A Labyrinth, A Writing Tip, and Cathy-on-a-Stick

So…the writing retreat in Alabama at the convent. I thought I was going to take all sorts of pictures because, really, it was lovely out there. And I thought I’d gather all sorts of writing revelations to share with you.

The convent grounds included a labyrinth and I am fascinated by labyrinths so I dashed back to my room for camera and Cathy-on-a-Stick:

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Unfortunately, I remembered too late that I’d dropped this particular camera and broken the zoom so it’s a little difficult to see Cathy-on-a-Stick but she’s there, leaning against a brick. I’d like to say that she and I walked the labyrinth but as it was 212 degrees in the shade, I determined to come back later for a walkabout.

And then I saw this stand with ribbons:

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A friend and I talked and decided that they were prayer ribbons, meant to be carried as one walked through the labyrinth, meditating and praying. I like the idea of prayer ribbons–they remind me of the Buddhist prayer flags–and perhaps you’ve come across them in your town or travels. (You can read about one such place here, at Spiritual Travels.) The ribbon helps one to focus (as well as the twists and turns of the labyrinth) and several writers said they walked the labyrinth, focusing on a story problem, hoping for a solution.

Freeing your mind by concentrating on a simple task–like walking a path or washing your hair–often releases creativity. I’m a strong believer in showers (or a long bath) to get a story unstuck and I’ll bet you have a favorite go-to to get unstuck, even if you’re not aware of it. Washing dishes, maybe, or working in a garden, walking a treadmill or cleaning a tub. The routine of the task doesn’t require a lot of focus and so your mind can wander and explore. Try doing something dull and tedious the next time your plot gets into a rut and watch how you dig yourself out with a brilliant idea!

As for me and my brilliant ideas–um…those are the only pictures I took. And that’s pretty much my only writing revelation. But it’s a good one, right? (Cathy-on-a-Stick thought I made a couple good points.)

(P.S. Last chance to be included in the giveaway of There’s a Hamster in My Dashboard by David Berner. Zip over to this post and leave a comment!)

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