deep play

EVERY WEEK, I send out a writing tip and three soul-inviting prompts as inspiration for you to freewrite, either alone with your timer or in a gathering of writer friends. The resulting deep play opens up whole new landscapes of creative possibility for our writing and our lives. If you are new to this kind of writing practice, have a look at the freewriting principles. And to take your writing to the next level, check out the mentoring sessions I offer, which are helpful whether you are working on a book or just beginning to find your voice.   more >

WRITING TIP: Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed

freewritingIn the Iliad, Homer wrote: “The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” One of the biggest misunderstandings humans hold about life is that we can secure things. Look close, and reality tells us this isn’t so. Everything is in constant motion — coming and going, being born and dying. Our fearful selves want to make this a problem, but it doesn’t have to be. It can instead become the impetus to see the preciousness of all of the ephemeral beauty we contact every day: people we care about, forests we love, our own aging face in the mirror. We are all living on the edge of death — and there is no way to ward it off forever. To keep this in mind as we write is to bring the intensity and reality of life’s preciousness into our work.

Under a dying tree…

Under a dying tree...

Toes in the earth…

Toes in the earth...

Return to the river…

Return to the river...

WRITING TIP: Change the story, change the world

freewritingBecause writers construct narratives, at one level, we know better than anyone that reality is invented and held together by believed-in stories that compel us to live within their rules. And yet, stories are by nature constructions that can be changed, however inevitable they might seem. This is important to remember at a time of seemingly impossible collective problems, because our ability to respond creatively depends on the stories we hold about how life and the world works. Change our stories and new possibilities arise. As writers, it is our job to poke holes in the narratives that create despair, fear and rage, and invent new plot twists that open the human spirit to courage and creative action.

With wings folded…

With wings folded...

Under a dark sky…

Under a dark sky...

Gliding on the wind…

Gliding on the wind...

WRITING TIP: Write the best moment

freewritingWhat was the very best moment of your day? In “The Anthologist,” Nicholson Baker wrote: “One time it was when I was driving past a certain house that was screaming with sunlitness on its white clapboards, and then I plunged through tree shadows that splashed and splayed across the windshield. I thought, Ah, of course— I’d forgotten. You, windshield shadows, you are the best moment of the day.” Out of this moment, a poem, an essay or other word celebration gets seeded from something so small — something all too easily overlooked and forgotten. Good to notice and treasure those best little moments.

Something split open…

something split open

Startled by sunlight…

startled by sunlight

Today’s best moment…

today's best moment...

WRITING TIP: Become a true alchemist

freewritingThe power of writing takes us inside of the minds and hearts and worlds and times of people no longer living, or living in vastly different circumstances than us. Writing transports, transcending time and space. It transforms, creating story from chaos, meaning from random events. Writers are in that sense, magicians, alchemists and shamans. Said William H. Gass: “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

In another world…

In another world...

I found a story…

I found a story...

When art wakes up…

When art wakes up...

WRITING TIP: Trust the illogical

freewritingThe mainstream culture tends to emphasize logic, science and reason as the soundest base on which to build our lives. That may be true if you are constructing a machine, but start applying it to the subjective reality of human life and it can easily infect our creative possibilities. New things come into being when we are able to look beyond our logical expectations — to place our trust in the illogical world of dreams and imagination. JG Ballard put it this way: “I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.”

Friends in wild places…

Friends in wild places...

Truth came disguised…

Truth came disguised...

The dream tells me…

The dream tells me...