free the pen, a blog for writers

June 28, 2011

So You Think You Can’t Write??

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 2:07 pm

Most people I know take up the pen to write about something in their lives. They imagine their pen bringing them relief or allowing them to be creative with an idea. But often when they pick up their pen and stare into the blank page, their thoughts go numb like being on stage. I hear this comment often in the workshops I teach. Students want to know how to get started. When I ask them more about what getting started means they come up with what they expect the finished product to be; they really aren’t thinking about the first step. So how do you jump back to the beginning point when you are already thinking of the finished product? Here’s a tip: focus on your gut. Start with the first three words that come to mind.

soup, grandma, fun

Now take the first word. Expand on it.

It was the most fun soup I ever ate. Floating around the tiny orange pieces of carrot and moon sliced pieces of celery were macaroni letters of the alphabet. Grandma let me move them around in the broth to spell cat and dog and rat. Ewwwww – a rat in my soup.

Now take the second word, grandma.

Grandma makes the best soup. She said it was nurturing for the soul, but really that’s what grandma is. She makes everything fun. Wish mom could do that. Mom makes me feel like everything is a chore. Eating soup is not fun with mom and she doesn’t put in macaroni letters of the alphabet, just the boring things like potatoes.

Now take the third word, fun

It’s always fun eating at grandmas. Yesterday I had a banana sandwich. We mashed the banana on a small square piece of bread, the kind mom uses when she has company, then made a face with the cinnamon and raisins. I ate the eyelashes first and left the smile for last.

Okay, you get the gist of this. Then write the paragraphs together and build up from there. When you have something you want to write about- make it easy on yourself. Save your effort for the final editing. In the mean time, have fun with it. When I wrote The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday Blessings, www.createspace.com/3546000, it was a difficult story to write because remembering brought me back to being paralyzed in the hospital at a time when no one understood what happened to me. There were no explanations or discussions from the doctors or friends. I guess because I couldn’t talk the doctors didn’t think I could listen about my physical condition which I slowly discovered everytime I went to do something and couldn’t, like wipe my nose. When it came time to write the book, after much rehabilitation and perseverance on my part, I had to learn how to manage a pen so writing was difficult on all ends of the project. When I thought back to the time I came out of my coma I only remembered flashbacks so I wrote out sentences and phrases of these memories in list form on paper, then cut up each one so that I had hundreds of tiny pieces of paper. Then I put them all in an envelope. Each day I pulled out one piece of paper and wrote only on the topic written on that scrap of paper. When I finished writing paragraphs or pages on each scrap, I layed them out on my living room floor in sequence. I had 400 pages of my story. But there is no way I could have gotten such an emotional story down without simplifying the process.

Even if your story is not of such an emotional nature, if you are fearful of taking up your pen because you just don’t know the first step-start with one word. Write that one word at the top of the page. And freewrite everything that you want to say about that one word, the memories, the people involved, the outcomes. Your english teacher is not watching. There is no grade for this. No one is going to comment on it unless you show them. You are in control of what happens to your writing. Stash it away, carry it with you, lock it up, tear it up — you can do anything you want with it. Just write!!!!!!!!!! Listen to your own internal voice — what a wonderful connection that is!!!!!!

Until next time, Jan

June 20, 2011

Writing as a meditation

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 5:44 pm

Have you ever been involved in a creative project and now realize that while you were doing it you were peaceful? I used to feel that way when I sewed. That’s how I got through college. I sewed every day before classes. My closet filled in no time and I had beautiful clothing. Just 30 minutes a day or so and I was peaceful and transformed. I slowly worked around the pattern, got into the feel of the fabric, and watched a design manifest. Writing does the same thing for me now. I can sit and write a story or a chapter in a book and I’m in a world that lets me focus on being creative. I drop deeper inside myself and pay attention to how I feel and work everything onto the page. That process revives me. The world is so busy these days and most of the busy things we do are speed oriented and full of task completions making it too easy to miss the point of being fully alive. Settling into ourselves, being creative, listening to our own voices and inner motions produces health and well-being.

Take a pen and paper, which I prefer to computer keys, and write about something you enjoy. Write about it for a designated time period. I like 20 minutes because it takes me ten minutes or so to get settled and to start the internal flow. Thirty minutes is best. Stay focused and keep writing. If your mind wanders off the beaten path write that too. You never know where the word flowing out of your pen from your heart will take you. Just follow its path. Get into its rhythm and breathe with it. Allow and enmesh yourself with it. Write smells, tastes, textures, sounds. Enjoy it and don’t allow any interruptions.

