free the pen, a blog for writers

July 28, 2014

Finding Fresh Ideas for Writing

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams — freethepen @ 1:27 pm

sabneraznik2012-1Four Simple Ways to Find Fresh Writing Ideas

by Sabne Raznik

We all need fresh ideas for writing projects. With all the responsibilities we have, there is little time for reflection, and that is required for good, thoughtful, insightful writing. What can we do to facilitate reflection?

  1. Get up a half hour earlier or stay up a half hour later. A half hour isn’t long, but it may be all you need to quiet your mind, process your emotions, and your observations, as well as mentally organize them so that you can use the insights you gain in that extra half hour of purposeful thought to generate beneficial ideas.
  2. Be aware and observant through your day. We tend to rush through our days more attuned to our to-do list than to our environment. Make yourself notice something new in the mundane every day, even if it’s just the texture of a wall. This is how you gather “data” that you can sort later during your extra half hour for insight.
  3. People watch. This was one of my favorite games as a child. I would sit somewhere and make up stories to go with the people who passed by. Life is all about “hurry up and wait”. When you’re waiting in a line or in traffic, take note of other people around you. Those people will hand you ideas on silver platters without even realizing it.
  4. Take notes. Keep a small notebook and pencil on you at all times. Write down any useful ideas and phrases that randomly pop in your head through the day. Get these notes out and go over them during your extra half-hour. Refer to them when you sit down at the computer.

Finding fresh ideas is a mind-set and requires reflection. These simple life tweaks will make all the difference.

About Sabne Raznik:

She is an internationally published poet, writer, book reviewer, photographer, guest blogger, singer/songwriter, and sketch artist with two poetry collections – full length Following Hope and art book Marrow. You can reach Sabne at the links below:
Thank you Sabne, I know these tips will inspire my readers. Keep the pen moving! Jan


July 24, 2014

Titan Arum

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams — freethepen @ 2:28 pm

                                                         Titan Arum

MarilynblogBy Marilyn Ashbaugh

Envy is a titan arum. The corpse flower rarely blooms but when it does, people become flies, smelling rotting flesh and desiring to be a part of it. It’s beauty is juxtaposed amid its putrefaction, and therein lies its enigma, its mystery. And so envy in the writer’s garden can, with proper cultivation, become beauteous. To a dung beetle its fetid odor smells of opportunity.

Every writer begins as a reader, oftentimes one with a ravenous appetite. Who doesn’t wish to live in the parallel universe created by a good read? The fascination with words is the breadcrumb trail that leads the reader to dip her toe into the writer’s pond. There she becomes Narcissus, never wishing to leave its reflective potential. Envy is the nostalgia of a dream, viewed in another’s writing. The longing feels like a piece is missing, left behind on some jagged river rock of a rough draft. An unsuspecting writer finds and polishes smooth a similar idea. The polished writing attracts a green-eyed predator. Oh, to desire and not possess.

There is an antidote. Aristotle refers to envy as the close cousin of emulation. Emulation takes envy’s malignancy and makes it benign. The diamond has many facets because of the cutter’s skill. I take as my inspiration the diamond of another’s writing, translate it into my own voice, polish it with my experiences and picture it through my soul’s lens.

Things are worthwhile when we seek them; only then do we know their value.

Hazrat Inayat Khan.

About Marilyn: Marilyn Ashbaugh is a philanthropist, writer, mobile photographer and master organic gardener. She is founder and director of Yoga Michiana providing grants to all spiritual traditions for over 20 years.

Thank you Marilyn. It has been a pleasure having you speak to my writing audience.

Keep the pen moving!


July 19, 2014

Journaling and Writing are Soul Mates

Filed under: writing techniques — freethepen @ 12:58 pm

Journaling and Writing are Soul Mates

by Mari L. McCarthy

I am a journal writing therapist. I believe passionately in the power of daily pen-to-the-page journaling to heal, grow, and become the person we were meant to be.  But the practice of journal writing provides more than therapy. One of the wonderful benefits of a regular journaling practice is improvement in your writing skill.  When you play a musical instrument, you practice playing scales. Journal writing is like playing scales for other kinds of writing. Like a beloved soul mate, journaling improves, encourages, and adores your “real-world” endeavors of all kinds.  Just playing with the tools, the words, the composition of thoughts and stories is the kind of practice journaling allows. You’re not required to be entertaining; you need not be an accomplished writer in your journal. All you want to do is express, tell the story, unload the heartache, voice the joy. There’s no objective, apart from completing your daily entry.

Journaling is you speaking to you, which is a nicely safe space. But it’s actually not speaking at all – it’s writing, and that involves words and paper and pen and that magical transformation that happens with any clear articulation. As soon as you can describe, tell, communicate any message or story, you free it to live and transcend and grow. So how exactly does this intimate everyday ritual of journaling relate to you as a writer of published works? Journaling is all very well, but those handwritten notebooks live comfortably on the shelf. Your published work, on the other hand, is out there for all the world to see. What’s the connection between them?

Well, there are many answers to that question. Here are just a few:

  1. Journaling is a writing habit you practice regularly, so it is naturally very likely to improve your ability to write with ease.
  2. Journaling that is pen-to-page involves neuromuscular development and coordination of body and mind. In our digital age, there’s little opportunity to exercise the hand’s creativity, but when we do practice working with the hands, we notice many benefits.
  3. Journaling is introspective and invites free expression, helping to loosen up your access to honest, raw emotions.
  4. Journaling shows us better who we are and this knowing makes our published work more honest.
  5. Journaling helps us find solutions to problems, and we can use the same process in our writing that is meant for an audience. Read over the stories you have told, the knots that have unraveled (or not!) in your journal, and mimic their progress in the writing you do for publication.

A musician does scales. A painter sketches constantly. An entrepreneur dabbles in initiatives; a politician talks and talks some more. Every passion has its practice soul mate.

  • Are you a beginning writer? Then journal to discover your unique voice and the stories that you feel compelled to tell.
  • Are you an intermediate writer? Then journal to deepen your effect.
  • Are you an advanced writer? Then journal to keep yourself honest!

A writer journals because the business of writing is writing; and journal writing is the most efficient and effective way to hone that skill every day!


Mari L. McCarthy is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Create Write Now (, the Transform Your Life Journaling Place. She offers counseling and encouragement to journal writers through her many online Journaling for the Self of It TM resources, as well as private consultations. Mari’s the community manager on the CreateWriteNow Facebook page and she often leads online journaling challenges. Mari lives in Boston where she raises roses and consciousness.

Thank you Mari for this fabulous article and I encourage all my readers to check out Mari’s blog and sign up for her newsletter. You won’t be sorry.

As always, keep the pen moving,




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