Working Through Writer's Block
We started off the discussion by sharing our six-word memoirs. We then discussed strategies for working through writer's block. Many helpful tips were shared!
July 11, 2019
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Writers’ Circle - Working Through Writer's Block
Presented by Debbie Worman and Diane O’Neill
July 11, 2019
Debbie W.: Welcome to Writers’ Circle. This month, we decided that we were going to start off where we left off last month. We had discussed the six-word memoir. Raise your hand if you remember talking about that.
Okay, so there's a few people that remember. That's wonderful. So does somebody who has their hand up want to tell everybody else what a six-word memoir is? Leave your hand up if you want to do the talking.
I'll call on, let's see, Marilyn. Why don't you go ahead and tell us about what the six-word memoir was all about?
Marilyn: Okay. Well, it's just putting together in, either the form of a sentence or like a line from poetry or something that kind of summarizes a facet of your life or your caring or your whatever, you know, whatever you want to bring forth that you want to share about yourself. That's why it's a memoir and the one I came up with ... Do you want to do that now, or should I stop?
Debbie W.: We'll come back to that. We're going to talk-
Debbie W.: Just a little bit about what it is and then we'll have people share if they wrote one. So thanks, Marilyn. I appreciate that.
Debbie W.: So last month we introduced people to the website, www.sixwordmemoirs.com, which is a wonderful website that talks about writing things in six words. Think about that, how concise that is and how you just get to the heart of the matter in six words. So one of their big things is to write a memoir in six words. So who can tell us what a memoir is as opposed to an autobiography? What is a memoir? If you have your hand up, I'll call on you. How about 069? Do you want to share what you feel a memoir is?
Cathy: I had it up from before as well.
Debbie W.: Oh, okay.
Cathy: And I think the memoir is when you tell, it's from your own memory.
Debbie W.: Right, right.
Cathy: A story about yourself, from your own memory, is what-
Debbie W.: Right. Exactly. You kind of hear it in that word, memoir, don't you? Memory. A memory. Yes, absolutely. If you think of an autobiography, think of it as the whole pie. Think of an autobiography as the whole pie. A memoir would be a slice of the pie. It would just a part of it. So that's what we're doing is a six-word memoir. We challenged everybody last month to come up with their six-word memoir. In six words, give us a slice of your life. A slice of your life. So if you're ready, if you did write one, go ahead and put your hand up and I'll call on you.
Okay, that would be Marilyn. You said you wrote a six-word memoir. You want to share it with us?
Marilyn: Sure. You know, it's not really a slice, it's just one aspect, I think. You'd have... you know, look at it that way. Here's mine. Learning, caring, facing challenges, that's me.
Debbie W.: Okay. Say that again. I loved it. Just give it to me again because I really-
Marilyn: Okay. Learning, caring, facing challenges, that's me.
Debbie W.: Okay. Love it. I love it, and was this an easy or a hard assignment to do? How did you feel doing it?
Marilyn: Well, I first had to decide whether I wanted to feature a particular age or time period in my life and I decided, no, I wanted to go broader than that, and so I just took a particular aspect of the brain-functioning kind of thing to get the learning and the facing challenges and solving problems aspect.
Debbie W.: Okay. Great.
Marilyn: That was the only thing that was hard. It was deciding which way to go.
Debbie W.: So you might consider going to the website then and having that published, Marilyn, that you've done that. You can go to their website. Maybe you'll get it published.
Marilyn: Well, I might. I might go.
Debbie W.: Okay. Okay, thanks for sharing.
Debbie W.: Okay, I see that 072, 072, do you have a six-word memoir to share?
Susan: Okay, here it is. Full life, unfinished ... No, I'm sorry. Full life, not finished, very hopeful.
Debbie W.: Love it, that gives me a good picture of who you are, Susan. That's great.
Susan: Oh, thank you.
Debbie W.: What do you think, Diane? What do you think?
Diane O.: That's beautiful. I love it.
Debbie W.: Yeah, so ...
Diane O.: Yeah, these are so great, because they give you a picture of the person and what they're all about, it's beautiful.
Debbie W.: Right, yeah, you have a real concise picture of somebody. Thank you for sharing, Susan.
Susan: Well, thank you for letting me share.
Debbie W.: Okay. I have 042.
Carol: Oh, I think that's me.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Carol: This is Carol.
Debbie W.: Carol, okay.
Carol: Mine is "I still think outside the box."
Speaker 4: I love that.
Diane O.: Very cool.
Debbie W.: Very. That's great. That's great.
Diane O.: These are all cool. Very cool.