For writers out there, I would love to communicate with you about your writing. If you have any questions about writing projects, journal writing or fears about writing, please contact me. www.awareliving.net

 

June 14, 2011

This is the Strangest Book I’ve Ever Written

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 3:46 pm

 Read what my publicist says about Voices from the Land. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/175984734. Voices from the Land can be ordered at: www.createspace.com/3552509. In 2006 an intuitive in Santa Fe told me to sit on my five acres with pen and paper because spirits living there wanted me to write their stories. It took me two years, until the fall of 2008, before I got the courage to take on such a task. These stories take place in the mid-west around the 1860’s and are told from many different voices. Imagine sitting around the table with your family talking about a family picnic. Won’t each one have a different slant on the same event? That’s what you will read in Voices from the Land. You will read about the people who created a small town in the wild frontier. After you read it, please let me know your comments and feel free to ask questions. Don’t forget that Amazon allows you to post your reviews. You can contact me at my website: www.awareliving.net All my books can be order on this site.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan Marquart, LCSW, Author

www.awareliving.net   website and bio

www.freethepen.wordpress.com

www.open.salon.com/blog/janet_ruth

www.filedby.com

www.goodreads.com

www.shewrites.com

www.Examiner.com

How to purchase Jan’s books:

Kate’s Way    www.createspace.com/3498926

Voices from the Land

www.createspace.com/3552509

The Basket Weaver

www.createspace.com/3553668

The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the
Pen

www.createspace.com/3546101

Echoes from the Womb, a Book for Daughters

www.createspace.com/3546083

The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday
Blessings

www.createspace.com/3546000

Write to
Heal  www.awareliving.net

How to
Write from Your Heart www.awareliving.net

How  to Write Your Own Memoir www.awareliving.net

June 11, 2011

Letting Your Pen Tell It All

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 4:05 pm

                                                                                                                        

To write anything from your heart means one thing: you have to write it from a deep place within your mind and soul. Even the description of a sunset has a better impact on the reader if you give him information about how the sunset impacts you. There are tips in this small booklet to help you do just that. For instance in this pocket-sized booklet, How to Write from Your Heart, there are eight tips to help you write so that your story or article has depth and meaning. On page 14 in this 21 page booklet for just $4.99 you will find a prompt that helps you Keep It Alive. There is a huge difference between telling someone something versus showing them. Unless you are writing a technical piece, a reader will want to feel and be inside what you are writing.  The best part about this booklet is that you can carry it in your purse, pocket or tuck it inside your journal. It can be ordered on my site: www.awareliving.net.

For those of you writing a memoir, this little book is invaluable. The eight prompts teach you not only how to set up your sentences so they have power but also how to pay attention to verbs and adjectives. Find out what the eight tips that many new authors overlook are. Here is an assignment: write about the holiday that left the biggest impression on you. It does not have to be one that was enjoyable. It can be a holiday that was disastrous or that taught you a lesson in some unsuspecting way. Follow the tips and suggestions in this booklet. Use How to Write from Your Heart as a reference for all your writing and keep the pen moving. Let it tell it all!

Until next time,

Jan Marquart, LCSW, Author
www.awareliving.net   website and bio

www.freethepen.wordpress.com

www.open.salon.com/blog/janet_ruth

www.filedby.com

www.goodreads.com

www.shewrites.com

www.Examiner.com

How to purchase Jan’s books:

Kate’s Way    www.createspace.com/3498926

Voices from the Land

www.createspace.com/3552509

The Basket Weaver

www.createspace.com/3553668

The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the
Pen

www.createspace.com/3546101

Echoes from the Womb, a Book for Daughters

www.createspace.com/3546083

The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday
Blessings

www.createspace.com/3546000

Write to
Heal  www.awareliving.net

How to
Write from Your Heart www.awareliving.net

How  to Write Your Own Memoir www.awareliving.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2011

Do you have a relationship you want to heal?

