Welcome to Writing A Life!
I invite you to join me on a journey of creativity and discovery. Together we can create the lives we were born to live.
You’re Assignment For The Week
Every week I’ll post a writing assignment that is in tune with the subject of the blog post. There is no right or wrong way to do them, and no one is going to see them except you. The idea is to get used to using writing as a tool to open up your heart and mind to the changes you can make in your life just by seeing them come alive on paper. Have fun with them. Don’t treat them as “life-or-death, must-get-it-right” assignments. Treat them as you would any other tool in your tool box. Most of all, be open and honest when you are writing. Write from your heart. Now let’s get started.
Read this week’s blog post: “Finding Our Way Out Of The Tunnel.” Think back to the last time you were in a bad mood where you believed there was no logical explanation for it. Or, if you can’t think of one, try to remember a time when you blamed someone or something else for a bad mood you were in. When you have it, set the timer for 10 minutes and write about how you felt and what you believed was the cause. When you’re done, set the timer for another 10 minutes and ask yourself the questions I asked in the blog post. Basically they are: “What? Why? Really?” Then ask yourself the final two questions: “How would I like to feel, and what can I do to get moving in that direction?” You will probably need to set the timer for another 10 minutes. Come up with a list of at least 3-5 things you can put on your “Go-To” list when you need a boost out of a bad mood. When you’re done, put what you have written away and take it back out the next day to read. Does anything you’ve written surprise you? Have you discovered a pattern of behavior you didn’t realize you were following? Or, do you see a new tool to use in creating your authentic life? Whatever you’ve uncovered, write about it now.
Read this week’s blog: “Who Are You Pointing To?” Then set the timer for 10 minutes. The first part of this assignment will be to spend 10 minutes preparing a list of questions that you would answer about yourself if you were filling out an online survey. You can take it from the easy questions, such as: “What’s your favorite color/food/season, etc.” to more in-depth ones like: “What makes you smile? Who is your hero? What would you do with a million dollars?” When the time is up, set the timer for at least 20 minutes and answer the questions. If you need more time, take it, but don’t make this a do-or-die assignment. The point is to have fun and get to know yourself better. When you are done, put your work away and take it out the next day to read. Did you find out something interesting about yourself, or re-discover a love for something? If you have had any new insights, write about it now.
Read this week’s blog post: “Getting a Ph.D. in Living.” Then set the timer for 20 minutes. Write across the top of the page or screen the following prompt: “The subject that I majored in to earn my Ph.D in Living is: ……” Then go back and review the areas in your life where all the books and lectures in the world could not have prepared you for the lesson you learned from one particular experience. What did it teach you? Have you grown from it ? Why, or why not? When the timer goes off, ask yourself if there is another experience you’d like to write about. If so, set the timer for another 20 minutes and have at it! If not, put your work away and take it out the next day to read. Has the experience of writing it down given you any new insights? If so, write about it now.
Read this week’s blog post: “Let’s Live To Be 120!” Then set the timer for 20 minutes. Across the top of the page, or screen, write the following: “If I was able to live to be 120, I’d ….” What would you do? What could you accomplish? What would you like to accomplish if you had all that extra time? Would you do something new, or would you go back and re-do something differently? Let your imagination free to reach for the stars. When you are done, put your work away and take it out the next day to read. Did you think of anything you would add or change? If so, write about that now. Have fun!
Read this week’s blog post: “Staying Small.” Then set the timer for 10 minutes. Think of a time in your life when fear kept you from doing something, or accomplishing something – a time when you “played small.” Across the top of the paper write, “The time that I played small was when …” and start writing it out. Go into as much detail as possible including all of the feelings and emotions that were involved. When the timer goes off, set it for another 10 minutes and write across the page: “How would this situation have worked out if I had “played big?” Then write how you think it would have worked out, or not. The idea is to revisit those feelings and put finally put them to rest. When you are done, put your assignment away and take it out the next day to read. How have you changed as you have grown in wisdom and experience, or have you? Why? Why not? Write about whatever comes up.
Read this week’s blog post: “Choosing Our Path.” Then set the timer for the first of what will be 3-20 minute practices. Write across the top of the page: “Where did I come from?” If you have a definite understanding and idea that is true for you, write that out. If you don’t, write what you “think” is true, or a truth you can feel comfortable with. At the end of the first 20 minutes, get up and walk around the room for a minute, look out of the window, get a drink, anything to clear your mind. Now sit down and set the timer for the next 20 minutes and write about the following: “When do I experience moments of this truth in my life?” It is possible that you may not have these experiences. If so, write about that. When you are done, take another short break and then set the timer for the final 20 minutes. This time you will answer this question: “How does what I believe, or not believe, affect my ability to live an authentic life?” Yep, I know, this may well take longer than 20 minutes. Take as long as you feel you need to express what is in your heart.
