100 Word Practice
Less than a year ago, I joined a small, private writers’ group. Our coach, the inimitable Annie Rachele Lanzillotto, suggested we all write a weekly 100 words to each other. Just 100 words. Exactly 100. Its been wonderful to examine how to re-tool a piece of work to fit that limit, to expand to that requirement, and to examine the density of language for better communication, lyricism, or humor. (I’ll be writing more about this practice and the surprises our group has discovered through doing this in service to each other.) Bonus, this description of the practice is 100 words!
More on the 100-words practice, here.
Mindfulness/Awareness Journaling (Today I Noticed)
This might be the most unsticking and unfucking writing process you can possibly get into, and it might not be creative. You might need this practice just to heal, to settle yourself, and move forward. Did I say “just?” Yeah. Just. For me, I start with the prompt, “Today I noticed…” And if I’m in a real funk, I write, “Today I failed to notice…” Then, I try to remove fail as a concept and forgive myself, simply be in the observations, without judgment. This is the place to let self-expression roam without fear and pressure- to be boundless. I love the way my MBSR coach used to say “I see you there!” to an uncomfortable thought, so I often use that as a prompt as well.
These prompts get my journaling going for the day to at least process whatever is feeling raw, distracting, troubling. It’s not always beautiful, but with time, it becomes a source for good ideas and nuggets of visual description that I sometimes mine for content later. I write poetry after re-reading my mindfulness-based journal entries, and sometimes, with the lens of time, I surprise myself! (Did I really think it was time to leave my job as early as 2016?!)
The Writing Prompt That Helps Me Write Daily
This dead-simple phrase helps me reflect and turn on the words spigot for deep, meaningful journaling every, single…
This is precisely what it sounds like, and it’s all the rage. You can buy or make gratitude journals filled with prompts, poetry, and word art to get you going. The simple practice of jotting down a few things about your day, or this moment that you have gratitude for, can not only set you gushing about those you love in life, but it can help you develop an abundance mindset. And, an abundance mindset can result in, yep, abundance!
You can easily expand this practice outwardly by sending postcards, letters, emails, or quick texts to those you love. It may not feel like creativity per se, but you may find yourself spreading your gratitude in a way that sparks creativity around you, and believe me, those sparks find their way back in the most beautiful and sometimes surprising ways. Feeling awash in love is energetically vibrating on another level. It sustains more than any social media likes/hearts, and really beats the living shit out of any regular street dopamine.
Read about this fascinating study: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain to explore more about what it can do for your mental health.
Write a Rant, Lament, or a Jeremiad
Our beloved coach Annie has taken us through many writing practices, and she is a keen believer in using writing to heal and find strength as well as to help others heal and find strength. One night we listened to Patti Smith’s Piss Factory and wrote our rants. You can read my rant, entitled “Eat Shit, Dumpster Pumpkin,” towards the end of my daily blog entry for Friday, December 39th. I also performed this rant as a candle ceremony for our group.
Friday, December 39th in America.
Donald JOKER Trump must be removed from office immediately!
Another evening, we went even deeper, into writing Jeremiads together. Just a few days later, David Blight wrote for the New York Times: Barack Obama Delivers a Jeremiad. Not long after, my friend Emily O. Weltman wrote her own Jeremiad, Why Jewish Women Have a Right to Be This Afraid for Medium publication Fearless She Wrote. And, despite prophecies of downfall, Jeremiads can bring forth calls to action and demands for togetherness that can find their way back to gratitude and mindfulness, even clarity. Exploring various writing devices with a professional writing coach who is attuned to how current events affect us creatively has been extraordinary.
And, when you’re ready to read more about healing through writing, check out Louise de Salvo’s Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives. (Link directs you to your nearest library that has it.)
Write to Yourself, Your Alter-Ego, or Your Muse* a Letter
This one is a bit of a moving target for me, but it’s what I’ve been exploring lately, and I am enjoying the challenge of it. I’ve written to myself, my past self, and my future self. And, for my muse, I actually revived my three childhood imaginary friends.
Read more about *developing a muse from one of my favorite writers/writing teachers, the prolific Kathy Hepinstall: https://kathyhepinstall.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/your-brain-is-a-horse-named-clyde-eight-novel-writing-secrets/
Go down the rabbit hole that is her Secret Writing Advice, as it is marvelous!
I’m not a morning person, but I am a shower thoughts person, full-on! And, I have come to cherish the dreamy quality of a quiet morning. Not that quiet mornings are in my life at this moment, but someday they may come back around again, and I will miss the clatter and urgency of this mom life in the morning. Morning pages are a fantastic daily practice. There should be no pressure, and this practice can heal you as well. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way created this as the foundational tool for creative recovery. Read more here. If you are seeking structured guidance in creativity, especially writing, then you may benefit deeply from finding an Artist’s Way group in your area or by taking one of her online video courses.
Looking for other ways to unleash creativity beyond writing, or not sure which path of creativity you’ll take? Check out this great workbook/handbook/inspiration from my friend, Portland artist, Lea K. Tawd. It is fun, playful, insightful, and very action-oriented.
I love hearing about creativity practices that help people feel better, tell their stories, and “clean” our language as Annie Rachele Lanzillotto would say. What is or has been working for you?
Does anyone want to help me make a post of writing prompts?
And, as I mentioned before, you could always bookend your day with thoughts around goodness like morals-obsessed polymath Benjamin Franklin!