Tag: Writing 101

Writing 101 Day Nine

It all depends on one’s point of view!

Day Nine: Point of View

Today’s Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

We encourage you to give fiction a try, even if that is not what you normally do — it can be a fun way to stretch. If fiction feels like a bridge too far, take some element from the scene that speaks to you, and write a non-fiction piece about that. Perhaps you are drawn to the old woman, and will write a piece about your grandmother, or the crying man will inspire a story about the last time you cried joyful tears.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

If point of view was an object, it would be William Carlos Williams’ infamous red wheelbarrow; everything depends on it.

Consider a car/pedestrian accident: the story differs depending on whether you’re the driver, the pedestrian, or the woman across the street who witnessed the horror. Everyone will tell a different story if asked to recount the event.

Shifting point of view can be your best friend if you’ve got writers’ block. If you’re stuck or you feel your writing is boring and lifeless, Craig Nova, author of All the Dead Yale Men, suggests shifting the point of view from which your story is told:

Take point of view, for example. Let’s say you are writing a scene in which a man and a woman are breaking up. They are doing this while they are having breakfast in their apartment. But the scene doesn’t work. It is dull and flat.

Applying the [notion] mentioned above, the solution would be to change point of view. That is, if it is told from the man’s point of view, change it to the woman’s, and if that doesn’t work, tell it from the point of view of the neighborhood, who is listening through the wall in the apartment next door, and if that doesn’t work have this neighbor tell the story of the break up, as he hears it, to his girlfriend. And if that doesn’t work tell it from the point of view of a burglar who is in the apartment, and who hid in a closet in the kitchen when the man and woman who are breaking up came in and started arguing.

Now my reaction upon first reading today’s theme was that this was both fun and inspiring.  Then I realised that before I could commit words to the post I would need to let the fictional circumstances brew for a while amongst the aged brain cells and, if possible, it would be wonderful to include a dog in the story. 🙂

So for the next hour (I’m writing this at 10:30am) I shall use the wonderful weather we have today to continue my project of sorting out the grand mess around the back of the garage and see what creative thoughts come to mind!

Yet another point of view!
Yet another point of view!



“Jim, what’s the matter? You’ve seen this dear old lady sitting on the bench almost every time we’ve come walking. What’s brought on the tears today?”

Sandra thought that she knew her husband inside out, possibly better than he knew himself. Yet this quiet, sudden release of deep inner feelings from Jim had her perplexed.

Jim let go of Sandra’s fingers and fished around in his trouser pocket for a tissue. He blew his nose and wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

“Oh, it’s OK sweetheart, just some stirring of a place from too many years ago.”

Sandra re-engaged her fingers with Jim’s and they carried on walking through the park. Cleo bounded across the soft, green parkland grass, as ever looking so happy. She reflected that Cleo had always shown such happiness for being alive. Ever since they had cradled the young German Shepherd puppy in their arms. Gracious, Sandra reflected, nearly five years ago now.

What was it that had been stirred in Jim’s memories?

OK, it was the first time they had seen the old woman knitting but, otherwise, the woman was a familiar sight always sitting quietly on the park bench. Sandra struggled to recall exactly what the woman had been knitting; seemed like a tiny sweater, possibly for a very young grandchild. Why had that reduced Jim to tears? He was such an open man. That was what had attracted her to Jim all those many years ago when they had first met by chance. Jim’s previous wife, Diana, had been killed a few years before in a tragic car accident, her own husband had died of a coronary a couple of years before she met Jim.

Jim sensed that his sudden weeping would have raised some deep questions for Sandra. He struggled to rise above the pain of his recollection and decide what to do about that memory. That memory of his and Diana’s first child, a son, born with such hope yet with such tragedy written into his potentially short future. How the hospital staff had broken the news. Little Philip had been born with a massive brain aneurism and, at best, had a life expectancy of a few months. Philip never came out of hospital and died sixty days after he was born. Jim quietly ran the numbers through his mind; nearly eighteen years ago now.