Debbie W.: Okay, gives me a good picture of you, Carol. How was it for you to write yours? Was that easy or hard?
Carol: I had to go to a website to see what a six word memoir looked like.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Carol: Because I wasn't sure.
Debbie W.: Okay, so you did some homework. I like that, so you got it figured out then. Great.
Okay, so let's go for 290. 290, did you write a six word memoir?
Debbie W.: Okay, and who is 290? Just give me your first name.
Layla: It's Layla. Layla.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Layla: Okay, taste every moment before you die.
Debbie W.: Okay, say the first words again. I'm having trouble understanding you.
Layla: I'm sorry. I am outside in a park. Taste every moment before you die.
Debbie W.: Ah, okay.
Layla: Because it happened to me.
Debbie W.: Okay, absolutely.
Layla: Yeah, it happened to me and I need to enjoy every moment, my second time in here.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Diane O.: Nice.
Layla: Thank you.
Debbie W.: That's pretty powerful. Very powerful.
Diane O.: Very nice.
Layla: Oh, yes. Yes.
Debbie W.: Thank you for sharing that.
Diane O.: Nice.
Debbie W.: Okay, Ann? I see Ann. I'm going to unmute you, Ann. Do you have a six word memoir?
Ann: Okay. Okay, so I just came up with this one off the top of my head. Healing comes through music and journaling.
Debbie W.: Okay. Okay, love that, see, that's very clever and it says a lot about each of you. Those six words are really, really interesting. How just gives that precise picture. I love that. I love that.
Diane O.: It's kind of cool because it's so concise. It kind of forces us to be concise and it really forces a lot of thinking so it's a cool art form.
Debbie W.: Okay, okay, before we wrap up with the six word memoir then, I just want to give other people a tip, and for people that shared, if you want to take another stab at it. I was looking at a couple of websites about tips, tips for writing your six word memoir.
One lady says, start with a list and write for three minutes. Start with a list for three minutes and just write things about yourself, one word. Could be a noun, it could be an adjective. It could be a verb. It could be something you like and something you don't like, a hobby, and do that for three minutes. Make a list. When you're done making the list, then circle two or three that stand out for you or make a notation of two or three of those words that stand out for you. After you choose two or three, then pick one. Pick one and then start free writing about it and don't stop...
Free writing is when you just write, and you don't stop. Don't stop for two minutes and don't worry about spelling, don't worry about grammar, just write for two minutes about that one word. For example, if you pulled out mother or if you pulled out happy or if you pulled out devoted, just write about that for two minutes and then the final is to synthesize it, is to come up with your phrase. Come up with a phrase that encompasses that. That's kind of a way to challenge yourself to do the six-word memoir.
Does anybody have any questions about that before we move on to our next topic?
Luanne, I see that your hand is up. I'm going to unmute you, Luanne.
Luanne: Okay, it is a truly a mini memoir. Just about loner, night owl, musician, writer.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Diane O.: I like that.
Debbie W.: Yeah, do I know a lot about you now.
Diane O.: It has a mood to it. It has certain mood to it. Nice.
Debbie W.: Yeah, yeah, and I love the way you read it. I love the way ... Can you read it again for us?
Luanne: Sure. Just about loner, night owl, musician, writer.
Diane O.: That's beautiful.
Debbie W.: Wonderful. Just wonderful. Thank you, Helen. I appreciate your sharing.
Diane O.: I'm sorry I wrote your name wrong.
Debbie W.: Okay, I have one more hand up on the topic of six-word memoirs and that's going to be 069. I'm unmuting you.
Cathy: Yeah, I can write these all day long because this is the easiest writing I've ever done.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Cathy: Anyway, one of them, the first one that I wrote was, "Fell on my face only once."
Debbie W.: Okay.
Cathy: As a child that I was born with vision of light dark colored movement and we moved from a house that had all the floors level, before I was a year old, to a house that had unleveled floors. It had steps going in and out and fell on my face before I was one and from then on I would sit down at the ... The floor was a different color than the other floor. I would sit down, crawl to the door and then stand back up and I haven't fell on my face since then.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Diane O.: Nice.
Debbie W.: I love it. I love it, so you're literally ... I mean you are saying you fell on your face. I mean it's not a meta-
Debbie W.: Yeah, okay.
Cathy: Only, once.
Debbie W.: Okay, well great. I'm glad-
Diane O.: What is your name?
Debbie W.: Cathy.
Diane O.: Great, thank you.
Debbie W.: Thank you, Cathy.
Okay, Gail, you have your hand up. I'm going to unmute you, Gail.
Gail: Okay, I did have one to share and a quick question or a comment, as well.
My six word was, "Flying blind in a visual world."
