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

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18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Day 24: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Lisa Tener Joy of Writing Journal

Welcome to Day 24 on the journey through The Joy of Writing Journal. Here I share an excerpt from my journey and I hope you will share something about yours—an excerpt, an insight, a challenge, a joy…

My dad was a true character with a brilliant mind—a renaissance man, English teacher, musical genius / composer, Asian art expert. He was self taught in almost all areas and was just as comfortable researching supplements and alternative health treatments as he was reading obscure medical journals—for fun! (and later for his health). His research paid off. His doctor told him every year, “You’ve lived 4 years longer than anyone with this kind of cancer.” Which became 5 years and 6 years and 7 and more.

Dad also dominated almost any conversation and seldom paused for breath when speaking. He was also a devoted and passionate teacher, a kind and generous person and loved my nickname for him, “Faux Papa.” Dad enjoyed occasionally poking fun at himself.

Martin Tener

I had fun imagining a conversation between my dad and someone else I know—who comes from a completely different world to Jewish New York—and who, like Dad, lacks self awareness. The dialogue reminded me of theater of the absurd.

I laughed when I reread it.

The other person in my imagined dialogue lives on. It’s one thing to journal about someone and make fun in your own private world, knowing they will never see it. Quite another to make it public. For these reasons, I decline to share the excerpt.

I will say that it was fun and somewhat cathartic to write. Humor created space for compassion for both my dad and this other person (maybe for myself as well). I could see their behaviors as personal defenses and nothing to do with me.

I love when my journaling becomes humorous. I find it healing. Humor can help us release our rigid perceptions and make room for new ways of seeing things.

Your Turn

Share an excerpt from your Day 23 exploration in The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. If you don’t have a copy, you can buy it here.

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

As I did, you may feel that sharing your writing would betray the people in your anecdote. Please honor your intuition on that one.

However, feel free to change names and details to disguise the people before sharing an excerpt, if you feel that would be sufficient to make it anonymous.

And you can also share insights about the experience, rather than an excerpt.

How was this exercise for you? Did anything shift?

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

    Lisa, before I do today’s prompt, I have a question. In my writing yesterday, I copied a portion of 2 sentences out of an herb book about Thyme. One phrase I put in quotations, but did not add a footnote. I wondered how we give credit to another’s writing in this blog. Later, I felt a little uneasy because I realized this could be considered plagiarism, on some level. Please advise. Deborah

    • Lisa Tener says

      Let me know the name of the book and the author and I can edit your comment or feel free to rewrite the comment with that information and post it and I’ll delete the other comment. However you want to do it is fine. Thanks for letting me know – easy to fix.

      • Deborah Louth says

        The name of the author is renowned folk healer, French Herbalist Maurice Messegue.
        I will edit it and you can delete and replace because I know where to put it.
        Thank You, Deborah

  2. Deborah Louth says

    Day 24 – An Unlikely Dialogue – Prompt – Cynthia/Barbara

    This was a tough one for me. It took some time

    Where did you get this information asked Cynthia? Oh, from on high in the ethers, quipped Barbara and backed up by a scholar’s research and personal experience. And, you believe this wholeheartedly, no question? You confound me – don’t you know Science does not back you up on this. Cynthia impatiently chortles. Our scientifics sometimes plays god and are compartmentalized, not knowing what others of their ilk are up to. I’d say many scientists court a hubris attitude of self righteousness and are destined to have a fall from grace soon, once the hidden truth is revealed, Barbara softly yawns. In my career, I was a journalist and privy to some classified information, which categorically denies your experience, Cynthia knowingly expounds, though I am open to consider the possibility that extra terrestrials walk among us!

  3. Mary Ann L says

    Deborah- I laughed at loud at your last line! I didn’t see it coming! Well done!

    I tried the prompt & it’s just not working for me today. At least yet. I read something from Nightbirde (AGT) in the CBS news & Instagram that spoke to me and heartened me especially in consideration of our collective endeavours. Here’s an excerpt for the purpose of the blog:

    “A journalism professor in a long gray sweater taught me the difference between a story worth writing and a public relations stunt. A real story has meaning even if no one hears it; a PR stunt only matters if people are watching….

    And that became a new item on the list of promises to myself. That I would never let my life become a public relations stunt. My life would have meaning , even if no one ever knew about it. I wanted to write a story I was proud of, even if nobody read it…

    We are not all we wish we were, but we are here, and we are trying and we are awake. We are not public relations stunts. We are stories worth hearing ,even if there is no crowd in the stands for us. We are the heroes. We are the poem, we are the song, we are the gift.”

    • Deborah Louth says

      Sounds like you can write a memoir to me – titled, “The Gift of a Well Led Life with Obstacles”, or some such. I’m being silly.

  4. Maureen says

    This is an excerpt of a dialogue I imagined between a psychiatrist/parent and an educator…
    “Good morning, Mr. Smith. I’m Dr. Jones, your son’s math teacher and the acting vice principal. Thank you for coming in. Please have a seat,” she said, gesturing to the empty chair opposite her desk. Fred, who had extended his hand, pulled it back awkwardly and sat down as directed. “Well, it’s nice to finally meet you,” he said pleasantly. “Face to face is so much better, don’t you agree? Oh, and it’s actually Dr. Smith, by the way.” Dr. Jones just stared at him for a moment. Then she began, “We’ve asked you here today because we’re concerned about Sam’s academic performance. He seems to be having particular difficulty in math, but he’s struggling in his other subjects, as well.” Fred looked mildly surprised. “Really?” he asked. “We’ve been trying a new approach at home, and Sam feels things are going much better.” Dr. Jones looked at him coldly. “Well, Sam is mistaken,” she replied. “And just what would this new approach of yours be?” “Well,” Fred said, “to understand the new approach, you have to understand our old one. We call it the ‘Butterfly Approach…”

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