Archive for the ‘13. The Art of Writing’ Category

Intro:  What was I thinking?  I have no excuse for the poor writing presented here, other than the fact that I was a young novice and tinkering with varying writing styles.  I had developed a certain pattern in my poetry up to this point… four stanzas, every other line rhyming.  I’d read a book on writing that suggested identifying such patterns, and then trying to break the boundaries and write something in a different pattern (try it… you’ll like it!).  I had the right idea, but admitedly, didn’t pull it off with much finesse.  But, I promised myself when I created this blog that I’d include all the pieces and parts of me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and this shows the developmental phases I went through as a writer, and as a mother, so I’m keeping it. As a sidenote, no, I had never seen Spiderman and wasn’t aware that my peanut pickin’ pal shared Spiderman’s alter-ego name. *grins*

“Hillary Penelope Plicket Plum”
Written by:
Wendi Friend

Hillary Penelope Plicket Plum,
Shorter than most, but taller than some,
Set out for a day of gardening fun.

With a heart of gold and curls to match,
She skipped down the way to the strawberry patch
And pulled the chain on the gate to unhook the latch,

That unlocks the magic that her garden keeps.
In the bushels of berries that smell so sweet,
She frolics and plays with no shoes upon her feet.

She hums a little tune, “La da da, de de dum”,
Sings Hillary Penelope Plicket Plum,
A very kind, compassionate one.

She tends to her garden come rain or shine.
Through the cold of winter and the heat of summertime,
She cares for her garden without a whimper or a whine.

She does it all – remembering just one thing:
She’ll have sweet, fat berries in the magic of spring.
Then she’ll have strawberry flavored everything!

Like strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam,
‘cause she tended to her garden with her very own hands,
Following through with her special plan.

With ingredients gathered and strawberries grown,
Hillary Penelope Plicket Plum skipped home
And bumped into a boy with a basket of his own!

He was a tall, thin boy with soft, brown hair.
Hillary looked at his basket and asked, “Whatchya got in there?”
“Peanuts,” said the boy, “why do you care?”

“Whatchya gonna do with ‘em?” She asked one question after another.
“If you must know,” replied the boy, “I’m making peanut butter.”
An idea whipped through her mind with a flicker and a flutter!

Hillary looked up at the by and asked, “Hey, there, what’s your name?”
“Peter Parker,” said the boy, “peanut butter is my game.”
“Hillary Penelope Plicket Plum is my name.

“I’ve got an idea for you to contemplate.
It’ll only work if we cooperate.
I’ve got a feeling it’ll work out great!”

As the two skipped home, Hillary shared her plan
With the boy with the basket full of peanuts in his hand,
And he took a liking to Miss Plicket Plum’s plan.

Her plan worked just fine, without one hitch,
And they shared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Most of us won’t deny the power of words – especially those of us who rely on them as tools of our trade. We, as a race, regardless of the language we speak, depend on words to get us through each day. We read words on menus when we order food in restaurants; we rely on words to direct us in traffic. Words are used to comfort children as we sing them a lullaby or tuck them in at night with a bed time story. We depend on words to communicate with each other, and with our own thoughts. Yet, for as much as we recognize and rely upon our need for words, rarely do we value their true power. Words are power! Words… are magick!

In the book *The Four Agreements, author Miguel Ruiz refers to words as white magic and black magic, explaining that every single word we think or speak becomes a spell. That spell then attaches itself to you, the one to whom you’re speaking, or your environment, where it will remain until a more powerful word spell breaks it. Everything you say has power and influence over everything that is. If you tell someone they’re ugly, if they choose to accept the spell, they’ll go home believing they’re ugly. On the same token, if someone has always felt they were ugly and you tell them of their beauty, the attitude that person has from that point forward toward themselves and their environment will be uplifted!