Debbie W.: Wow.
Diane O.: Great, nice.
Debbie W.: Very nice.
Diane O.: Nice.
Gail: The other thing was while I was trying to come up with one, I was really working hard at it, I kept coming up with an exercise I did, an ice breaker really, I did maybe years ago when I was doing presentations. It was how you always have to introduce people, the person who's sitting next to you or something like that. What I came up with once was a haiku, howdy-di-do.
Doing an introduction of somebody else in a haiku format.
Debbie W.: Oh.
Diane O.: Wow.
Debbie W.: That's neat. Thanks for... I'll have to remember that. That's really neat, Gail. Thank you. Wow. Haiku, howdy-di-do. That's clever.
Diane O.: That's impressive.
Debbie W.: Very clever.
Thank you, everybody, that shared. I really appreciate your doing that, opening yourselves up to share on this forum and so many of them, I could just... I feel like I got to know you a little bit better, so thank you. Again the website is sixwordmemoirs.com and if people are comfortable sending me their six-word memoir, go ahead and do that. My email address is Worman, W-O-R-M-A-N, @Hadley.edu and if you're comfortable, maybe I'll compile them and send them directly to the website and see if we can get some of those published.
Diane O.: What a cool idea.
Debbie W.: Yeah, I'll tell them we're doing a writer's discussion group and we did this as an exercise and here's what some of our folks came up with. If you want to be a part of that, just give me an email, okay, and we'll explore that and I'll let you know what happens, okay?
Diane O.: Cool.
Debbie W.: Okay, so our topic for this month was writer's block. Diane, if you want to share some things about what is writer's block and what would you have to share with the group about writer's block.
Diane O.: Ah, Diane speaking. Yeah, writer's block, I think everybody has it now and then, you know. Basically, it's when you sit down to write and you just can't do it, and sometimes it goes on for a while. I found that sometimes it's something in my life might be prompting it, maybe things aren't going well and that's blocking me, so it can be that. It can be a number of things.
Some tricks I've found that help me prevent it... and I'd be interested to hear what everybody else... Yeah, because I'm sure we've all found different tricks, but one of the tricks I've found is not to... If I'm writing at something and I'm feeling blocked, I let myself work on something else. You know, suppose, I'm trying to write a novel and it's not going any place, I let myself write a poem. Suppose I'm trying to write a poem, and it's not going any place? I might just do some journal writing, because as long as you're writing, I think that's the thing and sometimes...
I've heard one suggestion that if you find it really hard to write, start writing why you're having a hard time to write or why you think you're having a time to write or just write how hard it feels not being able to write, you know. Because that's a point and that sometimes gets you back on track.
I also, I'm a believer in writing every day but my... I'm of the philosophy, if I write a few minutes every day, that's fine. Because, I think, part of it is just being gentle with yourself. There's this one book, and I'm going to post some books on our site, but there's one, If You Can Talk, You Can Write. It's a really cool book by somebody writing about how the tricks he found to get over writer's block and a lot of it is sometimes where you hold yourself to a... You want perfection, and you know, that's not going to happen for anybody... Well, maybe Shakespeare, but you know... He writes, his name is Joel Saltzman and then his book, again, it's called If You Can Talk, You Can Write and the first page, he found a fortune cookie and he feels like that saved him after going through excruciating writer's block. It says, "To avoid being disappointed, minimize expectations."
That somehow lit a fire, it somehow was his epiphany and that kind of helped him beat writer's block and one final thing that I found helps me a bit is when I'm in a writer's group and I stole an idea from somebody. She keeps an idea a day book, and I find that writing, making myself write down an idea a day... It can be any kind of idea. It can be lame. It can be whatever, but just writing an idea a day, I feel like that helps ideas grow. You know, it's easier for me to find new ideas by just that having. Again, I don't... The idea doesn't have to be wonderful. I may never look at the list again, but writing it down, an idea a day, it helps me.
I'm curious what other people's strategies are.
Debbie W.: Okay, well, thanks, Diane. One of the things that you had shared with me, Diane, this week was a website that had a guidebook, storyaday.org.
Diane O.: Yeah.
Debbie W.: Yeah, storyaday.org, Guide to Breaking Writer's Block and I took some time to look over that and have some really good information. We will post that to the show notes, so I think that's really good.
Some of the things I pulled out of that book and I'd like to share and then people kind of expand on that and share their own ideas. One crucial thing would be to try moving to a different location. Try writing somewhere else besides maybe at your desk or maybe at the table. Just pick up and move, maybe go outside. Try other forms of creativity. I thought, I wouldn't do this, but I thought it was interesting the authors suggested do some housework and then come back to writing. I'm not sure about that one, and then one was write standing up and they have those desks now. I was in Hadley Central last week and they remodeled the building and people have these desks that raise up and you can stand up and do your work. Who would have thunk it, right?