He had never mentioned it to Sandra. A connection to the past that really should have died that same day as Philip died. First Philip and then Diana. After Diana died in that terrible road accident he thought that was the end of everything. Thought there was nothing that could ever happen in his future that would return a smile to his face, return the feelings of love to his heart. That’s when he started volunteering at the local dog shelter. There was something about helping those unfortunate dogs, dogs of all ages and circumstances, that, over time, spoke to him and made him discover reasons for living again. If these dogs, many of whom had had such terrible experiences, could so easily put their past behind them and enjoy living for each new moment then so could he.

That’s how he and Sandra had met. She had come in to the dog shelter carrying a small, lively little mongrel mix that she had found in the forest when out on a walk.

Their walk today, as usual, had brought them almost full circle and they were approaching the black, wooden park bench; the old lady still knitting away.

Doris had seen this couple on many previous occasions when the weather made it pleasant for her to sit on the bench here in the park. They seemed such a happy couple, unusually so in these complicated times. Every time she saw them it reminded her of the many happy years that she and Larry had had together. Still couldn’t accept that it was over five years ago now since he had died. That’s why, whenever the weather made it possible, she would come and sit on this park bench and remember the times when she and Larry would sit quietly here and just watch the world go by.

Today, for reasons only known to Cleo, as Jim and Sandra approached the park bench, Cleo went bouncing over to the old woman and next thing was sitting next to her on the seat.

Doris put out an arm to Cleo and ruffled the soft warm hair between Cleo’s gorgeous Shepherd ears. She watched as the man came over to her. “I’m so sorry but Cleo, for whatever reason, has taken a shine to sitting next to you today. Funny why today Cleo sensed the need to be with you on the bench. For we have seen you sitting out here in the park dozens of times before”

The man’s wife joined him and they both stood in front of the wooden bench. “My name’s Jim and this is my wife Sandra. I know we have seen each other frequently over the months.”

“Hi Jim and Sandra, my name is Doris and, yes, I have also seen you both out walking frequently. It looks as though your dog, Cleo is that her name, has instinctively sensed my good news.”

Jim and Sandra looked quizzically at Doris.

“Yes, I heard last weekend that my daughter and her husband successfully had the birth of their first child; a son. My grandson that is. I’m knitting him a sweater, as you can see.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, Doris”, said Jim. “Wish we could stay a little longer and chat but we need to be home within the hour. When we next see you can we come across and here the good news in detail?”

“Of course you can! Go on, off you both go and take your gorgeous dog with you otherwise I will steal her away from you!” There was a soft laugh in the back of her throat.

“Come on, Cleo”, called Sandra and off they went.

Later when Jim and Sandra were back home and enjoying a hot tea after their walk, Jim apologised for his tears and quietly explained what had brought them on.

Sandra put down her cup of tea, came up to Jim and kissed him very slowly and tenderly on the lips.

“That was nice, sweetheart, what did I do to deserve that?”

“Jim, I didn’t want to mention it until I was certain. I have not had my period this month. I’m pretty sure that I’m pregnant. I’m going to town tomorrow to take a pregnancy test.”

For the second time that day Jim uncontrollably burst into tears.


I’m not sure how well I really captured each person’s point of view but it was fun writing it nonetheless!

Back on Monday with Writing 101 Ten.

Writing 101 Day Eight

More twists and turns on the writing journey.

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

The sin of telling often begins with adverbs*. Author Stephen King says that, for writers, the road to hell is paved with adverbs:

The adverb is not your friend.

Adverbs…are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They’re the ones that usually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind….With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

Instead of using adverbs as a crutch, rely on strong verbs to convey emotional qualities that imbue your writing with nuance, allowing the reader to fire up their imagination. Consider, for example:

“She walked proudly out the door.”

Remove the adverb “proudly” and replace it with a strong verb to denote how she walked:

She strutted out the door.

She sashayed out the door.

She flounced out the door.

Each example connotes the emotion with which “she” moved, creating a more vivid picture than “proudly” ever could.

Note we’re not advocating the eradication of all adverbs all the time. The goal of this exercise is to place a constraint on adverb use to help you to focus on using strong, precise verbs in your writing.

I read the theme for Day Eight at 3pm yesterday afternoon.  Jean and I had been out before lunch. To the recycling yard some six miles away to deposit a load of old steel fencing that had been retrieved from the property over the last couple of weeks.

Hardly the stuff of inspiration!

