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                      W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World

                    http://www.writing-world.com


Issue 9:09            7,909 subscribers            May 7, 2009
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IN THIS ISSUE:
=================================================================
 
THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER - Writing as Therapy, by Dawn Copeman
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
FEATURE:  Music to Write by, by Indra Sena
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK
================================================================
Our Reach and Our Grasp
------------------------

When I sat down to compose this editorial, all sorts of thoughts
were buzzing through my head.  Most of them revolved around the 
conceptof "change" -- change of seasons, writers as change agents, 
etc. etc. But what finally made the fingers fly was the concept of 
how WE, aswriters, change.  Our skills change (and, hopefully, 
evolve rather than deteriorate).  Our interests change; our goals 
change; our priorities change.

Change is inevitable, and generally it is a good thing.  What can
be a bad thing for a writer is to fail to recognize change (and in
particular, growth).  It's all too easy to get "stuck" in our
perceptions of ourselves that were formed years ago -- and to carry
with us a burden of perceived failure or inability that may no
longer be accurate.

For example, many years ago, I undertook to write a novel.  It had
potential, but even I could see that no publisher would take a
second look.  It went (literally) into the back of the closet -- 
while we did have "floppy disks" in those days, no sensible person 
RELIED upon "electronic archives" instead of paper.  At that time, 
while I was "reaching" for a novel, it was beyond my grasp.

Today, I know that I am a far better writer than I was 20 years ago
(yep, it was 20 years ago).  While I don't know whether I will be
able to write a publishable novel even today, I know that quite a
bit more lies within my grasp than when I first sat down in front
of a Mac that didn't even possess a color monitor.  What I was
reaching for 20 years ago, I may be able to grasp today.

But what about what I am reaching for today?  Today, my reach may
still exceed my grasp; I may be reaching for dreams that will still
elude me for now.  But they may be within my grasp in another five
years, or ten, or twenty.  And hopefully, twenty years from now,
I'll still be reaching a bit farther, and a bit farther still....

The worst thing that can happen to us as writers is to come to
believe that because our reach exceeds our grasp AT THIS TIME, it 
will do so FOR ALL TIME.  I have known too many writers who assumed 
that because they weren't capable of writing a "publishable" novel 
or a  "prize-winning" poem or a "marketable" article TODAY, they 
will NEVER be able to do so.  "I guess I'm just not cut out to be a
novelist/poet/freelance writer," they say.  Too many writers
internalize the lesson that "I can't today" means "I can't ever." 
Eventually, it becomes too easy to simply limit our reach to the
things we already KNOW we can grasp.

In reality, what you can't do today has very little to do with what
you WILL be able to do tomorrow.  The key, of course, is growth and
change. 

So as spring brings change and renewal all around us (and not a bit
too soon), take a look at some of the goals that you once reached
for but were unable to grasp.  Have you put those goals aside, on
the shelf or in the back of the closet, on the assumption that if
they were beyond your grasp then, they will ALWAYS be beyond your
grasp?  Might this be a good year to try reaching for them once
again?  And if that goal still proves elusive, put it aside a bit
longer -- but don't assume that you must shelve it forever. 
Similarly, if there are goals that you're reaching for today but
find yourself unable to grasp, don't assume that THIS will be a
"permanent condition."  As long as you are growing and evolving as
a writer - as long as you are genuinely striving to improve your
abilities -- you will always discover that more and more things lie
within your grasp.

-- Moira Allen,  Editor

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THE INQUIRING WRITER, Writing as Therapy, by Dawn Copeman
=================================================================

Last month I wanted to know if any of you had also suffered from a
Life Block, something that knocked you off kilter and if so, if you
had found writing was a way to get through this block.  I had so
many responses to this.  It seems that as writers we do, indeed,
have access to a free therapy to help us cope with life's little
and no so little hurdles.  So I decided to share all the responses
with you. 

Perle Champion wrote: "I've often said that my journal, that $2,
5x8 notebook I carry everywhere, is the reason I am sane without a
therapist. It is my therapist.  Through a suicidal child, a husband
with cancer, 9/11, good days and bad, I just put it on the page -
stream of consciousness - it's not perfect, but cathartic.  It
always gets me to the other side of whatever of whatever emotional
storm I'm experiencing."

