#FMF Start

Every Friday Kate at fiveminutefriday.com posts a word. Set the timer for 5 minutes and see what come out of the pen…Ready, set, GO!

What do I need to start?

I need to start a story for today.

I could start with a line.

I could start with a title.

I could start with a list.

I could start with a character.

I could start with a situation.

The line I could start with is: A top layer of a wedding cake was in their freezer and they had no idea where it came from but ate it anyway.

The title I could start with is: Just Because You Keep Saying it Doesn’t Make it True

The list I could start with is items in a weird grocery cart.

The character I could start with is Brooklyn.

The situation I could start with is the couple trying to get to Chicago and they have missed their train.

Now that I have that worked out I will set the timer for 10 minutes and write!

Happy Friday!

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My First 6 Weeks with the Artist’s Way…again

Here in my truth about creative recovery –

What is It?

The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron which came from a creative recovery class she was teaching. It is a 12 week program divided into weeks with tasks and two main tools with the purpose to find and fuel your creativity. It is not just for writers, it is for anyone. There are two main tools in addition to the weekly exercises.

Tool 1: Morning Pages

This is the heart of the program and is likely a word you have heard or read around writers and other creative people. Morning pages are simply three pages of longhand writing done in the morning that are a brain drain. You write whatever comes to mind. They are not supposed to be smart but they can be. Many times it is complaining or what you need to remember for the day.

Julia Cameron says: There is no wrong way to do the morning pages.

Yet, there is much conversation around what is the “right” way to do them. Our inner critic makes us perfectionists and many of us are hard wired to want to do things right.

Why do we do morning pages when they aren’t considered real writing? To get to the other side — of the censor, of our own obstacles — they help us get out of our own way.

For me, the morning pages lift the fog and I reach clarity. My relationship with them are different because this is the fourth long term relationship I have engaged in with the tool. It is more about what happens after the morning pages for me. All my other writing is more clear and focused when I use this tool. My MP’s tend to be list like and weird streams of thoughts. There are reflections and random memories as well.

Tool 2: Artist Dates

The artist date is a weekly date you take solo.

Read the entire article here.

The Writing Store

Creativity sparks often from unusual places. As writers we are required to pay attention as part of the job.

I am continually writing down ideas in notebooks, apps on my phone, my hand, or doing the “I will repeat this phrase until I find a pen”. I do not recommend the last one.

I started composing a “List of 10” over a year ago. Shaunta Grimes does this, Austin Kleon does this too. With daily lists you always have something to write about.

I write what strikes me as funny, unusual, appealing or something I cannot stop thinking about.

Authors will tell you to keep a notebook of ideas. Most of us have several notebooks.

Here is a list of places to shop for ideas for those little worlds of paper:

  1. Tarot cards — just use the images on the cards or use spreads
  2. Open 30 random books and write down the first phrase or sentence that pops out to you
  3. Keep a collection of words

Please click here to read the entire post.

Also click here to read my article ENGAGEMENT: Invite vs Direct

During this past week, I have had many life-giving teaching conversations.

We are piloting a new curriculum for literacy and it is the most excited I have ever been for a program. Immersion is the word that comes to mind when I think of all the experiences which are created.

Students are immersed in a reading writing workshop where the pace is quick but not hurried. Every time I visit a classroom I forget about the time. Late last week I was in a 7th grade room where the students were working with character related to the setting in a novel.

In the debrief with the teacher I made the observation that students do not have a problem discussing what they are supposed to during the turn and talk portions of the lessons. Traditionally, if the routines are not clearly established students will go rogue with their conversations and talk about lunch or the neighborhood instead of what they are supposed to. It is often a struggle for teachers. In this program, I have not seen that at all. There might be a side comment but it is always AFTER they have discussed their point in relation to the materials. I asked the teacher why she thought that might be.

My 12 Steps

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

My name is Tammy and I am a writer.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and compulsion to write. Our lives are unmanageable due to constant thinking about story and imaginary worlds.

We came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We free our unconscious with freewriting and letting go meditations from our spirit guides.

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the nurturing of writing.

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and list these obsessions and write about them…obsessively.

Click here to read and support my writing.

Weekend Coffee Share

Join me for coffee and conversation!

It is Sunday again and the temps are a little cooler here. There is supposed to be a heat wave this week here in the Midwest later this week. I hope it stays away.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this weekend is the anniversary of me moving into the house I am living in now. It is not my forever home and I feel it. The birds do great us every morning as do the bunnies and the baby squirrels. There is lots of green which I adore.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a productive and busy week at work. Lots of conversation and planning which was positive.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am in week 5 of the Artist’s Way program. I am doing my morning pages every day which are three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind. It clears the way for the creative juice to flow. On Thursday night the ideas kept coming for articles and stories and I really wish I could have taken a writing day ALL DAY Friday to massage and nurture those words into pieces but alas the day job and other responsibilities called.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Storyaday is going strong. I have been writing to the prompts everyday and it has been going well. I enjoy the challenge and use it to try different techniques to foster my writing skills. I tried a new genre this week — cyberpunk. It was out of my comfort zone but a fun experiment. I wrote a 100ish word story and still do not like them! hahaha I have met some new writers through the group as well and that has been interesting. The Zoom call was Tuesday night. We did a lot of writing sprints — where we set the time and write all together — but there was some talking. I write in the morning on my own so I show up more for the conversation then the word count. It does get me some extra words. This week I worked on nonfiction during the call.

You can read the whole post here.

Inner Circle Course Syllabus

A fun look at a course I created that I would love to teach in response to a Human Parts Weekend Prompt!

