Write Like Jazz: How to Inhibit Your Inhibitions

by Joe Bunting | 52 comments

jazz

Photo by Alvaro Arriagado

When John Hopkins' researchers examined jazz pianists' brains while they improvised, they found something surprising. The jazz musicians were able to turn off the part of their brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which scientists believe powers self-control and keeps us from doing things that would appear strange or dangerous. The musicians also activated the medial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with individuality.

As Jonah Lehrer says, jazz pianists are able to “inhibit their inhibitions” and “channel their artistic identity.”

And when you write, so can you.

Just Write

We need these reminders periodically. The writing life is a constant pendulum swing between freeflowing creativity and cold headed editing. You have to have both, you have to swing the pendulum, but sometimes you can get stuck in the middle, the grey area of semi-creativity.

Sometimes you just need to swing harder. Sometimes you just need to write, without worrying about what your readers will think. Sometimes you just need to let yourself lose focus, to let the words whisper their poetry into your ear. Sometimes you need to breathe in the room and breathe out through your fingers, letting them find the keys on their own. It's a dance. It's a dance.

We need these reminders: just write.

Or at least I do.

PRACTICE

So today just write. Just dance. Just let your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, whatever it is, turn off. Write uninhibited for fifteen minutes (at least). Write as much as you can about whatever your fingers want. When you're finished, post your freeflowing practice in the comments section.

And don't worry, we won't judge you if it's unintelligible, full of errors, or even if it's the rantings of a crazy person. Today, it's not about perfection. It's about play.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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52 Comments

  1. ShelleyD

    I’ve always been the type of person who looks before they leap.  In other words, unless I feel extremely comfortable with my environment, I rarely speak.  That may come from my upbringing.  I was raised at time when children knew their place.  We didn’t dare enter conversation between adults or interrupt them.  If we were in their presence, we sat in silence.  Adults didn’t interact with children unless they were being called to eat or being scolded.  It was that simple.Even as an adult, I’m often asked why I don’t say anything.  My answer is simple.  I don’t have anything to say.  In fact, rarely do I find people that share my same interests.  If I do, then I wish there were more time to spend with them.  If I were the type of person to sit on the telephone all day and chat, or if I were the type of person to run the roads and drink coffee with friends all day, then maybe there would be time.  But, that’s not who I am.I think that’s why I love the internet.  It connects me with more people than I could meet on my own in a year.  All my interests are at my fingertips.  Granted, I can’t drink coffee with anyone (unless we Skyped-that’s an idea!) Many times, when I can’t seem to find the right words to say, or I’m a bit intimidated, writing frees me to say what I feel.  Well, at least within reason.I would never blog about how my husband had me walking from our hotel by the airport over a mile in 90 plus degree heat to find something to eat when he could have asked for a shuttle to pick us up.  I wouldn’t want people to think that was how we spent the evening of our wedding anniversary.   I would want my readers to know how grateful I was that we found a Subway restaurant and that the winds from the temperature inversion was a nice release from the heat as we walked the mile back to our hotel.  Yes.  I would never openly and publicly complain about the love of my life for 40 years.In summary, I’d rather listen to what others have to say.  I love hearing their stories.  Other people are far more interesting.  I really don’t have much to say that’s interesting.

    (15 minutes on the dot!)

    Reply
    • ShelleyD

      I don’t know what happened to my paragraph breaks.  Now, it’s difficult to read.  Sorry.

    • ameliorated

      If you copy-paste your writing to Notepad, then copy-paste from Notepad to the comment field, it should fix your parsing issues. 🙂

      As to the piece: Interesting. Feels like you’re about to segue into a guarded examination of a marriage. And even in this short space, I get a good sense of the character.

    • ShelleyD

      Thanks.  I’ll try that.

    • Marla

      You really had me when you started talking about walking from your hotel.  I could see it!  How wonderful your writing is. 

  2. Tom Wideman

    I don’t recall the exact moment I traversed from sanity into insanity, but I do remember an image that has been stuck in my head. It’s the image of a bird with a strip of cloth tide around one of it’s wings. The little bird cannot fly. But what I don’t know is, could the bird not fly because of the strip of cloth tied to its wing, or was the strip of cloth tied to its wing because the bird was unable to fly? Either way, the bird was flightless and the strip of cloth has remained to this day.

