joanne Weck Author Page

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


To Sleep, perchance to dream.” William Shakespeare

Dreams are often a magical source of inspiration. I’ve always been fascinated by my own dreams. As a child, I believed that my dreaming adventures were as real as my daytime life and refused to admit that they were spun purely from my sleeping brain. Today I still cherish my dreams as a source of inspiration and revelation.

In addition to my “regular” journal I keep a dream journal. When I wake from a  realm frequented by mythical creatures and friends no longer living, where the natural laws of time and space are suspended, I embrace the experience as an excursion into the depths of my subconscious mind. While the images still linger, I write down the context of the dream, examine the people, animals, creatures, and places who have presented themselves and I attempt to interpret the symbols. What is the message of the dream? What does it reveal about my real life concerns? What does it suggest for my current project? I let myself drift with feelings and images, jotting down ideas which might later be incorporated into my writing.

Friday, January 23, 2015


This is an article I found most helpful and inspiring.  I've tried the Reach for a Book exercise (luckily I always have a few books on hand) and was amazed how quickly it quieted my critic and got me back on track. The author refers to one of my favorites for inspiration, Natalie Goldberg, and reminded me to reach for one of her books.  Marilyn Bousquin, invited us to share this article so I'm happy to do that today.

3 Steps to Outwit Writer's Block
by Marilyn Bousquin

3 Steps to Outwit Writer’s Block 

Uh oh. Here it comes again. That relentless voice of doubt that snaps me out of my writing—out of my heart—and up into my head. Suddenly, the scene I was just in is miles away and I am rehearsing the old whine, “Maybe I’m not really a writer. Why am I writing this? What makes me think I have what it takes to finish a memoir? Oh my god I have so many other things to do. I don’t have time to write.”

Welcome to what Natalie Goldberg calls monkey mind and what Virginia Woolf deems the Angel in the House.

You might call it your inner critic.

No matter the name it goes by, it can bring writing to a halt and turn precious writing time into full-blown writing panic.

Writing is an energy. When your mind is quiet and you are writing from a connection to your self, the writing flows and you feel present.

Fear freezes the body and blocks the flow of energy. Hence, when the inner critic stirs up fear (or vise versa), energy stops flowing and you experience a block in your energy, i.e., writer’s block.

This blocked energy disconnects you from your voice, your writing, your self. You  are no longer present to the work at hand.

What to do when you find yourself in the grip of writer’s block?

Deliberately shift your energy so that you can return to your writing flow. It’s easier than you may think. Here’s a simple but powerful 3-Step process I use to get myself out of my mind and back into my body where I can access my writing flow. I call it “Reach for a Book You Love.”

Reach for a Book You Love

Step 1
Take your fingers off the keyboard or put down your pen and reach for a book you love. I usually reach for a book from the shelf at the end of my writing table. Sometimes I scan the titles and grab the one that grabs me. The other day I put my hands on Steve Harvey’s excellent memoir The Book of Knowledge and Wonder because I’d recently read it and felt my love for it. The main thing is that you love the book that is now in your hands—on some level you feel a connection with it.

Step 2
Open the book. You can open it to a random page, or you can turn to a section of the book that calls to you. I opened The Book of Knowledge and Wonder to page 1 because I was suddenly curious to see, again, how Steve opens his entire memoir on an important object from his childhood.

Step 3
Start typing verbatim the words on the page before you. Seriously, word for word, start typing. As you type, let the words, the language, the images you are typing wash over you. Notice sentence lengths. Word choice. How a paragraph opens. How one sentence ends and the next sentence begins. Drink in the rhythm and the voice of the writing. Don’t try to figure anything out, just be with the words. Keep typing until you feel yourself returning and the grip of fear letting go, until you feel your energy flowing. In other words, keep typing until you feel present.

This simple exercise rarely fails to return me to myself. I chalk the occasions it hasn’t worked up to my insatiable addiction to going all-out drama queen on my writing : ).  But usually the lure of another writer’s truth and voice and use of language is enough to lure me away from my self-defeating habits.

What tricks do you use to trip yourself out of writer’s block? Let us know in the comments, and together we can build an arsenal that keeps us in our writing flow.

Marilyn Bousquin is a writing coach for mindful women who seek conscious and creative lives. At Writing Women's Lives she shows women how to free their voice and claim their truth so they can write their real-life stories with confidence, craft, and clarity. If you are ready to BE WHO YOU ARE on the page and to transform your writing and your life, sign up for a FREE subscription to this E-newsletter at

Thursday, January 22, 2015


A recent article in the New York Times, Writing Your Way to Happiness, by Tara Parker Pope cites various studies that reinforce something I've known for a long time: writing about your life is a powerful tool. Her article states that it also effects your happiness and health:

     Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health."
I've kept journals since I was a teenager. (I insisted on calling them journals rather than diaries, in the belief that "journal" was a more serious endeavor.) The bonus I gained by writing about my life, the events, my hopes and conflicts, was being able to reflect upon and reevaluate the choices I'd made, the paths I'd taken, the weakness or courage I'd shown in the face of adversity. In addition, these journals provide an endless source of inspiration for my writing today.

When I see a historical film or read a book set in the days of my teen or young adult years, I often look back to see if I'd reacted to the actual events and if so, how they affected me. I can use the fresh voice of someone much younger than I am today to express the feelings of a character living through those times.

