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.

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English to English Translation #writingprompt

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What will you write today?

Try a writing prompt called ENGLISH TO ENGLISH

You can read the post here.

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday June 9

I am so glad you are joining me for coffee today! This post is inspired by Eclectic Alli. My summer has officially started and I am feeling amazing! Let’s take our coffee and go for a little walk and then we can sit under the trees as the time stretches on.

You can read the rest of the post here. Please clap and comments if you enjoy what you read!

What will you tell me as we are having coffee?

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday June 2

I am so glad you are joining me for coffee today! Today feels special today because it is my second day of summer vacation. This does not mean that I am out of work completely. There are some workshops and training I will be going to but I do not have to drive into work every day. To be home is glorious. I appreciate this schedule change. It usually takes me a week to recalibrate myself but I do not think I will have that issue this year.

You can read the rest of the post here.

Please clap and comments if you enjoy what you read!

Happy Sunday! If you would like to support me additionally you are welcome to buy me a cup of coffee: http://ko-fi.com/tammybreitweiser

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday May 19th

Today please join me for a coffee. We have some catching up to do!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was a guest blogger on Teachwrite’s blog on Monday. If you missed that post you can read it here. It is called Ten Minutes of Truth.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am still writing everyday with Storyaday May. This week my stories got a little dark and a little emotional. It is not a bad thing, but it was surprising to me. Here are some of my favorite prompts this week:

Day 19: 3 Perspectives

2019 Day 17 -Aphorisms

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am using Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts every day. It is pushing me to think differently about stories somehow and I am pleased with them. Some I will revise and submit and others I will expand. I am considering her Story Course for my birthday. I would love the benefit of mentors but the price point is not one I can swing right now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to earn a scholarship to a writing conference. It happens and I will still keep writing. I was hopeful this time. I threw my hat into the ring so I am pleased with the effort.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my students did their Living History event on Wednesday. Children from the elementary school come and learn how to dip candles at our station. There is a fire where we melt the wax and my 8th graders do a skit to explain the process. They really did a great job and led the little ones well.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you the Bradbury Trio challenge is going strong as well. I am hoping the input of great writer words will influence my writing and help me hone my craft. I need to make sure I am savoring the writing and not just ticking off the poem, essay, and short story for the day. I was doing that with the books I was reading just to get the number. It doesn’t make it satisfying if I do it that way.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I received my Small Beer Press publication on Saturday. If you have read my blog at all, you know I adore Kelly Link and her writing. One speech I watched she spoke about horoscope stories she had written for a friend’s Kickstarter. I found the booklet of stories for sale and have been reading them over and over. I will use it as a model to write my own.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am nearing the end of the school year. The 31st is my last day. I have some training this summer but not too much. I am going to be teaching a workshop on Better Conversations at the end of July. I have a flash fiction writing class at the beginning of July I am super excited about as well. My birthday is in June too so that will mean a good dinner!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I finished reading a novel. I have not been ticking off the books like I have in the past since I am focusing on the Trio. I would recommend this book.

It was well written and there were some surprises at the end. It was a Book of the Month Club selection several months ago.

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Mothersday

Today please join me for a coffee at a little diner that looks like we have gone back in time. The mugs are ceramic and thick. The booths are red pleather. There is a buzz in the air that is snippets of conversation from babies to retirement age and the smell of strong coffee.

While we are having coffee I will tell you this past week was full of testing, late nights, and writing.

While we are having coffee I would tell you Storyaday May is going strong. I have written everyday and it is going well. I am following the prompts from Julie and Sarah Selecky. Most days I am able to combine both into one story which makes me happy and satisfied for some reason. I also was able to come back to my manuscript and start to write some stories that will be embedded into the novel. At my writing retreat in Feb. I was able to outline the whole book and see where there were holes and alignment issues. my brain is starting to plug those holes as I write which is exciting.

While we are having coffee I would tell you I am enjoying my writing community. I am checking in with the group every day. I have a few people I talk to more often with email or private messages. Monday night was our video meeting and it was nice to do some timed writing sprints with people around the country. I was also able to check in with a small group on Friday as well which was a great vibe.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you the Bradbury Trio challenge is going strong as well. I cannot pinpoint works this week that have stayed with me. I did relisten to The Ormulu Clock by Muriel Spark.

While we are having coffee I will tell you testing has gone on all week. I had my regular group two days and then on all the off times I was doing make up tests. It gives me time to write by hand since I cannot be connected to technology. I welcome the tech vacation every year at this time.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I had a good coaches meeting with one of our consultants. She is always motivating. We talked about goals and reflecting. The year is not over for my building yet so I am not quite in the end of year mode.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am back to running. I am having some complicated feelings about the activity to be honest. I was hard core before for various reasons but now the motivations for the runs are different. I had a glorious run at the national lakeshore on Friday and ran down a new trail which was beautiful and sandy. I even ran along the water which I have not done in years. the stairs took me to overlook the park too.