Years ago, I used to go to a highly recommended hair dresser for hair cut and color. Truthfully, I didn’t care for what she did with my hair – but for some reason, I could not break myself away from her. I’d always book a follow up appointment and never cancel or go to anyone else. I didn’t realize, at first, why I felt so drawn to her. After a few more visits with open mind, I found the spell. No matter when I went to see her, she always had something uplifting and positive to say to me. Whether her comments were on my clothes, the color of my skin, my smile, my career, or how well behaved my children were, she always had kind words to share that left me feeling better when I left than I did when I arrived. This was her magic. What she did for my hair didn’t mean nearly as much as what she did for my spirit.

Over the years, I’ve belonged to several writing groups online. In these groups, it is customary to critique and be critiqued. In this practice, I’ve noticed three types of people. There are those who post quite critically, pointing out every flaw in the writing. There are those who reply with a one sentence comment void of true communication (the safe way), and then there are those who are able to bring to light the positive qualities in the writing while gently pointing out room for improvement. Only one of these methods provokes a positive reaction, and that’s the method of carefully chosen encouraging words.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of positive affirmations. To tell yourself something bad is to insure you’ll feel bad, but to remind yourself of the good helps promote the good within. To say you can’t do something will insure that you will continue to not be able to do it. Yet, to say, “I’m having trouble doing something” leaves you an opening for growth and improvement. To say you’ll never make it at something will prove you right, but to say you’re finding it difficult to do will present you opportunity to advance. How many words do you use on a daily basis that hurt yourself or someone else? What kind of words are you using to shape your experiences in life? How many words that you choose to think or use are borne of kind intent or compassionate spirit toward yourself or others? Which of your words are obstacles and which of your words are keys to freedom?

Play a game with words. For 24 hours, be extremely conscious and aware of every word you think or speak. If you can, keep score. If your words are painful, or if they serve as obstacles, mark them on the left side of your paper. If your words are positive and create openings for bettering yourself, encouraging others, or freeing a path, then mark them on the right side of your paper. At the end of the day, tally up the score and measure your contributions to your own circumstance and the pain or pleasures of others. Call this game, “Mark My Words.”

At the same time you play the game, you may choose to play another game that we’ll call, “Eat Your Words.” While you’re measuring up your own use of words, take count of the types of words pointed at you by others. You may be surprised at some of the forms of white and black word magic casting spells on you every time you engage in conversation. If you like what’s being said, if what’s being said is a benefit to you, accept those words as true. However, if you find the spells being cast are harmful, then envision yourself replying with, “Eat your words!” This sends the power of the spell back to the sender, not into your soul.

One period of 24 hours with awareness of words and you may be surprised to discover the types of games people play – and sadly, never even know they’re playing!

Book Title: The Four Agreements
Author: Miguel Ruiz
ISBN: 1878424319
Format: Paperback, 138pp
Pub. Date: November 1997
Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing

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Intro: This is one of my older pieces in which I expressed the realization of what writing does for my soul. More than a hobby, more than a career aspiration, writing has become a form of therapy for me.

“Words from Nowhere”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
March 9, 2002


Black and blue,
it may be true –
my heart is bruised and torn in bits.
This I knew
but still I flew
when Wind would throw her angry fits.

Slightly tethered,
more than weathered,
I clung unto that thing called hope.
Never heard
I wrote my words
and braided them into a rope

to which I’d hold
when the world grew cold
and darkness scoffed and laughed at me.
Hate would scold –
but my words were told
and the rope that held me set me free.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Romance novels… my mother lives on them. I can’t stand them.

When I first started considering writing as a career, due to my mother’s influence, I was under the impression that romance novels were the way to go. But then I read a few, and a few more, and was left with this hollow pit in my core and a sour taste of acid bubbling up from my throat.

Regardless of my reaction to reading them, the fact can’t be denied that romance sells like hotcakes. Women love this stuff… they gobble it up in huge doses and swallow it down with horny glee. Romance novels are the equivalent of soft porn designed for the woman’s libido. Cometh hither, Fabio!

