Posts Tagged 'metaphors'

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

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

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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Only Have Five Minutes for Creativity? Try This Metaphor Exercise

January can be a tough month: recovering from holiday overwhelm; dealing with sniffles, flu, and cold weather; trying to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes it feels impossible to be creative. So it seems like the perfect time to rerun this post about one of my favorite quick creative exercises. Even when you’re not feeling well and have no time, you CAN nourish your creative soul with this five-minute play break.

If you’d like to try your hand at the metaphor exercise, check out the starter items in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox—or come up with your own. And, as always, I love it when you share your creative endeavors here!

Sandbox Challenge #1: A Camel is a Walking Sand Dune:

I’ve been engaged in several rounds of  a grueling match with the Human Head Pounder, the Vicious Throat Scratcher, the Phlegmy Cough Monster and a few of their other unpleasant pals. Now that I’ve gotten them halfway back into their caves, I’ve started thinking about how to stay creative when I’m sick. When deadlines start moaning because it looks like I may not meet them. When unpaid bills and undone chores begin growing horns and making increasingly scary noises. When the words in my brain stick together like swollen, overcooked pasta.

Then I remembered that a camel is a walking sand dune.

camel shadow

It’s a metaphor exercise I developed for myself during a period of intense busy-ness that had me nearly crying with my inability to find time for creativity. In order to calm myself down, I decided I could take FIVE MINUTES before bed every night for creativity.

Here’s what I did: I carried a small notebook with me, and during the day, I would jot down a few items, like “music blasting from a passing car,” “ocean waves,” “a black cat,” “a waterfall.”

Then, in those five minutes before bed, I would create metaphors for some of the things I’d written:

Music blasting from a passing car is a 30-second parade.

Waves are arpeggios on the ocean.black cat in garden

A black cat is a soft shadow.

A waterfall is long hair falling down a woman’s back.

I find this a wonderful exercise, because it sparks my creative imagination even when I have only a couple of tired minutes. And some of the metaphors I’ve created in these stolen moments have found their way into my stories and essays. I still keep a small notebook with starter items always ready to be turned into metaphors.

I’m going to begin issuing small writing challenges here. These will be geared toward the concept of this blog—that creativity can take place in tiny found moments—so none of them should take very long.

For this first challenge, write a metaphor/metaphors like the ones I’ve discussed here.  Post your answers in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox.  I’ve left some starter items there, or you can come up with your own.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Only Have Five Minutes for Creativity? Try This Metaphor Exercise

I’ve been under the weather and trying not to be overwhelmed by life. Having one of those weeks when it seems impossible to be creative. So it feels like a perfect time to rerun this post about one of my favorite quick creative exercises. Even when you’re not feeling well and have no time, you CAN nourish your creative soul with this five-minute play break.

Okay, I’m going to go drink some hot tea and write a couple of metaphors before I get back to work…if you’d like to try your hand at the metaphor exercise, check out the starter items in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox—or come up with your own. And, as always, I love it when you share your creative endeavors here!

Sandbox Challenge #1: A Camel is a Walking Sand Dune:

I’ve been engaged in several rounds of  a grueling match with the Human Head Pounder, the Vicious Throat Scratcher, the Phlegmy Cough Monster and a few of their other unpleasant pals. Now that I’ve gotten them halfway back into their caves, I’ve started thinking about how to stay creative when I’m sick. When deadlines start moaning because it looks like I may not meet them. When unpaid bills and undone chores begin growing horns and making increasingly scary noises. When the words in my brain stick together like swollen, overcooked pasta.

Then I remembered that a camel is a walking sand dune.

camel shadow

It’s a metaphor exercise I developed for myself during a period of intense busy-ness that had me nearly crying with my inability to find time for creativity. In order to calm myself down, I decided I could take FIVE MINUTES before bed every night for creativity.

Here’s what I did: I carried a small notebook with me, and during the day, I would jot down a few items, like “music blasting from a passing car,” “ocean waves,” “a black cat,” “a waterfall.”

Then, in those five minutes before bed, I would create metaphors for some of the things I’d written:

Music blasting from a passing car is a 30-second parade.

Waves are arpeggios on the ocean.black cat in garden

A black cat is a soft shadow.

A waterfall is long hair falling down a woman’s back.

I find this a wonderful exercise, because it sparks my creative imagination even when I have only a couple of tired minutes. And some of the metaphors I’ve created in these stolen moments have found their way into my stories and essays. I still keep a small notebook with starter items always ready to be turned into metaphors.

I’m going to begin issuing small writing challenges here. These will be geared toward the concept of this blog—that creativity can take place in tiny found moments—so none of them should take very long.

For this first challenge, write a metaphor/metaphors like the ones I’ve discussed here.  Post your answers in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox.  I’ve left some starter items there, or you can come up with your own.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

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.

**   **   **   **   **   **

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

Five Minute Creative Burst: Metaphor Exercise

I’m having one of those weeks. Too much work and no days off, a sick husband and trying to fight off the virus myself, feeling run down and burned out. One of those weeks when it seems impossible to be creative. So it feels like a perfect time to rerun this post from last August. Even when you’re not feeling well and have no time, you CAN nourish your creative soul with this five-minute exercise.

Okay, I’m going to go drink some hot tea and write a couple of metaphors before I get back to work…if you’d like to try your hand at the metaphor exercise, check out the starter items in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox—or come up with your own. And, as always, I love it when you share your creative endeavors here!

