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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Questions as Prompts

In our last journaling meeting, we did a whole prompt on questions. For something like 5 minutes, we just wrote out all the questions we could think of. It was a fun activity and now we’ve got tons of new prompts to keep us going! There were many more than I’m including here simply because this is all I could write as people were reading. Pick one and write on it and see where it takes you.


  1. Who is your best cheerleader?
  2. What is your favorite spring memory?
  3. What does your best day look like?
  4. When have you regretted your lack of adventure?
  5. When do you learn to keep our thoughts inside?
  6. What does blue taste like?
  7. Why are we here?
  8. What is the purpose of human life?
  9. Why did we meet each other?
  10. Was there a purpose in our meeting?
  11. Where did you go?
  12. Who is he?
  13. Did it hurt when we separated?
  14. Do you remember?
  15. Do you care?
  16. What time is it?
  17. Does anyone like hominy?
  18. What does the color green mean to you?
  19. How long is a ‘little while’?
  20. What are you wearing?
  21. How do you look past a face?
  22. How do you reason with yourself?
  23. Do you sing in the car?
  24. Do you hear voices from the past singing along with you when you sing?
  25. Do you like to drive fast?
  26. Do you like the silence?
  27. What do you do in the silence?
  28. Do you try to make noise in the silence?
  29. What does it mean to say that too much of a good thing is not good?
  30. What is your favorite place to spend time alone?
  31. What kind of car would God drive?
  32. What sets your teeth on edge?
  33. How to you turn loose?
  34. Are we there yet?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I have had several people tell me that they are not able to leave comments on my blog. I have also had a hard time leaving comment on other people’s blogs at times. This prompted me to think it might be a good idea to have a basic blogging workshop. We talked about this in one of our monthly journaling meetings recently and everyone agreed it would be helpful. I realized during our discussion however, that we have a lot of questions and a lot of different needs, so I thought we should break down the content of the workshop and make it really simple. I thought we should break down information about blogs and blogging into simple steps beginning with the most basic information such as how to search for blogs, save and organize blogs, and interact in the blogging community. I also realized that we would need to hold a series of workshops in order to cover all that needed to be covered and to give people time to practice what they learn and feel comfortable to move on to the next step.

A common frustration for people as they work with technology is the fact that everyone knows something different, so when you ask a question, the answer is usually filled with terms and information unfamiliar so you never really get your question answered, but instead, find yourself with even more questions. A lot of people feel overwhelmed when this happens and maybe even “stupid” and they simply resolve themselves to “not being that much into computers anyway.”

Well, I wanted to be sure that no one felt intimidated about asking any question and that the answers would help identify what terms and concepts needed to be explained. This is the premise and rationale for the first basic blogging workshop.

We held the first workshop at my house a few weeks ago. It was aimed to focus on reading and interacting with blogs, not creating one or learning more about how to improve one participants may have already created. We learned about the different kinds of blogs, how to search and surf to find blogs, how to bookmark, save, and organized blogs, and how to interact by posting comments.

After the workshop, I could see that while we had basically hit the target on what we wanted to cover, it has been a bit of a mess. People doing their own thing, people helping other people, people no knowing what we were talking about, etc. all led to an active, exciting workshop, but maybe not the most efficient. So ever since then, I have been thinking, evaluating, and processing my ideas. I am creating worksheets and handouts to make the workshop better next time, and in the process, I’ve realized that what I am really creating is an ebook of blogging basics for beginners.

I am going to post at least some of the parts here on this blog and may eventually have a free ebook for readers to download. Your feedback is very welcome as I work through this! Next week I am hosting a re-do of that first workshop to test out the curriculum materials before I post them. I would like to invite my readers to tell me what questions you have about blogging and send me tips about your own blog-reading, blog-interacting experiences. This is a learning opportunity for all of us and I am just very grateful for the questions that keep me moving forward.

* Next month the second workshop will be all about how to set up and create your own blog!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Excited Writer

“… the first thing a writer should be is excited.”

n -- Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is right on target! A writer has to have passion. The act of writing is tedious, gruesome, laborious, incredibly time-consuming, agonizing, painfully difficult, and down-right horrible if you don’t have passion for your topic or the act of writing.

I am using passion here as an equal synonym for excitement. A writer simply has to be excited or the pen simply does not move!

To be excited does not necessarily mean to be happy. Excited means there is heightened energy about something. It means there is interest, usually a vested interest, in something. It means you care very much about something for one or more (usually more) reasons. So I fully agree with Mr. Bradbury: a writer should be excited and this really has to come first.

When people tell me that they love to write, but they just don’t know what to write about, I’m somewhat miffed. My first thought is, are you kidding me?! And my second thought is, wow, you either don’t have much passion or you’ve buried it so deep inside that you’re all clogged up in your soul.

I’m not usually so brutally honest as to blurt those thoughts out in the air where the person who has just confessed an embarrassing secret to me can hear them, though. Instead, I usually start asking questions that are aimed at discovering some semblance of excitement. I disguise my questions so the person doesn’t even know we are talking about writing anymore. My camouflaging transition goes something like this: yeah, I know what you mean…. it’s hard sometimes… Then we talk about basketball or dogs; a new restaurant in town; music; painting a room; taking a trip; kids; maybe even politics. I dig and prod until I find some hint of excitement because I always believe it is there… And it is!

Here’s the thing: humans have thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings, and in there, we have excitement. Something gets your goat. What is it? Whatever it is that boils your blood and causes your voice to rise in conversation is the source of your passion.

To be excited about something can mean that you are really happy and are experiencing some kind of euphoria; but more often than not, you get excited about an injustice of some sort. Whatever it is, Ray Bradbury is suggesting that this passion is what initiates the movement of expression for a writer. I am suggesting that we have this unrealistic ideal about writing that it has to be pretty, or nice, so we think we can’t write about that rise in emotion that is ignited by anger or pain. No! Writing is about being real and being honest about that realness. So my contention is that we are excited, but we don’t always recognize it because it isn’t always pretty.

My challenge to you is to look inside and find that excitement. Then rip it out of its hiding place and slam it onto the page! Be brave; be bold. Write it raw and let its stench consume you. Write it raw and let the emotions overcome you. Write it raw and ride on its momentum. Write it, because as you do so, you will discover and claim for your very own this excitement that tells you without a doubt that you are a writer!