Write your way to happiness--I recommend it.( It also helps to love a dog!)

Sunday, January 18, 2015


One of my favorite methods when I need inspiration is to revisit the past. I open up old photo albums, read old  journals, meditate on my experiences as a child, a young woman, a mother, a wife, a teacher, a writer. I recall the stories my mother told about her life growing up, my grandparents, the people who made an impact on me, incidents that still haunt me.

The memories stirred up often supply me with chunks of gold to mine for transformation into stories, or even an occasional autobiographical piece. I admit I’m much more comfortable turning real life incidents into fiction, distorting the originals into characters, skewing the plot lines, adding some drama, building on the events, emotions, and themes that blossom from the memories . I write for the pleasure it gives me. I write because something inside impels me to write. If my writing connects with others, so much the better.

Friday, January 16, 2015


My sister died  in February, 2002.
This weekend, Martin Luther King Jr's weekend, was the last time I saw her, so my thoughts today are not only of the deeds of King, but also memories of my sister. She was only eleven months younger than I, and, as children,  we were often mistaken for twins. Our paths began to diverge during our high school years, although we remained best friends. She took business classes while I studied for college. She married young, a high school boyfriend, remained in our home town, and raised five children. But tragedy followed her. A divorce, the suicide of someone she loved, a breakdown, a growing dependence on prescription drugs. But in most of my memories, she is young and vibrant, full of mischief and charm.

I can see her at sixteen.  Everyone in our small high school knows her, and her antics are often the subject of delighted gossip. She is the extrovert, the jokester.
   During our high school years she has a crowd of friends.  The boys call her “Babe.”  It seems that even the kids in my class, a year ahead of hers, revel in her latest antics.
 A typical day in school. I am walking with a friend, who is, if anything, more studious than I.  She is plump with pale freckled skin, frizzy blonde hair and a decided overbite.  To compliment the effect, she wears inch-thick glasses.  I am tall and thin, awkward from having grown five inches in two years, and though people label me shy, I am merely quiet.
 We are serious about our schoolwork, with plans for the future.  Although we have the usual teenage crushes on boys, they are always secret, aimed at unattainable boys.  We walk with our books hugged to our chests.  As we round a corner we hear a chorus of shouts, laughter, and noise.
A crowd has gathered and we stop to see what is going on. My friend elbows someone aside and I see Jeanne in the center. Her blue eyes are flashing and she is laughing, head back, her too tight sweater pulled up, revealing a band of flesh.
She has torn the chain bearing the class ring of the boy she currently “loves,” from the neck of his previous girlfriend who has refused to return it to him.  Her latest crush is a sexy, dangerous boy with  a curl dangling over his forehead, who hangs with the roughest North Mill Street crowd.
Jeanne is triumphant, crowing, the center of attention, displaying the chain that dangles from her fist.  The other girl, a wiry, mean-faced peroxide blonde, is being prevented from attacking my sister with sharp red nails.  Several teachers, among them the swaggering young football coach, step into the fray and haul both of them off to the principal’s office.  I imagine my mother’s angry humiliation when she is called to come into school again. She is pregnant with her ninth child, and our house has become a battleground between her and Jeanne.
Jeanne associates with the rowdiest group, but also has friends in every other clique. She gets in trouble for telling teachers off and disrupting classes, yet the teachers all seem to like her.  Even the most popular kids, the college bound and athletes, greet her in the hallways and laugh at her antics.
I am sometimes embarrassed by her and a little envious. I admire her free spirit.  Some part of me would like to run heedlessly through the hallways, surrounded by admirers and friends, breaking all the rules and avoiding serious consequences by dint of big blue eyes and a charming personality.  Couldn’t these qualities just as well have been the marks of someone headed for success?

When I returned to my home town for my tenth reunion, my fellow classmates wanted to know about Jeanne. (I had married, had a son, completed a master's degree in Theater, while she still lived in town about a mile from where we'd grown up.)
She was a favorite with her nieces and nephews, known for her teasing and slightly risqué humor. At family gatherings she was usually the center of attention. She changed dramatically, unexpectedly and went swiftly downhill despite every effort to help her.
Some part of me is angry at her for leaving us too soon, but mostly I miss the sister I grew up with, who shared my bedroom, my secrets, my friendship.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Yes, it's already the 15th of January, but 1/15/15 seems like a propitious date. So I'm starting a little late to think about new year's resolutions
Question: Why does the turn of a calendar page feel like a new start, a slate wiped clean, the chance for a new beginning?
Question: How many resolutions have I made in the past (and broken)?
Question: How many have I made and kept?
Question: Will this year be any different?
Question: Are my resolutions this year the same as the ones I made last year? Probably. But why not at least make the effort? Maybe this time they will stick. I did quit smoking. I did publish a novel and fifteen short stories. I did write three more novels and three plays, all of which came out of past resolutions, so progress may be slow, but progress is progress.
Okay, resolutions:
#1. Write more.
#2. Write every day.
#3. Keep a positive attitude (despite all the horrors in the world).
#4. Eat healthy.
#5. Lose ten pounds.
#6. Keep finding inspiration for the writing.
#7. Exercise. (Yoga really helps with that positive attitude)
Okay, that's seven.
Lucky seven.
I'll check in next year at this time and see what I've kept.