free the pen, a blog for writers

June 16, 2015

A Jewish Childhood – How to Catch a Poem – for Alice

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 5:29 pm

I want to introduce you to my friend and fellow author, Jeanne Simonoff.

Jun      Jeanne Simonoff
This photo was taken by my friend Jeanne Simonoff, poet and writer, author of precious moments. Read her words and learn how to savor the moment which it leads to her amazing poetry.

I have been chasing my birth mother, Alice, around the city of Paris. She is elusive and has escaped for the past seven years. There is a thin veil between  this world and the other. It is very difficult to puncture it and bring it into my time. Writing poetry is that way, right on the tip of my tongue, shy about leaping onto the page.

This last week I took a master poetry class in Paris. For some reason, the location, in the Marais, the time of year, almost her yortzeit, the anniversary of Alice’s death, something about the sound of my fountain pen which I had just refilled that morning, writing on blank unlined paper, took on the voice of my mother, who died in 1943. She wrote herself onto the page. How do I explain that? I can’t. Just something about writing poetry.  The poem comes forward invited in by my desire to make that contact. Why this past week? You can make up as many reasons as I can.

And, I for one, am glad Jeanne Simonoff is not shy about writing it all. I love her writing and you will too.

I am so pleased to introduce you to Jeanne if you don’t already know her. She is currently working on another book of poetry. Her first chapbook of poetry is titled 13. Her memoir, which you won’t want to skip, is titled Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood.

sving myslf If you want to order Jeanne’s touching memoir, do so at:

I hope she has inspired you to capture the moment, write about it, and make use of your life’s experiences. I just love her.

Until next time,



January 21, 2015

Write to Heal

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 5:03 pm

Post traumatic stress isn’t the only cluster of symptoms that can derail a life. Sometimes we have one incident that takes over our minds and emotions disallowing us to get enough sleep, eat right, laugh, etc. such as being fired from a job we love, being misunderstood by a family member, having a one-time incident that haunts us because we cannot find a solution to employ.

Although my six-week intensive writing course Unveil the Wounded Self- Write to Heal is having stunning healing effects with students and clients, not everyone wants a six week course. In response to requests, I have designed a 1.5 Hour One-on-One Write to Heal session. Check it out here:

Studies show that writing helps the body/mind/spirit overcome difficulties.Writing strengthens the immune system that stress depletes. There are many health benefits that come about through writing. Venting through writing is certainly helpful in the moment, but true overcoming, transforming, and letting go comes from deeper writing. My workshops on The Provocation of Journal Writing evinces that through the process of journal writing for just a short time each week. Writing is one of the most valuable self-help healing tools we have.

To speak to me about this process or any of my courses, please email me at:

Keep the pen moving!

Jan, author of 11 books. – (one out of print)

January 7, 2015

Reading Poetry to Inspire Writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 4:34 pm
For Dylan Thomas
Given all we are born to
In this gorgeous sunlit bower,
Whatever bonds we forge,
Even as charmed infants,  
Or the more teasing passions
We might uncover later
In this deliciously viscous,
Verdant world
They all come from this –
Our chance of flesh and blood  
And there’s no coming back from that,
Nor should there be…
For any alternative
Would be impossibly dry,
Like dancing endlessly
With tattered ghosts
Decomposing before your very eyes;
The defeated drunk at the bar,
A broken hearted chalice of dreams,
As dry as dust…
God knows though,
Tis precisely
Such a luscious procession
Of fruitful opportunity
That keeps us aglow.
So, as one long,
Lazy summer’s day
Chases on another,
Let us indulge ourselves
As kings and queens of the moment,
Quaff deeply of all that is on offer
And in loving increments
Fill our vessel to the brim.
And surely,
Better by far to live like this?
As if without a care,
In glorious good faith too,
Whilst our spirits are still eager
Our bodies abundantly charged,
Knowing that when these,
The best of our glorious days
Have been and gone,
Then to sleep contentedly with angels
Is all we could ever want.
Scott Hastie is a successful British born poet and writer, who has been has been commercially published in the UK for over twenty years now. He currently has seven titles in print, including a novel and four collections of poetry. In recent years, the spiritual tone in his maturing poetic voice is starting to draw increasing acclaim and attention from a worldwide audience, especially in the U.S. India & the Middle East.
Official twitter account: @scotthastiepoet
Scott says: I consider myself fortunate to be able to be living and writing full-time at home in the glorious Hertfordshire countryside, only a thirty minute commuter ride from London. My poetry looks to positively explore human potential, with an emphasis on love, spiritual growth and self awareness. It is very important to me that my work remains as open, accessible and as simply expressed as possible. My influences vary from the great traditional English visionary romantics like Keats, Coleridge & Blake through to the distillation of thought and leanness of expression offered by the Japanese haiku tradition and later technical breakthroughs achieved in the 1970’s by leading Scottish concrete poets Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan.
Thank you Scott, as usual, it is an inspiring pleasure to read your poems.
Until next post,
keep the pen moving,

December 29, 2014

UnVeil the Wounded Self – Write to Heal

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 6:12 pm

65thLet me introduce myself. My name is Jan Marquart and I have been writing Free the Pen, a Blog for Writers for a decade. Because I have a psychotherapy practice and write daily I send this blog to you as often as I can to share with you the power of writing from my own experience and that of other writers.