Jim Lamana Jnr had the following observations to make on writing as
therapy.  He wrote: "A very worthwhile observation---the
therapeutic value of writing about your grief. It's interesting to
me...because long ago, as a boy, I became a member of the American
Amateur Press Association, a hobby group of writers, journalists,
printers,
etc. 
 
"I grew up with that organization. After WW2, I became a newspaper
reporter, a broadcast newsman. During the war, I continued my
activity in the AAPA, publishing small journals from overseas.
During my professional journalism career, I also continued to write
via the amateur press groups.
 
"My point is this---in all those years, even while a professional
journalist, I never lost interest and remained active in amateur
journalism. 
 
"Recently, thanks to articles like yours relative to writing as
therapy, it became clear to me that what I was doing  during WW2,
my journalism years, and, now, my retirement years----is practicing
a journalism that really was helping me psychologically when I
wrote of my life trials, shared my views and problems with other
members.  
 
"Your story reinforces my appreciation for writing my way through
difficulties...Thanks."

Randall Platt has the following opinion on life block.  He wrote:
"I just got back from being the Writer In Residence at a retreat on
the Oregon Coast. In talking to those folks, I shared my story when
'real life' interfered with my writing life. I finally figured out
there is a time to chronicle life with our words and there is a
time when we must observe life. Observation of things affecting our
real world isn't writer's block - it is a time to absorb."

Toni Star has also undergone a life block, Toni wrote: "I have,
too, gone through a 'life block' during times of extreme stress and
uncertainty and it affected my writing in good and bad ways. In a
bad way, it stifled my writing for awhile and the depression from
it, put a dent in my writing that lasted longer than anticipated.
However, in a positive way, it helped me to refocus on subjects
that got my writing going even better by bringing to mind topics
that I hadn't explored such as health issues, religious topics,
behavior ideas,
death and life concerns, etc. Thank you for a very interesting
topic!"

Pam has definitely found that writing can be a useful therapy.  She
wrote: "I find its a lot easier to write for therapy, than to
really commute with a person. Like writing in a diary. I say what I
feel like writing a book. There are only certain times I can talk
of my past and the trauma I've had to endure, without breaking
down. I can at least get it off my heart awhile by writing.
Sometimes I'll receive an email baring the same burden, and that
helps too. There is someone out there that has been right where I
have been. And I have been where some are going."

Another person who uses writing as therapy is Glanda Widger. She
wrote: "Indeed I do use writing as therapy Dawn. I have written
since elementary school. Stories where I was the hero and
vanquished the bullies. Later, angry letters to husbands and
letters to myself, pouring out the pain, hurt, anger or depression
I felt. Stories that showed what my life would be like someday.
Stories of how I vanquished the emotional enemy. I never kept any
of the writings. I just allowed my feelings to drain onto the paper
and somehow I felt better and more in control afterward. I even
write to government officials about injustices. Nothing was ever
mailed or shown to anyone and everything was destroyed within a
short time. Now that I am older I find my outlet in humor. Even the
most aggravating, fury inspiring incident can be used as fodder for
my humor. It makes me feel good and I have become better at my
craft since deciding to submit stories for publication. It feels
good to see my horrid neighbor in print even if he has changed age,
occupation and sometimes gender. I know the basis of truth and can
see him clearly even if everyone else only sees a funny caricature."

Marie Tool emailed to say: "How else can you cope with a
devastating divorce, cancer, death and on a better note, happiness?
 
"I find all my writings; poetry, essays, short stories and
articles are about the sequences and tough times I've overcome in my
lifetime.

"My safety net is the pen. I can let it just all hang out and rid
myself of all the anguish that it brings.

"It clears my path to view tomorrow in a better light."

Finally, Katherine Harms wrote to share with us the effect writing
for therapy has had on her.  She wrote: "You asked if anyone has
used writing as therapy. Writing is my therapy and my education.

"I had a troubled relationship with my mother. Our relationship did
not heal before she died, and that issue was a constant nagging
voice in the back of my mind. How can a daughter who wishes her
mother would simply say, "I'm glad that you are my kid," get past
the fact that she never, ever measured up? How can all the
arguments, ranging from simple disagreements to massive blowups,
ever be soothed into silence after the death of one party? And how
does the daughter remember her mother with honor and respect when
there is no way to fix the problems?