It’s not difficult to find a group of women chattering about their favorite romance author, or the latest best seller, or the newest release. It’s an addiction… gotta have it. Get a book club membership. Become best friends with the librarian. It’s an addiction, an addiction to romance, an addiction to a fairy tale world that doesn’t exist, and in my opinion, is the cause of much un-due stress and unhappiness. How can something so seemingly fulfilling leave a person feeling so empty?

I’ve thought about this long and hard, and as a result, I refuse to read or write novels based solely on romance.

Let me begin at the opposite end of the spectrum and state what I feel works about romance novels.

Romance novels are extremely flowery with delicious words, and the deliciously flowery words are planted in a plush garden of daydreams and fanciful whims. The settings are exotic and described in such vivid detail that they provide the perfect escape from reality, which any “good book” should do. No problems there.

Women deserve an escape. Women deserve to experience exotic locations and, even if through character relation, women deserve (need) to feel sexy and adored; nothing wrong with that. Romance novels are portrayed with such detailed accounts of character and setting that the reader really doesn’t have to stretch themselves at all in order to envision themselves in the plot. That’s just good writing! So what’s the problem?

The problem, in my opinion, is the ability to separate fact from fiction.

I can’t speak for all women or all romance novels, so I won’t even try. However, I will account for my own experiences, which are responsible for my opinions.

I used to enjoy romance novels. Nothing makes a 6-hour plane ride fly by faster than a scrumptious tale of a remarkably chiseled Viking man, with a body to die for, who mysteriously travels through time by way of his sword, discovered centuries later by a beautiful, intelligent, young, modern-day female scientist who just happens to be void of love, passion, and intrigue.

There’s nothing more enchanting than a magical faerie male, quick-witted and sharp tongued, sleek and slick with charisma, who shows up to comfort and challenge a lost damsel in distress who traveled to Ireland to discover her roots. Oh, his charms! Oh, her desires! It’s a perfect match and a sizzling way to burn away time that would otherwise be spent in boredom or depression. So I read. I discovered my favorite romance authors and sought them out the way a starving cat scrounges for scraps. But then, I discovered a trend.

In my opinion, a good book is one that, when you close its end cover, having eagerly lapped up every word, makes you feel fuller in some way… like you’ve gained something, or like you’ve grown in some way. Finishing a good book should feel to the soul the way finishing a good meal feels to the tummy. Romance novels had the opposite effect on me, and each time I’d close the paperback snack, I’d feel like something was lacking,

Now why can’t I have a love like that? Where is my Mr. Right?

When I was single, these feelings weren’t as devastating as they were when I was married. When single, I could hold out the hope that Prince Charming would soon swoop in on his sexy steed, sweep me off my feet, and have me swooning over his every breath. And, when scanning the market for men, it was so easy to go, “Nope, not it. Not it. Not it… Next!” But then heaven have mercy on the soul with a penis who had even a hint of romance in his being. “He MUST be it! He knows romance!” It must be love!

Wedding bells (just like the fairy tale).

Well, the problem with reading romance novels when in an existing relationship is that when the book was done, I’d close the cover and begin to subconsciously compare my real life romance with the fiction I’d just stuffed myself with. The character in the book was so perfect, so smart, so witty, so creative, so sexy, and so well-built… and for goodness sakes, he never blew his nose, farted, got fat, went bald, or snored! Surely, then, I married the wrong character!

Before I’d read the romance novel, my husband (now an ex) seemed next to perfect. After I read the romance, he seemed listless and dull. Without realizing it, I began putting unreasonable expectations on my relationship by constantly dreaming of “the perfect man”.

Women, in my understanding of them, consciously know that what they’re reading is fiction, but subconsciously, they fall in love with these perfect characters and begin to feel dissatisfied in their own lives when comparing their facts to their fiction.

