open invitation no. 14: when you don’t feel like writing

Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. Do it anyway.

Being a writer can seem magical…until you sit down to write. I started my career as a middle school language arts teacher. I assigned writing. I always thought the assignments were interesting and easy.

By dumb luck, I landed in a workshop with Katie Wood Ray on a September Saturday, just a few weeks after I started teaching. Katie said teachers should always write what they ask their students to write. On Monday I took her advice and attempted the Monday Journal Assignment with my students. I sat with a blank page, and I agreed when my students boldly proclaimed that it was terrible and hard.

It was the moment that I decided to quit assigning writing and start teaching writers.

We abandoned the assignment, and talked about how to make notebook entries not-terrible. The first rule was we could write anything we wanted, especially if the prompt seemed ridiculous. The second rule was to write, even if we didn’t feel like it.

Writers throughout history would agree that this is an important rule. Someone once said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” It’s nearly impossible to trace the origin of this quote. It resonates with many, therefore, there are many versions of this lament.

The same is true for all of us. There will always be a time when we don’t feel like writing. Do it anyway. It doesn’t have to be “good” writing, it just needs to be written.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 13: claim sacred space

Claim a sacred space in each day.

The days go by in a flash. Slam-bam and you are crawling into bed. Writers are just like everyone else, except they’ve decided to claim sacred space in each day to pause.

Learn to make pause. Stop. Notice. Think some thoughts.

Sacred means something you protect. Protect the pause.

Then, write words on a piece or paper or clack them on a screen. They matter because no one in the whole wide world has the same pause as you. This makes it sacred. This makes you sacred.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 12: write anyway

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Write anyway.

There’s a quote that goes —

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It’s all small stuff.

Richard Carlson said that. It’s actually the title of a book he wrote in 1997. I remember it being a popular phrase when I was in undergrad, and it wound its way into my long-term memory. I tell myself it a lot.

I’m telling myself it today when things didn’t go as planned. (Do things ever go as planned?) Even more importantly, I’m telling myself:

Write anyway.

I do hope you’ll do the same.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 11: learn some facts

Learn some facts.

Research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process, and I use it all of the time. I love to find facts or learn how things work or dig out quotes and statistics.

Research is not just for informational writing. It’s great for fiction. It’s an asset to poetry. It shapes memoir.

Did you know that swans only mate once in their lifetimes? When I was writing a fictional novel about a main character grieving the death of her mom, I was able to use this truth about swans. The more I researched about swans, the more robust my fiction writing became.

It’s a discovery process, and it is fun. Try it sometime. Take something you are writing about and do a little research. Learn some facts. Then connect it to your writing.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 10: just write

Just write.

Each week there is an open invitation. It is open in the sense that it is for everyone. It is also open in the sense that you can give it a whirl…or not. Your choice.

The magic of this community comes from sharing our stories. Any story…or poem…or letter…or anything else you want to share.

Just write.

Natalie Goldberg claims writing is an athletic activity. She says:

Just like any other sport, it takes practice. Behind the football we see on TV, the players have put in hundreds of hours before the big game. The muscles of writing are not so visible, but they are just as powerful: determination, attention, curiosity, a passionate heart.

Old Friend from Far Away

Just write.

Just write.

Just write.

(And share your link here to spread a little magic.)


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 9: stack a series of sounds

Play with the sound of words by stacking a series of similar sounds.

Let’s have some fun with words. There are a few ways that writers play with similar sounds of words. Try one of these!

Alliteration
Use the same beginning sound three or more times in a row. “Stacking a series of similar sounds” is alliteration, but it’s not the only way to play with the sound of words. Read on!

Anaphora
Repeat words at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases or sentences. Think of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Assonance
Figure out how to put two words with similar vowel sounds, but different beginning consonant sounds near one another. Robert Louis Stevenson, the go-to poet of my childhood, used assonance when he penned, “The crumbling thunder of the seas.”

Epistrophe
Repeat words at the end of a sentence or phrase. Consider the Gettysburg address: “A government of the people, for the people and by the people…”

Rhyme
When the end of words sound the same, then a little magic came.

Repetition
Sometimes instead of similar sounds, you can use identical words. Often I lovelovelove this craft move.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 8: choose to find a celebration

Choose to find a celebration.

“If you look at life one way there is always cause for alarm.” Elizabeth Bowen said this. These words casually circle through my mind on most days. They prod me to consider different ways to look at the day. I do not have to be alarmed.

I can find a celebration.

I’ve put this idea to the test, trying to determine if it is truth or myth. There are hard days, and I can find celebration. There are mundane days, and I can find celebration. There are super great days, and I can find celebration.

Finding celebration has become a way of life. I wonder what will happen on the day a nightmare strikes. There are hard things happening all of the world, and I wonder if it is presumptuous to assume we can always find celebration.

But for me, I will choose to find the celebration in the stories I share. I invite you to join me, and choose to share the celebration.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 7

Open your arms. Still wider.

It’s special, the way this community is built around invitations. I’ve had a lot of fun extending invitations to writers. One person responded, “I’m sure you sent this to a huge group of people…”

Actually, it’s not been like that. I’ve waited until I’ve felt a nudge to mention it and then I do (usually). Sometimes I’m a little shy, but I eventually cave to the nudge. I think that’s part of the magic of this community.

It’s not about the masses, it’s about the stories.

I’ve started other writing communities, some after school groups with kids or teachers, one with an English department, some at the library, some online. They’ve always started small…and eclectic. There was one that got really huge. There were prizes and tracking. I did not like the tracking. There was one that collected celebrations, but I let it go. Sometimes I wish I would have listened to a friend who envisioned shared hosting. It just felt too big, and I felt so small. I still miss it every Saturday.

All of this to say, it feels like an extravagant gift to throw out an SOS and have magic return in the form of a writing community. It all happened because I opened my arms. Wider. I hope you’ll open your arms still wider and invite someone to join us. Ask them to share their stories on Thursdays(ish) and give them the link to this corner of the world. There’s always room for more story collectors.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It doesn’t have to be a heart stretched story…it just needs to be written…and shared.

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste your URL.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

open invitation no. 6

Be a little wild.

I love the children’s book by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are. Like many of us, my mom made it one of my favorite bedtime stories, however, it solidified a spot on my favorites list many years later when I was in a children’s literature class to round out my master’s degree.

Did you know that Where the Wild Things Are was supposed to be Where the Wild Horses Are? The problem was Maurice Sendak had a rough time drawing horses. In fact, he couldn’t do it. So he proposed to his editor Where the Wild Things Are because he knew he could draw wild things.

I wonder how many writers give up when what they need is to be a little wild? Now, it’s not for me to deem what it means to for you to be a little wild. It doesn’t have to be something like electric blue hair, but that could count. It could be parting your hair on the opposite side or eating something other than a bagel for breakfast. Maybe it’s opening your water color paints or closing your email tab. Perhaps it’s writing from your back porch swing or having an extra cup of coffee.

Let the wild rumpus begin.
Be a little wild.
And go write.


write

Open your blog and write a post. It can be about anything — just write!

share

Reply to this post, jot a note and paste the permalink to your post.

comment

Pop around and visit some other blogs. Leave a comment about the ideas or the craft…encourage and soak up the magic that will find you.

grab an image for your blog

Use one of these images so we can find each other…and you can invite others to share their stories with us!

Offer an invitation to others.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic