Archive for the 'metaphors' Category

Finding Your Voice

I used to live in the desert and drink from the Well of Right Words. One day, I walked until I found an unexpected oasis. Now I sip phrases from succulent fruit and inhale ideas carried by a wind that blows from beyond imagination.     ~Sandy Ackers

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People often talk about writers “finding their voice,” as if it’s a lost pet that ran out the door when someone carelessly left it open. We all have a voice, right? We speak. People understand us. But finding your voice as a writer can be a daunting task. You write a short story in the same way you talk, and it falls flat. You create a poem about your lost love and it sounds like a million others you’ve read.

There’s lots of advice out there for tapping into your unique writer’s voice. I just did a Google search on the subject and found many helpful tips: read a lot, imitate writers you admire, write the way you speak, be willing to write badly, don’t censor yourself, write about what you’re passionate about, write about what you’re afraid of…the list goes on.

Though I believe we’re all different and each have our own journey, I want to share my experience here. For me, finding my voice was simply a matter of writing. And writing. Then writing some more. I wrote all the time. I learned to write from my heart. I went where my writing took me, even when it seemed stupid or pulled me in the opposite direction I’d been intending to go. I did massive amounts of freewriting. I took classes and joined workshops. I wrote fiction, poetry, essays, experimental pieces, journal entries and more. I read authors I admired and noticed how they put words together in ways I found interesting.

And then I wrote some more.

Finally, one day, I knew I’d found my voice. I just knew it, the way you always know the most profound things in your life, if you let yourself. I felt it deep inside.

How did you find your voice as a writer? Or what are you doing to find it?

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Why I Don’t Speak Cello.

I’m on vacation, visiting family, friends and old college pals in my home state of Virginia, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

On Tuesday morning, a cello sat on the sidewalk outside my house. I considered engaging in a musical conversation, but instead rushed off to work.

On Wednesday morning, the sidewalk looked up at me with empty eyes.

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I have a confession to make. Lately, I haven’t been practicing what I preach on this blog. Circumstances in my life at the moment have had me working long hours six or seven days a week, every week, for a while. Life has been particularly stressful. And I haven’t been maintaining a creative practice.

This blog itself does give me a bit of an outlet. But I haven’t devoted any time at all to what I call my soul-writing. The fragments of fiction and poetry, the phrases of metaphor and memory my Muse hands to me. Moments of creativity that may become pieces of a larger project or may just feed my deepest self by merely existing.

But this past weekend, I didn’t work at all, taking two days in a row off for the first time in quite a while. And guess what happened? My Muse took the opportunity to begin nudging me. Or maybe he’s been nudging me all along, and I just haven’t been listening. At any rate, a couple of metaphorical micro-stories flowed into my mind. And once I started writing them down, more arrived.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they all speak to issues of creativity and writing. I’ve shared one above, and I plan to continue sharing them and write about the issue each describes. “Why I Don’t Speak Cello” illustrates my current period of overworked stress. Something extraordinary sits on the periphery of my life, and I’ve been refusing to engage with it. Creativity is always extraordinary, you know.

My life hasn’t slowed down, in spite of the fact that I actually had a real weekend. And my stress level remains high. But this little story my Muse handed me reminds me that I can still take 15 minutes to talk to the cello before I rush to work.

15 minutes a day. That’s how you learn to speak cello—or become a writer, or maintain a creative practice—no matter how much crazy life throws at you.

And if you do ignore the cello until it disappears, just remember to stop and talk to the timpani and the trombone when they arrive.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Finding Your Voice

I used to live in the desert and drink from the Well of Right Words. One day, I walked until I found an unexpected oasis. Now I sip phrases from succulent fruit and inhale ideas carried by a wind that blows from beyond imagination.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

People often talk about writers “finding their voice,” as if it’s a lost pet that ran out the door when someone carelessly left it open. We all have a voice, right? We speak. People understand us. But finding your voice as a writer can be a daunting task. You write a short story in the same way you talk, and it falls flat. You create a poem about your lost love and it sounds like a million others you’ve read.

There’s lots of advice out there for tapping into your unique writer’s voice. I just did a Google search on the subject and found many helpful tips: read a lot, imitate writers you admire, write the way you speak, be willing to write badly, don’t censor yourself, write about what you’re passionate about, write about what you’re afraid of…the list goes on.