One of them is just to take a little bit of time to meditate. Take some time to just stay at where you are and just close your eyes and meditate a little bit. This one I really like because I think this could be really fun is fun a writing totem, something that is an emblem or a symbol to you. Maybe you want to write in your favorite shirt. Maybe you have a favorite comfy t-shirt. Maybe you have a funny hat that you could wear. Maybe you have something you could sit on your desk, something that is your totem, think of it as your writing totem.
I thought those were fun. We will open the discussion for people to share what it may have felt like, if have you ever had writer's block, what you've done to help yourself through that, and what you might offer to other people on our discussion group today.
If you have something to share, please put your hand up and I will call on you.
Okay, let's see. I have Ann. I'm going to unmute you, Ann, and share what you have about writer's block.
Ann: Well, to be honest with you, I'm stuck at another point in my book that I'm working on but another thing I've done as far as writer's block, if you have a friend, that you can, whether you call that person, you text that person, if you have a friend who's a writer, brainstorm your ideas with that person, because sometimes, that person can give you some pointers that'll help you unlock.
Another thing I've done is take a walk, if it's around your house, around your neighborhood. I live out in the country so taking a walk, sitting out on the front porch, whether you write or not, brainstorming out there and listening to the sounds of nature, that will help, too.
Debbie W.: Okay, so you've experienced writer's block in your writing?
Ann: Yeah, and I'm experiencing it now.
Debbie W.: Okay, okay, so maybe some of the ideas today, you get from your fellow writers here can help you, so thank you for sharing yours, I appreciate it.
Ann: Thanks, I feel like my brain is going around in circles.
Debbie W.: Okay, well, that's what happens. That's what happens. Let's all share our advice for everybody then. And for Ann whose brain is going around in circles.
I have 628. 628, I'm going to unmute you.
Kirsten: Hi, it is Kirsten from Rochester, New York.
Debbie W.: Hi, Kirsten.
Kirsten: Hi, I got in a little late and I heard something about the hat, which excited me. I've just started this month teaching writing class here locally and we just did this activity with the hat about write a bunch of hats in and they all assumed first person perspective and these kids wrote some of the most amazing pieces, exploring other personalities. They did a little bit of research and whatnot, but terms of writer’s block for a piece that I'm working on. I just get stuck on.
I've done yoga practice, called Breath of Fire, and it's basically panting through your nose, slowly and quickly and quickly and if you Google “Breath of Fire”, you'll find that it releases, it helps release toxins and people use it for creativity and brings energy and oxygen to the brain. It's a real simple like concrete tangible thing you can do to sort of regenerate, refocus when you're blocked on a particular thing, but the other thing I love to do when I'm just stuck is people watch.
I'm completely blind but if I go sit anywhere and listen to a conversation, the little bit that I have, sometimes even with just listening to people on the phone and getting the half of the conversation that I'm hearing is great place, it's a great springboard, into the pool of imagination to try to imagine what that conversation's really about or the back story, the relationship between the individuals. You'll never be right, but you can write from it.
Debbie W.: Yeah, [crosstalk]. Yeah.
Kirsten: That's just a really simple trick I've been using with the kids and they've been having a ball with it.
Debbie W.: Okay, what age group-
Kirsten: I also think about rocks. We just did this whole thing about writing as a process, not a product.
Sorry, my [crosstalk] are going nuts.
That rocks we think of as tangible, fixed objects but really even our touch and our hand is changing the surface of the rock and if you can think of a rock and what its witnessed, whether in nature or the tread. Maybe it bore the blood of Julius Caesar once upon a March 15th, that's a great place to think about the witness of rocks or edifices, if they could speak, what stories they have to tell.
And so think about our writing, any given rock, didn't look like that. It's taken time and friction, conflict to develop into the piece that's in our hand, but even that's changing, so pieces... Even once it's published ... So a serious writer has a hard time believing that his or her writing is ever truly finished.
Debbie W.: Yeah. I think I'm going to look at rocks in a different way now. That's interesting. I think I'm going to go out-
Kirsten: Yeah, they had a great time with them. They had a great time with them.
Debbie W.: What age kids do you work with?
Kirsten: Well, at the moment, I have a group of sixth to eighth graders and a group of ninth to 12th graders. I'm a certified... Technically, I think, seven through 12.
Debbie W.: Okay, so you're teaching a writing class, is that what you're doing?