So I decided at this point to put down ‘my pen’ (aka keyboard) and go and sit next to the pond where the mother goose is still sitting on her eggs and use that as my source for a short, adverb-free post.


The power of motherhood


Twenty-eight days of loving her unborn brood. Still she sat, her head turned towards where I was sitting, just keeping an eye on me as I hadn’t been this close to her before.

Besides where I was sitting, to my left, the leaves of the bamboo tree rustled in the steady afternoon breeze. The green of the leaves contrasting the blue of the clear sky above me.


 I just marvelled at the patience, at the commitment, of this mother goose. The magic of nature.

Our mother goose had loved her egg-bound goslings as Spring had arrived in this beautiful part of Oregon. Loved her goslings through rain, frost, fog and cold nights. Rewarded with an afternoon of glorious Spring sunshine.

Sitting on her eggs as the delicate leaves of the Japanese maple had burst clear and unfolded themselves over the last four weeks. Now the leaves offered some shade from the afternoon sun.


Then I noticed the harmony between the rustling of the bamboo leaves, so delicate a sound, and the roar from the tall pine trees to my right, on the boundary between us and neighbours Larry and Janell. As if the bamboo was whispering in concert with the pines.


Surrounded by some intangible magic, beyond definition, but not beyond meaning.

The power of nature.


See you all on Friday.

Writing 101 Day Seven

Jaw, jaw is so much better than war, war!

Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.

Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or …… you get the idea.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

If you’d like more guidance, check out these ten tips on writing solid dialogue. In case you’re intimidated by dialogue tags — all those “he said,” “she whispered,” etc., here’s a useful overview.

Emulating people’s speech in written form takes practice, and creating two distinct voices could help you see (and hear) the different factors that play into the way we speak, from our diction and accent to our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar. (We’ll discuss the topic of voice more formally later in the course; for now, take a stab at writing dialogue on your own.)

Today’s task makes writing about dogs look like a piece of cake!

I spent quite some time wondering how to approach this, what to draw upon in terms of my own experiences, what the scene might be. In the end, I chose to write a fictional exchange between me and the landlord, David, of my local pub back in the days of when I lived in Harberton, near Totnes in South Devon. (David and his wife are no longer in residence.)

To help set the scene for you, dear reader, here are two photographs. The first is a view of the pub in the centre of the village of Harberton; population 300 persons.


The second image is of the main bar area inside where this fictional conversation is about to take place.  The pub was less than a five-minute walk from my home.



“Evening David! Golly, looks like I’m first one in this evening. Must stop looking so keen to have a beer at the end of the day!”

Paul swung his backside onto the corner bar stool and lent his right arm on the bar.

“Good evening to you, Paul. Same as usual?”

“As ever, David.”

David reached out his right arm towards the pump handle at the same time as the fingers of his left hand closed around a pint glass. The sound of the mild ale being poured into the glass was a tonic in itself.

“So how’s your week been, Paul?”

“David, don’t even ask. I seem to have spent most of my waking hours wondering what the hell I’m going to do if the election goes the way it appears to be heading.”

“Well I’m sure Ralph will have clear ideas on that one when he comes in”, David remarked as he handed me the brimming glass of ale.

The pub door squeaked open in the same way it had for time immemorial.

David looked up. “Speak of the devil, here’s the man himself!”

“Somebody call my name?”, boomed out Ralph’s voice.

“David was just saying that you would have clear ideas on the election. But first let me get you a pint, Ralph.”

“Thank you, Paul, that’s mighty gentlemanly of you.”

Ralph removed his light raincoat and sat down next to Paul.

David passed across Ralph’s pint of bitter and took the ten-pound note that Paul held in an outstretched hand.

Ralph took a long swig of his beer and set the glass down on the counter. “So how do you think the election is going to turn out?”

Paul, too, took a good mouthful of his beer and looked across to Ralph. “Well if the media are reporting it correctly, it looks like there’s a better than even chance of UKIP holding the balance of power. And if that happens then I can kiss goodbye to my business!”

David held out Paul’s change in his hand.

“Oh come on, Paul, you can’t mean that! UKIP holding the balance of power will mean an end to the antics of the money-grabbing bastards who have got us into the present mess. Surely, that would be good for you!”