    My friends and I found a bird in my backyard. We had been playing kickball and noticed something fluttering on the ground next to the willow tree. It was a robin who had shown up just in time for an early spring. We did our best to help it regain flight, but for some reason, it would only flap its left wing, causing it to spin around on the ground. It reminded me of Curly on the Three Stooges reruns, lying on his side, running in place and spinning around in a circle. It was all so hilariously futile. Was this bird just doing a Curly to be funny or was it truly disabled?

    My insanity has been diagnosed as “bird brain.” A rare form of histoplasmosis that went to my head instead of my lungs. My doctor said it was caused from inhaling spores of bird droppings. It feels as if I have a strip of cloth tied tightly around my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

    Reply
    • ShelleyD

      Oh, dear.  Is this terminal? 🙂 

      I especially love the line “Was this bird just doing a Curly to be funny or was it truly disabled?”  

    • Marla

      Great writing Tom. Love your descriptions.

    • John Fisher

      Man, that’s good!! and Funny!!  I remember Curly doing that in The Three Stooges, too!

  3. Neal Abbott

    i’ve played jazz before (bass), so i know how it is to walk a bass. you have to drop your filter and let it be you! i had never thought about applying that rule to writing, and i love it!
    http://nealabbott.wordpress.com

    Reply
  4. Marie

    There are
    words everywhere. Noises, sounds, but most of all: words.
    Most people can’t see them. They only hear what they want to feel and swallow
    it all down, complaining, whining. I can see the words. They’re everywhere.
    Strapped to the bedside, besides being gone for a long time there is the word
    you.
    You’re everywhere. You’re every word.
    Words.
    They swarm the world like a humming cloud, a buzzing, feeling, screaming, I, I
    can’t get it… out! I want it out! I want YOU out! Why? Why are you still in? In
    me, in you, in –everywhere.
    There – look over there. Can you see it?
    It’s a swing. It’s a bit loose, it’s been there for a decade or so. Just like
    you.
    Remember? When I came to that swing and you came to that swing and the swing
    wasn’t bothered. It just kept – swinging. We could scream all we wanted, we
    could hate each other as much as we pleased, but the swing kept swinging. It
    should’ve broken. It didn’t.
    It’s you. You’re everywhere.
    But that was later, much, much later. When we met, the swing was new and so
    were we.
    We were young and bright and shiny – fresh meat, wonderful for the world to
    devour, rip apart and lick its lips as we struggle. By now, we’ve given up
    struggling, but back then… oh, we tore ourselves down, built each other up again,
    only to stampede over it the next minute and start building once more. It never
    ended.
    The swing just kept swinging, as we built the world and blasted it apart.
    The world didn’t care for us.
    Neither did you.

    See that
    tea pot? That’s you.
    You’d never drink tea, you hated it – but I always offered it to you. I knew.
    But I didn’t care.
    Or I cared too much, I’m not sure. You didn’t care. That much is obvious. As
    the stars came hailing down, the very stars we have longed for to hold for so
    very long, as they bruised my skin and spoiled the soil, you turned towards me
    and laughed.
    “You fool”, you said, “You fool”
    I agreed. I was a fool.
    I wasn’t a word.
    I was the space between your words. And you kept talking, so I kept filling in.

    You needed to make sense of your words and I needed you to fill my silence, but
    you found other spaces, while I never found other words. I had to make up my
    own and I had been scared of that for so long.
    Because if you can see them, the words, they start to look so different – you wouldn’t
    know just how much power there is inside one word, for you misused them,
    brushed them apart, threw them in the trashcan- merely means for no use.
    I have uses. But no means.
    I need you.

    You need
    me. That’s what I keep telling myself, although I know that “need” is not what
    it is.
    You don’t need me. Not anymore. You don’t need anyone anymore.
    You have found the eternal space and you can fill it with words forevermore.
    You’re happy.
    I’m here. I won’t ever hear those words, for they are not meant for me. They
    never were.

