I have long encouraged the people in my writing programs to begin something I call an "unpolished gems file." This is a very simple concept which insures bloggers will forever have a stream of possible blog posts or essays ready to be taken out and upcycled into something fresh and new.
This blog post started as writing from my morning pages - today, in 2014 - from pages I wrote in 2012.
Yes, I am serious. From this short piece I was able to use that old adage of "showing rather than telling" to improve the experience of reading for my blog visitors.
I oftentimes find gems inside this "stream of consciousness, without a purpose" form of writing and invite you to try using your free-writing to create higher quality work.
Here is the start: My mulberry tree hating neighbors recently planted two trees in their yard. They have been tending these tree-babies almost to an excess. It is strange in that it is such a shift in behavior.
I am used to their yelling, foot stomping, nagging about our mulberry tree just being a mulberry, our sunflowers just being sunflowers.
I read what I wrote and I saw that my rant didn’t paint much of a picture of my neighbor, so I tried again, with these words.
My neighbor wears a straw hat when he works in his sparse-with-plants yard. Sometimes he is out there for three hours at a time: mowing, edging, weed wacking.
The first thing he and his wife did when they moved into the house next door fourteen or so years ago was to take out the twenty well-loved rose bushes, replacing the rose beds with more lawn. Their back yards has a few trees around the perimeter, but they have, in the past, gotten all a flutter if the arms of our grapefruit tree stretches into their space.
It was on their behalf I painted this William Blake quote on my front door, so when he knocked to complain he would read “The tree which moves some to tears of joy to others just stands in the way.”
This morning I sat at my desk, writing as I perched myself on the porch. I looked at the lavender baby crape myrtle and the infant willow stand like night watchmen on their front lawn and I wonder about the change of heart.
What is up in their lives that made them decide now is the time to embrace trees?
Why is it now that he chose to carefully nurture these baby trees, creating woodchip covered beds for them, carefully watering them and making sure they are encouraged to grow straight and tall?
I decided to stop here and see where my writing goes, overnight. Stay close by to see what happens next.
I didn't realize "overnight" would stretch into years, but here I am today - picking these words back up and putting them to use.
Its intriguing to note not only have I used observations of my neighborhood in blog posts and essays, they have made their way into my mixed media art. Now that I am sitting here writing idly AND with a purpose, I can feel a "Top 10 Reasons to Start an Unfinished Gems File for Your Blogging Inspiration" being born as well.
Here's your "To-Do." One caveat - please read all 5 items on this list and then begin to put them into action.
Excellent! Let's go!
1. Go through some recent casually written materials - perhaps an email you've written or your last few tweets. Copy them into a document, read them through again from a fresh perspective and then just allow your fingers to move across the keyboard, stream of consciousness style. In other words, don't think as you write, just let your fingers move across yoru keyboard as you follow along, collecting them.
2. You've heard of "Throw back Thursday", right? Well, go back into your blog's past and pull something out you wrote at least six months ago. Read it and select a paragraph or two you especially enjoy. Make a new document and once again, start to write stream of consciousness style. What happens next? Only your creativity knows.
3. Visit last month's instagram images. Choose your favorite and write its story. Wait a week and repeat. Write its story. Again. From a fresh perspective. Repeat in another week and see what happens. I guarantee, it will surprise you.
4. With each of these writings, add them to a brand new file named "The Unpolished Gem File". Allow your subconscious mind free reign during these free flow writing times. Watch as great stuff pours from you that you didn't know you had.
5. Walk away from the keyboard, click your heels and celebrate!
Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy and mixed-media artist. Her word-love themed art will be for sale at a First Friday soon, when it is warmer than it was in December!, in Downtown Bakersfield. Check out the links below to follow her on a bunch of different social media channels, especially if you find the idea of a Word-Love Party bus particularly enticing.
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