• Satya Robyn
  • Eight writing tips to help you come alive (and kittens)
Eight writing tips to help you come alive (and kittens)
Contributor
Written by
Satya Robyn
October 2011
Contributor
Written by
Satya Robyn
October 2011

As I type, a seven-week old kitten is chewing my toe. Roshi and his sister Tsuki have been living with us for a week now, and they embody exactly the kind of 'coming alive' I'm talking about.

Everything is a toy to them. They are endlessly curious about the world, each other and us. They relish the sensual experiences of wrestling each other, being stroked, and eating.

As writers, we can learn to engage with our ordinary lives in the way my kittens do. We can suck just as much enjoyment out of our days. Here are my tips to get you started.

 

1. Give your writing the respect it deserves. If you're working on a novel or a poem, arrange your life to give yourself the space to write. It doesn't matter if it's ten minutes on the bus to work, or three hours once a week in a cafe - as long as it's regular, and as long as you're treating your writing as you would your very best friend.

2. Write small stones. Small stones are short observational pieces which help you engage with the world around you. Simply open your eyes/taste-buds/ears/fingers/nose, pay careful attention to something, and write it down. Find out more about this mindful writing technique here.

3. Carry a notebook and a pen at all times. It doesn't have to be a big notebook - just one with enough space to jot down thoughts and observations as they occur to you. If you've got a better memory than me, this might not be so crucial!

4. Write as if you're someone else. If you're struggling with a relationship or if you're stuck with something from the past, do some writing as if you were the other person. You could write a letter from the other person to you, or write as if you were writing the other person's private journal. See what emerges. You might want to share some of your insights with the other person. 

5. Write down what you don't to write. As Natalie Goldberg advises, “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” This is where the new growth is. It is also why the next point is so important. 

6. Get support. Writing/life is sometimes hard, but we don't need to go it alone. Invest in writing communities like She Writes, find a local writing group, share your writing with your best friend. Give freely what you hope to receive. Accept what you receive from others graciously. Share your work with others, and comment generously on other people's blogs/written work. 

7. Go on a mini-word-retreat. Take your notebook to the zoo, or into the forest, or into the city. Even your garden will do. Do word-sketches of what you see/experience. Take a friend or go alone. When you come home, polish up what you've got and make it into a poem or a short story.

8. Practice gratitude. Buy a beautiful notebook. Write in it a list of ten things you've appreciated at the end of every day. Nothing is too small - the colour of the sky, a cup of coffee your friend bought you, your little boy's smile. If you find too difficult to find ten things, then make it twenty. 

 

Fiona's e-course, Writing Ourselves Alive, is running in partnership with She Writes during November.

Spend a month investigating curiosity, honesty, compassion and passion with your fellow participants in a private group here, and with essays, exercises and daily emails from Fiona.

Find out more and register here - it'd be lovely to have you along.

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Comments
  • Satya Robyn

    Liz - it's so important to have those simple tools to hand, isn't it? I've even been know to use my phone to jot down notes, but it's not the same as good old paper...

    Claudine - glad you liked the photo of Roshi & Tsuki! And thank you for reading. 

  • Gueh Yanting, Claudine

    Can never resist a kitty picture, and the piece itself is gracefully helpful. (Have read many similar posts, but am glad I found this one.)

  • Liz Shaw

    I love the comp books. I buy them at the dollar store. Always have one with me. Invaluable. Sometimes I'm just writing a To Do list, but a lot of times, I get ideas for a story or a character or a plot, and voila, I've got someplace to write it down! Love my comp books.