“Ralph, I really wish you are right. But seventy-five percent of my revenue comes from the EU countries and UKIP have pledged to hold a referendum on whether Great Britain stays or leaves the European Union.”

 “Well I don’t know! Me, I just want the quiet life with me and Betty enjoying the rest of our years free from all the damned interference from bloody bureaucratic arses both sides of the Channel!”

“Ralph, I can understand that, truly I can. But I’m a long way from retirement and if my business fails I’m screwed, screwed big time!”

“Paul, you worry too much – let me get you another pint!”

Paul chuckled, “Ralph, you know how to win me over don’t you!”

“Anyway, Paul”, Ralph continued, “rumour has it that you aren’t even spending Christmas with us in the village.”

David, putting the second two pints of beer on the counter in front of Ralph and Paul, looked up, “What’s this I hear? You deserting us this Christmas?”

“Sorry gents, but it’s looking that way. I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with a couple of Americans I’ve known for years.”

“Well it’s alright for some lucky sods,” boomed Ralph, “I’m lucky if I can afford a trip into Totnes.”

He sipped his second pint. “America! Bloody Yanks!”

“I said I have been invited to spend Christmas with some Americans. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in the USA.”

“Come on then, tell us it’s somewhere even fancier!”

“Ralph, I’ve been invited to go to Mexico!”

And so it came to pass!


Well it was fun to write but I’m not certain that I got anywhere close to what today’s Writing 101 theme was looking for.

Oh well, another day tomorrow!

Writing 101 Day Six

There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” William Butler Yeats

Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalisations!” – Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexander Chekhov; May 10, 1886

Describing people — whether real or fictional — in a way that channels their true essence is an invaluable skill for any writer. Through the careful accumulation of details, great authors morph their words into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in our minds. How can you go about shaping your portrait of a person? Some ideas to explore:

Don’t just list their features. Tell us something about how their physical appearance shapes the way they act and engage with others. For example, see how the author of this moving photo essay, which documents the final weeks of a woman dying of cancer, captures the kernel of the woman’s spirit with a short, masterful statement: “Her eyes told stories that her voice didn’t have the power to articulate and she had a kindness that immediately made me feel like we had been friends for years.”

Give us a glimpse of what makes this person unique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms, and individual gestures, both physical and linguistic.

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us.

That is so true. But so many of my stories have also been linked to the dogs around me. So for today’s Writing 101 theme instead of writing about a person, I shall write about a dog. Specifically, young Oliver who entered our lives at 11:10 PDT on June 16th, 2014.



First viewing of young Oliver.
First viewing of young Oliver.

It was the eyes that got me! Right from the first moment that he and I looked at each other.

Those yellow-green eyes just had a power of attraction that was beyond my rational understanding. As if those eyes carried some haunting echo of that ancient time, millennia ago, when a young wolf looked upon the face of early man and each registered a mutual attraction.

Dear Oliver was born on the 28th February, 2014 and rapidly became a lively puppy: too lively for the couple who had taken him on. They lived close to us and Jean and I were called early in June that same year and asked if we might consider being his new parents. We went around on the morning of the 16th June to assess this young dog, especially from the angle of how well he would get on with our other dogs, before making our minds up for sure.

Within minutes, however, we knew without any doubt that under the skin of this lively, bouncy young dog there was a heart of gold and he came home with us that same morning.

No avoiding those eyes (and I'm not referring to Jean!).
No avoiding those eyes (and I’m not referring to Jean!).

Young Oliver had every reason to be a lively, bouncy young dog. For he was the offspring of Chocolate Labrador and Border Collie parents!  One can’t get much more of a lively mix than that! So those early days with Oliver in the house turned out to be fun!

Those early days also showed that Oliver’s heart of gold extended from people to other dogs. Within minutes of arriving home he was fearlessly loving up to Pharaoh. That meant that Pharaoh and all the other dogs were going to love him back in return.

Win over the bossman and the rest is easy.
Win over the bossman and the rest is easy.

So quickly young Oliver became a wonderful member of the family with not one of the other eight dogs taking even a hint of umbrage at this new puppy in their midst. Oliver’s character is gloriously open and honest, as matched in his face.

Over the weeks as we got to know Oliver better and better he has shown that he has the most beautiful disposition.