    Reply
  5. John Fisher

    Warm and cloudy not so hot and the coolness sweats new ideas into the area open the chute and ride ’em cowboy let’s go never in my life did I think it could be like this the quickening of awareness brought on by being a drill sargeant to myself it’s what has been needed all this time and only when that light comes on and I start with the diligent awareness, that’s what I’ll call it, the diligent awareness opens the way for me to do the things I want to do the old lethargy left behind and good riddance I say the river well the creek that flows through where I walk every day doesn’t have much water in it especially this time of year but that lets me get down in that gully and scramble over those stones and pick up the litter that human beings let go of indiscriminately it’s one of my favorite places and I like to see it clean I’ve even schooled myself to do it without anger and that’s movement in the right direction for me.  I get those tiny little burrs in my shoe-laces and in the cuffs of my shorts and in my hair when I scramble through those close places in the scrub hollering at myself, GO!  MOVE IT!  MOVE!  FASTER!”   And when I get back and the trip is close to a mile when I get back I’m ready to get to work and finish the work and meet my committments the memory is sharper I drop fewer details and forget fewer things the fountain of youth is in the way you use what’s between your ears in my opinion like Joe Walsh just recorded a new album and he still sounds so young and it’s GOOD  man they played that song “I’m Just Lucky That Way” and he plays some fine guitar on that cut.  A man does not have to grow old in his mind.  I have gone my own way and found my own ways and I find I’m content without things like constant family obligations that others can’ t imagine being without they sometimes look at me like what planet are you from but there’s terrific freedom in being alone and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Practice the guitar today get those songs down cold for the next time we play that should be sometime this month it’s so good to play with other musicians and I WILL get another pedal steel guitar amd play and play my heart out it’s what grabs me and it don’t make a damn whether anybody else likes it or not but I know some people do so that is gonna be so cool to be playing steel again I am enjoying this cooler day with the windows open and no expensive air conditioning I feel the same as when I was twenty only not so lost and at loose ends I’ve learned how to TAKE IT  and I can navigate my way with a competence I could not have guessed at when I was that age.

    Reply
    • Pjreece

      Go jOHN go.  That was jazz in the style of a drill sargaent (speeling please)… my dad was a sergeant major and I still have his marching staff hidden away with some old golf clubs… but I digress from “John” and his music-literary stylings which I enjoyed, the spirit of, the rambling pressing on to get behind that veil of suppression that confounds all our best intentions to dig deep and strike that mother lode of truth or whatever it is.  I ask, is it possible to let the flow come straight from the source… but I sense that first I have to pass through a frightening phase of profane drivel that might offend some reader, so yes there is an editor hovering and I see no way around him.  Except to scream in the manner of Ginsberg’s Howl, which of course was edited who know, to death?  What was his draft one like?  I bet it wasn’t publishable.  I bet his publishers lawyers were all over it.  Even still it got banned here and htere… I’d like to write a banned book. Do they even ban books anymore.  BanBanBananaBan… Everythings on the table.  The table groaneth with too much of everything, which only makes me think that with such a heap of material, most mediocre… it has to be mediocre… that the odds of being noticed are in fact greater than ever.  Does that sound insane?  It depends upon how you look at it.  I, for some reason, have always felt that I had a chance.  Was I born with the propensity to consider chance-ability of success?  See, now this is a subject upon which one could riff for pages and novels and documentaries… this free will business, this crazy idea that we control our destiny… vs the glorious complexity of every atom’s vector in response to a force about which it had no say.  I mean, take your average atom… did it have a say in which way it’s going, Billy?  I think not.  Me, I’m not pessimistic by any measure but lets’ face it, I’m an atom like the rest.  And that’s not to simplify things.  This whole cosmos is complex going back a brazillion years… and thankfully it has an upward gravity, meaning that we are headed for ever- luminous times as long as we keep responding to yearnings such as jazz, ideas, drill sargeatns, writing practices… oh, oh… now I`m thinking… trying to wrap this up cleverly.  Actually, I`ve already done that.  Haven’t I, John?

