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I'm not talking about the sitting-in-the-classroom type of paying attention, but the paying attention that has you notice a heron at the far-end of a pond, or seeing something about human nature in the way a woman talks to her son.
This kind of paying attention is often honed when someone declares a desire to Write.
I've recently met someone who is not a Writer but she love words and she wants to know how to use them in a way that lets her communicate to people with purpose, warmth and humor.
And after declaring this, she told me how she's paying closer attention to everything around her. She's taking in the world more intimately and noticing things: the natural world around her, for starters. Details, small things. And she told me this with a smile on her face and a glow in her cheeks.
A Great Movie Line on Writing and Paying Attention That Makes Me Verklempt
Years ago I watched the movie Il Postino, a fictionalized version of a time when the poet Pablo Nerudo was exiled to a small Italian island. In it, there's the sweet but dim-witted postman who asks Neruda (and this is going by memory):
"Seniore Neruda, how does a person become a poet?"
Neruda: "You take a long slow walk on the beach and look at everything."
I thought that was one of the best pieces of writing and life advice ever. Incidentally, my main memory of Brenda Ueland's good book If You Want To Write is her recommendation that a writer walk about an hour a day as part of their practice. I think she walked six miles a day.
So, let's say you were to buy a 69 cent tiny notebook and drop it in your bag or a back pocket and move through the world imagining yourself as someone who writes. How will you witness the world around you differently?
What will paying closer attention to everyday details add to your life?
You might be amazed at the show that's ongoing around you all the time.
Another recent post featuring Pablo Neruda: How to Write a Book Review.
Yesterday I literally forgot to take my own advice.
It made me think of something I read by Barbara Kingsolver years ago, in which she talks about the great writing ideas she missed when she was too busy tending to babies and other daily life stuff to write them down -- and they became dust kitties that rolled under the bed to stay. But she caught enough and made it a writing life, obviously
It's time for a little announcement: TOOT TOOT. The Writing Gym is open! This one focuses on blogging.
Here's what membership entails. Plus: It's almost stinkin' free for the month of February.
So who joins this gym? Writers and professionals who have started a blog that supports a business, a book idea or to share ideas and experiences—and would like to keep the damn thing going!
The benefits of membership?
- You want the kind of playful kick in your pants that will get—and keep—your writing going, and help your blog grow and develop into something exciting and suprising.
- You could use both 1) coaching to move past the fear and stuck spots and 2) writing tips and creative idea generating.
- You'd like to be part of a community of writers—but without it being a time drain or even having to leave home.
- You'd like to find the right first-person voice that feels comfortable—and supports the purpose of your blog.
- You’d like to get over the fear of being exposed in public as a writer.
- You'd like to know how on earth you can keep coming up with ideas, topics and different ways to write your pieces.
What a Writing Gym Membership includes:
- 1 x month group coaching call: 12pm – 1pm Pacific time, the last Thursday of the month. Includes: A short talk on a writing issue; Q&As and some writing time. Each call will end with an assignment for writers to bring to their blogs the next month. (The calls will be recorded.)
- Bi-weekly "try-this" emails with a tip or idea to use in your writing.
- Feedback on one one-page piece of writing/month
- Unlimited email access
- Cost: $15 for February. $32/month through July.
To get the most out of your membership
Be prepared to give a minimum of two hours a month to your writing. This includes the one-hour phone call. Be prepared to write a minimum of one blog posting a month. The gym will help you find a way to sustain your blog writing in a way that works for your life, schedule and personality. All you have to do is be committed to giving it a shot and seeing the fun in it.