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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Day 12: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

My list for today included many places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time—India, Iceland, Utah—and a few I briefly glimpsed and wish to really see—Mount Shasta, Thailand. But the last entry surprised me—Israel.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

You could say I’ve internalized my parents’ fear of danger there—from the violence and bombing throughout my childhood. You’d be half right.

Beneath, “Who will put their lives in danger by traveling to Israel?” is a deeper impulse—to leave the past—along with our Jewishness—behind. Assimilate.

Once again, a seemingly innocuous prompt—to imagine a visit to one of the places on my list—provokes an exploration of deep-seated beliefs and internal restraints, which have less hold for me when I bring them to the surface to examine them.

Rereading my journal entry, I realize I didn’t even do what the prompt says. Instead of imagining a visit, I explore why it surprises me for Israel to come up on the list! As you work through The Joy of Writing Journal, feel free to improvise and follow your muse.

Your Turn to Journal

A prompt is just that—something to prompt you. Where you go from there? That’s wide open.

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

As I mentioned yesterday, when I wrote The Joy of Writing Journal, I intended to help spark my readers’ creativity. I went for a light touch, focusing on qualities like playful, quirky and fun. But sometimes a prompt provokes a more intense exploration.

Today’s prompt may inspire a deep dive for you too, or it may just as likely bring up a long held desire to visit some exotic or beautiful land. Or perhaps the land of your ancestors! Maybe it will inspire your next vacation!

Where does today’s prompt lead you? Share an excerpt or any surprises, insights or delights that arose when you journaled today.

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


  1. Deborah Louth says

    Day 12 – Places to Visit – Prompt – Morocco

    I am finally here in this beautiful land of Morocco. I am here to participate in a program to learn the ancient art and grace of the Whirling Dervish Dance. The country is located on the top of Africa bordered on the north side by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean on it’s western side. My first outing is to the fantastic, old world bazaar featuring a panoply of vibrant colors within the fabrics the locals wear. My senses are heightened by the scents of rows and rows of bowls filled with exotic spices, which casts a spell on my olfactory nerves, waking up my appetite. The adjoining stall offers delectable food cooked in tagines reminiscent of the old Berber clans of the wandering dessert nomads in long white, flowing robes, swaddled with head scarves. After I satiate my taste buds, I wander away towards our tour group leading us to a Moorish style madrasa, where our training takes place. Entering this sacred space, we bask in the unusual sounds of middle eastern music that weaves violin, zithar, harmonium and tabla players, sending chills down our spines. Whirling dervishes are part of the Sufi tradition, who seek the mystical path of god. Rumi, the esteemed Sufi poet was a whirling dervish. The dance is called turning, not spinning and uses hand/arm placements to pull in the energy to represent the whirling wind of god. I am honored to be here, as I await
    this reverent journey of dance. I feel I have been here before and was part of this great tradition.

    • Mary Ann L says

      Deborah- what a scene you created of the dancers and Moroccan culture. You make me want to go there to see the dancers, taste the tagines and eat the pickled lemons. And I so admire the poet, Rumi! Are the whirling dervishes like the ones in Turkey?

      For years I wanted to visit Kenya because of Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa and a book called White Mischief. The beauty of Dinesen’s words painting other worldly landscapes, her steamy on and off romance, and her bone deep love of her farm were like a siren’s call. The film with Meryl Streep brought an added pleasure to see the grass swaying in the Savanas at the break of dawn and pale light of dusk and free roaming lion kings and brilliant sunsets as far as the eye can see. Flash forward and a recent book by Lisa See has mesmerized me with the allure and quixotic nature of Jeju Island off the coast of Korea. A beautiful island near Japan with a haunting history combined with the matrifocal society of women free divers is both mysterious and exotic. And it is close to the birthplace of my ancestors in Jeollanam-do. Soon I will heed the call to taste the spicy hot kimchi, beef bulgogi, and earthy barley tea that are pantry staples. I will turn my face to the sun and the wind to feel the rapture of the Grandmother Goddess mountain who watches over all. I will open my senses to a language I can neither read nor understand but is somehow a part of me. I will press my lips and cheek to the earth to feel myself root to this place so that I can etch it in my heart and memory when my feet take me home.??

      • Lisa Tener says

        Wow, Mary Ann! I can’t believe you said a few days ago that you are not a writer. Your description of the birthplace of your ancestors is gorgeous and transporting! I too loved Lisa See’s book, The Island of Sea Women. Did you know I interviewed her about that book? Here’s the interview. If you have time, check it out! It was such a delight to ask her about her experience writing that incredible novel!

        • Mary Ann L says

          I really found it fascinating to hear about her writing process and the backstory of the book. It’s the first time I’ve ever listened to an author interview really tuning in to the story and the writing of it. I also loved seeing your storyboard-was it for this book? There were two things that Lisa said that I thought were especially intriguing-forgive me I am paraphrasing. 1. I don’t dream much but I write in a dream state. 2. Secrets carry things along in real life and fiction. I am going to share your interview with my book club as Sea Women was the last book we read and I know they will really appreciate this riveting interview.

          I cannot express how much I enjoyed your interview with Lisa See and I thank you so much for sharing it.

          • Lisa Tener says

            Yes, I found those two things fascinating as well!
            Feel free to comment on that interview and if you have questions for Lisa See, I will let her know and she can answer on the blog!
            As to the storyboard I shared, it was actually for the book I was writing when The Joy of Writing Journal came into my consciousness and captured my attention. I need to return to the other book. It is in its umpteenth draft but I feel like maybe there or one or two more stories to add…almost like I am waiting for them to present themselves…

      • Deborah Louth says

        Wow indeed! I second Lisa’s appraisal of your writing skill. Your description took my breath away.
        I had just came home from an acupuncture treatment, in a relaxed state, so when I read your post,
        I was wide open to feel your words. Bravo! I never heard of Jeju Island – powerful ancestry.

  2. Maureen says

    Oh, Mary Ann! You continue to amaze me with your rich descriptions and the way you pull your soul out and lay it on the page for us.

    And Deborah, Morocco was already on my list, and it just moved up. You make me feel as if I were there; I can smell and taste it.

    And Lisa, I love that you shared how the prompt led you in a different, unexpected direction, and that you went with it. That happens to me a lot, and it’s great to be reminded that that’s ok, and that the whole point is just to follow where your mind takes you.

    I ruminated on Greece, and I got excited about all the reading and thinking and planning I’d get to do before hand—reviewing my mythology and my Homer and Plato. I would pore over maps and figure out which ruins to visit. I’d visit Athens, of course. And then I pictured myself at a taverna on a Greek island, eating olives and feta, washed down with some retsina. I would want to stay there for a while. Get to know it a little. Learn some Greek. Meet some people. Soak up the feel of the place, along with the sunshine. Visit the local ruins. Because all of Greece is built on the stones and stories of the past. Oh, I can’t wait to go!

    • Lisa Tener says

      Maureen, I love how you would prepare for the journey! My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Greece. We told my father-in-law we were looking for an island “off the beaten path” that didn’t have a lot of development on it. He opened the guidebook and started reading about Skyros. It was perfect! Small and unspoiled, with a lovely climb up hill into the main town area. I can still recall the alive trees, the fragrant white flowering trees (jasmine?) and our favorite restaurant, owned by Sisyphus!

      • Mary Ann L says

        Maureen-hello & welcome! I love imagining you embarking on an idyllic Greek odyssey. I see you sitting barefoot and carefree in an open air taverna overlooking the Mediterranean clinking glasses of golden retsina , eating crusty bread dipped in fragrant olive oil and oregano and reveling in your serendipitous wanderings.

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