Archive for July, 2010

Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #13

Let this image engage your muse. Write a paragraph, a short story, a poem, a memory, a journal entry…or whatever you feel inspired to create.


Ten Ways to Woo Your Muse

metal sculpture

Life is interfering with my desire to get a new post written, so instead I’m offering one of my most popular lists:

  1. Do something you haven’t done since you were a child. Slide down a slide.  Eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Play in a sprinkler. Sing a song you liked when you were a kid.
  2. Keep a notebook next to your bed, and write about whatever wakes you up.
  3. Take a little time to stop “doing” and just “be” for a while.  Meditate. Walk. Stare at the wall. Soak in a bubble bath.
  4. Spend some time doing anything you consider fun, even if it seems frivolous. Especially if it seems frivolous.
  5. Go for a walk and look at everything in your path as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
  6. Do something creative. Color. Dance. Play with Play-Doh.
  7. Pay attention to your dreams—both the night kind and the day kind.
  8. Rip up your To Do list for the day or for the afternoon and do whatever you feel like doing.
  9. Go outside at night and count the stars. Or waltz in the rain. Or share your secrets with the moon.
  10. Do something silly. Talk in a funny voice. Walk down the street backwards.  See if you can balance a spoon on your nose.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

7 Creative Links—The Problogger Challenge

photo by Dani Simmonds

After noticing a couple of the blogs I read participating in Problogger’s 7 Links Challenge, I decided to give it a whirl. The idea is to share seven links to posts of interest. Hopefully, it will introduce you to some content on this blog you haven’t seen yet, along with a couple of creative posts by others.

My first post:

Called—what else?—Strangling My Muse, this post begins “I swear when my toothbrush saw me first thing this morning it sighed, disappointed I’d spent another uncreative weekend followed by another restless Sunday night and now I was going to use it to brush away the grit of failure stuck between my teeth once again.” My conversation with my toothbrush continues, illuminating the theme of this blog—exploring how to make creativity a part of daily life in spite of a host of stresses. You also get to see a picture of me as a dreamy little girl.

A post I enjoyed writing the most:

This is absolutely impossible to answer. I truly love writing all the posts here. But, in order to complete the challenge, here are a couple that come to mind, both of which feature some of my own creative writing:

Armed and Dangerous. A riff on my earlier challenge to turn a creative block into a character, this post starts, “The minute she walked into my office I knew she was trouble. She had a pair of To Do lists that just wouldn’t quit. Long and persuasive like I like them. She leaned against the wall and pulled a tapered black pen out of her clutch…”

Turn Your Life into a Movie…or a Book…or a Fortune Cookie…. I had fun journaling in the format of the film synopses I write for a client.

A post which had a great discussion:

In My Muse Strangles Me, I confess to having a hot, verbally abusive male muse. The discussion in the comments (and in some e-mails I received from readers) ranged from whimsical to serious. I do love hearing about how others experience or visualize their muses. So I encourage further comments on this one!

A post on someone else’s blog I wish I’d written:

I went through my Creativity Roundup posts to answer this one. While I still love all the items I included in these roundups, two stood out as pieces I wish I’d written:

7 Ways to Attain Imperfection. A terrific reflection on perfectionism from Kristin Donovan at Journal Writing Saved My Life provides solid tips on how to combat the compulsion to be perfect.

A Short Story About Ladders and Boxes and Possibility. Cath Duncan’s wonderfully inspiring post provides a metaphor about creating and experiencing life on our own terms. (from Agile Living)

My most helpful post:

Based on your feedback, a lot of readers identified with my series Perfectionism: A Great Muse-Strangler, and found the ideas for combating creativity-stifling perfectionism helpful.

Another one people responded to is Write Through Your Pain, which offers tips for remaining creative through periods of both physical and emotional pain.

On a completely different note, Write Naked—with its list of waterproof paper, pens and other resources to help you capture your shower-time creativity—has been re-posted and tweeted a lot.

A post with a title I’m proud of:

10 Effective Ways to Strangle Your Muse. Includes “Believe you need to wallpaper your existence with hundred dollar bills instead of wrapping it around yourself like a beautiful poem,” “Be afraid of looking stupid,” and eight more muse-stranglers.

A post I wish more people had read:

Paddle Surfer Wisdom. I felt inspired when I wrote this post after a trip to Hawaii last summer. It explores the idea of tapping into an ancient, wise creature in the depths of your subconscious to help you navigate through your creative life.

Well, I wasn’t able to stick to seven links, but I hope you find some creative inspiration in my archives and the posts from other bloggers!

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #12

Let this image engage your muse. Write a paragraph, a short story, a poem, a memory, a journal entry…or whatever you feel inspired to create.

Sandbox Challenge #17: Write a Poem of Elimination

Also called Sharpie poems and blackout poems, these can be created by ripping a page from a newspaper or magazine and blacking out the words you don’t need. I used an old Vanity Fair interview with Johnny Depp for this one.

Her Birth Song

The colors of the sea,
serenity and golden love,
sliding toward a swirl
of deep blue words.

I crafted a few of these poems and had a lot of fun with this technique! I hope you do too. Feel free to share your creations in the comments or in the Wax Poetic section of the Readers’ Sandbox.

Source: Lisa Romeo’s blog via Drew Myron’s blog via Austin Kleon’s blog. (Check out the last two for more examples of elimination poems.)

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Try This Weird Writing Prompt

Okay, here’s something I wrote. Does it resonate with you? What does it make you think of? Well, stop thinking, and go write about it!

Bloody Ankles

I used to jog next to a river full of crocodiles that snapped at my legs as I passed by.

Now I run on a different path.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Weekend Writing Flow

As we head into the weekend, I’m offering a round-up of the writing exercises I’ve created for this blog. Most of them can be done in 15 minutes—or take longer if you’re inspired!

Use a word pile to create something tasty

Combine a random image and a line of text to create a new writing prompt

Turn your life into a movie, a bubblegum card, a fortune cookie…

Use a clincher detail to create a vivid character in just one sentence

Gather words you find sprinkled throughout your day and turn them into something new

Try one of these five exercises to shake up your muse

Get creative with lists

Turn something old into a new piece of writing

Use the environment to reflect a significant change in a character’s life

Craft compelling first and last sentences

Create a sensory collage

Try one of these 10 ideas to get your muse out of neutral

Dream up some metaphors

Use this prompt as a launching pad into creativity

Compile a thesaurus of the senses

Create a thesaurus of memories

Turn found words and phrases into something new

Embrace your bad writing

Transform a creative block into a character (with another example here)

Write a haiku about creativity

Create a faux-history for a random item

Dive into this word pool to write about a physical, emotional or creative journey

For bloggers—create a poem using search engine terms

You’ll also find photo prompts here, herehere, here and here, and some 5-minute creative quickies here.

And, if you want to work on something larger, write the story of your life with a series of 6-word memoirs.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Download a Free E-Book! Click on the Cover Below for your Creative Bursts Workbook

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About Sandy Ackers


Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

To learn more about Sandy, click here: About Sandy

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Click here to read the post discussing my relationship with my somewhat pesky male muse.

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Copyright © 2009-2017 Sandy Ackers. All rights reserved, with the following exceptions:

Writers retain all rights to any comments, stories or other original work posted on this blog in the comments sections or the Readers' Sandbox.

Many of the photos on this blog are in the public domain. If you'd like to reproduce a photo, contact Sandy Ackers at the email address listed in the ABOUT section of this blog for information on whether the image is under copyright.

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