I was ten-years-old when my dad first began to write Diet for a New America. It was the first book to expose the truth about factory farms, and the link between food and our planet, to a wide audience. In the five years after the book’s publication in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 25%, and my dad received more than 50,000 letters from readers, thanking him for changing their lives.
As we’ve seen in our family, sometimes writing can change the world.
We aren’t all destined to write million-copy bestsellers, of course. But we do all have a message to share, and our own unique way to share it.
I know intimately what thousands of my dad’s workshop participants have discovered. He isn’t just a great writer and social activist. He’s also brilliant at helping people to find their voice and to bring forth their creative spark. I’ve experienced and benefited from his mentorship countless times in my life. And now you can, too.
I asked my dad if he’d share an easy way to get your creative juices flowing. This was his suggestion.
Think of a topic you’d like to explore. Create a prompt, which is a few words that start a sentence, that lead you into that topic. A few examples could be: “Food is…”; “I’m hungry for…”; “It breaks my heart when…”; or “One thing I’m celebrating is…”.
Sit down and set a timer for ten minutes. Write your prompt at the top of a blank piece of paper. Then for ten minutes, write stream of consciousness style, without letting your pen leave the paper except to move to a new letter, on the topic you selected. Don’t censor, don’t edit, and don’t stop. When the timer goes off, allow yourself to finish whatever sentence you are on, and then you’re done. Read what you’ve written, and reflect if anything emerged from that process that surprised or intrigued you.
This is also fun to do with friends or loved ones. The goal isn’t a polished piece of writing, but to spark creativity and release blocks to self expression.
Post your comments or share your experiences below. You can share what prompt you used, how it went for you, and what you learned. What’s the next frontier in your creative expression? Share in the comments below!
And if you want to go further, and take a nourishing weekend attuning to your body’s wisdom while developing your creative side, check out the Yoga and Creative Writing workshop my dad is leading with world renowned yoga teacher Katchie Ananda at Esalen Institute September 18-20. Get more info here.