Just Write


Layering: The goal of layering in writing is to take unrelated elements and bring them together in a single piece of writing. “Layering means that we’re weaving in different elements of our story, characters, writing craft, etc. Some writers even start with just one element—such as writing their whole story just as dialogue—and then layer in everything else once they have the shape of the story.” — Jami Gold Ideas to add layering in your writing. Start with lists: List #1: Some facts about yourself or your fictional character List#2: Favorite food or music List #3: Favorite movies or TV shows List #4: Philosophical sayings List #5: A type of clothing or furniture Freewrite: #1: Using a word or phrase from each of the lists, spend a few minutes creating a piece of writing. Freewrite #2, Layering: Add an outside event as a metaphor to echo the theme of your freewrite….

Book Reviews

Swimming Grand Canyon and Other Poems

Susan Bono’s review of “Swimming Grand Canyon and Other Poems” by Rebecca Lawton. I am not a person who knows rivers, although some part of me yearns to be. That’s why I’ve been a fan of Rebecca Lawton’s writing ever since I read her essay collection, “Reading Water: Lessons from the River.” She takes me to those places in myself. In “Swimming Grand Canyon” she shows me her love for rivers with lines like, “The water has no bones/but carries things we love.” I expected this and was grateful for it. But I soon became aware that these poems are channeled through the hard gates of life, and that is what sticks with me. She warned me early on in “It’s Like Life” when she wrote, “You think you’ll jump on/and just ride.” Of course, it’s always more complicated than that, and I realized as I read on how much…

Guest Bloggers

Staying Grounded and Centered.

Today’s insightful post is by guest blogger, Rebecca Lawton. I have a dear friend who jokes that, in 2020, we’ll have no need for glasses. A long-time wearer of glasses himself, this friend also loves punning. With or without glasses in 2020, we who love writing and reading want to see clearly in all our endeavors. For me, seeing clearly means staying grounded and centered, understanding what I’m observing with all senses. Doing so requires that I stick with various creative practices, whether in writing, communicating, playing music, reading the work of others, or learning new skills and ideas. Basically, for everything. I consult writing-related resources as well. This time of year, I offer a list of them on my blog. For the first time ever, I’ve also included a few references for clearing the mind. May your practice buoy good health and happiness, for you, yours, and those you meet. May the goodwill you generate extend to the well-being of the planet. I join you…


What haunts you? Prompt #284

Sit still for a moment. . . take a few deep breaths. Relax into your chair. For this writing experience, tap into what haunts you. As Rebecca Lawton says in Cool Writing Tips: ” See the detail of the memory with clear eyes and write it down as best you can remember it.” There will be a repeat series of Becca Lawton’s Cool Writing Tips. This will only be available for the month of September, 2016. Sign up now so you don’t miss a single inspirational tip. “Write as if you were dying” features Rebecca Lawton as a guest blogger and highlights one of her Cool Writing Tips. I found her friendly style of writing about writing to be affirming and inspiring. I think you will, too.

Guest Bloggers

Write as if you were dying

What would you write if you knew you would die soon? Today’s Guest Blogger, Rebecca Lawton, took the plunge and explored what it means for our work to be “so essential that we must complete it before we leave this earth.” Becca’s Cool Writing Tips during the month of August were such a success, she’s repeating the series in September. So, if you missed out in August, you have another chance to be inspired by Becca Lawton’s Cool Writing Tips. Becca opened the second week of Cool Writing Tips with this provocative quote from Annie Dillard: Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you write if you knew you would die soon? Becca responds as if she were having an intimate conversation with Annie: Ms. Dillard, I’m so…

Guest Bloggers

Is pre-writing for you?

Guest Blogger Becca Lawton writes about pre-writing. Excerpt from Becca Lawton’s 8/31/15 blog post, about her time in Canada on a Fullbright Scholarship to research her book: Writing a novel is such a huge undertaking that I’m amazed anyone writes more than one . . . I’m completing a submittable draft of my second novel . . . Now that I’m dragging my sorry carcass to the finish line, it’s fun to look back at this post written September 29, 2014, soon after the start of the project, when I was just starting to pour all my hope and energy and learning into it: I just completed sixty pages of prewriting for a second novel . . . They’re filled with answers to questions like, “Who are the main characters in your book?” and “What are their wants in every scene?” and “Is the setting recognizable yet unique?” I’ve modified the questions…

Just Write

We all have an intuitive sense. . .

I think we all have an intuitive sense, but we get side-tracked by what others think or we get distracted by all the “noise” both inside our heads and outside. It’s hard to get quiet and listen to what we think. But when we do, we experience the joy of discovering what’s going on for ourselves. A passage in Reading Water, Lessons From The River, by Rebecca Lawton, describes a situation when Becca was a white water rafting guide and had one person, a friend, in her raft. They capsized, lost the boat and nearly drowned. Becca managed to save the life of her friend. After it was all over, Becca asked her friend: “Do you regret running it?” Becca’s friend answered, “It might have been the right choice for you,” she said, “But from now on, I’m making my own decisions.” Here’s an idea for getting in touch with…

Book Reviews

Junction Utah by Rebecca Lawton

Junction, Utah written by Rebecca Lawton and reviewed by Kathy Myers: Madeline is a woman of few words. She chokes and stumbles awkwardly when asked to express her emotions. But put her on a river and it’s another story. Her actions speak louder than any words could express—she is in her element. Rebecca Lawton has translated Madeline’s words and world in her first novel Junction, Utah and one can tell that she knows whereof she speaks. The river is a metaphor for danger, thrills, anger, and fear — four dominant emotions in Madeline’s “Seven Dwarves” of feeling words. In the midst of white water chaos and confusion she can avoid the reflective eddies of painful emotions: longing, sadness and grief. When she finally steps on shore and meets her unlikely match in Chris: a land locked farmer and self described ‘Jack Mormon’ who has been held underwater by his own…


I went deep into storytelling mode — Becca Lawton

Today’s quote is from Write Free – Attracting the Creative Life by Rebecca Lawton and Jordan E. Rosenfeld. Rebecca wrote: “I wrote another personal essay, in part with the column in mind but mostly with the intention of simply telling my story. There was a message I wanted to convey in the piece: one of loss and sadness, but also of triumph and survival. Because I had taken my focus off publication while writing, I went deep into storytelling mode. Much of the writing for the piece was done in subconscious writing fashion. When I finished a decent draft, I went outside to water my flower garden. I felt a certainty that hadn’t been there before. the essay was so good, so moving. I knew it would be published — if not in the target column, then certainly elsewhere.” Note from Marlene: What strikes me as being important in this…


Stroll down memory lane . . . Prompt # 81

Today’s writing prompt is inspired by Rebecca Lawton’s May 26, 2014 blog post, which begins: “Candles of buckeye blossoms and their subtle fragrance have always confirmed the return of summer. Seeing them this week reminded me that certain sights, sounds, and smells trigger strong memories. The whisking sound of a broom on stairs recalls family vacations at the lake, where our host rose early to sweep fallen live oak leaves. The musky scent of open water reminds me of being on a raft enjoying the primal sensations of floating a muddy river. The first bars of a Beatles song bring back the excitement of junior high school dances. Sipping tequila reminds me of kayaking from Loreto to La Paz on the Sea of Cortez.” Click here to read the rest of the post. Writing Prompt: Stroll down memory lane . . . pause when a remembered event causes a visceral…