Sandbox Challenge #1: A Camel is a Walking Sand Dune:

I’ve been engaged in several rounds of  a grueling match with the Human Head Pounder, the Vicious Throat Scratcher, the Phlegmy Cough Monster and a few of their other unpleasant pals. Now that I’ve gotten them halfway back into their caves, I’ve started thinking about how to stay creative when I’m sick. When deadlines start moaning because it looks like I may not meet them. When unpaid bills and undone chores begin growing horns and making increasingly scary noises. When the words in my brain stick together like swollen, overcooked pasta.

Then I remembered that a camel is a walking sand dune.

camel shadow

It’s a metaphor exercise I developed for myself during a period of intense busy-ness that had me nearly crying with my inability to find time for creativity. In order to calm myself down, I decided I could take FIVE MINUTES before bed every night for creativity.

Here’s what I did: I carried a small notebook with me, and during the day, I would jot down a few items, like “music blasting from a passing car,” “ocean waves,” “a black cat,” “a waterfall.”

Then, in those five minutes before bed, I would create metaphors for some of the things I’d written:

Music blasting from a passing car is a 30-second parade.

Waves are arpeggios on the ocean.black cat in garden

A black cat is a soft shadow.

A waterfall is long hair falling down a woman’s back.

I find this a wonderful exercise, because it sparks my creative imagination even when I have only a couple of tired minutes. And some of the metaphors I’ve created in these stolen moments have found their way into my stories and essays. I still keep a small notebook with starter items always ready to be turned into metaphors.

I’m going to begin issuing small writing challenges here. These will be geared toward the concept of this blog—that creativity can take place in tiny found moments—so none of them should take very long.

For this first challenge, write a metaphor/metaphors like the ones I’ve discussed here.  Post your answers in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox.  I’ve left some starter items there, or you can come up with your own.

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

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.

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

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.
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

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

Why I Don’t Speak Cello

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.

**   **   **   **   **   **

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.


STOP STRANGLING YOUR MUSE!
I’ll help you slay your Perfectionism Dragon,
Herd your Inner Critics into a soundproof room,
Send your Procrastination Monster whimpering back to his cave,
And defuse all your creative blocks.

To schedule a free 30-minute telephone creativity coaching session with me, or for more information, click here.

Seeking Lost Writing Mojo

It seems my Muse has run away with my creative mojo for some kind of secret assignation, leaving me in the lurch as I struggle to write something meaningful and interesting. Or at least a coherent blog post with a beginning, middle and end.

So, while I’m hacking my way through the tall grass in search of the fugitive pair, I’ll leave you with this photo for inspiration. I’m sure there’s a good metaphor or two in the picture below. Can anyone articulate one?

labrador in snow

Don’t Put Your Creativity on the Back Burner

When I started writing this blog, I subscribed to Google Alerts for “creativity.” I thought the daily e-mails might bring me interesting news items to discuss here. But I’ve been disappointed. The vast majority of articles about creativity focus either on ways to be creative on the job or on creativity for children. I heartily support both of these things.  But it’s clear from these results our society doesn’t really encourage adult creativity unless it produces something tangible. A new way to sell a product. A happier child. A more attractive home. All good things. But I don’t think we should hang up our clown shoes and bury our toys in the back of our closet when we pick up our first briefcase. I don’t think we should allow ourselves a moment of pure creativity only after meeting all our adult responsibilities.

sundecor

Why not take five minute to be creative RIGHT NOW? If you have fifteen minutes or half an hour, that’s even better.

Here are some creative quickies you can do in five minutes:

Dream up some metaphors.

Write a one-sentence memoir.

If you’re working on a story or novel, write one line of dialogue.

Craft a 6-word story.

Write the first sentence of a new story or essay.

Create a haiku about whatever you see in front of you.

Visualize a new character.

Choose five random words from any book, then use them all in a short paragraph about your job.

Spend five minutes journaling or freewriting.

Write a description of a friend as if they were a stranger.

Think of your own quick creative exercise!

Sandbox Challenge #1: A Camel is a Walking Sand Dune

I’ve been engaged in several rounds of  a grueling match with the Human Head Pounder, the Vicious Throat Scratcher, the Phlegmy Cough Monster and a few of their other unpleasant pals. Now that I’ve gotten them halfway back into their caves, I’ve started thinking about how to stay creative when I’m sick. When deadlines start moaning because it looks like I may not meet them. When unpaid bills and undone chores begin growing horns and making increasingly scary noises. When the words in my brain stick together like swollen, overcooked pasta.

Then I remembered that a camel is a walking sand dune.

camel shadow

It’s a metaphor exercise I developed for myself during a period of intense busy-ness that had me nearly crying with my inability to find time for creativity. In order to calm myself down, I decided I could take FIVE MINUTES before bed every night for creativity.

Here’s what I did: I carried a small notebook with me, and during the day, I would jot down a few items, like “music blasting from a passing car,” “ocean waves,” “a black cat,” “a waterfall.”

Then, in those five minutes before bed, I would create metaphors for some of the things I’d written:

Music blasting from a passing car is a 30-second parade.

Waves are arpeggios on the ocean.black cat in garden

A black cat is a soft shadow.

A waterfall is long hair falling down a woman’s back.

I find this a wonderful exercise, because it sparks my creative imagination even when I have only a couple of tired minutes. And some of the metaphors I’ve created in these stolen moments have found their way into my stories and essays. I still keep a small notebook with starter items always ready to be turned into metaphors.

I’m going to begin issuing small writing challenges here. These will be geared toward the concept of this blog—that creativity can take place in tiny found moments—so none of them should take very long.

For this first challenge, write a metaphor/metaphors like the ones I’ve discussed here.  Post your answers in the Tiny Packages section of the Reader’s Sandbox.  I’ve left some starter items there, or you can come up with your own.

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


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

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