As always, when you are done, put this away and take it out the next day. I would suggest that you do this for several days in a row. See if what you wrote compels you to seek new or different paths to investigate, or if it has changed where you see your life going. If there have been changes, sit down and capture that in writing as well. Seeing your ideas and understandings on paper, reading them, is a powerful tool of transformation.
Read this week’s blog post: “To Be, Or Not To Be.” Then set the timer for 10 minutes. This is going to be a two-part assignment. First, find a quiet spot to sit in all by yourself. Turn off any electronics. Take a few deep breaths and just “be” for a minute or two. Then use your senses. What can you see, hear, smell? Do you hear birds outside, or the sound of the furnace kicking on and off? Can you feel sunlight through the windows, or wind rattling the glass? Can you smell this morning’s coffee, or a scented candle or oil burning? Is the neighbor’s dog barking? At the end of the 10 minutes, set the timer for another 10 minutes and write your BFF a letter, telling her all that you sensed as if you were trying to share it with her. Don’t leave out anything! When you’re done, put your writing away and take it out the next day to read. Is it like getting a letter from a dear friend? Did the exercise allow you to learn to enjoy sharing the world around you with yourself? If so, write about it now.
Read this week’s blog post: “Coming Home To Ourselves.” Then set the timer for 20 minutes. Think of a daily task that is perhaps not one of your favorites, or that you rush through just to get it done. Close your eyes and see yourself doing that chore, but instead of rushing ahead while you mentally go over the rest of your to-do list, or wishing someone else would do it for you, stop and picture yourself going through each movement involved with the task. See the items involved, feel your hands performing the task. Are there smells involved, perhaps the scent of soap or other cleaning liquid? The sound of water, or the sweeper? The feel of cloth or a hard surface? Can you find gratitude for this task such as being grateful for hot water, indoor plumbing, electricity, clothes to wash, food to cook? When you are done visualizing this task, write it out in as much detail as you can. remembering to end with gratitude for whatever it is. As always, put your assignment away when you’re done and take it out to read the next day. Has there been a shift in how you see that task now? Can you find your authentic self in it? If there has been a shift, write about it now.
Read this week’s blog post: “Making A Myth Of It.” This time we’re going to set the timer for 30 minutes. Take an honest inventory of those moments or circumstances from your life thus far that were painful and find one that needs to be pulled out of the darkness and set free so that you can move ahead in creating your authentic life. Give your myth as much color and detail as possible, always remembering that this story is going to end “happily ever after,” as you, the hero, finally slay that dragon, or cause the evil witch to disappear, or free yourself from the dungeon. When you are done, put the story away and take it out the next day to read. Is the dragon truly dead? Has something shifted? If so, write about it.
Read this week’s blog post: “Claiming Your Power.” Then think back to a moment in your life when you realized that you actually had power over your own life, and choices you were free to make. When you connect with that moment, set the timer for 20 minutes and write across the top of the page: “The moment when I claimed my power was when …” Then go for the 20 minutes. If you truly feel that you have never had a moment like this, think back to a situation when you might have made a different choice that did result in taking your power back, and write about that. If you need more time, set the timer for another 20 minutes. When you’re done, put your work away and take it out the next day to read. How does it make you feel? Have you lost sight of what that moment represented? How? How can you get it back? What different choices can you make now as you choose to create an authentic life? Write about it!
Read this week’s blog post: “You’ve Been Pre-Approved!” Think of an area of your life where you’ve been seeking approval. It could be your work or your job, your relationships with others, or even your relationship with yourself (your body, your looks, your self-esteem). Then set the timer for 20 minutes and write across the top of the page: “I have been pre-approved for …” When the timer goes off, if there is another area of your life you would like to apply this to, start another page with the same prompt, set the timer for another 20 minutes, and go for it. When you are done, put what you have written away and take it out the next day to read. How do you feel now about the need for approval? Has it made any changes in the way you look at your life? If so, write about it.