Kirsten: Yes, yes, they call it a camp.
Debbie W.: Writing camp, okay.
Kirsten: Yeah, I'm not so sure how many of them signed up for it or their parents thought it would be a good place for them to spend the summer.
Diane O.: Sounds cool.
Kirsten: We're trying to make it bearable and useful.
Debbie W.: Sounds like you've come up some really neat ideas. I like [crosstalk] ...
Kirsten: They keep coming back. They keep showing up.
Debbie W.: You're doing something right because it's not easy to get that age group invested in something, so good for you.
Kirsten: It's been a joy. I'll tell you, they're like coffee for me. When I get there, to see how excited they're coming in now, like, "What are we going to do today?" Always start with the free writes.
Debbie W.: Yeah.
Kirsten: It's just 10 minutes of don't worry about... It's stretching your muscles, don't worry about sentence structure or grammar, punctuation, just learn to let the thoughts through your fingertips.
Debbie W.: Right.
Kirsten: It's working pretty well.
Debbie W.: Were you in on our six-word memoir discussion? Did you hear any of that?
Kirsten: No, but I have done the 55-word essays, the piece that I had published most recently was inspired by the Steven Moss 55 word stories.
Debbie W.: Yeah, I would suggest going to sixwordmemoirs.com, that's what we've been doing. We did that today. People read their six-word memoirs. Those are fun to do with kids.
Yes, those are really fun to do with kids. You might check that out for your group.
Kirsten: Thank you. We have been using magnetic poetry. I don't know if anybody can tell me if there's magnetic poetry in braille. I'm not a big braille reader, but they've been having a really good time with the magnetic poetry and creating from that, but I'll look into the six word ...
Debbie W.: Memoir.
Kirsten: Six-word memoir. Thank you so much.
Debbie W.: Okay, well, thank-
Diane O.: I'll look and see if there's magnetic poetry in braille, too. I'll check that out. I'm curious.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Kirsten: Yeah, me too.
Debbie W.: Okay, well, thanks.
Kirsten: Thank you.
Debbie W.: Thanks for joining us.
Diane O.: All right.
Debbie W.: Okay, Marilyn, I'm unmuting you. What do you have to share about writer's block?
Marilyn: Okay, I don't ever have much of a block. Usually I know what genre I feel like I'm going to write, so I don't have a block with poetry. I can almost always come up with something but fiction and non-fiction, and I'm particular geared toward trying to get the number of submissions in for the magazine that we need to put out every six months.
One thing I have done that's helped is to go back over books where I particularly like the setting or something about one of the characters and take that and put it in a different place or put a different spin on it. Take it from 1850 to 1950, you know, recreate, except using some of the characteristics of the person or the setting or the theme of the genre that I like and transposing that. Then once I get started, then it's mine, it's not theirs anymore. You know, it's mine now.
As far as non-fiction, I read a lot of non-fiction magazines and sometimes I'll notice that in one month there'll be two or three magazines that'll cover the same topic, but they'll cover it from slightly different angles. Sometimes I can reinvent that and piece together things that came from those magazines and put a different spin on it, take it, and make it mine. You know, create it in a different way so that I'm getting the same facts across but maybe I think mine summarizes it a little better and presents it a little better to an audience who maybe has some different needs, either because of visual impairment or because of being a senior as opposed to just broad spectrum of population.
Those are just a couple of ideas that help me get past the "What am I going to write now?"
Debbie W.: Okay, good, so really trying to figure out what you're going to write and you brought up a really good point. I know we've mentioned this before in Writer's Circle, and just food for thought, and you can comment on this, Marilyn, because I have your mic open.
To be a good writer, do you have to be a reader? I mean I think it's important. We talked about this when we were talking about children's books, to read other children's books, to read authors. Do you feel that as a writer you have to be a reader as well? To continue...
Marilyn: Well, I have to. I mean I love to read anyway, so that's not a challenge. I mean I was reader long before I was a writer.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Marilyn: I think that if you're doing a one shot memoir or you've got one big story in your life that you experience, that you want to share, then maybe you don't have to be a reader, but if you're going to write fiction or if you're going to write poetry, you've got to read what other people are doing out there, because then you kind of know how you fit into the picture. You don't have to stay inside that same box, but you at least know what you're competing with.
Debbie W.: Yeah.
Diane O.: I like how you said how you fit into the picture, because when I went to school for writing, they would talk about how you're part of the conversation as a writer, so I like that.
Debbie W.: Well, thank you, Marilyn. I appreciate your sharing.
Marilyn: You bet.
Debbie W.: I always pick up a lot of good pointers from you. Thank you.
Marilyn: Thank you.
