Mission Inspiration: Get Wowed: #1

When life gets crazy, inspiration shoots out the window. You look around, think, “man, oh, man…I’m pretty sure there was a little inspiration here yesterday.” But no, you’re running, and inspiration is nowhere to be found.

I’ve been racing around a lot lately—in my head, life, process, work, family, etc.—and as I hunker down into “maker mode” (remember?), I’m inviting inspiration back into my world. In any way it would like to arrive.

So I think I’ll share some of inspiration with you, hoping it might make a difference in your day, too.

The first boost of “wow”?

This dream:

The other night I dreamed that both Anais Nin and Virginia Woolf had a writing ritual called “The Sixth Activity.” They each obsessively wrote about any sixth thing they did, said, or discovered. In one dream scene, Nin was writing about the sixth step in a long staircase. And in another, Woolf was writing about the sixth stone she found on a beach. Woolf also listened for the sixth word in all spoken sentences.

I woke inspired. How could I not?

 

38Write Peregrination: The August Writing Workshop Launches Tomorrow

38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. Lots of good work getting done.


Tomorrow—Saturday, August 25—#38Write | Peregrination launches! This is the third-ever writing workshop in the #38Write monthly series, and I can’t wait to see what the writers put forth on the page. Sixteen writers in 8 countries will be walking and writing:

  • Australia
  • Turkey
  • Chile
  • U.S.
  • U.K.
  • France
  • Belgium
  • S. Korea

Since using Pinterest in the workshop worked so beautifully during the July workshop, I’m using it again, and #38Write writers are already pinning on the group #38Write | Peregrination Pinterest board. (Check it out here.)

Looks like we’re ready to go. Walking shoes are polished, and pens all around the world are poised to write. If you’re curious about #38Write, you can check out the conversation among writers this weekend using the Twitter hashtag: #38Write.

Happy writerhead!

Writerhead Wednesday: The New Season Launches Next Week

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Although I refuse to admit that summer may be heading to a close in just a few short weeks, I am happy to announce that the fall season of Writerhead Wednesday will launch next Wednesday, August 29, with none other than (drum roll, please)…

Erika Robuck

Erika’s second novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL is due in bookstores during the first week of September. You, lovely readers, will be lucky enough next week to tiptoe into her writerhead.

See you next Wednesday!

Mojo Monday: Anais Nin, Dreams & the Highest Form of Living

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”

~Anais Nin

 

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Um, Yes, Summer Hiatus!!!!

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Yuuuuuuupppppppppp! Still on summer hiatus! Eating ice cream, swimming in ponds, picking ticks off my pup, wiping tears when lime Popsicles fall to the ground and trying to instill the lesson of detachment, and all the other wonderful things that summer brings.

But keep the faith! Writerhead Wednesday will back with gusto! And we’ll be sneaking into the writerheads of some amazing authors, like Erika Robuck, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Kate Burak, Marcia Aldrich, Lynda Rutledge, and, oh, many, many more!

See ya soon!

Mojo Monday: Lady Gaga Prefers to Remember in an Artistic Way

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


I think a lot about how writers’ heads work (duh…writerhead) so it was impossible for me not to steal this video from the blog at Brevity magazine. It’s just too “writerheadish” not to feature here. So thanks, Dinty Moore, for bringing it to my attention! And thanks, Lady Gaga!

Writers, how do you remember?

#38Write: Register for the August Workshop Now

#38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. In the July workshop, we had 16 writers in 9 countries!


Looking for a unique writing workshop that nurtures your interest in place, culture, maps, journeys, odysseys, travel, etc.?

Perfect timing…because the next edition of the 38Write writing adventure series—38Write | Peregrination—is now open for registration. (Click over to the CLASSES page for lots more information about this specific workshop and to sign up.)

WHAT IS 38WRITE?

38Write is a writing adventure workshop designed specifically for place-passionate, culturally curious writers that will get you out of your house—no matter where you live—and into your environs.