Read this week’s blog post: “Congratulations! I Now Pronounce You … An Adult!” Then set your timer for 30 minutes, take out pen and paper (or keyboard) and write across the top of the page: “I became an adult the day that ….” Then go for 30 minutes. Was there one moment, one season, one event that is stamped in your memory as the day you became an adult? Or, was it a gradual awakening? Write about that, too. Don’t just record the events. Report on the thoughts, feelings and realizations you experienced as well. When you’re done, put it away and take it out the next day to read. How has that moment in time informed the way you lived your life? Have things changed? What advice would you give to a young person just starting out? Write about it.
Read this week’s blog post: “High School: The Music of Belonging.” Then sit for a moment and go back in time to your own high school years. Find a song from that period that speaks to you of your life and experiences of that most important time of your life. When you do, set the timer for 20 minutes, write the title of the song across the top of the page, and write about why that song and those lyrics define who you were then. What does it say about what was important to you at that time. Then, when the time is up, think of another song that speaks to who you are now. It can be another song from the past or a new one from the present. Then set the timer for another 20 minutes and write about how that song defines who you are now. The same? Different? Do you see some similarities or patterns that need changing? As always, when you are done, put your assignment away and take it out again the next day for a read. What have you discovered about yourself and how far you’ve come from those days? Is it time to write yourself a new song? Peace, baby!
Read the blog post, “School Days.” Set the timer for 15 minutes and write about your fondest memory of your experiences in elementary school. Name teachers, students, subjects and how or why they had a positive impact on you. When the timer goes off, set it again for another 15 minutes and write about what you disliked most about that same time period. Was there a mean teacher? A bully? A subject that you hated? After both assignments are done, put them away and take them out the next day to reread what you have written. Do you see any habits, ideas or beliefs that were born during that time that have impacted your life today? If so, write about that at for as long as it takes to identify what and how.
“Six-Word Memoir.” – Yep, you read that right. This week I want you to create a memoir with only six words. No, I’m not kidding and, yes, it can be done. Let me give you a few examples from Natalie Goldberg’s book, “The True Secret of Writing” ”
Brooklyn girl makes good; parents dumbfounded
Money was the currency of control
My singing voice was never heard
Spiritual one in a family of mathematicians
Get the idea? Give yourself time to come up with what you believe is the best representation of what your life has been about up to this point. Then, when you are done, set the timer for 10 minutes and write out why you chose those six words to describe your life. When you’re done, as always, put it away and take it out again the next day to see if perhaps now, after having time to think about it, you would choose six different words. If you think you would, write them down, then give yourself 10 minutes to write down why. How will this new perception help you going forward?
Read the blog: “For The Love Of A Rose.” Then set the timer for 20 minutes, take out paper and pen (or keyboard), and answer the following question: What needs to “form” in my life to make it an authentic life?” It could be a belief, new ideas, or new understandings. What needs to come from the formless into form to make your life genuinely yours? This may take more than 20 minutes. I would suggest that when the timer goes off, put it away and take it out tomorrow. If necessary, set the timer for another 20 minutes and see where it takes you. Since there will be no assignment next week due to the holiday, when you are finished, put what you have written away and take it out again next week. See how your thoughts and, perhaps, revelations about what you have written have caused you to look at your life differently. If it has, write about it!
Read this week’s blog: “Memories Are Made Of This.” Then set the timer for 20 minutes and think back to a memory that had a huge impact on you that has carried over until today. Perhaps it was a special moment from your childhood, like mine. It could also be one that is not a happy memory. That may have even more to do with who you are today. Write about that as well. When the 2o minutes are up, set the timer for another 10 minutes and write about how that memory has changed you, made you a better person, or made you want to be a better person. Perhaps it pointed you in the direction of your career, your passion, or a cause you support. Whatever it is, write about it. Then put the assignment away. Give this one an extra day or two before you pull it out and read what you have written. I suspect that having written it, you will start to see evidence of it working in your life even before you review it.
This week we are going to paint a picture with our writing. Find a comfortable place to sit where you can write undisturbed, set the timer for 10 minutes, and describe what you see in a 3 foot radius around you. Use as much detail as you can: is there a cup of tea or coffee on the table? What kind? What is the color of the cup? Is there a design or a saying on it? How does it smell? What are you wearing? Furniture? Lights? Flowers? Imagine you are describing it to someone who has never seen such things before. When the 10 minutes are up, go into a different room and repeat the process. Are you in the kitchen? Is there something on the stove? Dirty dishes in the sink? Write for another 10 minutes. Finally, if possible, go outside and describe what you can see in your immediate range of vision. If the weather doesn’t permit you to be outside, go to a window where you have a clear view and describe what you see. Is that old Mr. Jones out there raking up his leaves? Sammy the paper boy peddling his bike down the street? Is it raining? Snowing? Help others to see what you see.