Observation: Most of the women I’ve encountered personally who suffer from extreme depression or dissatisfaction are the women who fill their time, minds, and hearts, with the unrealistic fantasy of “perfect romance” by reading love stories that they hope will become a reality. What’s worse is that in many cases, the women don’t stop believing in “the perfect man”. Instead, they stop believing in their own worth or beauty, or their own ability to attract such a mate. Of course, then they drive themselves mad with the ideas of the perfect female character… if I could just lose 20 pounds, if I just had bigger breasts, then I’d be lovable.

Romance has its place and its value. I don’t discredit the need for romance, or its popularity. However, I don’t believe a novel should be based on romance alone.

I don’t have a single complaint about the way romance novels are written – and they do provide a certain appeal in the way of escapism and fantasy, but in my opinion, they lack true substance and leave the reader feeling empty rather than fulfilled when the story concludes with its unrealistic and inevitable “Happily Ever After.”

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Blogs, otherwise known as online diaries or web journals, are the hottest thing on the Internet today. Virtually everyone surfing the net on a regular or semi-regular basis either has a blog themselves, or has spent time reading blogs. There’s just something about the raw exposure of this “reality internet” that is attractive to people. But the other hand, there’s a vulnerability involved with baring your essentials for the world to feed on in their spare time.

Plenty are the numbers of scorned souls, bleeding hearts, and wounded spirits who have fallen prey to online predators with negative intent. One of two things usually happens to set back or scare off those who are new to the blogging scene. The blog won’t “take off” and isn’t popular and doesn’t stand out in the multitude of seasoned blogs, or the new blogger will get caught up in the excitement of it all, get too comfortable, expose a secret, and then live to regret it when the wrong person finds the post on the web. But the seasoned blogger will tell you: you must find your own creative flavor, and then merge it with good common sense in order to deliver an enticing enough blog to the public without jeopardizing privacy or self-respect.

The first problem new bloggers generally face is what to write. They have read and been entertained by other blogs, and they want their blog to be just as interesting and entertaining, but don’t want to expose anything personal, don’t have any creative insights to express, and aren’t sure how to get the words moving. Here are a few ideas for subjects to get you started that are “safe” concepts to explore and display in public forums, such as blogs:

-Find a quote generator or use a quote book to find random quotations. When you find a quotation that strikes your fancy, copy it down, and then write 400 words or 20 minutes about what your thoughts are regarding the quote.

– Write about books you’re reading and how they make you feel.

– Write about movies you’ve seen recently, and whether or not you liked them.

– Write about your favorite music.

– Write about your funniest moments.

– Write about favorite childhood memories.

The second problem new bloggers encounter is frustration when there’s not enough traffic or response to their blog. There are things you can do to improve public interaction and invite comment.

Make sure you use catchy titles that will change people’s attention from mere initial curiosity to recognition or identification with the subject matter. The title is the first “taste” the viewer gets of the flavor of your blog. A catchy title reels them in.

Your first paragraph should further entice the reader and draw them in to the post. If the first paragraph is boring, confusing, or somehow offensive, the viewer will close the screen and move on to the next blog.

Try posting questions within the body of your blog entry, such as, “Can you believe this guy?” or “Is she for real?” It may seem like an innocent, rhetorical question to self, or “cyber-space”, but the viewer is more likely to answer if a question has been stated somewhere in the post.

Make your blog attractive. Dress it up with bells and whistles while at the same time making it easy to navigate. Adding photos, colors, designs, favorite quotes, jokes, favorite links, or other trinkets and treasures make the viewer want to stay and play.

Consider posting quizzes and fun games that can be interactive with readers, such as online quizzes they can take themselves, or “games” they can play along with you. One woman kept a blog and communicated with those posting on her blog message boards. After she’d identified her following, a group of people who were staying with her and revisiting the blog, she hosted a “jeopardy” type game in which she quizzed the viewers on facts disclosed in former diary entries. All the participants had a great time and continue to go back to her blog.

Update your blog often, adding new interesting topics, conversations, and interactive activities. People have a tendency to stop visiting a site that looks the same every time they visit. Keep it active, mix it up.

