Tag Archives: Writing

Writing Process: Lets Lick the Words from Our Fingers

One can’t be an expert in process. By its very nature process can’t be mastered. Because it’s not finished. And who knows what will happen next? ~Nancy Mairs, Ordinary Time

I have years of writing stored in my journals and in my computer files. (Maybe you can relate)

While working on my memoir manuscript the other day a question came to me,

If my writing hasn’t been published, is someone reading it?

If it’s true that we live multiple existences in parallel universes then it is possible that my writing in another sphere is being read and even widely distributed.

My night and waking dreams have convinced me that I actually know very little of what is possible. Could it be that the characters in a variety of dreamscapes (both my own and others around the world) are not only reading my writing but helping me to re-write my life stories?

As Nancy Mairs wrote, who knows what will happen next?

Process has no ending. I recognize this even as I work to complete my memoir, I Would Have Named Him Peter.

I write everyday. I start each day handwriting in my journal. I keep my pen moving across the page filling 2-3 pages of my journal or more. My morning writing is a spilling out of whatever is inside me that wants to show up on the page. My dreams are integrated into the body of my daily journal and visual journaling.

In the last year I have been writing in short bursts of 5 minutes. This practice has increased my understanding of the value of being consistent in my writing and has spilled over into other areas of my life. For example, I set the timer for 5, 10, or 30 minutes to organize my studio, add to my visual journal, paint, or do the laundry. If suddenly my puppy, Will, needs my attention or I am distracted from my writing for any number of reasons (happens right?) I can easily stop and shift gears knowing that I can go back to my 5-minutes of writing when I have tended to the matter at hand.

At this point in my memoir writing process I am deepening, shaping, and completing.

I don’t know what will happen next. Isn’t that part of the fun of writing and creating a life?

I hope you will follow along as I discover what’s next in the next autumn, winter, spring and summer of my life. I would love to share those life experiences with you.

 

 

 

Our Playful Impulse is to Create

When inspiration wakes me and the impulse to create is present its best for me to ‘get on with it’ and move into the playful impulse to create.

My usual practice when I wake up in the middle of the night and remember a dream is to write it down in my journal. When I go back to sleep without recording my dream I often lose the threads of my dream story and landscape and as a result I am unable to play with my dream gift later on during my waking hours.

Over the years I have created play lists of what I want to try on in my life and have written hundreds and hundreds of pages long-hand in my journals. These journals fill my bookshelves and drawers. My computer’s backup drive has many files stored there with writing and projects that I have yet to share.

Do you come up with creative ideas that don’t see the light of day? or How do you take action so that your creative ideas can be shared with others?

Play is the portal to creativity. When we honor our playful impulse to create we are honoring our playful, creative Self.

Listen to The Art of Playing in the Everyday Part 7: Our Playful Impulse to Create:

Want to learn more or work with me as a mentor and creative coach? I’d love to talk with you!

Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book.

Please leave a comment following this post/podcast or post a comment on the Play=Peace Facebook page.

A NEW SERIES: The Art of Playing in the Everyday & Writing

I am starting a new ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ series today. My goal is to help you understand what is meant by ‘the art of playing in the everyday’ and what benefits you will gain by immersing yourself in the practice of playing in the everyday in our own life.

I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment following this post, contribute a post on the Play-Peace Facebook page, write me at maryalice@playequalspeace.com or call/text me at 206/200-4542

My first podcast is on The Art of Playing in the Everyday & Writing:

Listen to Play=Peace Podcasts:

Want to learn more? Sign-up for ‘Play Notes‘, our bi-weekly newsletter and receive a free downloadable copy of  ‘The Art of Playing in the Everyday’ e-book

Mary Alice Long, PhD is a play-based, depth-oriented mentor, creative coach, and writer. Call me to find out more about how you can work/with me! You can phone me/text at 206/200-4542

Write Badly

I am drawn to writers and artists with imperfect styles and quirky combinations of form.

My memoir is not written in a linear fashion. Instead, it is a juxtaposition of story, letters, and dreams.

I have any number of books in my library that I love because I can start on any page and dive right in at that point without skipping a beat.

I’m really having fun with this!

Playing with writing tools and materials…a variety pens, pencils, notebooks, journals. Watercolor paper…watercolor paper of different sizes or canvases to write on and then add paint, oil pastels. Trying out new materials that I have never or infrequently used–like using a feather or a stick from the beach or woods to paint words on a canvas…well, I have all the permission in the world (my own!) to go wild and just play for play’s sake!