When you are all done, put your work away and take it out the next day to read it, but read it in a different room than the one you wrote it in. For example, if you did write in the kitchen, move to the living room or the bedroom. For the outdoor exercise, read it in a different room with a different view. The idea is to see if you can see in your mind’s eye what you are reading. Can you see it? Could you have been more precise? How could you have made it more alive?
Once again, have fun with this. Challenge yourself to reach for the best words you can use to convey the picture and all that goes with it. Paint a picture with your words.
This week’s assignment might be called “Much Ado About Nothing.” Read this week’s blog about The Gift of Nothing. Then set the timer for 10 minutes. For the first part of this assignment, you will not be writing … you won’t be doing anything except breathing in and out, and just being. Feel your body inside and out. Feel the room around you, and the sights, smells and sounds beyond you. Do nothing else but just “be.” Now set the timer for another 10 minutes and write about how that felt. What came up for you? Did you feel a connection with the rest of the world around you? Describe in as much detail as you can remember what you saw and heard. You may need more than 10 minutes to do this. Feel free to go for another 10.
Last week we wrote about our proudest moments. This week we’re going in the opposite direction. We’re going to write about what we perceive to be our “failures” or “bad decisions.” Read the blog post for this week. Then set the timer for 10 minutes and write across the top of the page: “The worst decision I ever made was …”. Don’t get bogged down in a lot of details, and, definitely, don’t use the time to beat yourself up. That is not what this assignment is about. This is about redefining our ideas about failure by using different language to assess a situation and come up with a conclusion. Just describe the decision, how you came to it, and the outcome. When you are done, set the timer for another 10 minutes, and write across the top of a new page: “Something positive that I learned from this experience was …”. When you are done, put your work away and take it out to look at again tomorrow. Are you seeing your “failure” in a different light? If so, write about it.
Read this week’s blog: “Patting Ourselves On The Back.” Then set the timer for 20 minutes and write about a moment in your life that you are proud of. It could be in sports, education, career, relationships, or anything else. If it was a major achievement in your life, and it lifted you up, it was a moment to be proud of. Taking a page from last week’s assignment about writing practice, write across the top of the page: “The thing I am most proud of in my life is ….” Then write for 20 minutes. If you’re still feeling pumped after that exercise, start a new page with the heading: “Another thing I am proud of having accomplished is …” Reset the timer for another 20 minutes and have at it. See how many things you can bring to mind. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Like my example in the blog post, it can be learning to master a skill like I did with technology. When you are done, put it away and take it out the next day to read. See how long you can carry that feeling of, “I’
If you haven’t read this week’s blog post about Natalie Goldberg, please do so now. As you can guess, this week’s assignment is about getting back to basics.
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Please do this assignment in long hand if at all possible. The energy of making contact with the pen and paper, and moving your hand across the page, is what makes this practice so valuable. Write across the top of the paper: “I remember …” Then write for the full 10 minutes, keeping your hand moving all the time. If you run out of steam on one memory, write “I remember” again and keep going. When the 10 minutes is up, reset the timer for another 10 minutes and write across the page: “I don’t remember …” and proceed as before. If at any time you feel as if you are on a roll and can go longer than 10 minutes, feel free to do so. When you are done, put what you wrote away and take it out again the next day to read it. See what floated up from your consciousness when you allowed yourself to write freely without second guessing yourself. As always, have fun and enjoy the adventure!
Think back to when you were 6 years old. If someone had asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, how would you have answered? Set the timer for 20 minutes and write down your answer, then describe whether you did or did not pursue that career. If so, has it been rewarding and, if not, why? Or, did you pursue something else and now wish you had followed your dream? Be honest and write down exactly how you feel. What would you have done differently and what, ultimately, lead you to what you ended up doing?
Now set the timer for another 10 minutes and answer the following question: “What kind of person do I want to be when I grow up? Don’t answer this from the perspective of a 6 year old as in the question above. Answer the question as the age you are now, knowing that you have many more years before you to make it come true.
As always, put your answers away and take them back out tomorrow. What have you learned about yourself? Write a paragraph about that. And, yes, have fun with this. Make it an adventure into Tomorrowland!