We are about to embark on a new year, 2015. Now for most people that segmentation of time brings hope for fulfilled dreams. For many, it is a continuation of a living struggle. I want to share with you a program I have designed and have given on-line and in-person for four years. This program has come about through my own writing and life experiences that has included daily journal writing, publishing eleven books, articles, essays, poems, and stories. I have learned that writing is an invaluable tool for taking the creative act and healing through the use of it. I have healed from traumas and the more I write the more I am awakened to the power of our inner voice when it is heard and has a means to express itself. I do not take this healing process lightly. It is quite powerful.

I offer it so that 2015 can bring you more than new days on a calendar. I offer it so that it can offer you healing and soul-repair. Read the description for this 6-week writing intensive.

I teach this class around the world, on line and locally in person. Every person who has bravely embarked on this writing to heal PTSD and other stresses has been helped. The fee is slightly higher in person for many reasons.

Heal the abuse you have absorbed and the traumas inflicted on your psyche. You do not need to be haunted by suffering any longer.

Email me:

Keep the pen moving,

Jan, LCSW, author, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

December 18, 2014

The Price of Wisdom

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 2:54 pm

The Price of Wisdom

Posted on | December 18, 2014 | No Comments

Jan2014I’m sure everyone has heard the maxim, Youth is wasted on the young. When I was young that sounded silly. Now, in my 60’s it makes so much sense. Just when we think we finally understand how life works and how much more there is to learn we wonder where all the years have gone. That is the price of wisdom isn’t it? One must actually live through a variety of experiences in order to learn the meaning and purpose of what being human is about.

When someone asks me about my life and I begin my story I am often asked how I got through it all, especially since I traveled my hard times alone often with harsh judgment and abandonment by those I thought would always be around when tough times hit. I’ve learned that everyone has his/her limits of compassion and the ability to give. I’ve learned that is okay. My life is mine and only mine so no one has to give help just because I need it. That philosophy has saved me tons of grief. It has allowed me to move on in a positive, hopeful, and easier way. But that is not to say I have denied any honest disappointment or confusion about which way I had to go next or why trusted people seemed untrustworthy. I simply took out my pen and wrote it all out. I wrote about my emotions, my thoughts, my expectations, my wishes, my plans, my resources, and what I could do to create an open door for the next step. Was it easy? Heck no! Was it desirable? Heck no! Was it necessary? Only if I wanted to live a life without letting anger and disasters destroy me.

Claiming my life and its separateness from others put matters into perspective. I truly didn’t want anyone not interested in being supportive to walk a difficult path with me anyway. This was most difficult because we all need help when faced with tragedy and difficulties. I felt thrown into a position to face creating my life alone and I wasn’t happy about it. But it was a powerful way to find my unique inner voice and I had to become my own companion and allow my inner sense to direct me to do what I had to and go where I had to in order to take care of my health.  Not all of this journey was desirable, in fact, in the last 15 years much of it was unwanted. Luckily, by writing my story day to day, whether in my journal or in books, articles, or poems for publication, I have witnessed the writing process save my life. I felt an inner power I didn’t fully feel before and it took over led me. As it turned out, that was better than the help I would have gotten from the people who turned away whose lives were a mess of their own.

I no longer keep my journals. I write and just as I cross days lived off my calendar, I shred my journals. I do not carry the past if there is a way to unload it except for the great wisdom I discovered. The price of wisdom is living difficult journeys, reflecting upon them, spending time knowing how your mind works so you can continue to create the life you want, and listening, listening intently to the power of the voice that lives within.

I recommend everyone write daily. Write for 30 minutes each day. Know your mind, face your emotions, study your actions, get the wisdom of what you really need to do for yourself because wisdom is all we use day to day when we need to make decisions and plans for the rest of our lives.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and above all —

keep the pen moving.


CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

November 25, 2014

There is a Way!

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 8:23 pm

bigstock-Winter-Forest-56265137Holiday stress – we have experienced it and unfortunately tell ourselves it is a part of  the holiday reality. What if I told you holiday stress can be minimized or even eliminated? What if I told you that the tools you need to create a new way to a happier holiday are sitting on your desk or table? It is true. Don’t you have a pen and paper on your desk or table – that is all it takes.

Write out what usually causes you stress during the holidays.

Write out how you want to feel instead of feeling stressed.

What would you have to do differently to make the holidays feel better?