In June, I launched the first 38Write online writing adventure with 38Write | Description. In July, I continued with 38Write | Structure, whichwent forth with 16 writers in 9 countries. One of the assignments for that workshop was to define culture without using a dictionary, thesaurus, or other reference tool. It sparked some pretty spectacular definitions (read them here) and a lively conversation on Twitter.

THE UNIQUE ASPECTS OF 38WRITE

  • Each writing adventure is 38 hours long. It’s a manageable amount of time that fits into anyone’s busy schedule. (Good gracious, no, you will not be writing or adventuring for 38 hours straight. I’m ambitious for you, but not crazy. You will need approximately 2-4 hours to work during the 38-hour period…give or take an hour.)
  • Each writing adventure will focus on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life. You will not be writing an entire essay or short story (but you might accidentally do so). Some adventures will focus on a skill, like writing kick-butt descriptions; others might get you to look at what inspires you or how you move from idea to writing.
  • During each 38-hour period, you’ll be able to connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. (How cool is that?!)
  • You’ll also get to engage via a Pinterest group board. (Read more about how I use Pinterest in the workshop here.)
  • You will get feedback from me. (For more info about me, click here.)
  • Terrific for folks writing fiction, essays, or memoir.
  • Beginners and experienced writers are welcome and encouraged to join. There are some of each (and everything in between) in every workshop.
  • It’s affordable. A single 38Write writing adventure costs only $38 (U.S.).

WHY DID I CREATE 38WRITE?

While living, writing, and teaching writing in the U.S. and Shanghai, I learned (and/or relearned) a number of things:

    1. Each of us has a heck of a lot to learn from folks in other countries (and not usually the things we think we need to learn).
    2. Story is an international conversation that can help us better understand one another.
    3. By helping writers from all over the world to improve their craft, I can play a wee role in facilitating this global conversation.
    4. Writing is recursive. You must practice. (And if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at getting writers to practice.)

IS 38WRITE FOR YOU?

38Write adventures are designed for all place-passionate writers, including expats and repats, globetrotters, armchair travelers, nomads, cultural spelunkers, deeply rooted souls, mapmakers and mapbreakers, wanderers and wayfarers, voyagers, and all writers interested in exploring and writing about their environs.

So, yup, if you’re asking, 38Write is probably for you.

To learn more and sign up for 38Write | Peregrination, visit CLASSES.

#38Write: How I’m Using Pinterest in the #38Write Writing Workshop

38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag (#38Write) and a group board on Pinterest. The July workshop had 16 writers in 9 countries. It’s pretty darn fun.


When I set out to create #38Write—a monthly series of writing workshops for writers all over the world—I knew I’d have to find ways to help students connect, feel part of a group, communicate with me and one another, deepen their experience, etc. Sure, they’d receive emails from me. Sure, they’d send emails to me. But after teaching writing workshops—online and in person—for nearly 20 years, I knew that wasn’t enough. A workshop—even a remote workshop—needs to offer connectivity, because while actual writing happens one writer to one keyboard/pen, a workshop needs group energy.

During the first workshop (June 2012), I introduced the Twitter hashtag #38Write. It was terrific. Writers in China were tweeting with writers in Australia; writers in the U.S. were tweeting with writers in France; writers in Belgium were tweeting with…well, you see what I mean. It proved to be a great way for writers on different continents and in different time zones to communicate.

Then in July 2012, I added Pinterest to the mix. (stirring, stirring…)

How It Works

  • I create a group board for the workshop on my Pinterest account. (For example, I created a group board for the July 2012 workshop—#38Write | Structure. See it here.)
  • I add each writer in the workshop as a “pinner.” (Of course, writers do not have to participate in the Pinterest board. Not every writer wants to engage in the social media aspects of the class. Some want to get the assignments and work without interaction. That is perfectly fine. Different strokes for different folks.)
  • After I “add” writers, each receives an invitation from Pinterest to be a “pinner” on the group board. It’s all very mannerly.
  • Once writers accept their invitations, the group board also appears on their Pinterest pages, and they can start pinning to the board.