"There came a time when I finally took this problem seriously
enough to make up my mind that I would figure it out. I am a
Christian, and I was sure that my faith ought to lead me to
understanding and maturity. I just hadn't given it a chance. I felt
so completely justified in my sense of the injustice of it all that
I never quite got around to noticing that I was also imperfect.

"My decision came as a consequence of a most unusual Ash Wednesday
sermon. The gist of the sermon was that we all need to burn up the
things that separate us from God and each other. When all the
barriers and misunderstandings are reduced to ash, then we can
start learning to love each other. I finally faced up to my need to
forgive my mother. I had no idea at the time that it would lead to
the moment that I realized all the things my mother would have
needed to forgive me for. 

"I made up my mind to spend some time three evenings a week alone,
in prayer. I was not such a mystic, and still am not, that I could
simply assume a position and fall into a trance or into prayer. I
knew that I needed some way to stay focused. I decided to write my
prayer and let the words fall where they would. For a while, my
writing was erratic and disconnected. As I kept up this practice, I
learned something that amazed me then and amazes me now. 

"Each evening I began by writing down what made me crazy, and I
started asking forgiveness, but as I wrote, I began to see and
understand my own attitude in a new way. Then I decided that I
would put my prayers in the form of unrhymed poetry. I didn't want
to waste time working on rhythm and rhyme. To this day, I am still
amazed when I start writing about a problem and then discover
myself writing from a different point of view or with some new
insight that I could not possibly sort out by simple meditation. I
need a pen in my hand when I start to think. That isn't literally
true, because sometimes a computer keyboard serves the same
purpose. However, at the beginning, it was always pen and paper.

"I prayed, I cried, I read and reread what I had written, and one
day I came to grips with a new truth: under all the debris of a
broken relationship, I truly loved and respected my mother and felt
the beginnings of a willingness to accommodate her faults just as I
wished that she could have accommodated mine. It took six or eight
weeks to get there. It was only the beginning, but it was an
experience that taught me two important truths: 1) faith in God is
the word we use for a relationship with God, and in that
relationship lies the insight and encouragement and strength to
actually live the teachings, not perfectly, but in baby steps; and
2) I need a pen in hand if I am going to work through this sort of
discovery. I pray every day, now, and most days I pray first on
paper. 

"I could say a lot more on this subject, but this is how I got
started using writing as therapy, and for that matter, it was the
beginning of my writing career. One day my career may actually pay
money, but that remuneration will never match the value of its
payback in maturity and personal fulfillment."

Thank you, again, to everyone who shared their experiences of
writing as therapy.  

Now for this month's question.  Spring has sprung and we are all
tempted to be outside more.  My question is this:  do you ever
'write' outdoors?  By this I mean do you manage to combine being
outside with creating your articles and stories.  Agatha Christie
once said that "the best time for planning a book is while you're
doing the dishes" but could it also be whilst doing the gardening
or walking the dog? Can you, or do you, come up with articles,
stories or plot development when you're out and about?  Does going
for a walk help with poetry? How do you record your thoughts?  What
works best for you? Email me with your responses, subject line
"Inquiring Writer" to editorial"at"writing-world.com.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dawn Copeman
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WRITE MORE, WRITE BETTER by mastering the psychology of writing 
as well as the craft. Jurgen Wolff's book, "Your Writing Coach"
(Nicholas Brealey Publishing) takes you from idea through to
publication. Get it at Amazon, B&N or your local bookstore. For 
more information, go to http://www.yourwritingcoach.com

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

NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
=================================================================
Helium Content Writers Get Professional Recognition
----------------------------------------------------
Content writers on Helium are to be allowed entry into the Society
of Professional Journalists.  The SPJ, one of the oldest
organizations for journalists in the US is offering membership to
what the site considers are its best 6000 writers and as part of
the deal with Helium other members of SPJ will be encouraged to
write content for the site.  For more on this topic visit: 
http://www.journalism.co.uk/2/articles/534199.php

UK Journalists Against Privacy Law
-----------------------------------------------------
The UK House of Common's Select Committee on Press Standards,
Privacy and Libel has been hearing evidence over the past few weeks
from representatives of the press against the introduction of a
privacy law in the UK. One editor, Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail,
said that such a law would have a "chilling effect on press
freedom".  For more on this story visit: 
http://www.journalism.co.uk/2/articles/534154.php

