free the pen, a blog for writers

April 17, 2014

Inspiration of Writing to Heal

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 6:25 pm

Please welcome a colleague writing facilitator who is an inspiration to writing to heal.

To Write, To Heal – By J.L. Powers

All of my life, I have been obsessed with healing. Growing up in the evangelical Christian faith, we were taught from an early age to believe that God heals and to expect healing, sometimes in miraculous ways.

I went out of my way as a teenager and in my early twenties to see God heal. I think I had a false belief that if I could just see something miraculous, I’d know for real—for really, really, certain sure—that God is real.

I never saw a miracle.

I should amend that. I never saw a miracle until I gave birth and gazed into the face of my newborn son, the most beautiful thing that I’d ever seen, and I knew somehow that I was also looking upon the closest thing I’d ever get to seeing the face of God.

As a writer, not surprisingly, my books focus on this question of healing. What does it mean to seek healing—from others, from God, from the universe, from ourselves? What does healing look like? Can we ever find it? These are questions I ask about all levels of healing—physical, spiritual, emotional.

I grew up feeling broken—perhaps a truth, or perhaps a byproduct of the brand of religion stamped on me at an early age. As an adult, a pastor figure once said to me, with a tone that approached fond exasperation, “Jessica, maybe you don’t need healing. Maybe you’re already healed.”

For me, this exploration of deep questions about what it means to be a whole and healthy human being in and of itself is a healing exercise. My writing is a constant expression of faith in the human need to seek truth and light and love, and that art is a place where it exists, where we can keep returning our bruised selves to find what we need to carry on.

J.L. Powers is the award-winning author of 3 novels for young adults and the editor of two collections of essays for adults. Her first picture book, Colors of the Wind: The story of blind artist and champion runner George Mendoza, is forthcoming in September 2014. Her website is  She teaches writing at Skyline College in California and is currently co-teaching a class with her mom on writing family stories at Story Circle Network.

Keep the pen moving!

Jan, CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

April 15, 2014

Writing Memoir to Heal Your Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 1:38 pm

anduze2004Writing about your life is a wonderful and powerful way to understand events and their purpose. Often situations won’t seem to fit into how you thought your life should play out but upon further speculation they fit perfectly into what you eventually learned or where it led you.

The topic of your memoir can be about one incident or a theme that runs through your life. Make a chart listing every year of your life.  For each year list the significant events, things you learned, change in directions your life took, and losses and gains. Is there a theme that runs through it all that inspires you to write? Are there events on your chart that  taught you important lessons? These are great places to start taking notes to see if you get inspired to continue.

Writing memoir has meaning for our lives. It teaches us the value of what we have lived through and reminds us of new paths to lead us to a better life. We get to uncover, discover, and recover from life’s events through the power of writing deeply. Memoirs leave legacies for our children so they know their ancestors. Knowing our ancestors give us a piece of ourselves.

Keep the pen moving.

Jan Marquart

CEO and Founder of About the Author Network


April 3, 2014

Earth, Air, Fire and Water: Using the Tarot to Inspire Your Writing Practice

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 9:08 pm

Tania PBy Tania Pryputniewicz
Ever been curious about the Tarot or wondered how it could inspire your writing? Here’s a gentle way to approach the Tarot, whether you are getting ready to go out and purchase your first deck or you have a deck sitting around the house you’ve meant to open. Or perhaps you want to deepen your understanding of the cards you currently use. You’ll find a wealth of Tarot decks and great diversity regarding interpretations for each card, but typically, a deck consists of Major Arcana or “soul” cards meant to depict stages of the “hero’s journey” of incarnation over the span of a lifetime as well as Minor Arcana cards meant to depict the hero’s “mundane” or daily journey. These Minor Arcana cards, Ace through Ten, are divided into four ways of experiencing our circumstances: through the element of earth (material comforts and hearth–represented often by pentacles), air (intellect and mind–swords), fire (passion and will–wands), and water (emotion and heart–cups). Here’s a Four Elements Notebook Exercise to try:

  1. Acquire four notebooks: one for each element: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Image hunt for covers that reflect your associations with each element or if inclined, create your own artwork or collage for each notebook cover.
  2. Begin to record your experiences of each of the elements daily, weekly, or monthly as best supports your writing practice. You might start with a seed question for each suit: Earth: Home and hearth mean the following to me… Air: I point the arrow of my thoughts in the following directions… Fire: I am passionately motivated in my life in the following ways…. Water: I offer/receive the cup of love in the following ways…
  3. When ready, add to this practice the selection of a Tarot card from each suit to place out in view on your writing desk. Give yourself a set amount of time (day, week, or month) to live with the card. At the end of your chosen time-frame, explore your living experiences in relation to the cards you drew for each element. Pace the exercise appropriately for you—focus on one element at a time if you prefer.

You might also team up with a writing companion. Meet to write together and/or to share and read aloud from your Four Elements Journals. Having the reflective mirror of another mind when interpreting the cards, especially in relation to yourself, helps keep your outlook optimistic, helps keep you accountable to your writing schedule, and is undeniably a fabulous way to deepen a friendship. Tania Pryputniewicz teaches Blogging and Tarot classes for Story Circle Network. Her debut poetry collection will be published in 2014 by Saddle Road Press; new poems are forthcoming at Chaparral and Poetry Flash on-line. Co-founding blogger for Mother, Writer, Mentor, Pryputniewicz writes about Transformative Blogging practices at her main website and blogs about the weave of motherhood and writing at Feral Mom, Feral Writer. Related links: An article in Tiferet journal about the practice of writing about a “Tarot card of the month,” by Tania’s tarot companion Mary Allen: Underneath the Tarot Moon A link to the current tarot class at Story Circle Network: Exploring the Minor Mentors of Tarot: A Tour Through the Suits

Thank you Tania for your inspiration and wisdom.

Keep the pen moving!

Jan CEO and Founder of About the Author Network

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