I’ve started to intentionally try to write badly….to let colors run together. Lets see–what colors am I drawn as I sit looking at a palette of watercolor or acrylic paints. Who says this color goes with that.

Who says that prose needs to be written this way and poetry doesn’t include long sentences that run together??

I remember…attending a weekend poetry workshop a number of years ago. The poet leading the workshop brought along her publication filled with her poetry. She used her poetry as the model for how we should all write poetry. When I talked to her individually about my poetics at the time she said, “oh, this is lyrical.”  [I took her statement “oh, this is lyrical” as a HUGE CRITICISM and stopped writing poetry for a while.]

Now I intentionally write bad poetry. My own unique form of poetics. I still attend poetry workshops from time to time. The difference between now and when I was told, “oh, this is lyrical” is that I enjoy my style, sharing my unique voice, and I have learned that ‘not all criticisms are worth being listened to and acted on.’

I have a lot to learn about bad writing, moving counter to the music, or letting colors run together as I paint. I’m excited about the many possibilities that will rise up as part of that learning curve.

Want to give bad writing a try?

Pick up a pen, pencil, paper, notebook, or journal…

Start writing with the intention of writing badly…notice what happens.

There are no limits or rules for what materials you can use…

If you want, add a splash of paint, paste an image or two into the mix that you have torn out of a magazine, doodle, draw a quick sketch and add some more bad writing.

I would love to hear how this experiment turns out for you. I’m excited!

p.s. this blog post is bad writing!?**#

 

Stepping Stones

I believe that everything in life can be approached playfully.

Approaching life as a playful journey helps me to keep moving ahead especially when life is filled with major challenges or what my husband calls, anything that comes from left field (or the unexpected).

Do you see your life as an adventure that sets you on center stage creating positive change for yourself and others?

Visualize yourself walking down a path lined with stepping stones. At first, you find yourself in a garden filled with spring flowers. As you continue you find yourself at the top of a set of stairs. You stop for a minute to catch your breath and then you take one of many steps down the stone stairs. At the bottom of the stairs you see a large double, wooden door to your right. The door has antique handles. You step forward and open the door. Once inside you walk forward and see another passage to your left that takes you to a large stone-walled room. In the middle of the room there is a desk with a large, high-backed chair just right for you to sit in and write. You walk around the desk and sit in the chair. You look up and find that someone is approaching you.

Who is approaching?

How do you feel as you sit in the chair?

What are the stumbling blocks that have kept you from what you desire?

What steps can you take to move forward as a writer, as a playful spirit, as a creator?

 

 

 

The Gift of Your Unique Voice

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King

Today I am finding it difficult to get to the point where I can dive in and engage in my writing practice. Often I start writing in my journal and at some point my writing turns in a way that tells me I am in flow and going for it.  I can feel the difference between the start of writing and a deepening in the way my pen feels in my hand pressed to paper or how my fingers fly across the keyboard.

Since that flow is not happening right now I think I will approach my writing counter-intuitively.

What if I don’t care about creating meaning for others as a writer?

What if I am only sharing my writing for ego’s sake and don’t see any higher purpose in the words I scribble or type on the page?


I’m struggling to write and that struggle is even more so when I consider writing without regard to the call I feel as a writer and artist to help others on their playful, individuation journeys.

The secret is to release, start over again and again, and give voice to what matters.

Some writing prompts to consider using:

When I release I…

I am struggling to …

When I stay with my writing (creative) practice I…

My unique voice in the world is…

What You Choose to Write + Create + Share Reveals So Much

My choices have led me to the development of my life’s view. I believe that play can be instilled in every moment of our lives and is the portal to creativity.

When I chose to be a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband I had no idea that what I experienced during the conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum would be so life altering.

Postpartum, Act 4

The story I have been writing in a variety of forms, for well over 10 years, continues well beyond the birth and relinquishment of my surrogate son. My story is really our story, a story that offers in its postpartum, a life filled with play and creativity.

Now that my son and I have made contact by phone and I have shared my version of our story with my son, I believe more than ever, that our story continues to develop in ways that are meaningful and filled with purpose.

My core story starts with a woman who gives her Self, her Soul away. Her initial intention is to Help an Other. She doesn’t consider what life will be like after her agreement has come to its natural conclusion. She is a woman of integrity who never gives a thought to not fulfilling her end of the bargain.

