Writing Practice, Awareness–Monday Meanderings


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Recently, I returned to a writing practice that I adopted a number of years ago after reading Heather Sellers little guide, “Page after Page.” An author I quoted last week, Sellers, a University professor who teaches creative writing, offers tons of advice and exercises for both the seasoned and would-be writer.

The practice that I’m referencing today (and have alluded to in previous posts) is that of jotting down 10 things that you observe each day. For me, in addition to its use in sensory description, it is a valuable Zen-like process that tunes me in to awareness.

For the purpose of writing, I have a collection of inexpensive writing journals that I picked up years ago at the dollar store—you guessed it—a dollar each. I like to use mechanical pencils for my handwritten work. I like how they glide across the paper and, since I’m left-handed, how they don’t smear like other writing implements. As I go, or at the end of the day, I jot down my notes, numbered 1-10. Sometimes they are banal, unpoetical:

A fat black lab, panting in the heat.

Often enough, they are terse little stand-alone poems such as this one that morphed into a Haiku:

Autumn Green

Shadows melt into
jade undulating velvet
on the eighteenth green.

And even unpoetical ones can be manipulated at a later date to become a poem or a description in a piece of fiction:

I found last week’s paper in the garden, dirty and wet.

Fear-Mongering

I found last Tuesday’s newspaper—soggy, torn—
half-buried in a corner by the geraniums.
The crisis predicted on page one
had slipped, unfulfilled,
into obscurity.

It’s possible to combine them, too. For example I created the poem I posted for dVerse Open Link Night on Saturday entirely from observations I had jotted down years ago (and how I wish for those storms that I wrote of in the first part now that we face significant drought in Reno.)

So, to those poets and writers who read my blog, I invite you to give this exercise a try. And even if you aren’t a writer, try it. You will be surprised how easy it is to miss so much of the complexity of life when not tuned into awareness.

Have an “eye-wide-open” week!

Photo: wallpho.com

Photo: wallpho.com

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16 thoughts on “Writing Practice, Awareness–Monday Meanderings

  1. Pamela says:

    Excellent write-up, Victoria. I like the “fear mongering” poem. It says quite a bit in a few lines. Have a nice holiday weekend.

    Pamela ox

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  2. Great idea, Victoria! I started a Gratitude Journal when my marriage was falling apart. That sounds wrong. I wasn’t grateful that my marriage was falling apart; I needed to focus on uplifting things to help me through the decidedly depressing, confusing and painful days/nights.

    The observations I made helped me when I wrote my memoir. They were brief and often had nothing to do with what was going on in the relationship (or lack thereof), but helped jettison me back to that time and mindset. I treasure those journals.

    I keep a journal now, because it was my practice to write before bedtime and my guy and go to be together. I feel odd writing in a journal in front of him and writing at other times just doesn’t happen. I could make it happen, I suppose…but so much time is going into the writing I do on the computer. Excuses! Excuses! I can hear you! 🙂

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  3. Maintaining a writing discipline like you mention is really about maintaining a journal of what remains our passion and which we need to sustain awareness. I believe this can work for any area. So what stops us doing it?

    Shakti

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  4. I’ve done something similar to this for years with my gratitude journals. I don’t write a specific number of things down. I may go back and re-read some to see if I could get inspiration. A good way to get inspired.

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  5. Sabra and Viv, you will find it a lot of fun, This morning I jotted down 7 of them while I walked the dogs–and they loved it ’cause I stopped to write in shady places where they had things to sniff!

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  6. scillagrace says:

    A great exercise for mindfulness. I wake for thunderstorms, open the windows and love the many observations showering me: the breeze on my naked feet, the smell of rain and earth, the polyrhythms of drops on the metal porch roof. Being alive is marvelous!

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  7. brian miller says:

    very cool…i have never counted them…and i probably fall short of 10…but that is how most of my poems start…little observations from my day jotted down in my notebook…ha…i like the one on the paper found…i will have to see if i can get 10 today.

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  8. Mary says:

    I like that practice, Victoria!! It makes sense to me, and I did like the poem you had created for dVerse from your old observations.

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  9. Sabra Bowers says:

    Loved reading this. I’ll begin, too.

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  10. Great idea – I’ll give it a go.

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