    • John Fisher

      Alan Ginsburg, YES!  And the Beat goes on, forgive the cliche but I still like it.  He and whats-his-name Kerouac that’s it! who wrote On The Road which is where I’d like to be more of the time but travelling is in the mind and I’m as peripatetic as my little heart desires — they went in search of It and that always takes guts, major guts.  Some of my compadres in the local Humanist group are determinists, they say there is no freedom of will, it’s all settled on a molecular level before we even open the womb, but my answer is that that may be, but we still have Choice of Action within however limited a range, and words really are like musical tones, and the more I practice wordcraft the more freedom I have within an expanding range of expression and only now after having fallen on my face any number of times in life do I find myself willing to show up every day as a Beginner and Do The Work — write when I’m into it and write when writing is the LAST thing I want to do, write the pages of the day in Julia Cameron’s words, man her book The Artist’s Way got me started on the Morning Pages, write three long-hand pages the first thing when you get up in the morning every day without fail, that is such a good discipline that really can un-block a writer, but you gotta show up every day.  Just like those two guitar chords I drove everyone else in the house crazy with for a year. 

      Whatever It is, as the Eagles sang, “. . . I can feel her but she’s nowhere in sight . . .” and that’s good enough in this moment.

      Good to hear from you!

    • Tom Wideman

      Great job John and Pj I think you took this assignment to the next level. I also wonder if I am out of my league or if its just plain rude to enter into this awwesome dialogue. A dialogue is for two people only, right? if I join in does it become a trialogue. I fear doing this kinda of writing because so many of my random thoughts go to places not fit for the internet, well come to think of it, the internet is full of inappropriate topics and conversations. I found it humorous that PJ struggled with the word Sargeant yet just realized I misspelled the word as well. crap! I also wonder how Brazillion years or different than American years. aren’t we all on the same calendar? is it because they are on the equator? anyway, this conversation is like jazz and jazz is like good sex, okay, that was not a good direction to go because my mind is going to places that will get me in trouble so I will stop this before I start describing my pen

    • Pjreece

      Great to have you chime in to our diatribe, Tom… it takes three to tango… and they would be Argentinians, not Brazilians.  Anyway, I enjoyed your quick-step into our discussion.  We’ll step on each others’ feet again, I hope.

    • Joe Bunting

      You guys are incredible.

    • Joe Bunting

      This is the jazz conversation. The tango, and I’m joining in too because it’s my damn blog and I can dance if I want to. I thought of Kerouac on those long roads and then sitting back afterward all doped up on benzadrine reading each line over and over and over. I hate Kerouac but I feel if I were born in a different time and had as much courage I would have taken that benzadrine pilgrimage and found God in mesquite bushes and western horizons too or fooled myself into finding him at least. Does God take pity on our flailings about, our wanderings and searchings, our human sacrifices which are always sacrifices of ourselves, our pride our dignity and the dignity of the race? Does he look down from those greatest of heights and say, what the hell is this thing I made and why are they so crazy. Don’t they know I’m already with them, the idiots. Kerouac was a freaking idiot but he sings with that blessed idiocy I’ve sometimes felt in my own bones in my own flesh in my own eyes looking to the western horizon for God. I’d leave the benzadrine alone though, bub. We’re all writing jazz with our lives aren’t we aren’t we all of us riffing along to blue and thirteenths and the sound a woman’s hmmmm and the way the trees sound like they’re applauding us for our music. We’re all just jazz pianists improvising along and the music is our lives and mostly we hit the wrong notes I think and even when we hit the right notes even when we follow the score and play the tone we hit em wrong because you have to hit them with feeling better it be wrong kerouac would say than without feeling, without the touch of diligent awareness. Be ever diligent to notice the notes and the feel of the wind across your arm and the smell of a woman’s hair and the mesquite bushes that light aflame with the presence of the God who pities us and says, I’m here stupid. I’m just here. 

      And once you notice: dance. The tango. In Argentina. With four grown men making fools of themselves for all of it, and Kerouac that idiot, riding atop their shoulders howling at Ginsberg’s moon.

    • Tom Wideman

      WOW, Joe!!!! This is your damn blog and you ROCK! That was beautiful.

    • John Fisher

      …yeah, and if we get six more, we’ll have the decalogue!!  Oh wait, that’s been done……..

    • zo-zo

      I like this style, John!  That’s also exactly how I free write, but a little less sensical, so I’ll just use this exercise to kick-start my day!  Yup, your comment inspired me to get back to my morning pages – that stuff was powerful.  

