free the pen, a blog for writers

December 16, 2021

One Word at a Time

Filed under: writing techniques — freethepen @ 5:35 pm

Those wanting to write poetry, short fiction, or just about anything, ask me whenever I teach, how they should get started on their writing idea. I ask them what have they written so far and usually they say, “Nothing”. If you write nothing, your paper will be blank. There is no other way for me to say that.

A decade ago, I went through a very dark time and was unable to access any feeling of creativity. I knew that being in that emotionally stuck place was not good, so I wrote just one word a day or several times a day just to give myself the message that I could still move my energy even though I didn’t feel like it.

I’m giving you my best advice on this. I know it can feel like swimming through concrete to sit and try to write. If you are imagining a finished product, you will be immobilized. Start with the intention to write one word, just one word whether it is the right word or not. Just write one word. You can’t edit something you haven’t written. Editing comes far after the written project is down on paper. The next day choose another word and another.

The first writing class I taught for Story Circle Network, check it out – it will help you get started, a woman told me she wanted to write about her father but couldn’t sit long enough. We were out to lunch and I gave her a page from my small journal I kept in my purse along with a pen. I told her to write one word about her dad which she did. The next day I emailed her and told her to add one more word to the list. By the end of the week she told me I didn’t have to call her every day because she sat down, read the words, and her pen took off.

Above, is the cover of my book, Eternal. It started one word at a time, as all books do. My book Still, a book of haiku, just came out this week. Again, one word at a time.

Now, what do you want to write about? Before you get to that wonderful first sentence we all aspire to, write one word about the message you want in your book.

Keep the pen moving and have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

Jan

November 3, 2021

Writing Deeper

Filed under: writing techniques — freethepen @ 4:53 pm

Often I get asked if I have any great ideas for how to start a writing project. I have many ideas. Whether they are great or not, I have no idea.

If you want to write a book, a poem, an essay, or anything else, begin by writing about the emotion or vision you want to express. Write out a stream-of-consciousness piece on how that emotion or vision will transform or deepen as your piece heads towards the conclusion.

A writing project doesn’t just start in the mind with an idea. It starts with a sense of purpose for that idea. Why write it? What is interesting to you about it? Who do you want to read it? These questions will help but I caution you not to get too stuck in your head. Just write it out. Write out the sloppiest draft you can. Editing comes after you have something to edit.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

October 1, 2021

Fall is Here

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 6:13 pm

Have you ever gone to a pumpkin patch? It is a wonderful seasonal activity. Searching for the most beautiful pumpkin to take home and carve, deciding which pumpkin works best with which face, it is all so inspiring.

If you want a great Fall writing assignment writing about how you chose your pumpkin and what you chose it for is a wonderful topic. I bet you come up with many different insights into your experience that you didn’t realize you had.

Once we start writing, our words create visions and drop into experiences we would not have focused on otherwise. If you haven’t gone to a pumpkin patch before, look for one this year and write about it. Just let your pen flow, don’t stop to correct anything. Editing comes after you have written.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

September 17, 2021

Write Your Vision

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 5:14 pm

In talking with many journal writers over the years, I have noticed that they have written about their past and their current situation. There is nothing wrong with writing about either. We can use our past to create stories, memoirs, poems and we can use writing about current situations to vent, clarify, and understand.

But there is someone inspiring and hopeful about writing about your vision for your future. Write what you want, what you hope for, what you want to change about your narrative. Writing about the future in all your desires, in specific detail, helps you to manifest, create, and develop a focus.

If you are so inclined, go to the library and get a stack of free magazines. Cut out the items in these magazines that fit your vision for your future. Make a vision board and look at it everyday and let yourself feel what you want to create. Studies show that this process activates the pineal gland, a lima bean-shapped gland straight back from the third eye and directly back from your ears.

I have heard many wonderful stories from clients and, I have experienced myself, the power of this process.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

September 16, 2021

Start with Simple Words

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 3:55 pm

I often ask others what they want out of life. It always surprises me how much people have a sense of what they want, but they really don’t know in specifics what they want.

Do you have a visual of that sense? Focus on it. Jot down simple words that depict whatever specifics you can come up with such as: calm, rich, full, pretty. If you start to feel undeserving or greedy in what you want, take a separate paper and write out those emotions. Let me say something about emotions. We each have them. They are built into who we are so we have a measure of how to make decisions. Our emotions don’t make the decisions, they are simply messengers of our internal reactions. Our intelligence and wisdom is our decision maker. You do not have a mental health disorder simply because you have emotions. You need them. Listen to them. Understand them. Write them out when they come up.

,Now, write those words for that sense and when you have enough of them, write out a sentence or two or three and develop a paragraph of what you want. If you are so inclined, make a collage and stare at it every morning to activate your pineal gland.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

August 27, 2019

Imagination is Powerful!

Filed under: Making a Difference — freethepen @ 5:00 pm
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Long Stem Red RoseSuch a lovely single rose! Can you smell it? Do you have someone you would like such a delicate rose from? What would you want that person to write on the gift card? Use your imagination. Go with the belief that this person could send you this rose with a sweet card, even if you think there was no was it would happen. Write every detail of your desire. Make it happen in your mind!

Keep the pen moving,

janmarquartauthor.home.bog

August 21, 2019

First sentence.

Filed under: fiction — freethepen @ 9:28 pm
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KODAK Digital Still Camera Take the first sentence of your favorite book and write a flash fiction piece, 350 words or less. You can use this sentence as the first sentence of your piece or the last sentence. Write in depth. Remember we addressed, in a previous blog, using the five senses. Make the reader ride with you through the story.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

 

June 18, 2019

Times of Change

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:28 pm

alwaysaway Sometimes change comes upon us without warning and we are left to stare into an unknown future. What times-of-change have you experienced? Does any one stand out above the rest for changing your life the most? Write this with every detail and don’t forget to include significant people and your five senses. Remember, the reader does not know what is in your mind or how you feel. No one can know what you see or how you experience something unless you tell them.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

http://www.JanMarquart.com

March 18, 2019

Love Story

Filed under: fiction — freethepen @ 1:54 pm

Budgerigar What is your favorite love story? Perhaps you have one of your own you keep secret in your heart. Describe the people or characters. Who are they? What are they like? Were you glad they fell in love? Why? Describe most how this story opened your heart.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

http://www.JanMarquart.com

March 17, 2019

Stillness

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:45 pm

KODAK Digital Still Camera Some mornings the air is still, the trees remain in place waiting for a breeze or a small bird to touch a branch. The breath pulls in deeply and sighs with release. Write about the last time you stood in stillness and enjoyed the soft touch of a moment.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan

http://www.JanMarquart.com

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