My Intention for Pinterest

Here’s what I said about the Pinterest element to writers in #38Write | Structure:

  • “As you’re working, observing, adventuring, tooling around the Internet, take note of images of cool structural things. Then add them to the 38Write | Structure board. Anything that makes you think. Anything that puts you into writerhead. IMPORTANT: The new Pinterest layer of the class isn’t to replace or displace the writing; and no, I don’t want you to write from a photograph. The Pinterest board simply offers another way to see, to share how/what you see, to get inspired, to connect with other writers in the workshop, to find a jumping-off point, etc.

“For example, a few days ago, I spotted a photograph of a ‘glass frog’ on MV’s Facebook page (MV is one of the writers taking the workshop), and I was compelled to pin it on the 38Write | Structure board—not because I wanted to write about the frog, but because the structure of the frog made me think about the structure of an essay. My thought was, ‘Hm, could I structure an essay this way? An essay with a solid shape but translucent skin through which readers could see the innards? Solid yet vulnerable.’ I immediately jetted off into writerhead…far, far from the actual frog. As writers, we make all kinds of connections from many different stimuli…some direct, some indirect…some concrete, some abstract. As a teacher, I like to offer a variety of ways for writers to happen upon such stimuli. Pinterest is one of those ways.”

 The Benefits of Using Pinterest in a Workshop

  1. communication (People speak visually, as well as verbally; Pinterest allows this all-important visual conversation to happen…despite the miles, oceans, and time zones that separate writers in my workshops.)
  2. cultural exchange (Writers all over the world can share what their neck of the woods looks like, feels like, etc. I was going to say “smells like,” but as far as I know, Pinterest has not yet introduced “Smellerest.” Would be great though!)
  3. think/see — see/think (Writers in the workshops get to “see” how the other writers think, which pushes them to think and see in different ways. This happens organically in a “live-and-in-person” workshop; Pinterest is a great way to nurture this from afar.)
  4. jumping off points for the writing / inspiration (While I don’t encourage or discourage writers to write from a photograph, sometimes a photograph is the inspiration for a piece of writing…or one aspect of a piece of writing. For example, this pinned photo got me going this morning. How could it not?)
  5. group buzz (Yup, for many, Pinterest gets the creative juices flowing. Inspiration is contagious.)
  6. focus (As a writing teacher, I often say, “See it in your mind’s eye” and “Get your readers to see what you see.” Pinterest focuses that eye.)
  7. fun (Ya gotta have fun…)

And there you have it. Pinterest in a writing workshop. Love it.

(If you’re interested in signing up for the next #38Write, click over to the Classes page.)

#38Write: How Do You Define “Culture”?

#38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. In the July workshop, we had 16 writers in 9 countries. It’s pretty darn awesome!


In the July #38Write workshop (#38Write | Structure), I asked writers to define culture without using a dictionary, thesaurus, or other reference. I wanted writers to arrive at their own organic definitions of a term that gets tossed around a lot. For many of the writers, I heard the task proved to be much tougher than they originally anticipated. Here’s what some of them came up with; I love these!

(drum roll…)

“An ever-widening pool of thoughts, ideas, dreams and nightmares turned into staggering physical objects, sounds and words that touch us in various ways and give us a taste of the incredible intricacy of the human mind and soul and perhaps, a peek at immortality.” [Maria, U.K.]

 * * *

“Culture is the armor we put on to protect us from the judgment of others while wielding our own. It is the cloak of conformity protecting us from the marginalization brought on by our two greatest faults. Individuality and free will.

“It is corporate speak, one plus one really does equal three. It is the thought police and politics of fear and division. Red vs. Blue, Rich vs. Poor, if you aren’t with us, you’re against us. It is feeding at the media’s buffet of consumption and disposable consumerism. A hedonistic diet that invites us to insert ourselves into the minutia of others while avoiding empathy.

“It is the simmering pot we find ourselves in, awaiting the boil.” [Sean, U.S.]