Take the time to visit the blogs hosted by people who frequent your blog. It’s only polite and spreads the love around. If someone has been to your blog and has posted to you a few times, it would only be right for you to visit their blog and make a few posts. If they don’t have their blog information listed where you can find it, such as in a user profile, and then ask them directly if they have one. They’ll be honored you reached out to them personally. If you don’t repay the kindness and show courtesy to your fellow bloggers, they’ll get bored with you and go elsewhere. Many bloggers intentionally seek out friendships in this way and for this purpose.

A seasoned blogger will tell you that there are risks involved with keeping blogs. Blogs are often used for raw expressions, venting, or for working through difficult situations. In many cases, things are stated that are later regretted. When the blogger has an unidentifiable screen name and no personal information disclosed, the risks are less, but the blog is less interesting to users. However, many people host blogs that have their first and last name, hometown, and other personal information that identify them to viewers. In cases where your identity is not hidden, there are things you can do to help protect yourself from internet dangers.

Use common sense and never post your home address or telephone number in a public forum.

Use nick names or pseudonyms for every person of whom you speak in your blog entries, including kids, spouses, friends, and the schmuck at work who pissed you off this morning. Don’t use real names when talking about other people online. It can and will come back to haunt you.

Learn to speak or write in ways that use metaphors and imagery to explore subjects that can’t be disclosed but need to be expressed.

If your real first and last name are appearing on or can be discovered within the content of your blog, do not confess to doing anything illegal or immoral. It can be used against you.

There are plenty of free blogs available online, and an immeasurable amount of how to articles or opinionated prose on blogs, online diaries, and web journals. What are you waiting for? Get yourself a free blog, deck it out with the bells and whistles, adorn it with groovy titles and fun challenges, produce it with common sense, maintain it with integrity, and enjoy the “reality internet” wave of blogging. Before you know it, you, too, will be a seasoned blogger.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Writing, in my opinion
Is like an incredibly intense orgasm

Not all the time, of course
But there are powerful sensations
In penetrating inspirations
That tickle you to the very core of your soul
Not every stroke of the pen
Brings such a pleasurable liquid release
Not all breaths are cut short
With disbelief or overwhelming affection
But there are such pieces
That do bring such releases
And while it empties you, it makes you whole

Swollen with anticipation
Riding the waves of ecstasy
As they cause you to quiver
And quake
Hoping that those receiving
Can feel the tremor too
It moves you through and through
With a climax as the goal

That’s what writing is, in my opinion.
Writing is like an incredibly intense orgasm

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Through experience I can tell you that writing, trying in and of itself, can be quite the challenge when there are children on hand demanding attention. To be hot on the heels of a fantastic thought process only to be interrupted by a two year old who needs to go potty is the most frustrating experience a writer can have.

Just as your main character comes into focus, nearly transparent and quickly fleeting, the baby wakes from her nap for her afternoon feeding, chasing your character far beyond reach. Arrgh! Writing a hot love scene for a romance novel can be cooled quickly by a pre-teen who wants to know what he can have for a snack and when dinner is going to be ready! One might think that balancing two loves – the love of children and the love of your writing career – might be a far fetched fantasy. However, with a few good tricks and a whole lot of patience (with yourself and your children), it is possible to reach the dreams of being a great parent AND a great writer!

Without tying them up in a closet or placing them in front of the insta-sitter television set, there are ways to occupy your children for reasonable amounts of time while you get in touch with your muse. When children are in their infancy stages, a writer can plan writing increments while the baby is sleeping. But, once that baby hits the terrible twos, you’d better have a back up plan!

