his head and wrote the images, which became the seeds of stories. He learned to trust that not-quite awake state as a place to mine his imagination.

If you’re stalled, I can see stopping the work for a time, but doing morning pages faithfully. You’ll be writing, likely about your stall, and you may actually write past your complaints and fears back into the story you’re working on. And if you’re not disciplined, begin with morning pages. Do them every morning for six to eight weeks, then step back and see that you have been disciplined. And there will likely be a little gold to encourage you onward.

to joyce and sandi

My little writing group has made a shift. One of us has moved on. I’ve been luckyTBP_7153_2 to have a safe writing place with these two women. Here’s a doddle after one of our sessions…off the cuff….just words….

1/4/03… soaked all afternoon in the richness of the time with Joyce and Sandi soaked in Houston’s kind winter sun leaves rustling someone hitting an iron rod with a hammer ping went the ring of metal on metal ping sang the iron in the distance faraway dogs’ barks shimmer rustle of leaves shadows play on the deck of my house in early January cold tinged but no shiver in slippers and silk pajamas the richness of listening to these women read their words ideas tumbling bubbling effervescent iron rich heady wine and roses winter roses winter wine tasting of promised seeded unfurling green to come

Because I’m tired

Because I’m tried of mean politics delivered in gosh darn accents, because the stock market and depression talk of last week scared me (the cats say it scared everybody), because friends did something so kind and heartfelt I haven’t words for it yet, because I feel rudderless and writing the ending of this fourth book is hard, because I feel empty today………I offer an old journal entry.

The writing prompt was from a workshop in which there was a reading about life putting bags of gold in one’s path. The question was, did you recognize them or not.

My response: I’m in my bathroom, which is connected to my bedroom, and I can hear my sister very clearly as she speaks to her two young daughters. What do you do if Daddy is sad? she asks. We hug him, they answer. Yes, you give him a big old hug, she responds. Hugs cure anything.

I look around the bathroom, at towels, toothpaste, some spiritual saying on the wall. The moment is frozen. It’s a saber-toothed tiger of a moment, a mastadon wrapped in deep glacier ice,  the glacier of all that is happening. For my sister is dying, and we all know it–her, me, her children, our brothers and sisters, our children, our mother. The cancer, dorment for six precious years, has metastasized in her brain and lungs.

She seems normal now, but in six months from this moment, we’ll go to her funeral service on an appropriately cold and rainy day.

Grief is in me–only I don’t yet recognize its full face–and later, when I name it, love will follow, and I’ll say the love and see my sister model nothing else in her last months.

Poems will come later, slipping out of me like easy births. Grief for her will push me to new tenderness and depth. Do I know this in that suspended moment in my bathroom? I know there’s gold but all I can feel is pain–later the gold will be made shiny with tears and regrets from my deepest heart. 

Writing tip: Don’t be afraid of griefs or joys. Write them. Explore them. Give them to characters. My sister died in 1995. In 2006, when I wrote a certain death scene, I realized  that I was yet again writing my experience in her dying, the wound clean finally but not yet healed, pink tender still.

To my Christmas Cactus

Here’s my latest kinda haiku. I play with that 5, 7, 5 syllable poem structure sometimes. It’s like finger exercises for my mind. I usually notice something in my garden and work with the haiku structure to capture it. I always enjoy attempting the precision haiku requires; it makes my mind feel sharp, crisp.

You are late, my dear

I gave up on you––but there

you are–– four fat tight

blossoms

the color of sherbet

palely orange