Trail 7

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am tired but am not dwelling on it. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have complicated feelings about this holiday. I will spend some time with one of my sons and enjoy that. The rest of the day I will deal with my memories. Maybe it will end up in a story.

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

3+ Ideas about Hope

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The word hope has come up several times this week. I have learned that if a concept keeps showing itself in different venues then I need to pay attention.

Yesterday was my last session with Jim Knight for instructional coaching training and the topic was being a Better Leader. One of the main concepts was …you guessed it…HOPE.

Shane J. Lopez is a psychologist who has written about hope extensively. His definition is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”

Part of Knight’s training session yesterday was asking the question: How are you living your life? Are you spending time on the things you are passionate about? This idea is how we keep hope alive and partly how we teach ourselves to be hopeful.

At this time of the school year it is easy to dip into the valley of despair and lose hope. I have to keep reminding myself I do the work I do to provide an environment of inspiration and learning for what is best for kids. When you are worried about schedules, state testing, and getting through the day sometimes you forget.

Part of this process is to do the next right thing. If you know where you are going, this isn’t as hard as it seems. Action is what needs to happen.

Knight asked us to think of someone who we thought of as a hope mentor. A person that emanates hope who we can learn from. Having a hope mentor is partly how we can teach ourselves to be hopeful. My person is Maya Angelou. She was open, intelligent, overcame obstacles, and can command a room. She was an amazing woman and I am thankful I was able to hear her speak before she passed away.

What are you most excited about?

Hope is doing more of what makes you happy.

Hope is allowing other people to teach you being hopeful.

Hope is having a hope mentor.

Three Things about Hope

Having hope means you have a preferred future vision. You can visualize it. You have goals.

Having hope means you have the belief you can get here. There is magic here.

Having hope means you have multiple pathways to get to that preferred future.

Some questions to consider and reflect on today:

What gives you energy and therefore hope?

What is your purpose? How do you make a difference?

Am I doing what I really want to do with my time?

What is working and what do I need to modify?

What is your next right thing?

This past week was busy for me. My sleep suffered and I was starting to crash. I was not taking care of myself.

Part of what helped me was 12 hours of sleep and the life giving conversation I had yesterday with my fellow coaches. We made plans to support each other in our hope. These questions are still with me today. I will do some more journaling and thinking as the day moves forward.

I would love to hear your thoughts on HOPE! Comment below…

Short Story Club

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Yesterday I hosted the introductory meeting of the Short Story Club for my 7th graders. It is a small group that is focusing on deep conversation about stories and time to write in response to them. After listening to Daniel Bauer’s School Leadership Series podcast I may have them name themselves. I would be curious where their minds would go as a label.

I handed out a copy of the Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is an interesting author who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, but did not have a pleasant experience. She also sometimes calls her stories, “buttons”.

Many of the students had read this story previously so this was a revisit. I asked them to read it through the lens of a writer. I wanted them to pay attention and notice particular things for them to purposefully use later.

  • What pops out to you in feelings from reading this selection?
  • What lines do you notice that you like or wish you had written?
  • What craft moves is the author using that you would like to try?
  • What aspects of your own life does the story remind you of?

I allowed them to annotate on their copy, and I followed suit with mine.

The discussion then followed after reading time, focusing on the above questions.

Noticings from students:

  • The details. It was noticed and remarked that the story has the structure of being taken apart and then put together again with added details.
  • The metaphors. There were trite metaphors used referring to onions and rings inside a tree trunk in paragraph 3. These examples caused quite strong opinions. There were mixed feelings about using familiar metaphors as opposed to new ones. The unfamiliar seemed to unsettle several writers. They said a mix of familiar and unfamiliar was the perfect mix for them as readers. They also remarked that unsettling new metaphors were best in stories where you were trying to conjure those feelings – like in a scary story.
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I also asked them to share what they would write (if we had time). If they were to give themselves a prompt based on the story. What did it inspire them to write?

The responses were a mix of expected and not. Milestone ages were one topic for several students but not traditional in my eyes. One student talked about being old enough to ride his moped to school (15 1/2 years old). Quinceaneras at 15 were also discussed.

Not feeling the age you are was a common writing topic as well.

For next time I gave them a longer piece to read and mark with the same noticings: The Doormakers Will Make No Doors .

I also gave them the poem, Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye.

We will use these pieces to write the next time we meet. A companion poem I like to use with the Eleven story is Billy Collin’s On Turning Ten poem.

I am always looking for great short stories! Is there a suggestion you have for me? Leave the title in the comments and I would appreciate it.