When my first son reached the age of two, I found that he was easily entertained at his own pseudo desk. I flipped a cardboard box upside-down and told him that was his desk, placing it next to mine. My desk had a coffee cup full of different colored pens and pencils, so it only made sense that his desk should have the same. Knowing better than to give him one of my glass cups, I got a plastic disposable cup, filling it with crayons and set it on the corner of his Box. Wouldn’t ya know he’d notice that Mommy’s desk was full of notebooks? That problem was easily solved with a carefully chosen selection of coloring books. A pair of plastic toy frames made him look just as professional as Mommy did in her glasses. Children love to play pretend, children love to play grown up and children love to mimic their parents. With a little cooperation from you, your child can play his favorite games right under your nose while you get some work done. But, be careful not to work too long. Take small breaks to play with your child, to take turns showing each other the work you’ve produced.

As my child grew, he wanted to help with everything I was doing. At first, this was frustrating for me because I wanted to write my own words in my own time. But eventually, he taught me that at times, his words and ideas were much better than mine. Children have a magical way of viewing the world, a fresh outlook on life. By taking the time to listen to your child’s suggestions, you may get the help you need in overcoming such beasts as writer’s block! Eventually, with the help of my son, I found myself writing a series of rhyming stories for children. Carrying on that tradition with my other kids, I found that we wrote excellent poetry together! Not only did my writing get the boost it needed, but my children grew to be fantastic writers themselves!

My children and I loved to go to the library together. To them, it was an outing to an adventurous place filled with more books than they could count. For me, it meant getting the research materials I needed to complete my project. For us, it meant spending time together as a family. What’s more, is that since I was in the practice of writing books for children, then reading books with my children counted as research!

Keep a notebook in the rest room, in your glove box, in your purse and wherever else you find yourself sitting still or standing in line. I used to write some of my best pieces while waiting in my car outside the school for the bell to ring and children to come running. Try keeping a hand held recorder with you. When you don’t have time to write out the inspirational flow, you can catch keywords and phrases on cassette and write them down later. When your writing flow begins to tire, try playing with your kids for a break. That way, when the inspiration returns, your children won’t feel neglected and you won’t feel like you’ve neglected them. When everyone’s too cooped up in the house, try taking the wee ones to the park! They can play and exhaust their energies while you write and exhaust your muse!

These are just a few ideas written from experiences I’ve had with my own children and career. Of course, it’s not always easy and the muse and/or children don’t always cooperate. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and the balancing act can be achieved as long as you have patience with yourself and your kids.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Next time you’re sitting at odds with your muse, try setting down your pen and picking up a photo album. What may seem like a “lack of productivity” may actually produce a large range of benefit. Writers often try to overcome writer’s block by writing something, when actually, what we need to do is rest our creative brains, feed them, and allow them to rejuvenate. Sifting through old photos will not only occupy the writer during down time, but may also stimulate memories, characteristics, story lines and raw emotion, with which to return to writing.

One way to use old photos while writing is to pick one photo at random and begin your writing with the sentence, “I remember when….” Knowing that you’re simply strolling down memory lane for your own benefit rather than trying to create something profound for publication, you’ll be more apt to be honest with yourself and less concerned with your choice of words. Writing for and from personal experience, any number of things might appear before your pen runs out of ink, or your mind of ideas. Often times, we’ll uncover some sort of emotional blanket that has kept our creativity well covered. By exploring that emotion, we can then transfer it into a character or an article, or have it removed from the course as an obstacle. In this way, old photos can help us uncover the emotion that has been buried beneath the inner editor’s logic.

Old photos can also provide fascinating characters for our story line. For example, let’s say that you need a male character in his sixties who is quiet, but intelligent, dependable yet unpredictable and is comfortably nestled into a certain financial status. Maybe grandpa fits the bill! Maybe you have a picture of Uncle George that spawns the energy to write about an obnoxious character who smokes cigars and tells stupid jokes. We can never tell Grandma to her face how terrible her hairdo was last Thanksgiving, but we sure can slap that hairdo on a character and let other characters make fun of it for us. Using people in photos to enhance characters in fiction is a great way to keep the pen moving.