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:52 pm

How many of you are tormented by relationships you believed in? Our minds stew and brew all kinds of scenarios about what we could have, should have and would have done if only . . . Well grab your pen and get busy. Instead of makng your mind the sesspool for all this stuff while you are busy getting on with your life, turn on your computer or grab a pen and piece of paper and get it out. In major relationships in my life that brought on excruciating pain, I knew the only way to really get over the pain and transform myself through it all was to write and write big. Those who know me know just which books did the trick. By writing deeply about those relationships I not only got over the pain, I got to view them as making me the stronger woman I now am and consequently allowed me to pass forward what I learned. Go to booksignings and listen to authors. Many of them will give you the behind-the-scenes scoop on the painful relationship that inspired or forced the book out of them. Every reader loves to feel and believe that she is growing as a result of spending time with a book — even a book that is light and enjoyable. Make your suffering mean something wonderful for you. Write it out.

Jan Marquart, LCSW, Author
www.awareliving.net   website and bio

www.freethepen.wordpress.com

www.open.salon.com/blog/janet_ruth

www.filedby.com

www.goodreads.com

www.shewrites.com

www.Examiner.com

How to purchase Jan’s books:

Kate’s Way    www.createspace.com/3498926

Voices from the Land

www.createspace.com/3552509

The Basket Weaver

www.createspace.com/3553668

The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the
Pen

www.createspace.com/3546101

Echoes from the Womb, a Book for Daughters

www.createspace.com/3546083

The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday
Blessings

www.createspace.com/3546000

Write to
Heal  www.awareliving.net

How to
Write from Your Heart www.awareliving.net

How  to Write Your Own Memoir www.awareliving.net

June 6, 2011

The Best Place to Learn Dialogue

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 10:51 pm

Writing diaglogue can become any writer’s nemesis if the writer thinks she has to re-create the wheel in order to write it. So here is a tip that will take you miles on the journey of writing good dialogue.

**Walk through a shopping mall, sit at a table in the food court, ride a bus, walk on the avenue and just listen. (Don’t use any of the dialogue when someone is speaking on their cell phone because you will only be getting one side of the conversation.) Sit or stand close enough without seeming obvious. After you find two or more people discussing something, while they talk-you write.

That’s it. Isn’t that easy? Just write each person’s words using a different line for each voice and just write down the conversation. When you get home, read it out loud. Notice that you don’t need any of the tag words such as he said, she said or emotional descriptions so overdone by new writers wanting to tell the scenes behind the dialogue. Your story should be telling all the scenes behind the dialogue and the reader should already know the characters and how they would realistically respond in a conversation. Now, write dialogue for your story pretending that you are listening to your characters in a public place. Write out the dialogue for your story with no tags and then read it out loud. If some tag is missing that needs to be there in order to keep the reader from being confused, then certainly, add it in. Usually a dialogue is best when it gives all the information needed within the direct words of the dialogue so tags should only be there to show more about the character in that moment. Only add tags words such as ‘Amy said’ or ‘the waitress said from a corner’ if there would be some doubt from your reader about who was speaking.

One of the biggest mistakes writers make in writing dialogue is telling the reader how the speaker of the dialogue is thinking or feeling. Try to show the reader in another way. For instance,

“I don’t want to have sex yet,” Amy said clearly embarrassed and uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to have sex yet,” Amy said barely audible as she tightly twisted her braid and stared into her plate.

Do you see? Which one lets the reader see and feel that Amy is embarrassed and uncomfortable about giving in to having sex?

Until next time,

Keep the pen free,

Jan

 

 

June 3, 2011

The Hardest Part of Writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 3:32 pm

The hardest part of writing is no different than the hardest part of life. And what is that? Telling the truth, of course. Our worse fear is often about someone finding our written pieces. What in the world would they think of us? But as the old cliche says: the truth shall set you free and so will writing out the truth. I guess I’m full of cliches this morning because here is another one: practice makes perfect or at least it makes it close to perfect because there is nothing easy about telling the truth most of the time especially when our minds have a built in censor that pulls back our pen as we attempt to say it all. But when we practice writing about our authentic self in all its glorious forms emotions, thoughts and actions we can feel perfectly at peace with ourselves.

I know too many people hurting from not writing out something that has plagued them for years. They are fearful that if they let it loose they will dissolve on the spot. But when an issue, event or circumstance haunts you for longer than you want it to, it is time to do something about it. Get into a quiet spot, open to a blank page, pick up your pen, take a deep breathe and jump in. It doesn’t matter if you start at the beginning or the end. It doesn’t matter if you have spelling errors or get facts mixed up. The only focus need be getting out the emotion that remains locked inside you. Did you know that cancer patients are often asked to write out the times of their lives that hurt them the most? Did you know that emotions stay lodged in our muscles in the form of energy just as toxins do from our food? Talk to any masseuse who does deep tissue massage and ask them if they have ever had a client break down crying on the table. Our bodies store emotional and mental upsets and writing is a wonderful healing tool to help you release that pent up energy.