It is not until just after the Birth of her Child that She Recognizes what her Contract is really about. Creating * a Newborn * and a New Life for Herself and Others, a Life of Giving and Receiving the Gifts of Play and Creativity.

The day I returned home from the hospital after giving birth to my surrogate son, I recognized I was being called to Become…

I felt stirred to action. To help my Self and Others:

  • To Play
  • To Create
  • To Laugh
  • To Wholeness
  • To Individuate

I continue to feel the pull to act, to become, to perform my life, to practice the art of playing in the everyday so that I can create a life that comes from the heart and help others on their journeys toward individuation.

What is the personal experience you are choosing to write about?

What are you creating in our life?

How do you feel about sharing your story, your creations, and who you are becoming…?

 

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparking like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake… ~Sir Francis Bacon

I’m reading ‘The Vintage Years: Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty’ by Francine Toder, PhD

Apparently when the author was well into her 60s she began to play the cello. In her book she tells the story of an 89-year-old woman who took part in Francine’s research project. In return for her participation this woman was given free cello lessons. Seems she took to playing cello and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I have been listening to fiddle music for years. Recently I started asking fiddlers how they began to play, what its like for them to jam with a group of other musicians, and what their advice is on getting started as a fiddler.

Just before Christmas I looked for a used fiddle at the local thrift store but no luck. Then, my daughter surprised me with a used fiddle for my birthday!

I’m all Swing, so playing the fiddle seems like a natural for me. I have played the piano and guitar a bit over the course of my life, even taken some lessons and played a couple of pieces in recital. Fiddle just seems like so much fun!

I talked to a few fiddle instructors locally. One of them said to me after listening to me talk about my long-standing desire to play the fiddle,

Mary Alice, I would just pick up the fiddle and play. Don’t worry about lessons for now. With your playful nature the best approach is for you to fiddle around. Later on you might want to take a lesson but for now just get the feel of the instrument, and play!


Whether its writing, fiddling, painting or any other form of play and creativity:

Begin Doing What You Want to Do Now

 

That Day Has Come: Play It Forward + Create With All Your Heart

Has that day come for you?

Are you ready to give birth to the stories inside you?

I wrote in September 2016  ‘Writers on Writing’,

I can feel the electricity sparking off in my body. Tears come easily. I feel the need to walk and use this energy to act. I wonder what my a scan of my brain would show in the moment of writing — likely such a scan would look very different when I’m writing memoir versus not writing.

When I lowered myself to the floor while stretching I went into the fetal position breathing as deeply as I have ever breathed before. I’m anxious. I’ll keep breathing knowing that I can keep writing and be with my anxious self no matter what comes up. What’s the worse thing that could happen? I won’t die if I keep writing. Actually the opposite — I’ll live life to the fullest, I am a writer.

As with all things in my life I playfully write. I bring the same playful attitude to writing that I instill in washing the dishes, riding a carousel, or jumping in mud puddles with my grandchildren.

When I write I play full out. I dig a hole to china and then dig some more…

I write in the company of all the writers who have come before me. I write with all my heart and share with openness and as much generosity as I can muster.

As Isabel Allende says, Write about what should not be forgotten.

Write about what you would rather not know. Write about your fears. Write about what you love. Write about what fills you. Write about betrayal and regret. Write about your shadow. Write about what you don’t want others to know. Yes, write especially about your shadow–what you cannot see and must see to become, to perform your life, to write and share your life stories with heart.

Some journaling prompts to help you play it forward:

I wonder what I would feel like if I wrote about…

Something I have never considered writing about is…

If others knew about ______________ they would not want to…

Writing for me is…

When I create something new I want it to be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Remember Moments

Many of you undoubtedly have read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing from the Bones. Natalie’s book is celebrating its 30th anniversary and sits on a special spot on my bookshelf.

Indeed, when I visited Taos I sat and wrote in the very chair that Natalie uses to sit on and write.

One of the writing exercises that I have used as a prompt for years is:

I Remember…

Let me give it a whirl right now:

I remember when I walked to St. John’s church hall hoping to find someone there so I could sign-up to become a brownie (girl scout) and no one was there to do sign-ups. I remember my disappointment.

I remember making love in a hollowed out tree in the rain forest.

I remember the ‘White Hawk’ dream that woke me on the morning of my wedding day.

I remember when my oldest daughter gave birth to her daughter and my first grandchild.

I remember when I made a special trip to go visit periwinkle and say goodbye before I moved from the Northwest to California for a second time.

and that’s just for starters….

Now its your turn:

I Remember…