Reminising over old photos of family members and ancestors is also a remarkable mental trigger. Words fail me in attempts to describe the effects caused by stepping into the past and learning from our elders, but a thought process is stimulated in great force just the same. My favorite old photograph, as a child, was that of my great grandmother Olinger with her almond shaped eyes. She comforted me from her position in that picture. Her eyes told stories, which I could then transfer to paper with my own words and thoughts. Though the old photo was void of color and torn on the edges, to me, it was priceless. Faces trapped in time.

One of my personal uses of photos is to look at old photos of myself. By looking at where I’ve been and combining it with where I am, I have a better sense of self and direction. Sometimes, I’m blocked creatively because I’m dealing with a personal spiritual issue, having lost touch with myself. The only way to get back in touch with creativity, at that point, is to get back in touch with myself. Old photos is a great way to get that done.

Old photos don’t always have to come out of your personal collection in order to stimulate writing. Try picking up one of those seven year old magazines collecting dust on your bookshelf. Due to the dating, you’ll probably not find an article of current interest. However, by sifting through the photos, some image could stimulate a “then and now” or a “what ever happened to” kind of article or story. Seeing a picture of a flower in a gardening magazine might stimulate some creative masterpiece about nature. You just never know what ideas are waiting to happen.

Also, for a neat twist on old photos, try having your photograph done in “old west” style! There’s nothing like seeing yourself in a fancy lace gown with a wide-rimmed, flower-covered hat! Make yourself the character!

When you suffer from writer’s brain freeze, try resting your eyes from words and letting it absorb images. It changes the whole perspective. Believe it or not, there really are some pictures that are worth a thousand words.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

“If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.” -Goethe- —-

What does being a writer mean to me?

Being a writer is not about having an abundance of too-big-to-use words found in a dictionary.

Being a writer is not about knowing where to put a comma or a hyphen.

Being a writer is not about properly formatting what you’ve written to fit somebody else’s standards.

Being a writer is not about being published.

Being a writer is not about fame or fortune.

Being a writer is not about being able to lace together a few choice words with elegant style.

Being a writer is more than being able to write two poems and half a romance novel.

Being a writer is more than having raw talent.

Being a writer is dedication first and foremost to the best sense of self one can find. How does one find that distant sense of self?

By writing their way directly into the core of the ugliest, most difficult to face parts of themselves; turning it inside out, wiping it off with a sponge, hanging it out to dry in a cool spring breeze, refreshing it with a coat of creativity, then wearing it again with pride.

Being a writer is about soul-diving, finding vacant lots and filling them up; finding wounds and discovering ways to heal them. Writing is about free falling into the all that is within you…… with your eyes open, knowing that there’s nothing to hold on to but yourself and your dreams.

Being a writer is not an occupation, it’s a way of life.

Being a writer is seeing a “for sale” sign on an old abandoned house and visualizing in an instant the characters who occupied it, where they went, why they left and what each trait of each character in that house would have been, had you been there to witness that life.

Being a writer is being able to stare rejection in the face and say, “That’s okay. I knew you were comin’, I can wait ’til I’m ready. It’s not personal.”…… and then crying in bed for two days wondering why you weren’t good enough to be accepted.

Being a writer is about waking up in the middle of the night with a half thought in mid-flight out of no where heading towards unknown destinations; but stopping long enough to nag you out of bed to get a pen; and keep you up ’til it’s finished exhausting it’s purpose for waking you, whatever that may be.

Being a writer is about staring at blank pieces of paper wondering where the first drop of ink is going to come from or lead to.

Being a writer is about being honest, real, open, aware and raw. You can always spell check and have what you’ve written corrected grammatically.

Being a writer is a gift. But to write something that is clear, you must be clear about what it is you’re writing.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

‘The Zone’, have you heard of it? No, it’s not a dance club or a drug induced state. The zone is that mysterious place of mystical inspirations where writers travel when magic strikes. Regardless of whether the writing takes form in poetry, song, essay, novel or otherwise, there’s a realm in which our bodies go on auto pilot while our imaginations soar to new levels, open new doors, see through new windows and bring back a little bit of that magic to this reality through the craft of writing.