I have written a 78 page book, Write to Heal, to help people who want to use writing in this way. www.awareliving.net Check out my blog titled Six Tips to Be Realistic with Your Manuscript on www.open.salon.com/blog/janet_ruth

Until next time,

keep the pen moving,

Jan

June 2, 2011

Writing Memoir

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:57 pm

Each life on the planet has unique stories and it is amazing to see what happens when we write them. But first I want to address an issue that seems to come up when I instruct students in my classes to write something personal and that is — fear. I’m not sure what you would be fearful of if I asked you to write something personal but what I hear in my workshops are fears about someone finding out, someone getting upset, someone not loving them anymore, someone thinking poorly of them. So what some of my students have done is submerged the desire to write deep inside of them and then they sit with this urge to write eating at them. So here is what I tell them: write it anyway. Get into a very private spot with no one around. If the person you are worried about reading your story is around you, then get out of that environment. Sit in your car, go to a library, go to a park, go anywhere that person is not and write. After you write then you can decide what you want to do with your written piece.

If fear is holding you back why not make your first written piece about the fear that is holding you back. Explore it deeply. See if you can get up the courage to write despite all odds. This is a common experience for a great deal of writers but as the old cliche says — there is nothing to fear except fear itself and when it comes to writing your personal story — it is your story to write or not. Allow yourself to make the choice. Give yourself permission to speak about your life and your experiences.

So, 1. start writing about fear and include what you think might happen if you write your truth. 2. write your story 3. decide what you want to do with the piece, and 4. write more tomorrow.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments. www.awareliving.net

Keep the pen free

Jan

June 1, 2011

3 Things to Remember When We Caretake Our Parents

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:35 pm

Many of us over fifty are now caretaking our parents. Although caretaking those we love usually starts out with an open heart,  adult children often begin to feel overwhelmed, guilty and even resentful for having to leave so much of their own lives behind in order to keep up with the demands of caretaking responsibilities. Here are three important steps you can take to make sure you help ease some of the negative feelings that effect the care you give and diminish the health of your own life.

1. Talk to someone. Talking to a therapist or minister for support, both spiritual and psychological, is invaluable. Most people don’t want to take the time, spend the money or focus on how badly they need help while they are giving help. Talking to a trained professional does wonders for allowing you to vent, get support, receive clarification and even expand your knowledge of community resources. Let me put it another way, by not allowing yourself to face the strains and pressures of caretaking a parent, no matter how much you love them, you might start walking down the road that leads to depression, anxiety and develops problems in your own life. So make an appointment and talk to someone about what you are doing, how it is effecting your life and let them remind you when it is time to do something for yourself.

2. Keep your friends. Caretakers are notorious for allowing their friendships to slide by while they use their time to take parents to appointments, cook their meals, clean their homes or perform many of the other duties involved in caretaking responsibilities. If your parents are sick and require medical assistance the duties to care-take increases not only in performance but in consequences. Do not feel guilty or shamed for making a lunch date with a friend for one or two hours a week, going shopping after work, or taking in a movie. Remember you need time to enjoy your own life. Let your parents know that this date is important if they want you to be happy too. It is not only okay to take this short amount of time for yourself, it is necessary for your own mental and physical well-being. We can have up to 1500 physiological reactions to stress. Caretaking is stressful. Give yourself a way to decrease your stress. It is that important.

3. Take a moment to breathe. Caretaking can feel like a burden even if you don’t want it to. So while you are managing all the responsibilities of appointments and the personal tasks of taking care of someone you love, why not add something enjoyable to the list of chores? Next time you walk into your parents’ home, take a book of poetry or a favorite novel. Read to them to offset the energy you put into the ‘doing’ of it all. Even those in need enjoy the moment of joy and delight in a poem or getting lost in a novel. These moments can lighten up the pressures of getting everything done and connect you to your parents in a more life affirming way. Take a moment to breathe together. Perhaps adding a fresh arrangement of flowers in the middle of a room or painting your mom’s toenails would help. Whatever your parents enjoy, do some of it with them. It just might help to lighten the moment. Sit with a cup of tea and look at old pictures. Ask a minister to come over and pray with all of you. Take the time to slow things down, breathe in the moment and connect in a moment of lightness.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.