Debbie W.: Okay, Helen. Helen, you have your hand up. I'm going to unmute you, Helen.
Helen: Okay, yeah, while waiting for the wheelchair transport at the grocery store or whatever, I agree with the other lady. I listen actively and over listen to what other people are saying. A lot of times it helps me find a topic that I may never have thought of on my own. It gives me the impetus to start writing creating something possibly from a different point of view I never even discovered in myself.
Then we were talking about unblocking ourselves. I always found that leaving and returning, going to a different location, and my favorite, doing a small task I don't like, like scrubbing the toilet, scrubbing the sink, scrubbing my sandals, a small task with music so that you take yourself so completely out of where you were, but yet you get something done, and you feel really good about knocking something out and then you're ready to go back to write.
Debbie W.: Oh, great idea, especially cleaning the toilet. I think that would make you want to go back to writing, right?
Helen: The other one is scrubbing my sandals.
They're small tasks, they're small tasks and then you crank up the tunes, you sing along if you know the song. You take yourself completely out. You've knocked something out that makes you feel like you've done something, even if you can't write one more word today, you feel good.
Debbie W.: Right, great, great. Yeah, and I like what you were saying about eavesdropping in... You know, just kind of being aware of what's going on in your environment, so I like your proactiveness. Instead of sitting there getting impatient on having to wait and getting frustrated, you kind of eavesdrop and make it beneficial to you, what's going on around you and what you can pick up. That's a good way to stay in the moment and not get frustrated with having to wait for a ride to pick you up or that bus that's late or relying on somebody, so good for you for turning that into something positive.
Helen: And being blind because I can't see who they are, what they look like or anything, I try to make up little back stories with it.
Debbie W.: Right, great.
Diane O.: Cool.
Debbie W.: That's a wonderful idea. Really neat idea. Well, thank you, Helen for sharing.
Helen: Thank you.
Debbie W.: Okay, Nyla, you're up. I'm going to unmute you, Nyla.
Nyla: Hi, you know, this, I like to hear all these suggestions that the ladies say and it's really nice, but I have a ... I would like to share one, I've used it, specific, because I remember last month, from that lady say, they start... they don't know how they can start writing something. Okay, for me, writing, I start, first for me, now I know I share with other people, especially when I go to work with the elders.
[inaudible] to people, they start [inaudible] ... Already they think they cannot be allowed to do nothing in their life, because they lose their sight and I say, no. [inaudible] writing something about what you are grateful. I give you some example, you can write in a piece of paper that you have a new house, computer, or anything, cell phone, they have like a quick note to something and you can write in every day anything, okay, why you are grateful.
I can give you example. I say, "I am grateful, today I am grateful because I can smell the roses. I am grateful because I can listen music. I am grateful because my friend come in to visit me. I am grateful because I can listen to Writers’ Circle. I am grateful because I can smell the good meal. I am grateful because I can feel my heart, and I'm grateful because who I am."
Anything, and I give you these example to special the people who are, they are [inaudible]. They are stressful, [Spanish] and I say, "You don't need to start with something beautiful." You can say, "I am grateful because I can cry. I am grateful because I notice that I can no allowed to do the same thing day before and I grateful because I need to start a new day again."
Debbie W.: Right. Well, Nyla, I really appreciate that. You have touched on a topic that's very dear to me, gratitude, and I firmly believe in a gratitude journal and that's what you're talking about is sometime maybe when you just have writer's block, and don't know what to write about, start writing about what Nyla's saying. "I am grateful for ... I am grateful for... I am grateful for..." and I... Just on a side note, I do a gratitude group every Monday night at one of the assisted living facilities here in my area and we do...
Debbie W.: We go, we sit around, and we talk about what we're grateful for for the day and then I pick a topic and we talk about what we're grateful for and it really is a wonderful experience and I encourage people to try that. You know, when you're having a bad day, just stop and think about what you're grateful for, so Nyla, I ... this is a very passionate topic for me so I better stop now because this is Writers’ Circle, not Gratitude Circle so... but thank you, thank you so much for sharing that. That was... and offering encouragement for people to start a gratitude journal. That's great. Thank you, Nyla.
Okay, I have Ann, your hand is up. I'm going to unmute you, Ann.
Ann: Okay, so on the heels of people talking about listening to other conversations, one of the best places to find little tidbits is Walmart. I'm telling you, I heard somebody behind me say something about umbrellas and chairs one time and then another time, over the paging system, somebody said, "Code 60." I was listening to a podcast and my friend said something about hooks and ladders and then I was listening to the police scanner and something about a Honda being ... a motorcycle being run off the road by a Honda.