Inner Circle Course for Creativity

Innovation 1630

Course Logistics:

  • Accelerated Program
  • Classroom: Various Locations
  • Length of course: Rest of my life

About the program:

The course is constructed of creative spaces for writers and readers to connect with a tribe of people to inspire them and fill their creative wells. Connections bring out the best in you as a creative. It will also allow you to connect to yourself.

This course provides a space for life giving conversation and action by creating a close knit “inner circle” of people to immerse in with ultimate input and creativity. This course is the travel guide to lead the way and fill the well.

Course Materials:

Readings: [more may be added]

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The Art of Gathering

Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Additional items:


Fountain pen

Mind maps


Morning Pages

3 pages of daily stream of consciousness writing

Essays of reflections after each experience

Assignments will vary depending on the experience

Participation in the Mastermind/Community

Topics will be provided the week before. Being in the “hot seat” to pose a problem to be solved by the group will be required once during the course.

Participation is also required in the message board community. Part of the creative process is sharing and also being vulnerable with fellow creatives.

Participation in the Conversation Lab and reflection essay

A systematic exercise between two students in the class consisting of a series of questions with allotted time to talk or NOT talk.

Participation in the Conversation Gala

You can read the entire article here.

A Life of Shoulds

A poem, a lesson and an AH HA moment.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is a poem I use with students often. It is always fun to be the adult to bring this poem to new eyes and brains.

The last time I taught it I used a vocabulary QHT chart for sorting:

Q is for questions about words

H is for heard of it but do not know the meaning

T is for “I know this word so well I could teach it to someone else”.

We read and record words that they deem important. I usually explain I want them to record words that POP out to them. I use this is my own practice of reading.

Diverged is a word that always ends up on the chart from this poem.

There is also always talk about choices and the path the narrator was trying to decide upon. One of the girls spoke up about the connection to life in general and which paths people choose to take. The students said they thought a lot of people chose the wrong path. Some thought that certain paths were thrust upon people.

The writing the students did was quick but thoughtful after our brief discussion. It is much easier to make an extended response when a list of details about your big idea is either annotated on the poem in front of you or on a list you have created. We did both.

The students conclusions were that the narrator wanted to make his own choices which is why he took the road less traveled.

I invited them to take two poems with them: Mary Oliver’s Every Morning and Billy Collins’ Days.

My Takeaways

We are all confronted with choices every day — too many most would argue. Some are trivial and some are life changing.

Do I stop and fill up my tire with air since the sensor went off and be late to work or wait and chance a flat?

Do I eat now or wait till I have more time?

You can read the rest of the story here.

#IWSG September

September 4 question — If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

This question was not difficult to imagine at all!

My perfect setting for my writing retreat would be a little red cabin on the edge of a lake. Mountains in the distance would be the perfect backdrop for the sun. The cabin would be airy with lots of windows and on my very own island. An island makes it perfect for no guests to stop by and for me to take a writing break walk. There are lots of trees to keep me company.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Click here to read the full post.

Happy Llama Tuesday!

Image result for llama party sticker target

Llama Llama Writer Rama!

Last year I was thinking how Tuesday’s are my favorite day because weekly podcasts I listen to are published that day. I had recently taken a trip to Target and found stickers. I use stickers to record writing rejections, to decorate my planner or to just brighten somebody’s day on a notecard. This day I had found Llama stickers like the image above. At first I thought a cartoon llama was an odd sticker to have but I thought they were fun. The little party hat seemed appropriate somehow. I was drawn to the llamas. At that point, I didn’t realize how much of a lasting effect the llama would have on my life.

On this Tuesday, I had been listening to Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing Podcast. She talks about #simplytuesday — the idea that Tuesday is a special day all its own.

It isn’t the beginning of the week — it isn’t hump day — it isn’t Friday Eve- it’s just a normal ordinary “do what you need to do” day. I decided it needed something special to liven it up that was my own. People make up holidays all the time so why not me? This was the day Llama Tuesday was born.

Llamas are a little ornery. They spit, they can be pretentious, and have a bit of an attitude. I think that Llamas and writers have a lot in common in these ways so I started to slip it onto the end of my blog posts. I am part of a teacher writer group and post on Tuesdays and share on Twowritingteachers.org. I figured this was the perfect venue to try out my new message.

I started posting a random “Happy Llama Tuesday” message in my regular writing community on Slack as well as the bottom of blog posts. At first, I didn’t offer any explanation. I just wanted to see if people would notice.

They noticed.

Now it is a regular practice and the tag line now is “Happy Llama Tuesday — Celebrate accordingly!” So you might celebrate by being a little sassy that day or bring a smile to someone’s face. It is not the customary greeting which can catch people off guard pleasantly.

The Ripple Effect

The llama then became an unofficial mascot of our Storyaday group. The Llama even got a mention on the podcast for Storyaday.

It has become the official timestamp of the week. One writer even made comment that she was glad her phone finally had auto suggestions in her phone that had llama following happy.

Another ripple effect was “Dear Llama” letters. One day the llama posted a picture with the question, “What do you NEED as a writer?” Several writers wrote letters to the Llama telling her their needs. One writer regularly now writes letters to the llama. The llama is a good listener. It turned into a fun exchange.

We all notice when there are llama items for sale now and often share the links. They are having a surge in the retail market. I saw a helium balloon in shape of a llama at the grocery store. We have llama planners and notebooks we compose in. There was even a blow up raft shaped like a llama that was shared.

I wasn’t expecting the Llama to have such a lasting effect but I am glad she did!


Click here to read the entire post.