Archive | writing.

Things other people have written.

Mindful Writing Exercises

And now for something waaaay different this week!

Awhile ago, I put out a call on Twitter asking if anyone would like to be a guinea pig for some writing exercises that I was working on. They’re all written, and instead of placing them on a dedicated page on the site, I’m putting them here, just in case you could use them, too.

Ready? All you need are pen and paper (or something to type on), along with close access to the best thing you’ve read recently. Here we go!

1. SPEAKING v. WRITING: Write down a description of yourself, however you might explain yourself to someone else. Then, record yourself speaking a description of you. If that feels weird, have someone else ask you to describe yourself, and have them record the answer. Once you have both versions of the same question, take note of the following:

  • Are there differences between the written and recorded answers?
  • If so, what are they?
  • Did one version *feel* different than the other? If so, how?
  • Which one feels stronger?

Comparing how we verbally express ourselves vs. describe ourselves in writing can show our strengths. Some people are going to feel better about their spoken answer, while others are going to feel better about their written one. If your written answer was not as strong as your spoken answer, try reading the written answer out loud and seeing how it feels. If your spoken answer was not as strong as your written answer, try writing out the spoken answer and seeing how it feels.

The point here is to check in and see if your writing and your inner voice are one and the same. If they are the same, great! If not, try working with the weaker one until it feels (or sounds) stronger.

 

2. SETTING THE SCENE: If you want to explore your fiction voice, create a scene in your head. If you want to explore your non-fiction voice, look around you.

Then, write down 3 – 5 descriptive sentences for each scene.

 

3. TAKING NOTE OF CONVENTIONS: Read over what you wrote for #2. What senses did you use? Only sight? Only sound? Usually we rely on the same senses over and over again, with the most often used being sight and sound. But what are we missing by only using 2 of our 5 senses?

Go back and write 3 – 5 sentences for each scene using all 5 senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching).

 

4. COMPARISONS: Look over the sentences you wrote in #3, which ones connect with you the most?  Which ones were difficult to write? Compare your answer for #2 with your answer for #3. Which one would you rather read?

 

5. CONNECTION: Go back and re-read the last article/piece/page(s) of the last thing that moved you, something that you revisited in your mind after you finished reading the words. Write down a list of which senses the author used within the piece, and which moments you most connected with as a reader.

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Taking stock of these types of answers means better understanding: 1) if you’re stronger in your writing and with your speech and 2) what kind of writing you connect with, while also highlighting how far (or near!) your writing style is to what you like best. Sometimes we get so used to doing things one way, we forget to see how far we’ve strayed from our own strengths and our own interests.

I’ll be back next week with another craft-related post, but wanted to share these in case you are having trouble connecting with your own writing. For those of you who make your own crafts, using all 5 senses are important in your descriptions, too, so even if you’re not a self-described writer, taking note of what senses you rely on (and what you forget all together) can help you hit your content even more out of the park!

How to Embrace a Gray Day

theperfectafternoon

It’s gray here today. That kind of gray that makes you want to drink endless cups of tea and listen to The Smiths all day on repeat. Not a sad type of day per se, but one that is lovely with its puffy clouds and range of grays and unusually coolish temperatures. I’m wearing a hoodie in April in North Carolina, so today I’ll take it.

And the more I let myself be okay with the gray and the un-sunniness, the more I sink into the day as it turns into afternoon. The more I hold on to my warm mug a little big longer in order to let the heat sink down into my bones. I know that the sunny days are the ones that get all the attention, the glory, the “good” comments, but I’m all about these days that slip in between and remind you that even the unsunny days can be perfect. Even they can harbor a warmth despite what the sky is saying.

And how I feel about gray days is similar to how I feel about posts that show up in my various feeds that share less-than-perfect images and words. Their less-than-perfectness allows me to connect in its everydayness. It’s gray dayness. The not-so-perfect posts are the ones that allow me to see the human beyond what appears on my screens, both big and small. They allow me to know you on your gray days. They remind me that just like the weather shows us, we are all an amalgam of our sunny, gray, and in-between days.

And just like how the barometric pressure drops on those gray days, so does the stress to keep everything perfect when you post those everything’s-not-so-perfect posts. You release yourself from having to one up everyone, from having to find the perfect angle, from having to make those colors pop when they don’t want to. You let yourself be seen in those imperfect moments.

Sometimes on those gray days, if you’re lucky, the rain comes. And whether it shows up like a torrent or hints with sprinkles, it refreshes nonetheless. There’s a whoosh in the air when the sky opens up, like a sigh or a deep exhale. And it reminds you that these days, they are perfect, too. In their weight and their grayness and in their waiting to exhaleness.

By holding back the sunlight that seeps through our skin, they inherently show us how to embrace the gray days by that act of withholding. In taking out what we all consider beautiful they force us to find a new definition for what beauty truly is. And just how necessary this paradigm shift is for moving forward.