Though I believe we’re all different and each have our own journey, I want to share my experience here. For me, finding my voice was simply a matter of writing. And writing. Then writing some more. I wrote all the time. I learned to write from my heart. I went where my writing took me, even when it seemed stupid or pulled me in the opposite direction I’d been intending to go. I did massive amounts of freewriting. I took classes and joined workshops. I wrote fiction, poetry, essays, experimental pieces, journal entries and more. I read authors I admired and noticed how they put words together in ways I found interesting.

And then I wrote some more.

Finally, one day, I knew I’d found my voice. I just knew it, the way you always know the most profound things in your life, if you let yourself. I felt it deep inside.

How did you find your voice as a writer? Or what are you doing to find it?

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Sandbox Challenge #9: Mix Up Your Prompts

For this challenge, I’ve combined two common writing exercises—to use an image or a random line from a book as a prompt:

Open any book and let your finger fall on a sentence. Then open a magazine and note the first picture you see. Combine the two and write a scene, a character description, some dialogue, a poem, a freewrite, a memory or whatever else arises.

If you like, post your creations in the Go Wild! section of the Readers’ Sandbox. (I love it when people share!)

Here’s mine (from a sentence in The Lovely Bones and a photo in National Geographic):

Ruth would get an image and it would burn into her memory. She didn’t forget things like Jasper, who struggled to recall anything beyond the basic facts of his life 30 years ago. If he sat quietly for a while, he could conjure up vague reminiscences. But almost as soon as they arrived, the impressions floated slowly away from his mind, like glaciers drifting off the edge of a faraway alien country.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Growing a Tale

When no one would listen, I planted my words in an empty field near my home. Later, they grew into phrases, then sentences, then paragraphs.

One day I went to water my words and found an entire village had sprouted up, with houses and shops and people.

I sat on a bench and wrote down the stories of all the characters I’d grown.

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I’m having one of those weeks when it’s hard to find time to write much. So instead of a longer conversation about this metaphorical story I’ve written, I’ll just say it’s important—vitally important—that we writers and other creative types keep pursuing our art even when no one listens to us. When the people in our lives don’t “get” what we’re doing, when publishers reject our offerings, when it seems like no one will ever be interested in what we’ve written.

Always listen to your inner voice.

Always pursue your passion.

Keep writing from your heart and one day a village will sprout up. It may not happen when you expect it to. It may not look the way you visualized it. But if you continue to honor your need to express yourself creatively, in your own way, you will be cultivating your inner artist. You will be strengthening your unique voice. You will be growing a body of work, even if it doesn’t appear to be a cohesive piece or collection for a very long time.

Never, ever let anyone or anything stop you. Because the world truly needs your unique vision.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Trying to Capture the Elusive Muse


In a dream, I swim through a beautiful ocean of words, until I meet a very old tortoise who whispers the perfect sentence in my ear. I can’t remember the sentence when I wake, but my hair is wet.
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One of my greatest frustrations with my Muse arises when he provides incomplete information. When inspiration strikes, I want to see the whole picture. To visualize the complete story, imagine exactly how the scene unfolds or clearly hear the voice of an important character. But the truth is that muses almost always provide only fragments. That’s actually the muse’s job. To offer a spark of inspiration. Then we must turn the spark into something more. So many of my best pieces of creative writing have arisen when I started with just a hint of an idea, a hazy image, a line of dialogue or a brief moment of action that I first told myself wasn’t worth pursuing. But when I push aside the voice that tells me “No,” and insist on following the flash of inspiration, I often find something lovely unfolding. Writers frequently talk about how their wonderful novels, memoirs, plays, screenplays and poems originated with such snippets. I find it really helps me to remember that when I’m annoyed at my Muse for only providing me with wet hair while leaving the perfect sentence balanced on the tip of my tongue.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Get Creative Now!

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

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

Dream up some metaphors

Embrace your bad writing

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

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

Use a word pile to create something tasty

Write a haiku about creativity

Create a faux-history for a random item

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

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

Turn found words and phrases into something new

For bloggers—create a poem using search engine terms

You’ll also find photo prompts 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.


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About Sandy Ackers

Sandy

Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

To learn more about Sandy, click here: About Sandy

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Meet My Muse

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

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Copyright © 2009-2016 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.

Reproducing, copying or distributing the writing on this blog without the express permission of the author is strictly forbidden.

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