Self-Compassion

The way you think about yourself influences the decisions you make and the things you do. It affects confidence levels which can either reduce or increase the likelihood of you trying new experiences.

Often our self-compassion comes to us as a voice in our head. What does yours tell you? What does it sound like? Is it male or female? Is it encouraging or discouraging? Does it inspire you or tear you down?

If you think of yourself in a kindly manner, you treat yourself with respect, kindness, compassion and with acceptance, even though you might not be as perfect as you would like to be someday.

Your task is to write about yourself. Imagine that you are with a good friend and you are feeling a little down. What would you like that friend to say or do? What is the likelihood that the friend will say anything? What is in that friend’s personality that controls how they will react to you?

Your scene is most likely imaginary, but it doesn’t have to be. You can write about something that happened as a nonfiction story or you can add fictional elements that switch the story to one that you wish had happened.

As you write, ask you friend to treat you with kindness, compassion and caring.

When you are finished, ask yourself if you could treat yourself this way. If not, why?

Have fun with this one.

Positive Comments

Imagine that you have three good friends. You’ve known each other for many years. You’ve traveled together, eaten together, shopped together. You’ve shared many wonderful moments and overcome difficulties that might have separated others. Through thick and thin you have remained friends.

What would they say are your most positive characteristics? Think beyond the obvious. For example, not just comments about your physical appearance or how clothes fit your body. What would they say?

Your task is to think about a character in one of your stories and the people that she considers friends. Make a list of those individuals.

Next to each name write at least one positive thing that the person would say about the character. Each person must say something different based upon experiences they have shared.

Choose a place in the story where you can insert at least one positive comment from the character’s friend. How does that play out? What does the character say or do in reaction?

Make sure it feels realistic and not forced.

Have fun with this one.

 

Evening Out

Most love getting out for an evening. Recall how you feel when you get dressed up to go to the theater, visit friends or go into the big city for a frolicking night of fun.

When you dressed, were you thinking of what you’d eat for dinner? The great conversations you’d have? Seeing the people that you haven’t seen for a long while?

Your characters experience the same emotions. When you plan an evening out for them, remember to include details about the range of feelings that pass through. There will be a bit of anxiety, a bit of nervousness, a bit of dread if this isn’t something that your character enjoys.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character and another are preparing for a night out. Think of all the possible preparations involved. If there are children, then perhaps a babysitter is needed. If it’s a potluck, food has to be cooked. Clothing has to be chosen, hair done and makeup applied. Perhaps a bottle of wine is opened and another brought to the party.

Write several pages, then reread, looking to see if you captured the emotions. If you did, great. If not, what’s missing? Reread again, this time looking for places to amplify and expand emotions. Consider adding dialogue so that we see and feel the interplay between characters. Make the dialogue realistic for your story.

Have fun with this one.

Vices

What are the things that “call your name” whenever you come home from work? Is it a beer, mixed drink or glass of wine? A cigarette? Maybe it’s a handful of chocolate or cookies?

Whatever it is, it speaks to us, encouraging us to partake even when we know that we shouldn’t.

What calls your character’s name? What are her vices? Those things that she can’t live without even though she knows she shouldn’t succumb to their call?

Your task it two-fold. First create a list of possible vices. Make sure that these things are logical based upon your character’s personality.

Narrow it down to the one or two that are most logical and the easiest for you to write about.

Next write a scene in which your character is enticed to partake in the vice. Where is he? What does he do? Does he resist or give in immediately? Who is he with? Do his friends encourage him or discourage him? When he gives in, how does he feel? Is there satisfaction as a reward or does guilt consume him?

Consider all these things as you write.

When you are finished, reread. How does the scene play out? Have you covered all the basics? Is there anything else that should be included? Expand wherever information is lacking.

Have fun with this one.

Cleanliness Matters

First appearances are incredibly important. Snap judgements are made shortly after a person walks into a room. Same when we enter someone’s living space: depending upon neatness, we evaluate our feelings toward an individual.

Our characters are also defined by neatness. Well-groomed hair says a lot about how they feel about themselves. Same goes for the scrubby, dirty look that tells the viewer that either he hasn’t bathed in a while, or that he doesn’t care.

Your task is to create a credible description of your character. Think beyond clothes, hair, nails. Consider the state of the bedroom, apartment, kitchen. If possible, draw a picture of the individual and of the residence.

Next write a scene in which someone meets your character for the first time. How do people react? Describe the faces they make. The actions they make. Next take someone to the residence. Again, describe faces and actions.

Reread, looking for sufficient descriptors so that the reader clearly sees what you intend for her to see. If there are ambiguities, add information.

Have fun with this one.

 

Awards Won

I was not one of those kids who won things. I never earned a certificate for perfect attendance or for high grades. Girls seldom participated in sports back then, so I never won a ribbon for participation. I didn’t play an instrument, wasn’t artistically gifted and never entered a competition.

I do remember, quite clearly, the first time I did win something. I was ten. My family had gone to my dad’s union picnic. A BINGO game was held for kids.  I didn’t win the first few games, which was no surprise, but I played anyway. The last game was called. My blocks quickly got filled. All of a sudden I realized I had a BINGO! I raised my hand and was instantly recognized. An adult checked my game board. I truly had won! They called me to the front where I was presented with a tiny piece of candy. It didn’t matter the prize, for I had won. That’s all that I could think of.

Your character has probably had some type of similar experience. Ribbons were earned, certificates were given, and promotions handed out. It’s up to you to decide.

Your task is to create a list of awards won. Make sure that the contests match the character’s personality and interests.

Narrow down the list to the most important one, the one whose story you can tell.

Write the story, making sure to include sights, sounds, feelings of the character and others.

When you are finished, reread. Look for places where you can strengthen details.

Have fun with this one.

 

Reacting to Loss

Last week I misplaced my ID that allows me to participate in activities at the local senior center. Needless to say, I was devastated, for without it, technically I am not supposed to go in the center.

I looked everywhere. The last place I remember it being was in a pocket of my shorts. But which pair? I figured the ones in the laundry, so that’s where I began my search. When I didn’t find it there, I went through the pockets of every pair I own. Then I searched jeans and jackets and sweatshirts, all to no avail.

Granted this is not a huge loss, for I could pay to get a new one. So far I’ve been scooting by the check-in desk with a stoic face. It’s been working as no one has challenged me.

Imagine that your character has lost something important. What would he do? Where would he search? How would he feel?

Some of us react quite strongly to any loss, no matter how trivial. Then when something much more important is lost, panic overwhelms us.

Think about your character’s personality. The reactions that she experiences need to align with the type of person she is. For example, if she is rather laid back, then she might shrug and gone on with life. If she’s more reactionary, then she might become frantic with worry.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character has lost something important. This will most likely be exclusively narrative, so remember to include lots of details. Where possible bring in another character and let there be dialogue that is relevant to the loss.

When you are finished, reread to see if the loss and ensuing search make sense.

Have fun with this one.