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.

Sing Your Praises

We are amazing people. We do fabulous things. We create, cook, design. We play sports. We exercise. Socialize. Relax.

We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles. We are good friends. We are loyal to a fault. We take care of others. We offer emotional and financial support.

However, no matter how wonderful we are, we don’t sing our own praises. We sit back and wait for others to compliment us. Sometimes this happens as part of a conversation in which a few kind words are dribbled out. Sometimes it never happens.

Your task is to write a missive to yourself that compliments you in all ways possible. Be generous and kind. Leave nothing out, no matter how trivial.

One way to do this is in list format. Close your eyes and picture yourself on a typical day. Write down at least one thing that you do that could be considered praiseworthy. Write it down. Then think of one more. And another and another.

Work on this list for several days. Don’t worry about connectedness between items.  Don’t worry about organizing them in any way, Just write.

When you think you have a complete list, then organize items in some type of logical way.

Write.

When you are finished, reread. Add more items. Delete others. Expand some.

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.

 

Dealing with Long Lines

What would you stand in line for? A new cellphone? Concert tickets? The hottest tennis shoes? To vote in-person?

Our responses depend upon how important the issue is to us and to our family. If our teenager can’t live without the shoes, then maybe we would bring a chair, sleeping bag and food and would set up for an overnight stay.

If it’s tickets to a play or concert that is only in your area for one appearance, then maybe we would. Or wouldn’t. We might decide that it’s not worth all the hours of our time to wait.

Your character also has opinions about waiting. What would motivate her to stand in those long lines?

Your task is to create a list of at least five things that your character desperately wants. Keep the items consistent with her personality.

Next narrow the list down to one thing that which she most wants and is most willing to set personal comfort aside in order to get it.

Write the scene. Begin with discovering that the item is coming available. Dialogue would be appropriate. Have him express his desires, so clearly that the others understand.

Have the character wait. Include the emotions that pass through his mind as well as interactions with others in line.

Once the character has made the purchase, or has been foiled, tell us how he feels.

Have fun with this one.

Political Preference

In terms of politics, there is always something going on. Issues that call to action. Politicians voting for this or that, sometimes against their constituents wishes. Granted there are years in which no campaigns go on, but that doesn’t stop politicians from campaigning.

People of voting age make decisions about the issues and the politicians. Some we support, others we don’t.

So it is with your protagonists. They must make choices about whether or not to be involved, whether or not to care.

Your task is to first make a list of at least five issues that your characters will have an opinion about. Next to each issue, write for or against or undecided.

Narrow your list to two issues that fit your character’s personality. Establish her stance. Then write at least two reasons why your character feels that way.

Now write a scene in which politics is in play. It could be at a rally, at work, at a party. Include dialogue so that your character’s feelings can be expressed.

When you are finished, reread. Did you allow opinions to come out naturally or did you create an information dump? If it is a dump, then rewrite. Remember to spread out information, a drip at a time.

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.

Unfulfilled Dreams

We all want something until the day that we die or until our brain ceases to function. What we wish for changes throughout our lives. For example, a child may wish for a piece of chocolate while an older adult might want a good steak.

Our wishes change from hour to hour, day to day. On Sunday morning we might want a breakfast of eggs and bacon, but by afternoon all we really want is cheese and crackers. By Friday evening we are yearning for pepperoni pizza, beer and a piece of cheesecake for dessert.

Our dreams are often for bigger things, such as a new car, owning a home or traveling to remote places. These are long-term dreams while the previous ones were short-term.

Your task is to create a three-column list. First record dreams that your character has. In the next column determine how the character will act when she achieves each goal. Consider a wide range of emotions. In the third column record what happens when that dream goes unfulfilled.

Often our strongest emotions are triggered by those things that we cannot accomplish. These make the most interesting stories.

Choose one dream and one reaction. Write the story remembering to emphasize emotions.

Have fun with this one.