Remembering to Fall a Little Bit in Love Today

there is a river

The book was on my coffeetable because I was using it to hold up my iPad so I could watch a CreativeLive video. The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. I hadn’t flipped through it in years, this book that was given to me by someone at the press, because that’s what happens when you know people in the book trade, you get books. (And it’s awesome.)

I flipped through the table of contents and the whole giant tome looking for something to grab me for just a minute. Something to tussle me awake from wondering about the future. And how human it is. So human that we don’t admit it for fear of seeming normal, not the unique snowflake-like butterflies that we all think we just might be… when in reality it is internalizing and digesting this fact that gives us depth and space to grow.

And for a second I fell in love with a Hettie Jones poem, the more beautiful than beautiful poem, Words:

Words

are keys
or stanchions
or stones

I give you my word
You pocket it
and keep the change

Here is a word on
the tip of my tongue: love

I hold it close
though it dreams of leaving.

I sat with it and remembered how when I was at college, in a 2-year program run by hippies in a dorm basement and we had classes like “Jack Kerouac and the Beats,” instead of “English Literature 101,” I wanted to be a poet. When I thought that running away from life, in its varying incarnations, was actually living life. When being like Hunter S. Thompson seemed cool instead of hollow and empty. When I took the wrong lessons from the Beats instead of heeding the right one, which was to fall a little in love each day.

And I flipped some more and came across There is a River by S.A. Griffin:

There is a cheerful ignorance
a chance meeting and
luck like gold that cannot be
mined or
stolen

a common atom

a dance

and stars that trick the
water with their
certain
magic

do not wash your wars in it
take your holy rituals to the
precious fountains built by your
agencies of fear

press your
wine from the fallout
and drink your
bitter victory

for yes

there is a river
a giving river that will
sing you safely

a river of
light

final
fast
and free

where you can
disrobe
and leave your casual sadness
walking sideways at the
shore

meet me there
whoever you are
and we will agree to
swim it
together

And along with the photo above in Instagram I wrote, “Oh, nothing, just falling a little in love with this poem (this is just the scrumptious beginning) by S.A. Griffin, revisiting my deep dark roots, when I was convinced I would be a poet and drink wine from the bottle at readings like the Beats and go on road trips where we would always stop to look at the stars every night, just because we could and they were beautiful. Re-remembering what it feels like to fall a little in love with something new every day. Recalling that tingle in my toes and half smile on my face, which feels both delicious and delightful(l). Have you fallen a little in love yet today? ❤️

And then realized that falling a little bit in love with something each day is my future. Taking the time to sit and feel how gorgeous it feels to have your breath be taken from you when you have a moment or a conversation or a feeling that seems almost too exquisite to exist. And that is my job, my purpose, my everything. And yours, too.

Maybe it’s a button you find on the ground, or the way someone you love exhales, or the effortless flight of a tiny bird from tree to tree. It’s to stop and notice that this, this is living. Noticing. Feeling. Digesting. So, I hope that you fall a little bit in love today and have the presence to notice that you’re falling. That this moment, this thing is happening. And that you continue to feel this and “hold it close” like Hettie says, “though it dreams of leaving.”

That you have moments that “cannot be mined or stolen” because they are yours alone to take and transform into new and better and braver moments. Because “there is a river / a giving river that will” show up if you just remember to let it.

Craftivism, camp, and talks, oh my!

Happy to report that Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism is almost at the printer! Hooray! You can find out more about it over at Arsenal Pulp and pre-order it over on Amazon.

This month has been a busy one with a trip to Joshua Tree, California for Camp CARPA with the Craft Research Agency, where I met loads of other amazing artists and generally enjoyed hanging out in the desert for a week. Incredible conversations were had, crafty drone replicas were made, and a lot of stitching was done.

Next up:

I have two pieces up at the Spoken Threads craftivism show at ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse, so if you’re in the area, go have a look!

postcard-6inx8in-h-front

A talk at the V&A in London next month at the The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth conference with some fine folks on the roster with me as you can see below. I’ll be talking about craftivism in the non-English speaking world. Have an example you’d like for me to talk about? Let me know in the comments or through
email
.

SSR_BOOKING INFO_ 2_

I’ll also begin working my PTSD quilt/embroidery project, too! As an extension of the post I wrote here on PTSD and relationships, it’s been retooled and rewritten for Elephant Journal, and you can go read it here.

I’ll be talking more about that particular project later, but it includes collecting statements (the exact format of which I’m still working on) from people with diagnosed PTSD and stitching them together in a quilt. The point of the project is to take statements from people who have a disorder that often leaves them alienated and feeling unworthy and put them together, showing them that they are not, in fact, alone.

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