* * *

“Culture is created by people to include, alienate, frustrate, bamboozle and inspire others. It is indescribable in entirety—spanning language, music, architecture, food, drink, dress, attitude, smiling, grimacing. It enables or disables relationships, both personal and geographical. Culture is something to be drunk and savoured, to taste. It can never be completely digested, as it is ever-changing in itself and your perception of it. It is the stuff of (your) humanity.” [Michelle, France]

* * *

“Culture is a mother. She tells you bedtime stories, explains who you are, why you’re special, what to believe, defines your choices and boundaries. You let go of her skirt and feel lost, listless, unknown. You build your own stories, day by day. You become a mother.” [Jennifer, S. Korea]

 * * *

“I think of culture as the unspoken rules of play. It’s the inside information that gets us a seat at the cool kid’s table in the lunch room. Over time, culture is formed from the whos, whats, whens, and whys that matter most—life’s decoder ring.” [Laura, U.S]

 * * *

“Culture is what you believe you are. It is the sum of what you have learned by being where and when you have been. It is what you have absorbed from those around you. It is what you believe about what you have been told about who you are.

“Culture is those things you do not see. It is the cloud that surrounds you. The fluffy white cloud you can’t see through, the gray cloud that dims your vision, the scattered wispy clouds that throw barely perceptible shadows. Your cloud is the sum of your family’s miasma, your town’s history, and your country’s storyline. It is the mist that surrounds you and every one is unique.

“When your various clouds cross, or your clouds cross those of others, flashing lights, loud booms, and tumult result.” [Kelly, Turkey]

* * *

“Culture is always tied to place. It’s showing a place the way locals see it in a deeper way, insider knowledge versus the way a tourist sees it skimming only the surface.

“It considers the quality of life of its residents, the little guys who make up the fabric of the city’s neighborhoods. People like you and me. Sense of place is an intangible weave of culture (stories, art, memories, beliefs histories) and the tangible physical components of an area: its rivers, woods, monuments, architectural styles, its pathways and its views. Place also embraces our personal relationships and those who think like us, kindred spirits. This attachment to place, this sense of feeling, is derived from the natural environment, but it also includes a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape.” [Michelle, U.S.]

* * *

“Culture is a society’s folksong of beauty and deformity. It clasps nuances, peculiarities, obscenities and is the overt and hidden essence fine-tuned by breathing in the scenic and ugly pail of humanity. Clouded by human thoughts, its evolution is sorely dependent on random and expected perspective as also geographical thresholds.” [Meena, China]

* * *

“Culture is the derived from the group(s) we are born into and it shapes the way we think, what we say and how we behave in any given situation.” [Diane, U.S.]

* * *

“Imagine a sandwich. Think of a country as that sandwich. Picture the delicious filling that smothers the sandwich’s core and oozes into its every fibre; that binds the sandwich and delivers unique smells, sights, tastes and textures. If a sandwich is a place, then the filling is its culture.” [Russell, Australia]

 

What do you think, readers? How do you define culture?

_________________

If you’re interested in signing up for future #38Write workshops, you can either:

  • send me an email
  • subscribe to the Writerhead blog so that you’ll get the workshop announcement conveniently in your email inbox
  • check back in a week or so for the August workshop announcement (“Classes” page)

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Continued Summer Hiatus, But…

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


As I mentioned last week, Writerhead Wednesday is officially on summer hiatus and will return in even greater glory in a few short weeks. In the meantime, if you’re hankering for a writerhead fix, check out some of the many spectacular past interviews, like the one with Keith Cronin (ME AGAIN) or perhaps Lydia Netzer (SHINE SHINE SHINE). Or maybe you missed the interview with Jefferson Bass (THE INQUISITOR’S KEY). Or—say it isn’t so—you might have missed the writerhead interview with the oh-so-eloquent nonfiction-writing Ned Stuckey-French (THE AMERICAN ESSAY IN THE AMERICAN CENTURY) or his equally eloquent fiction-writing wife Elizabeth Stuckey-French (THE REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE LADY).

And there are so many more.

Happy writerhead! See you soon!