Painting a Word Picture

Laurie Scheer has made the details of this year’s Writers’ Institute available on the UW-Madison website. Needless to say, as an instructor I’m beyond excited!

The first person who introduced me to the concept of “show, don’t tell” was Laurel Yourke. The person who hammered the idea home was Christine DeSmet. You can learn more about all three of these creative and engaging women on the “Instructor” page.

Those of you who know me well are aware that Len and I haven’t had a television for almost 32 years. We’re avid readers. As such, I’m always asking friends and clients about books. My friend Sandi introduced me to the work of Dorothea Benton Frank. Now there’s an author who can paint a word picture: 

“To her right, the creek was completely placid and the shrimp boats were reflected in the water in perfect mirror images. Great beauty did not always require great sums of money, she thought. Sometimes something as easy and undemanding as an old shrimp boat, moored to an ancient piling battered from salt and time, could stop your heart in the same way as might a great work of art.”

Ms. Frank’s description immediately called to mind one of our favorite locations in Nova Scotia. But even if I didn’t have that memory to fall back on, her words painted a vivid picture on the canvas in my mind.

Who is your favorite word painter?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com and our Facebook page

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Tuesdays with Laurie


This year—2012—is like a shiny new penny. Not being one to spend time, I took New Year’s Eve and day to think about how I’m going to invest time this year.

Recently, one of my Life Harmony students wistfully said, “I wish that our mid-week check-ins were done at HolEssence. Like Mitch did with his college professor in the book ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ I’d like to come here each week to answer your Internal Inventory questions in person—sort of like Tuesdays with Laurie.”
And with that play on words, she laughed.

In addition to my regular energy medicine practice, Life Harmony program, article commitments, and 16 classes and workshops that I’m presenting at HolEssence this year, I’ve been gifted with two dream-come-true opportunities:

–  I’m speaking at The Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison in April.
–  I’m speaking at the first annual Women with Sacred Souls International Gathering and Retreat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in October.

Each of these commitments requires a significant investment of thought-filled time. With that in mind, this year I’m taking a more Zen-like approach and streamlining my blogging schedule to one post per week—remaining simple, yet full.

Your place is ready and waiting with a delicious cuppa hot tea. Please consider this an open invitation to invest Tuesdays with Laurie.

Are you modifying anything this year?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

The Writers’ Institute UW-Madison 2011

A Writer is Compelled to Write by Len Buchanan

A Writer is Compelled to Write by Len Buchanan

After I push the “publish” button on this post, I’m heading up to UW-Madison’s 22nd Annual Writers’ Institute where I’ll be in Nirvana, Utopia, Seventh Heaven—pure bliss—for the next several days.

It’s often asked, “Why do writers write?”

I don’t think writer’s write, I think they’re written through. Somewhere along the way they gave themselves over to being a vessel through which words flow. A writer can’t not write—they’re compelled to write. Even if it’s only for themselves.

It’s in the creative experience of writing that ideas, emotions, and thoughts are unleashed. This “unleashing” is euphoric—a state that becomes addictive—a way of being in the world that opens the door to endless possibility

Some of the telltale signs of a writer:

You’d be equally thrilled to receive a bouquet of freshly sharpened #2 pencils as you would a bouquet of flowers.

Pencil Bouquet by Laurie Buchanan

Pencil Bouquet by Laurie Buchanan

Sleuth-like, you carry a Moleskine® or other small tablet to capture your brilliant ideas, and great lines as you eavesdrop the conversations around you in a restaurant, on the train, in the line at the grocery store…

Sleuth Pad by Laurie Buchanan

Sleuth Pad by Laurie Buchanan

My best eavesdropping line [Older gentleman in bar says to young waiter as he’s getting ready to remove his seemingly empty glass]: “Young man, don’t ever waste marinated ice cubes.”

If you’re a writer, you may also enjoy these posts from the archive:
The Writers’ Institute (2010)
The Power of Words
Breaking the Rules
Capturing Thoughts
W is for Writing

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
                – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

I Love My Writer’s Block!

I Love My Writer's Block! by Laurie Buchanan

Most writers—people who put words on paper in order to survive; people who write because they know if they don’t they’ll either implode or explode—have a fear of encountering a Writer’s Block. For most writers, that means anything that stops the flow of writing. 

After the last conference I attended at UW-Wisconsin’s Writer’s Institute and watching other people getting wide-eyed with fear about this “dark inner-demon we would all encounter at some point,” I decided to make a preemptive strike and get myself a Writer’s Block so I could shift my perspective and embrace this thing, rather than run scared.