Those different device, like police scanners, going to stores, and sometimes even the podcasts you listen to can give you ... There can be something in it, little nuggets in there that you can use.
Debbie W.: Great, great. Yeah, absolutely. Stay open to what is around you, to be aware what's happening around you. You can get sparked a lot of times by that.
Cathy, your hand is up. Do you have something to share about writer's block?
Cathy: I hardly ever have writer's block because I had to write as part of my job, well, case histories and people's conversations and case notes and so I've written and so being able to write what I would like to write is a blessing, especially with doing little exercise like we did. I wrote a lot of different kinds of those things but one of the things I've always done to be able to clear my head is to get rid of stuff that I want to bitch about. You know, just things that are bothering me, going to write down those things, because if you can get stuff out of your head, that may be keeping you from being creative, things that are bothering you or things that somebody said or did ...
Debbie W.: Absolutely.
Cathy: Or whatever, just get it out, just write it up, because you usually can write about something that you're PO-ed about, so that's one of the things I do.
Debbie W.: Then what happens, Cathy is you cleanse yourself and you feel better, so it's a double win.
Cathy: Right, and so you could go on and do whatever it is you were wanting to write.
Debbie W.: Yeah, it's a double win. I like that. I like that.
Diane O.: Hey, Diane speaking real quick, that makes me think of The Artist's Way. I think we've mentioned it before and we can make sure it's in the show notes, but Julie Cameron in those book, she recommends like writing for three pages at the beginning of the day. I do it five minutes a day, whatever, but I think the purpose of that and sort of like that, too, because sometimes the first things you write are things you want to vent about, things that are bothering you, things that are bugging you and then I think that frees you to write about things that you maybe really do want to get published or whatever.
Debbie W.: I wonder if another twist on writer's block and something that I read about is called leadaphobia. Leadaphobia, so a phobia is a fear, right, so leadaphobia is fear of that first sentence. It's not really writer's block, it's the fear of writing and I wonder if that's ... that some of you have that, the fear of what I put out, there's someone's going to critique, what I put out there is not good enough. What if I'm not good enough to be a writer? What if nobody's going to read this? What if somebody's going to read this and tell me I stink at writing?
Sometimes it's what stops you from not writing is not true writer's block, maybe it's this leadaphobia, the fear of the first sentence, the fear of really sitting down and writing and I wonder if people have experienced that as well.
Kirsten, your hand is up.
Kirsten: Yeah, hi, yes, that's absolutely... and I'm the person that brought up The Artist's Way and it's all tying back in, but I'm actually sitting here trying to remember why I raised my hand.
Debbie W.: Oh, okay.
Kirsten: Oh, no, somebody said something that reminded me of something else and ...
Diane O.: I know this feeling.
Kirsten: I need to... Yeah, so we had the gal talking ... Oh, the gal who was talking about the Walmart experience, that's what I got thinking about. I don't know about you guys, but my best thoughts come either when I'm in the shower or when I'm falling asleep.
By the time I get to doing something about it, it's gone, so I haven't figured out a solution for the shower yet, but I have no vision, so I don't do pen and paper anymore. I used to carry a little notebook around. In the event you just have a phrase, sometimes you just fall in love with a little group of words that pops into your head that may not be a sentence, but it might be an idea and just keeping a little notebook of that, but I don't do the notebook so much anymore so what I do is, because I'm lazy, I text myself. All the time.
Diane O.: Oh, that's cool.
Kirsten: Every day, I have like about a million text messages from myself with some little inspiration, some little thought that I had about, "Oh, this could be something." Sometimes I do something with it and sometimes I don't, but it's a really quick and immediate way, rather than go to opening up the computer... Like I said, I haven't figured it out for the shower yet but that phone is right by my bed.
Diane O.: That's cool.
Kirsten: As I'm falling asleep, my husband ... That's the worst part is he complains. "You woke me up.” But you know it just happens to be that thing you know might be the next Pulitzer, that title, that turn of phrase that you just have to capture before it goes away.
Debbie W.: Excellent.
Kirsten: When the gal was talking about all of those things that she witnessed, that she pulled together into one piece, had made me think about how fragmented the inspiration can sometimes be.
Debbie W.: Right, great ideas. You would think at this point, maybe somebody has an app for that or you have an app [crosstalk] ...
Kirsten: Probably but then I'd have to go and engage it, so I just text myself.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Diane O.: Sounds like a perfect solution. I like that.
Debbie W.: Okay, we have a few more hands up and I want to get to them within the next five minutes before we start wrapping up, so I'm going to call on Will. I'm going to unmute Will.
