free the pen, a blog for writers

September 19, 2016

Daily Writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 8:41 pm

writetohealDo you have trouble sleeping? Are you in a stuck place with a person you love and can’t figure out what to do? Would you like to get something off your mind?

Then, I suggest you start keeping a daily journal. Studies show that writing daily about problems of an emotional nature increases sleep. Studies show that writing out confusions and upsets in relationships and writing emotions to get something off your mind, increases health, serves to resolve, and helps you to understand yourself better. Those with Rheumatoid arthritis and other painful ailments describe that their physical pain decreases after writing.

You do not need to write for hours on end. A simple 15-20 minutes a day, for 3-5 days helps. I’ve been writing at least that long since 1972 and daily journal writing has changed, supported, and led my life in a dozen ways.

My book Write to Heal is a 78-page primer on the power of writing for creativity and wellness. Order on or

Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Keep the pen moving,


September 14, 2016

Writing Ideas Are Everywhere

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:47 pm

Have you ever sat in front of a blank page and thought that there was nothing to write about? Then consider this: go out in public with your pen and paper and look around. Whether you sit in a mall, a coffee shop, near a dressing room, a restaurant, a movie, actually — anywhere, you will see activity and people. Focus on a facial expression, a unique walk, a conversation, someone talking on the phone, or anything that grabs your attention. Wait for something of interest and write out the scene in detail.

Here are some things to include in the writing of the scene to add depth to your writing:

smells, tastes, sounds, colors, mannerisms, time frames, environments, and why the scene grabs your attention.

Stories are all around us. Look for them. I want to share something that captured me one day in Barnes & Noble.

One Afternoon in Barnes & Noble

Tattoos ringed his neck

slid down his arms

covered his chin

where the hell is his mother, I wondered.


I stared instead into a novel

on the sale table

thought of what I would

do if he were my son


what father would teach

his boy to don cross-bone tattoos

allow earrings in his nose

and lip?


Tears burned

stole my breath

as the tattooed man

moved to a tiny wooden stool

and sat like a blossom holding a bee

an infant placed in his arms

in delicate pink

a small elastic bow hugging

her tiny head.


He cooed and ahhhed

softly kissed her cheek

a vivid smile lighted his daughter’s face

his angel wings opening wide.


I collapsed upon myself

folding into my own ugliness

caught in the empty shell

of a woman


wishing he were my son.

I don’t usually promote any special event on this site but I will be teaching a class through Story Circle Network titled: Writing Story Through People Watching. Here is the link. Please check it out:

Keep the pen moving,



August 28, 2016

Journal Writing

Filed under: Journal writing,writing and healing — freethepen @ 4:13 pm

There are so many aspects of life you can write about in your journal and there are many ways to structure your writing in a journal. Some people focus on specific things such as goals or emotions. Some people write daily or just when they feel like it. It truly doesn’t matter.

I have read numerous studies that reveal writing is powerful in manifesting, overcoming, triumphing, changing emotions, and even diminishing physical pain. Journals have been kept by people as far back as they could find a tool to use. Caves are replete with markings from ancient times. Those markings tell stories of how lives were lived. There is something about making our personal stories and inner realities visual and documented that changes our perspectives.

Journal writing is healing and creative not only to support making sense of your life but journals are tools to understand your own thinking, emotions, and the behaviors that have to follow. I say have to because that is how we function. First we have a thought which creates an inner emotional reaction and then we have ways we want to behave.

If you want to understand or change something in your life, take up your pen before you do anything else and see what arises. Speaking for myself, I have been writing everyday since 1972 and without my pen I don’t know how I would have gotten through the most unexpected and challenging times of my life. No mentor could have given me the wisdom of who I am any better than the pen. Speaking for my students in my Provocation of Journal Writing classes and other classes I have taught, they  have also expressed the amazing help of developing further understanding, found the ability to make peace with the past, and have manifested creation of new plans for their futures.

Try it. Take this challenge:

For one week write daily for at least 15 minutes on something from the past that you would like to understand. First write the situation from your point of view, then the other person’s, then as a stranger overseeing it. Let me know the results.

Keep the pen moving,



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

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