Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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Breathe. Write. Breathe.

18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Life, Writing and Presence Amidst the Holiday Mayhem

Presents or Presence: Writing and Life in the Holiday Mayhem #creativity #writingworkshop Share on X

A couple of weeks ago, my office looked like this:

book coach's office on a bad day


And my kitchen table looked like this:

messy table

Can you relate? If not to the mess, at least to the feeling of overwhelm that comes with it during the holidays? Especially if you’re also working on writing a book!

I’d scheduled with Jess for an extra cleaning/organizing day that week–one to do her usual house cleaning and the second to address and stuff holiday envelopes, wrap and pack gifts (and the all important labeling due to my messy handwriting), and help make those surfaces (table, desk, floor) visible once again.

Only it snowed and she got a bug.

But enough “poor me.” I wasn’t the one with the holiday bug. I decided to feel grateful to be healthy.

Still, I dreaded those envelopes and gifts to wrap.

Last Year’s Baggage

I looked at the box of half finished holiday cards from 2018 that I couldn’t bring myself to toss, a project abandoned when my dad passed away. Um, why was I saving those cards?

This year, I vowed I’d send every card, and not just so I didn’t have to look at them in my closet for the rest of 2020.

Yet, the prospect of wrapping, addressing, envelope stuffing and stamping with no assistance overwhelmed me.

From Dread to Fed

I rushed through labeling and stamping, some stamps and labels going on crooked, as I worked through the first page of labels. I wrote “Happy Hanukkah” “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” on the back of our family card in metallic green ink. Pretty but time consuming. And how meaningful was it, really?

And then something happened.

I paused as I read the next label. I thought about Kelly Attonito whose kids I’ve never met, though they live just one state over. I thought of the gratitude I felt for her in sharing an opportunity for a business school scholarship years ago. I found it remarkable that she’d lower her odds by sharing with others. Yet her generosity worked out well for her when we both won $4,000 scholarships from Digital Equipment Corporation, an expansive lesson for me.

Elizabeth Tener painting
My mom loved to paint in winter and capture the raw trunk and branches of trees amidst the snow.

I thought of Carol Goodman, one of my mom’s oldest friends and a fellow artist who attended Parsons with her. I thought of the beautiful silk scarves she taught mom to make and how mom taught us to pin the silk on a frame and experiment with color.

That memory led me to the many artistic activities my mom shared with us–making cut out paper dolls and clothes with just a few colored pencils, plain paper and a pair of scissors; picking wildflowers and coming home to paint them in a bouquet at our kitchen table; creating raku pottery and silver jewelry in the crafts program at Fundy National Park when we were kids. I felt closest to my mom when we shared artistic endeavors. We got to enter mom’s world.

I fed my soul with my recollections.

Writing and the Gift of Presence

I realized then that doing the job on my own afforded me the luxury of taking my time and thinking about each person or family, what I love about them, lessons they taught me. I thought about clients that I continue to stay in touch with, as I wrote their cards. Such an abundance of goodness in these relationships.

I may not have written much on each card, but I prepared each one with love and gratitude.

wrritingI gave myself the gift of presence.

As a writer, sometimes I try to rush through the writing when I feel overwhelmed. Write about this thing I took notes for, or this next item in my outline.

And that’s when the writing stinks!

One has to slow down and be present to write. Sure, sometimes the writing comes fast and furious and you’re taking dictation as fast as you can. But even then, it’s likely to start with a moment of presence before the flow begins.

A Creative Shift

I used this insight for my own creative shift and wrote a few short pieces that may go into my book or blog post.

Tonight, I’m teaching a bonus class to book proposal course participants where we’ll be doing just this: cultivating a sense of presence, taking a few deep breaths and writing in community from a place of “presence.”

I’m so grateful to be writing amidst the busyness and hoopla of the holidays! My creative Muse feels fed!

My Holiday Wishes for You

In the midst of this busy time of year, I hope you make time for your creative spirit. Slow down. Enjoy. Write.

book heart
Photo by Eleonora Albasi on Unsplash

And as we look to 2020, I hope wish you a year of magnificence: Finding your voice as a human and a writer, honoring your wisdom and message by writing, enjoying the fruits of your labor:

  • grateful comments from your blog or book readers
  • inspiration from your muse
  • a book deal
  • whatever and all your heart desires!

My Gift for You as a Writer

I’ve been experimenting with some fun, creative material from the book I’m working on.

I added a few bonus group calls for Fast Track Your Book Proposal course participants in which we practiced some of the exercises in my book and then spent time writing.

Several wrote me the next day to say how much they loved the format and how it opened up their writing, generated new perspectives in writing their books, freed them to be more creative.

And so, to start 2020, I invite you to a free call on January 2 at 8;30 pm ET, 5:30 pm PT where all we’ll do is breathe, play and write together.


WHAT? A FREE online workshop by ZOOM conference call
WHEN? January 2, 2020 at 8:30 pm ET
HOW? Press the orange button below and register! Instructions will immediately appear!

Sign up here

If you’ve been looking for the inspiration and a little push to get going on your book, or to reignite your writing, or want to set a vision for the new year and decade, this is your golden ticket.

Comment below if you plan to join me. Schedule it now in your 2020 calendar and I’ll see you on January 2!


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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


    • Lisa Tener says

      Hi Alayne, YAY! Hope you’ll join us on Jan. 2. It’s going to be an inspiring and productive call. I can’t wait.

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