What is just one thing you have to do in order to create a better situation?

Take a deep breath, muster up some courage, and make a different decision.

We get caught up in the fear of change. What will others think of us if we change a tradition? But think: your change just might be something for which others will be grateful.

Happy holidays everyone,

keep the pen moving,


Jan, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

November 18, 2014

Whether You Are the One Who Harmed Or the One Harmed – Write!

Filed under: writing and healing — freethepen @ 2:28 pm

65thThose who write every day know the power of writing. Those who write deeply about their pain and use the pen to sort out their internal distress know the power of writing to heal. When we shut up the voice others hear and we listen to the inner voice that only we hear we get to the raw part of who we are and in that process we find out what has truly happened to us, or what we have done, and hear what we honestly need to get on the road to recovery.

When I teach expressive writing through the provocation of journal writing and therapeutic writing I find that whether you are the one who has been abused or you are the one who abused someone else, the healing effects of the writing process works the same way. Anyone who has abused has been abused – that fact isn’t new. Prisons are packed with men and women who have suffered traumas of their own.

Trauma brings numbed feelings and so the acting out and reacting behaviors will continue until something in the individual is awakened, acknowledged, and healed. Veteran centers all over the country are learning about the power of writing and healing by watching veterans with PTSD heal through writing their stories, both what happened to them and what they did to others.

Writing your story heals and there is no doubt that when you set yourself on a course to heal through writing it is powerful. I always recommend that when anyone embarks on such an intense internal process, because numb feelings will be reawakened, that they put themselves in therapy with a therapist who knows how to walk them through this process. PTSD results from many different kinds of traumas and abuse. Write all you want, write every day but do get help for going deeper. Talk therapy and writing is a wonderful combination.

For more information contact

Keep the pen moving,

Jan, LCSW, Author of 11 books, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

November 17, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 7:36 pm
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anduze2004When you sit to journal write, there are basically two ways to do it:

1. Write what you are already thinking. If you are mentally working out a problem, a plan to make, a decision to organize, your mind already has a path where it wants to go. Write it out in detail.

2. You aren’t thinking of anything but you want to write for practice. As soon as your pen touches the paper begin to write and don’t stop until you feel completed with the energy. In other words, you put your pen to the paper and begin:

I’m not sure what I want to say today except  that it is a warm morning and the birds have been singing while I continued dreaming. Oh, that reminds me I have to get bird food and yesterday I had the weirdest dream.

Number 2 is the free-write style. You don’t stop writing to deliberately think where you want the writing to go. In Number 1 you direct your pen but in Number 2 your mind directs your pen and you let loose your thoughts and follow them without censor. You don’t tell yourself you can’t write something or you have to write something, you just write.

Do this everyday and watch your mind, watch how you direct your mind, watch how you control your mind from having its imagination, its creative source, and its power, and practice letting it go.

Keep the pen moving!

Jan, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

November 12, 2014

The Pen Speaks

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 9:16 pm

Are you watching your pen freeze in your hand? Can’t think of a thing to write? How can that be? Are you struggling to come up with a brilliant idea? Geez — do you think that could be the problem? Are you trying to control the pen or the mind? They are not the same. So start with what you mind is saying, not what you want it to say. The mind is speaking to you. I know because you are thinking as the mind is always talking to us about something. We get so used to our inner voice that we often don’t realize we hear it. Take a breath and listen.Write out what the mind is saying then go from there. If you want to write don’t stop the pen by thinking too hard. Just breathe, listen, and write. Perhaps your next thought is: I always liked my father’s brown wing-tip shoes but you think that that statement is too dumb to write. Write it anyway. You might just wind up writing the best piece about your father. Writing lets the inner voice speak, the voice that only we hear, the voice that disregards the ego so let the pen be its trailblazer. Don’t censor, don’t edit, and don’t stop writing. Let the mind wander if it wants. Let the mind take you where it wants to go — you never know where you will wind up. Keep the pen moving, Jan – CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

November 8, 2014

Journal Writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 10:18 pm

anduze2004 I am a huge proponent of daily journal writing, even if it is for only 2 minutes. With repetition you will watch your mind struggle to go deeper into a part of your life that needs healing. Journal writing is an excellent way to study your own mind. When you write pay attention to the times when your feelings get heavy, your mind wants to change the subject, or you find yourself distracted with a thought that you have to take out the garbage, now!

It is at these times that it is important to write what you want to avoid or the pain that wants to be avoided. If you have written for two minutes and find that you are didn’t seem to get to the point write out what you would have said had you not feared dropping deeper. Sometimes it is not even our minds we are afraid of but rather criticism that we imagine might come from someone else.

There is no better way to watch your mind, grow from your own psychology, and to find ways to move on than to pick up your pen and write yourself there.

Keep the pen moving!


CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

Author of 11 books  The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the Pen

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