Debbie W.: Yeah, hi, Will. Welcome.
Will: Yes, so I used to teach school and we used to have writing workshop for students and so oftentimes I would encounter a student who say, "I just can't think of anything. I can't write." One of the tricks that we were taught was to put an X on their page and say, "Well, how about if you can write to this X?" It kind of changed their focus from like, "Oh, I'm really stuck, I can't write," to "Oh, I can write to that X." By writing to the X, before you know it, they were just off and running.
Sometimes, just change the focus by doing something very simple, by saying, "Can you write this much to this thought?" and focus on that helps to generate the writer and get them going.
Debbie W.: Great, great idea. I like how all of you are sharing how you're encouraging all the young writers in the world. You know, that you're there helping them, because I worry about that with all the technology, so the people aren't going to be doing that. Good for you for putting yourselves out there to encourage the young writers of the world. Great job. Thanks, Will.
Will: You're welcome.
Debbie W.: Okay, I have 419, 419, I'm unmuting 419.
Helen: I did actually was going to make really quick, for the lady in the shower, if she has enough vision left, get a dry erase board and put it up right next to the shower.
Debbie W.: Okay, great idea. We learn from each other. Okay, thanks, Helen.
Okay, so I really appreciate everybody participating today. I hope everybody picked up some good ideas for facing writer's block or if simply, if it's maybe a fear of writing. I appreciate everybody who shared their six-word memoir and I encourage those who haven't done that yet, to maybe give it a try. I was one of the guilty ones that didn't do it this month, so I'm going to make practice of that and try one myself.
If you are comfortable in sharing your six word memoir with me, to try and get published, I will send it on to the website and we'll see what happens, so my email address is Worman, W-O-R-M-A-N, @Hadley.edu. What I would like to do next, is have Diane tell us about the guest speaker we're having next month. Next month our talk will be on August 8th.
Diane, you want to share with who's coming to talk with us? Her name is Lisa Rose, she's an author and we just thought it would be fun to have somebody talk to us a little bit so come prepared to ask questions and pick her brain a little bit.
We are ending, coming to 4:30. I see two hands up. I'm going to call on 618, because I'm not sure you've had a chance to talk today. I'm going to unmute you, 618.
Debbie W.: Yes
Sabiha: My name's Sabiha and it's 681, I believe.
Debbie W.: 681.
Sabiha: The number, yes.
Diane O.: What was your name again?
Sabiha: Sabiha, S-A-B-I-H-A.
Diane O.: Okay.
Sabiha: I have to say that I was not visually impaired until about eight or nine years ago, so I love to read and I love to write. I'm kind of a... If I describe myself, I'm a bit of a dreamer and love to connect with nature, so I get my ideas or my... You know, when I really get those down. When [inaudible] then I'm outside or connected or when I'm in solitude. You know, and then sometimes I'll be really busy and I get these things that I really want to but something like I have to buy them and I feel like so caught up and I feel like, oh, okay, that's the way I want to express it is then gone, you know, the beauty of how I want to and I feel like I wish I could do it in a way that is not lost, that sense of how I want to express things.
I do use the note app on my phone more often, because you know, like I said, I'm learning to use a screen reader, it's not quite efficient, with that, with computers and of course, as my vision loss is progressing, I'm also not able to see on paper, so... and I do communicate to one of my close friends on a social media group called [inaudible], so she's kind of like my living journal. That's how I describe it.
Debbie W.: Okay.
Sabiha: It's great, it's like sharing with a friend at the same time, maintain the journal of... That's all I have to say.
Debbie W.: Okay, great. Thank you so much for sharing. I do appreciate everybody coming today. It's always nice to have new people join us. It's nice to have everybody come back each month, so we must be doing something right. If there's any comments you have or anything you'd like to see in Writer's Circle, please email Diane or myself and we'd be happy to pick a topic, if there's something you'd like to discuss, bring it up with us. We'd be happy to consider it. Can't make any promises but we'll consider it. Our next Writer's Circle will be August 8th, so it's always the second Thursday of the month. Diane, do you have anything to say before we end the meeting?
Diane O.: Well, I have two prompts to give people.
Debbie W.: Oh, that's right. You need to give them prompts.
Diane O.: Yeah, for next time.
Debbie W.: I'm going to let you give the prompt and I'm going to say goodbye and then you'll have last words. Thank you.
Diane O.: The prompts for next month, and again, you could write a story or you could write a poem, you could write whatever you want on these prompts. They're from the Fast Fiction, Creating Fiction Five Minutes book, by Roberta Allen and write about envy or write about magic. Again, write about envy or write about magic. Well, have fun and happy writing.