The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt.
The future has not yet happened. We each have a role in what it will hold.
For artists and writers, it springs from the imagination.
The world is filled with chaos, fighting, greed. For those who are kind and generous, humane and creative, put your energy out there to shape good things. May we each play our part—with gladness and gratitude—for the unfolding of a blessed future.
I’ll be back in Costa Rica for the new year and will be blogging on from there on Thursdays. Follow me.
For writers, reading is a way of life. We read early and often. We read, we write. We check our media contacts, read newspapers or magazines online or in hard copy, then read a text of something similar to what we are working on in our own writing. If we stop reading, it’s deprivation.
It’s a paradox that by emptying our lives of all that text and distraction, we are actually refreshing the wellspring. By absenting ourselves from all the media, we get in touch with our inner selves, which is where all the creativity comes from. By keeping the inflow to a minimum, the outflow improves. Our true thoughts and feelings will begin to penetrate and come out in new writing, running freely. I knew a playwright who would take off his shoes and socks and stand in a running stream with a paper and pencil to literally get his flow going.
If you find not reading difficult, and many writers do, here are some suggestions:
.listen to music that has no words
.cook a complicated, time-consuming recipe and then
.invite friends to dinner
.rearrange the kitchen
After a number of these activities, sit down and write again. Notice any differences in your feelings or content. Your writing may benefit.
Many writers are also meditators. Some even write about the relationship between writing and mediation. I am a meditator and a writer. I meditate in the morning and write in the morning. I also practice yoga. To me, these are all intertwin
The U.S. alone has an estimated 36 million yoga practitioners. It has adapted to local socio-political and cultural norms world over so much so that it can hardly be called an Indian custom. Yoga originated in India. The system of yoga has physical, mental, and emotional dimensions in addition to spiritual underpinnings. But yoga is not a religion. It has no dogma. But the practice for me is essential to my writing and brings me to a place where I can write truth.
Meditation helps improve focus. Something essential for the good writer. I began meditating years ago with a meditation method popular at that time, Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed this mantric method of meditation in the 50’s in India, and it spread widely throughout the world. For me, it was a good place to learn the technique, but my meditation practice evolved when I combined meditation with yoga, especially Kundalini. Kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine, conceptualized as a coiled serpent. It didn’t matter which type of meditation I was using, as long as it focused my mind and enabled me to write from that place.
Meditation provides a safe space to be. Meditation slows the world down to make room for creative thought and exploration. It’s an ideal practice for the writer or artist.
Have you had experiences with writing and meditation?
It’s getting to be New Year’s and the custom is to make resolutions. As writers, it’s important that we have goals. It’s also important to look back and acknowledge what we accomplished. Here are some of my goals for the upcoming year:
.to plant bulbs in my garden.
.to see more of my close friends in small combination
.to read more Japanese poetry
.to teach at least one poetry workshop.
.to write a longer narrative poem.
.to downsize and shed some clothing and books.
I may not get to all of these, and that’s ok, but it helps to have goals.
The feeling of having done everything one wanted is elusive. Accepting one’s limitations and shortcomings is part of the process.
I also look back at the year and acknowledge what I’ve done. I published a book this year about my partner’s death from Alzheimer’s Disease. I donated some of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. I also volunteered and taught a poetry workshop in haiku and tanka. I find a sense of calmness and accomplishment about these things. Check out my 2021 book:
The four elements: earth, wind, fire, water in your writing can be exhilarating. They can be used to make your plots more interesting, your poetry more vivid.
The four elements can be nurturing, but they can also destroy. There is much possibility in these primitive forces. Fire, for instance, can be cleansing or destructive at the same time. The four elements can also be nurturing and life affirming. Seeds in the earth, when it meets water, can grow plants. There is a cycle of renewal.
Nature’s climate is disconnected from the political climate. Birds sing, regardless of the presidential elections. It’s grounding to go out and take a walk in nature and think about the universality of life, and you’re writing,
I recently began a narrative poem about what would happen if the earth started drowning, as they’re predicting it will. What if nature really went wild and the water flooded the earth?
My most recent collection of poems touched on the world of illness and alternate states of reality. Check it out:
Everyone has an inner critic. The inner critic is there to protect you from doing dangerous things. But it can also make us too cautious.But writing isn’t dangerous and we should learn to use our inner critic to help us write.
The inner critic serves as a guardian angel to keep you safe and doing something dangerous. When it comes to life and death situations, the anxiety from your inner critic causes you not to act. But you don’t need your inner critic to write.You need to act to write. Have your inner critic give you permission to write.
I just finished a book about my experiences with my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties (Touch My Head Softly, Finishing Line Press, 2021.) It was a hard book to write and i struggled with my inner critic. But the writer in me won out in the end.
Part of the proceeds of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, so it’s all positive. Take a look:
Finding your own unique voice in your writing can be a challenge, but one worth pursuing.
One way to begin is by finding unique voices that you like in published writers. Billy Collins suggests finding a poem that you like and writing it out to discover exactly what makes it unique. What is it that drew you to it? The language, the topic, the genre? No matter what you’re writing: creative nonfiction, a blog, a poem, read other writers who have been successful in that genre.
But in the end, there’s only one unique you who has your own story to tell. You don’t necessarily have to write memoir or autobiography, but bring your own individual experiences to your writing. Focus on what you know, what interests you. If you love food, eating it, growing it, cooking it, write about that in a nonfiction article. If you’re a birder, out mornings observing birds, bring birds into your poem or short story.
I recently published a collection of poems about Alzheimer’s Disease, which I knew through my experiences with my partner. It was published by Finishing Line Press. Take a look:
When I taught writing, I always had my students to a rough draft before the actual paper. A rough draft should include a clear direction in your paper. When you are required to submit a rough draft, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be complete. That means, you shouldn’t be missing any of the major parts of the paper.
You should begin with a draft. Write a draft and then walk away and return again. Your second and third draft will probably be better.
When I wrote my recent poetry collection, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021,) I didn’t have a draft. The poems came slowly through the years. If I did have the rough draft of what I wanted the collection to look like, it would have gone much more quickly. It was five years in the making.
For me, writing is both. I have been writing since I was eight years old and can’t seem to stop. But I’ve also published three books, derived income from my publishing, which in some circles would make me a professional writer. You just have to write to make it work. It doesn’t have to be brilliant or inspired, it just has to be. You keep going.
You might do many other things besides writing to support yourself, but you still write through it. Stephen King was a high school English teacher. During this time, he wrote his first novel, Tabitha. He kept going despite his busy job.
You are the only one capable of writing your story. It is unique. It belongs to you. Even if you find similarities in the work of other authors who you read, your story is still your story.
I wrote a book of poems about my experiences with my partner dying of Alzheimer’s Disease in his sixties. I even donated part of the proceeds from the book to the Alzheimer’s Association to find a cure.