Now as I write this some ten months after we welcomed Oliver I find it impossible to imagine life without him. Or more accurately written that it would be impossible to imagine life without those eyes!

Those eyes!
Those eyes! (Photograph taken yesterday afternoon.)

Writing 101 Day Five

Returning after a week-end break!

I wasn’t sure if WordPress were going to take the week-end off, so to speak, but it does look as though they did.

Thus the last theme idea that was posted from WordPress was on the 9th and was:

Day Five: Be Brief

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

None of us will ever know the whole story in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards that each seem perfect.

— From 100 Word Story‘s About page

Brevity is the goal of this task, although “brief” can mean five words or five-hundred words. You might write a fifty-word story, as writer Vincent Mars publishes on his blog, Boy in the Hat. Or you might tell your tale in precisely one-hundred words, like the folks at 100 Word Story — an approach that forces you to question every word.

For writers who tend to write more, a longer word count may be considered concise, too. At Brevity, writers publish nonfiction of seven-hundred-fifty words or less: there is space to develop a piece, yet a focus on succinctness.

For inspiration, browse two fifty-word stories — on the silence between a husband and wife, or a story on time and a missed connection — or these one-hundred words by H. Edwards to see how others write clever concise tales.

H’mm, they don’t get any easier!

Here goes ….


Unfinished love?

It was so nearly missed.

The corner of an envelope. Lost for years under the hallway carpet. Maybe lost for ever if we hadn’t decided to replace this old, worn carpet.

Pharaoh was first to it but I quickly lifted it clear of his nose.

A handwritten address across an envelope bearing an old postage stamp. Why had it never been mailed?

Addressed to Miss Susan Reynolds in New Hampshire. Should I open it?

I did.

I read: “Dear Sue, I love you and, yes, I will marry you, love Jim

Dated Valentine’s Day forty years ago – to the day!


Exactly one-hundred words! (And it was tough to write!)

Writing 101 Day Three

Practice makes perfect.

Again, here is the WordPress theme for the day:

Day Three: Commit to a Writing Practice

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

The basic unit of writing practice is the timed exercise. – Natalie Goldberg

Author Natalie Goldberg says to “burn through to first thoughts, to that place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor.” Here are some of her rules of free writing practice from Writing Down the Bones, which we recommend you keep in mind:

  • Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.)
  • Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.)
  • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)
  • Lose control.
  • Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
  • Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)

Jorge Luis Borges said: “Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.” So, what are you waiting for? Get writing. Fifteen minutes. Go. And then, do it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.

Now having written a daily post for well over five years, I’m comfortable with the concept of committing to a writing practice.

Thus I’m going to republish something that gets to the heart of more worldly matters – keeping a smile on your face in these ‘interesting’ times. It comes from a blog that I recently started following: One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Longer.


How You Can Benefit from a Positive View on Your Life – WSJ

Regular readers know that I have embraced the theory of positive psychology. I have written a number of posts on the benefits of a positive point of view. You can find an index of them at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Bernstein’s piece in the Personal Journal of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal entitled “It’s Healthy to Put a Good Spin on Your Life.

think +ve

In a study of a large number of adults in their mid to late 50’s researchers found that “when people displayed higher levels of agency, communion and redemption and lower levels of contamination, their mental health improved. They consider good mental health to be low levels of depression and high levels of life satisfaction and psychological and social well-being.

They explained the four keys to good mental health as follows:

• Agency—Did the subjects feel able to influence and respond to events in life, or did they feel battered around by the whims of external forces?
• Communion—Are the people connected to others or disconnected?
• Redemption—Did the subjects take a negative experience and find some positive outcome?
• Contamination—Did they tell narratives of good things turning bad?

I would like to point you to a post I wrote in May of 2011 called Super Tools for Handling Stress.

In it I quoted Maggie Crowley, Psy.D., a Health Psychologist at the center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group.

Dr. Crowley listed the following as maladaptive coping strategies:

*Demand our circumstances be different
*Devalue ourselves and others
*Demean/blame ourselves and others
*When the above fail to work, do we choose another strategy?
*Or, do we double our ill-conceived efforts and feed our downward spiral.

She said that we needed something to shift our mental gears out of the stressful/fearful response that triggers that damaging cascade of negative emotion. She suggested the following activities that set off the parasympathetic approach:

*Practicing appreciation
*Making choices that are positive
*Using constructive language
*Employing our strengths and personal power.