This is the realm where the hand can’t possibly write or type fast enough to keep up with the exciting flow of thought after thought trying to emerge. This is the place where we hope and pray that the phone doesn’t ring, the kids don’t interrupt, the significant other doesn’t need your attention, no one pushes the doorbell so you can just get the thoughts out in raw form where they’ll wait to be buffed and fluffed at a later, more appropriate time. This is the place where the posture is just a tad bit improved, the adrenaline pumps through you at a faster, more pronounced rate and your mind revs up with potential and momentum. This is ‘the Zone.”

Perhaps you’re writing a novel. Perhaps you’re writing a poem. You could be writing in your journal or preparing content for a press release or a newsletter. No matter what the task, the first type of writing to emerge must be raw writing.

In manuscript, song and poetry writing, we sometimes call this draft one, or a “rough idea.” In this draft, we don’t need to pay any mind to punctuation, spelling, grammar or any of the annoying rules of writing. No, we can get carried away with ourselves, unleash our creativity and let it roll at high speeds until the muse exhausts herself! Then we walk away, equally as exhausted as the muse, satisfied with our progress. We know we’re not finished, but the lift off can be climatic. This is where the entire creation to be is conceived. Once we’ve moved into the act of revisions and editing, the process becomes much less magical – and much more a pain in the ass. The writing raw is the magic part, it’s when the ideas spring forth from that invisible realm of storytelling, myth, legend and possibility, joining with our mortal ability to translate it with words and style for whatever purpose.

In journal writing, raw is imperative. In my personal collection, I have about fifteen different journals, several of which are written in at a time. In fact, on my desk at this moment are five journals – one an Egyptian style hard cover journal, the second is also a hard cover journal with two moons facing each other, joined at top and bottom with the word “forever” across the top. The others are just simple college-ruled spiral notebooks. Each is dedicated to a separate topic. I find that when I’m writing raw and in the zone, my thoughts scatter. I find it difficult to focus on just one thing at a time. My ideas are spread about, so my journals are, too. Some entries are dated and followed by two or three pages worth of detailed handwriting. Other times, the entries are dated, timed and start with, “I only have ten minutes before I have to get in the shower and run out the door because I’m late as usual, but I had this thought I didn’t want to lose, so here’s the basic concept and I’ll explore the idea further later.”

Through writing consistently in various journals, I’ve found certain patterns in my life, character and behaviors. For example, if I don’t have time to write raw and let my thoughts fall where they may, I get extremely irritable. Not only do I get irritable, but I get terribly disorganized. Being disorganized and irritable, I get disconnected from myself and my surroundings. This is where I begin to suffer from depression. Just as easily as I fall, I can crawl back out of the hole by the use of a pen, paper and raw thoughts. Raw thoughts are thoughts like, “How did I get here?” “What am I doing?” “Why did this happen?” “What should I do now?” “What do I really want?” “How do I really feel?” And so forth.

For a long time, I had myself convinced that writing in any form was equal to writing in any other form, therefore, if my journals got neglected, it wouldn’t matter as long as I still produced a certain word count for that particular day, week or month. Just keep the hand moving, that was the motto. While that motto did most certainly take me to places of learning and skill, as well as being in a state of high productivity, they did nothing for my muse and she began to wither like a little prune. I drove her hard with technical jargon and corporate style and she did so very well at all her tasks, but I realized just in the nick of time that writing in one form is not equal to writing in any other form. It’s important to produce what the spirit wants to write – those dreamy ideas that burst through us without warning, in strange places, compelling us to write them down before they return to the invisible realm of magical thoughts.

No matter what type of writer you are, or how many ways you freelance or publish your work, one can never forget the priceless process of writing raw. Every once in a while, you must close the door on reality and follow your muse wherever she leads and enjoy the glorious process of writing raw.

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