I had just put my intent out to the Universe when Dave Birr—a friend with a phenomenal collection of crystals—gifted  me with a small basket of gemstones. Hidden among the treasures was an oblong piece of olive-colored Nephrite Jade. My writer’s block!

Jade (or “yu” as it’s called in China), is rich with tradition. It symbolizes the five virtues of humanity: wisdom, compassion, justice, modesty, and courage.

I love my writer’s blockit’s all about flow!

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Breaking the Rules

Madison WI Capitol at Dusk by Laurie Buchanan

Madison WI Capitol at Dusk by Laurie Buchanan

Thursday – April 22, 2010
I arrived at the Writers’ Institute in Madison, Wisconsin a day early to take photographs and get my bearings. A college town, it’s instantly clear I missed the memo about must-be-seen-in accessories. I’m not decked out in ear buds, one dangling fashionably down the front of my shirt, while holding a razor-thin cell phone to my other ear; or stylishly in front of my chest, index finger sliding gracefully across the glass face several times, brows furrowed, appearing to search intently for something.

Friday – April 23, 2010
Literary Agent Katharine Sands said to the audience of writers, “Writers … in the end, you’re opening a restaurant and your job is to fill seats with people and get them to try your signature dish.”

Saturday – April 24, 2010
In regards to getting a fresh pair of eyes to read your manuscript, author John DeDakis said, “There comes a time when you’ve done all the damage you can do, and now it’s someone else’s turn.”

Sunday – April 25, 2010
Author and teacher, Laurel Yourke, talked about “the new math,” meaning—Whatever doesn’t add, subtracts.

I share this feeling, especially as it relates to breaking the rules of writing. Be cautious of advice that starts with “never.” Absolute rules don’t always apply. If keeping a rule subtracts from the story, break it! An example that’s just begging to be broken is “Write what you know.” I don’t agree—at all. That’s what imaginations are for. If we think of rules as guidelines, we’re more apt to bend, stretch, and break them when it’s best for the story.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

The Power of Words

University Bay by Laurie Buchanan

University Bay by Laurie Buchanan

“Writers are the wind that sail words across the page.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

Have you ever felt you would burst from sheer delight? Last night I returned from the Writers’ Institute at UW Madison and my head is spinning with a joyfully intense awareness. I haven’t slept a wink in days because I’ve got enough high voltage energy to power a gazillion-watt lighthouse. I feel as though I have extra clarity of vision and an unusual capacity to perceive and to distinguish.

I am suffused with wonder
i AM suffused with wonder
i am SUFFUSED with wonder
i am suffused WITH wonder
i am suffused with WONDER

… at the deceptive simplicity of writing—for publication. It’s much more complex than it appears at first blush. Especially when you take into consideration the:

– Show, don’t tell factor (he slammed his fist on the table vs. he said angrily)
– Keep it taut – less is more
Specific is your friend
– “Because” – not because I told you so, but causality; to reveal a solution
– The semicolon – don’t overuse it
– Italics – don’t us it. Use words that do their own heavy lifting
– With few exceptions, punctuation goes inside the quote
– End every chapter with an arrow into the next chapter
– Entertainment and emotion are paramount on every page
– Avoid author intrusion (saying something on the side to the reader, like this)

Language at its best is used to inspire others to find the best in themselves. Well chosen words can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking, and alter results.

Choose each word as if it matters—it does.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

The Writers’ Institute

UW Madison by Laurie Buchanan

UW Madison by Laurie Buchanan

For the last several days we’ve been talking about a few of the course offerings at the University of Life. This morning I head to the Writer’s Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I’ll spend the next four days polishing my craft, pitching my project, and promoting my manuscript.

Why is it, exactly, that writers write? There are as many reasons for writing as there are writers, but the common thread is instinct. Writer’s write because we must; we write because it’s who we are. The same force that moves a musician to set free an enchanting piece of music, or a painter to give birth to a captivating painting, is the one that moves us to unleash the ideas that are whispered in our ears.

The delicate task of selection and arrangement of words on a page—writing—is as vital to us as breathing. For most writers, this requires seclusion; we need our privacy. Like a surgeon with a scalpel, we carefully examine each word; first in the quietness of our mind and then aloud. After that they’re scrutinized again, rearranged once more, and then trimmed to the bone for effectiveness.

At this conference one of the things I’ll be learning is to wield my scalpel more effectively. This includes assignments that are time sensitive. As such, I’ll be offline until the 26th, focusing on the task at hand. When I return I’ll resume blogging on even days of the month.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               ~ Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.