Random Shuffle: A Song & A Poem

Sometimes it’s a beat, or a verse, or just one word that resonates. Take a half-hour listening to songs with pen in hand & see what happens. This is definitely my favorite writing exercise!

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Monday night I clicked some random shuffle to life, and a few hours later I had a newborn poem. Love when that happens.

Astound me:
Reach inside my head to find me.

Switch off those old melodies
meant to keep me in captivity,
fading away with a faded-heart disease —
bereft of dazzle & glory.

Astound me:
Let you be you & I’ll be me.

A middle-aged woman, that’s me,
as unsung & unseen as I used to be.
There are girls all around distant cities,
composing brand new melodies.

Listen for their voices, please.
Don’t be just a guy; and I won’t be
just an aging girl, unsung & unseen —
inside my head is all dazzle & glory.

Let you be you & I’ll be me:
Astound me.

It needs a title and a little con-crit. Y’all game? Come along then. And when you get a moment to sit in…

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Disconnected Phrases & Haunting Images: What Fills A Writer’s Notebook

The formatting didn’t work out so well on this post, but if you can, please overlook the mess and read the interesting Craft Talk by Anne Valente. What tools do you use for saving and “constellating images” into your writing?

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Throughout the month of February, t.s. wright and I have been enjoying the Southeast Review’s Daily Writer’s Regimen. On Day Twenty-Two, Anne Valente’s Craft Talk, “Constellated Images” was featured. I will now share this with you.


In his recent Writers’ Chronicle article, “The Indelible Image,” author Benjamin Percy writes that film lends itself to pivotal scenes. He cites the shark popping out of the water in Jaws, the rolling boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He says creative writing has similar key moments: “Widowed images. Startling images. Haunting images. Iconic images. Whatever you want to call what ends up clogged in our imaginative filter. We don’t always know why they’re important, but for whatever reason, our mind won’t release them.” For his own writing practice, he mentions keeping a corkboard of these images above his desk while writing, images accompanied by bits of trivia…

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Things Are Not What They Seem: A Brief Writing Exercise

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There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot–things are not as they seem.  ~ Jim Thompson

I love this quote. While I can’t say that there are indeed precisely thirty-two ways to write a story, the assessment of plot rings true. Why else would we continue to delve in to a story beyond the first lines if not to discover some revelation or another?

Things are never what they seem at first glance — look deeper and, while you may not find shocking secrets or epiphany, you will find something about a character, a landscape, that is being held secret in those first lines.

While pondering “things are not what they seem” write a minimum of one hundred words (a maximum of 300) to open a story. Your mission is to write the introduction to a character living in…

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… “when I write I’m merely a sensibility.”- Virginia Woolf

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Reading through Woolf’s A Writer’sDiary, published by her husband, Leonard Woolf, can be likened to trying to put a 10,000 piece 3D puzzle together while blindfolded. And then, just when I’m hopelessly lost, her voice comes through with such intense clarity and insight I am left breathless.

I was simultaneously reluctant and desperate to read through this publication. Mr. Woolf supplies a Preface in which he admits to extracting items too personal for sharing … still, there are passages within that are painfully personal — passages that maybe only a writer would recognize as painfully personal.

Often, the author puts into her own words the struggle over THAT question: Whywrite? Why, indeed. Like so many, when she left the question alone and just did the thing, magic happened. When she obsessed over it, picked at it … the thundering silence, the lack of no real answer…

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Proof Of Life: Writing About Writing

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“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.” ~ William Zinsser

Today, I invite all hard laboring writers to defend something you’ve written. No matter if it’s old or new, no matter if it has been published or hides out in the bottom drawer of your desk. Tell us about it. Tell us why you wrote it. Inspire us with your dedication to this character, this plot, this form, that demanded you be the one to bring it into the world.


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Collaboration: Fairy Dust & Hard Labor

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Just as RicoChey is suggesting a mob of us writers collaborate, I begin reading a book about creative collaboration. In Big Magic, Liz Gilbert puts forth her experiences with inspiration — that thing of mysterious quality and substance, like fairy dust — and putting herself to work at the vocation of writing every day — hard labor. The magic will come, she says. It’s just OUT THERE, WAITING.

Inspiration, ideas, are just flitting around the universe in search of willing conduits. There’s no predicting when the magic might strike. But according to Gilbert, the creative being, the conduit, must already be at work to be limber enough, and willing enough, to be truly receptive.

Within the pages of this book are some pretty far out stories of her experiences. The lady writer has some pretty far out ideas that have not yet been proven by her experiences; nevertheless, I appreciate her passionate…

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Big Magic:Let’s Discuss Creative Living Beyond Fear

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I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s since listening to her narration of Eat Pray Love in the winter of 2012.  Gilbert’s narrative talent is divine on paper; her spoken word is magnificent.

That narrative talent is what got me through The Signature of All Things — not, in my opinion, her finest character/plot accomplishment. BUT THAT VOICE! I am downright envious of  enamored with the way she can convey depth of emotion and imagery in a paragraph. A sentence. A single word.

My latest venture into her memorist-storytelling is already inspiring. Gilbert begins Big Magic with the brief recounting of a remarkable poet’s career — a truly creative soul, a bit different from your average poet/scholar.

“We must risk delight”, he wrote. “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Here, Gilbert is quoting the poet Jack Gilbert (no relation). A man whose writing…

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Collaborative Writing Game: You’re It. Go!

Team writing? This might be interesting!

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This sounds really fun, y’all. Catch up on the basics, then see my list of ideas below.

Here’s the basis of RicoChey’s game:

● A group of participants form a team and swap email addresses.
● Taking turns, each participant writes one page of content (the group having agreed upon a font and pt. value), and emails it to the group.
● The group follows along, taking turns contributing to the story.
● Team members can “pass”, or submit less than a page when experiencing a rough patch of inspiration.
● Team chat is encouraged and suggested, to keep the vision consistent and aim for a shared end goal.

Obviously there are nuts and bolts, but this is my general rubric. We could draw names to form teams, or we can choose one another ourselves. We can do drawings for themes or titles or synopses — the options are definitely…

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