I think that there is a great similarity between the four keys to good mental health mentioned in the Journal and the points made by Dr. Crowley in dealing with stressors.

Regarding positive psychology, I have found it answered a lot of questions for me. If you are interested you can explore it in the following posts:

What is Positive Psychology?
How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard
Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic
11 Ways to Become a Better, More Positive You
How to Become a Positive Thinker
7 Exercises That Train Your Brain to Stay Positive
Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain



This is such incredibly powerful and useful advice with lots of further reading to boot!

For we are bombarded with negative news from all quarters and having a healthy relationship with oneself and, thence, with the world around us is, in the end, what life is all about.

Writing 101

A bit of a change for the next twenty days or so.

As I’m sure you know Learning from Dogs is written under WordPress. Right from the start, I took the decision to offer a daily post and am so glad I did. (This post is number 2,435!)

However, many bloggers do not subscribe to a daily publication of a post and WordPress, in an effort to encourage more bloggers to so do, have launched Writing 101.  Here’s what they sent out to those bloggers that signed up to Writing 101, as indeed did I.


Day One: Unlock the Mind

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

– Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic

On The Daily Post, we try to instill a daily blogging habit in each of our readers. We’ve gotten to know many of you — your avatars, your blogs — and are reminded each day that our community is full of many different stories and voices.

Some of you want to take your craft of writing to the next level — you might be a seasoned daily prompter ready for something more, or want to experiment with different aspects of storytelling, from considering your setting and point of view, to developing your characters and dialogue.

So welcome to Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. In these twenty days, we’ll dive into the elements of storytelling, help you cut through writer’s block and — as Natalie Goldberg teaches — access the pure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons. Happy writing!


So apart from Sundays I shall be posting in accordance with the daily theme for the next twenty days.  On Sundays I shall revert to my usual Picture Parade.

So that’s enough of a preamble (or delaying tactic!) to today’s theme – here we go.


Just twenty minutes of free writing.

 (Time: 15:10 PDT)

Writing without thinking!

On the face of it that is an absurd notion … and yet? And yet, there is something fascinating in being totally free to let the words spill out without regard to the potential reader – I guess how one might approach writing a daily diary or journal.

Or try exploring the concept of consciousness!

It strikes me that it’s a little like those odd times when one is sitting in a passenger seat on a commercial airliner flight and one starts to ponder about what makes you and all your fellow passengers remain aloft! There is a difference however in that physics does understand the nature of lift that occurs when air flows across the upper and lower surfaces of a wing.

But consciousness!

I’m pretty sure in my guess that while the human brain is well-understood the precise process, for want of a better term, that explains consciousness is not perfectly understood. If I am wrong on that count then so be it. I hope I am not, for there is something incredibly wonderful, even ephemeral, about a conscious human wondering what it is that makes him or her that conscious human wondering just what it is that causes him or her to be that conscious person! (I sense the closeness of a circular argument appearing out of the mists of my own consciousness!)

The way the brain works in terms of thoughts and inner thoughts and even deeper subconscious thoughts is wonderful. Anyone who has had cause to use the services of a counsellor or therapist to delve into the inner workings of the mind could not fail to be in awe of the power of our brains, the way our brains are so deeply ‘wired-up’ during our formative childhood years, and the way that they conduct our behaviours during our years of adult life.

Which leads me nicely to a closing thought (my wrist-watch is telling me that my twenty minutes are up in six minutes time).

Here it is.

Writing is such a wonderful gift. Put no better than in the words of Khaled Hosseini as quoted in that opening of the Writing 101 item above. It strikes me that it is impossible to write on a regular basis without revealing a great deal about one’s own thoughts, inner thoughts and deeper subconscious thoughts.

That is why blogging is such an incredible way of making connections. Connections across countries, cultures, genders and creeds. In my years of writing this blog I feel an incredible family of friends out there.  Those that follow my humble scribblings and, in turn, those that attract my own following.

It would be wonderful to think that this new world of digital writing and the consequential sharing of the thoughts and ideas that drive our writing may one day make this world a very much better place.

And with those words, I stop.

(Time: 15:30 PDT)