First, go back and read this week’s blog post on the three soul questions. Then allow yourself to sit quietly for a few minutes, asking yourself each one in turn. Now, set the timer for 10 minutes and write the first question out: Who Am I? For the first minute or two, write out the usual answers, all the titles and roles that define you, and then cross them out. Now you are left with the space to write the real answer. Give yourself the whole 10 minutes for this even if it means staring out of the window for the first 5 minutes! When you are done, reset the timer for 10 minutes and move on to the next question: What Do I Want? As before, get the surface stuff out of the way, then cross it out and get to the meat of the question. Let yourself go deep and feel the answers. When you are done, reset the timer one more time to 10 minutes and go to the last question: What Is My Purpose? Once you know the answers to the first two questions, you will discover that there are as many ways to serve the world as there are people. Let your imagination loose on this one and be creative. Be assured that nothing is ever written in stone and if one path doesn’t lead you anywhere, you can always take the next turn in the road. Remember to have fun with this assignment. You may even discover when you’re done that you are a whole different person than when you sat down to write!
What would it be like to create something that would change the world and have an impact on millions of people? Let’s find out. Set the timer for 2o minutes and finish the following sentence: “If I could create anything, it would be…” Keep in mind that it does not have to be a concrete item. It can also be an idea, a cultural shift, a belief, or anything that you would like to see become reality. As always, when you are done, put it away and take it out the next day to read. What does your idea say about you and your own life? What needs to be created there? Again, have fun with this. Let your imagination soar!
This is going to be fun! Set your timer for 20 minute (yes, we’re going longer). Imagine your perfect life. Now write down what you a day in your perfect life would look like. Start from the moment you wake up. Where do you live? With whom? What does your home look like, your bedroom? What can you see outside the windows? Describe every detail including sights, smells and tastes. Go through your day. What are your doing? Where are you going? Most important, how do you feel doing and experiencing those things? If you need to reset the timer, give yourself another 10 minutes. When you are done, put it away until tomorrow and then take a look at what you’ve written. Does it ring true? How does it make you feel? Take 10 minutes and write about what this dream life brings up for you. As always, have fun and don’t be afraid to dream big!
Last week’s blog post talked about “do-over’s.” Go back and read your last two assignments. Pick out one area of your life from either your childhood or early teens that you always wished you could do-over. Maybe it was where you went to school or some aspect of your education; perhaps it was a sport you wanted to try, an artistic or creative pursuit, etc. Now set the time for 10 minutes and start a new “Once upon a time” story featuring the new you doing this thing over, a second chance to do it your authentic way. Please don’t get bogged down in regrets or blame. This is an exercise in creating a new chapter, not regurgitating the old one over again. The idea is to have fun and be creative. It’s your life. Write it the way you want it to go! Please feel free to leave your comments and any insights you may uncover. Happy writing!
This week we are going to use writing to dig out those Negative Nellies in your life that, either in the past or in the present, have convinced you that you can’t be, do, or have what you truly want out of life. Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a pastor or a well-meaning friend. Whoever it was, we need to silence them once and for all and let our own inner voice be the only one that guides us.
Set the timer for 10 minutes and write the phrase: “When I was little, I wanted to ….. but … told me…” Fill the in blanks with the dream, the person and what they said. Try to use the entire 10 minutes by writing about how that affected you and how it has carried over to today. Just like in the first assignment, when you are done, put what you have written away until the next day. Then take it out and read it. Are there any surprises? Any patterns emerging? How do you feel about it today? Set your timer for another 10 minutes and write about that.
My first blog post began with the words: “Once upon a time …” Your first assignment is to set a timer, or your phone, for 10 minutes, write that opening on the top of the page, and then just write. See what comes up. Make sure this is free-flow of consciousness writing. Don’t stop to edit or correct. When you’re done, put it away without looking at it until tomorrow. The idea is to give yourself some time to put some distance between you and what you wrote so that you are reading it with fresh eyes. Notice any patterns or surprises that come up. If you do find some, write them down and keep them handy. You will want to go back and take a look at them after you complete the next assignment. Write on!
News of the Week:
In the coming weeks we will be posting information about other sites where my books can be purchased. We hope to have them available for all eReaders and devices by the holidays. In the meantime, here are the links to my ebooks on Amazon:
Staying Rooted: Living and Growing Through The Seasons Of Our Lives: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M8CBWTQ
Song Of An Extraordinary Life: Creating A New Soundtrack For Our Third Age: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VETGZFU
Second Chances: Lessons In Wisdom From A Life Well Lived: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KOPXXTK