Book on trial in Turkey for humiliating religion
-------------------------------------------------
Nedim Gürsel, a Turkish Author living in France, is being taken to
court on Monday in Turkey, or rather his book, "Daughters of Allah"
is being taken to court for humiliating religion.  The penalty for
this crime is six months to one year in prison. As Mr Gürsel lives
abroad, his publishers, who are based in Turkey, are being taken to
court instead. This is the latest in a series of court cases
against authors and writers in Turkey, last year they tried to
prosecute the Turkish publishers of Richard Dawkin's work "The God
Delusion." Turkey has a multitude of laws curtailing free speech
which cover issues ranging from commentary on human rights abuses
by the army, corruption, the killings of Armenians in 1915, Kurdish
issues, conscientious objection, and religion. International Pen is
currently monitoring around 70 such trials. For more on this story
visit: http://tinyurl.com/csfj5o

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FEATURE: Music To Write By
=================================================================
By Indra Sena.

If you are struggling with writer's block, looking for inspiration
while crafting, or having trouble getting started when you sit down
to write, music just might be the perfect muse.

Music can relax or invigorate you.  The lyrics often refer to
timeless themes, much the way writing does.  Instruments can also
express a wide variety of emotional nuance.  Anger, sorrow, joy and
despair are all common emotions music seeks to express.  You can
use music to bring you into these states of feeling and infuse your
writing with rich emotion.

I like to listen to music the entire time I'm writing.  However,
even if you prefer to write in silence, music can give you the
jump-start you need to begin moving your pen. 

Here are some ways to use music as part of your writing practice:

1. Anchor Yourself to a Starting Song
--------------------------------------
Anchoring is reminiscent of Pavlov's famous experiments with dogs.
Pavlov sounded a bell as he fed the dogs. The animals salivated
when they saw the food. After some pairings of the bell and the
food, the bell alone elicited salivation.  Also known as Classical
Conditioning, it is a form of associative learning, which is based
on the belief that experiences reinforce one another and can be
linked to enhance an activity or process.

I chose 'The Flower Duet' from the opera 'Lakami' as my Starting
Song.  As soon as it starts to play I feel compelled to write, a
response I created by playing the duet every single time I sat down
to write.  

You can choose any song that makes you feel energized, inspired or
excited.  Consider Aerosmith's 'Back In The Saddle Again', or Bette
Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings'.  If you prefer not to hear
lyrics, try Claude Debussy's haunting 'Pour l'égyptienne' or
Chopin's exquisite 'Nocturne No.9.'

Once you've chosen your Starting Song, always keep it nearby.  Have
it in your Itunes or Media Player, or have the CD sitting on top of
your keyboard.  Every time you sit down to write, play the Starting
Song with the plan that you will write for the duration of the
entire song.  Even if you decide you will only write for those few
minutes, the old science law holds true:  A body in motion tends to
remain in motion.  Trick yourself into writing past your blocks
with the thought that you're only going to write while your
Starting Song is playing.  You will often find that once you begin
writing, your hand will continue almost on its own. 

If you play your Starting Song every time you sit down to write,
your writing practice will become anchored to the song.  Just
hearing the song will make you feel the urge to grab your keyboard
and start typing.

2.  Play Songs That Reflect the Period You Are Writing About
-------------------------------------------------------------
If your novel is takes place entirely in the year 1930, buy a
couple of CDs with music made that year.  With sites like
Wikipedia, it is a cinch to learn which songs were played in a
given year.  A period novel taking place in America in 1850 will
have you playing Stephen Foster's 'Gwine to Run All Night'.
Chronicling the 1980s disco scene should fill your writing studio
with Madonna.  

Playing these songs will connect you directly to your
characters--this is what they would have been listening to.  It will
also let you feel the ambiance of that period in history.

3. Play Music That Puts You In The Mood
-----------------------------------------
When writing an action scene, play fast, driven music.  Let Heart's
album 'Dreamboat Annie', The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Gish', Guiseppe
Verdi's 'Stiffelio' or Rachmaninoff's 'Piano Concerto No. 3' rev
you up with energy.

While writing tragic or heart-wrenching scenes, have music like
Schubert's 'Litany', Janice Ian's 'Seventeen', or Joni Mitchell's
album 'Blue' playing on repeat.

Compile your favorite love songs to play when writing passionate
scenes.  Songs like Elvis's 'I Can't Help Falling in Love With
You', Billie Holiday's 'I'm a Fool to Want You', George and Ira
Gershwin's 'Someone to Watch Over Me', or Linda Ronstadt's
rendition of 'I Love You For Sentimental Reasons' will have you--and
your characters--swooning with desire.

If your book is Science Fiction, you can play New Age or Space
music.  A spiritual theme might call for Gregorian Chants or
southern gospel songs.

Whether your characters are fighting, falling in love, going to a
funeral, or on a crime spree you can easily find songs that croon
about those life experiences.


4. Use Music That Increases Brain Functioning.
-----------------------------------------------
I often listen to Mozart or Vivaldi for background music.  Played
on a low volume and lacking lyrics, you might hardly notice it is
on.  However, studies have shown that both Baroque music and music
by Mozart increase the functioning of our brains.

The term baroque applies to music composed during the 17th and 18th
centuries by composers such as Vivaldi, Telemann, Bach and Handel. 
Baroque music is believed to optimize brain function by producing a
state of calm, relaxed alertness.  Lab studies have shown that it
increases alpha and theta waves in the brain.  Alpha waves indicate
a slower, more relaxed mind.  Theta waves represent both creative
and meditative states in the brain.

Keeping Mozart in Mind, a book by Dr. Gordon Shaw, discusses music
as a window into higher brain function.  World-renowned for his
"music and the brain studies," he demonstrates how music changes
the way we think, reason, and create.

Listening to music creates new neural pathways in your brain that
stimulate creativity. Research from the University of California
showed that music actually trains the brain for higher forms of
thinking. 

5. If You Prefer Silence While Writing
----------------------------------------
Simply use your Starting Song to get your pen moving, and then
continue writing without any music playing.  Try music without
lyrics, so you won't be distracted by the words.  If you are
accustomed to writing in silence, you can experiment with playing
music to measure how if effects your productivity.  You might be
surprised to find music a writing enhancer, rather than a
distraction.

Pick your favorite songs and use them to aid your writing practice.
You will be surprised how quickly your brain learns to take cues
from music.  The key is consistency, that age old practice of
successful writers.
  
>>--------------------------------------------------<< 

Copyright (c) 2009 by Indra Sena

Indra Sena is a writer living in the Catskill Mountains.  After
twenty-two years as a consultant, she left the business world a
year ago to write fulltime.  She is currently completing her first
book, a memoir about her life as a young teenager living on her
own.  You can contact her at indrasena66 at gmail.com

For more ideas on sparking your creativity visit: 
http://www.writing-world.com/creative/box.shtml

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

WORLDWIDE FREELANCE WRITER - You can download a free list of 
writing markets if you subscribe this week. Discover almost 
2,000 writing markets from USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australasia.
http://www.worldwidefreelance.com

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

THE WRITE SITES
=================================================================
Poets and Writers
------------------
This is a huge site aimed mainly at poets, but with information
that is useful to all writers with thought provoking interviews
with poets and writers as well as job listings, contest information
and information on grants. 
http://www.pw.org/magazine

Writing Web Content
---------------------
This is a very handy site indeed with just about everything you
need to know to start writing web content.  There are a huge number
of articles on how to write for the web, including writing web page
copy and they are all written by experts in the field.  If you want
to move into web copywriting, then this is the site for you. 
http://websitetips.com/webcontent/

Explore Writing
---------------------------
This is another one of those sites that I can't believe I've never
come across before - it is amazing!  This site has a wide variety
of articles on almost every aspect of the writing life. Granted, it
doesn't have as many articles as we do, but there is lots of
information there to get your teeth stuck into. 
http://www.explorewriting.co.uk/
 
****************************************************************

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

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers
=================================================================

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, by Ruth Mossing

Omnibus, by Sheri McGathy

Phone Call to SINATRA, by John Costello
 
Find these and more great books at
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Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com
http://www.writing-world.com

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com)

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com)

Copyright 2009 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Back issues archived at
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