    • John Fisher

      S-S-S-S-SMOKIN’!!!

    • Marla

      So good!  Made me think of Kerouac and all those pages taped together and the endless typing with words spilling out faster than he could catch them and the images that shook the pages and made us all reconsider how writing really works.  Loved this.

    • John Fisher

      That’s RIGHT, Marla, I’d forgotten about that taped-together manuscript!  I’m with Joe on the Benzedrine, I leave all chemical substances like that alone these days, but I can get jazzed on the birds calling in the early morning in the woods by the creek and there’s a wonder every moment if we’re present and open.  Thanks!

    • zo-zo

      OK, this feels like jazz jamming, so I’m going to join the party with my jazz hands…
       
      If I write like
      the swingers, the swayers, the singers, the sayers, there’s a huge
      amount of dawn that’s breaking in, pouring over me sweet and slow.
      And there’s a huge amount of people that sing, that sing their lives
      away. I want to write hot and crazy, like Courac on crack, when he’s
      all the beat and the music and the love, and the pulse of the
      American wrist, just bumpedy bump because life is so new and the road
      is not old, he loves the bend of the road, the curve of the road.
      It’s a glorious new road, this one, especially when you have help,
      when the help of heaven is there, when he’s close, when he’s watching
      the words that dance on your keyboards, when the pace is going on and
      the sun is shining on you, even though it’s winter.

    • Marla

      I love this, especially the bumpedy bump!

  6. Marla

    Do Good Jones Finds Love at Delbert’s Sporting Goods
    Emporium

    Do Good Jones sat in a recliner at Delbert’s Sporting Goods
    Emporium where he’d come to buy a turkey call. 
    The chair, covered in the camouflage fabric as the clothes he was
    wearing, seemed to swallow him whole.  Only
    his ruddy face and hands were visible.  He
    thought about getting up but the ringing in his ears had started again and he
    was sweating now, even though it was late October.

    Just then a girl no bigger than his own granddaughter CeCe
    walked by.  He winked at her and she
    jumped like an arrow let loose too soon from the bow.  It didn’t do to scare children.  Soon enough someone would come by and tell
    him to leave, he thought, so he grabbed the arms of the chair and hoisted
    himself up.

    The turkey calls were at the far end of the cavernous
    store.  He passed a log cabin that had
    been built near the wood chips and deep fryers. 
    An olive green cot was set up near a fake campfire and Do Good stopped,
    lowered himself onto it, and promptly passed out like his drunk uncle Truman
    used to do when Do Good was just a kid. 

    When he awoke, a woman who looked to be around sixty, was shaking
    him by the shoulders.  “Sir,” she said, “Sir.  Are you all right?”

    He rubbed his eyes and looked around.  His vision had gone blurry and he tried to
    focus. The woman’s cap was the color of mustard and in orange script were these
    words.  No Matter What the Question,
    Jesus is the Answer.

    Do Good had an abiding faith in his Maker.  He did not, however, find reassurance in pithy
    little quotes that seemed to turn God into nothing more than a fortune teller.

    “I got a question for your cap,” Do Good said.  “What’s for dinner?” 

    “What?” the woman said as she tugged the bill of the hat.

    “On you cap,” Do Good said. 
    “No matter what the question, Jesus is the answer. My question is what’s
    for dinner?  Not Jesus, I wouldn’t think.”

    The woman crossed her arms over her chest and shook her
    head.  “Here I am trying to make sure you’re
    alive and all you can do is insult me. I shouldn’t try so hard, my kids tell me
    that all the time. I shouldn’t try to make a dog dang’s difference in this
    world but I can’t seem to stop. “

    And with that the tears started to well.

    The ringing in Do Good’s ears was gone.  In its place his heart had started to pound.  It sounded the way cowboy boots did on a wooden
    dance floor.  How long had it been, he
    wondered, since he’d been out two-stepping. 
    A good thirty years, at least.

    He sat upright and patted the spot beside him on the cot.
    The woman plopped down, took off her cap, and her two pony tails fell soundly
    onto her shoulders. 

    “I like pigtails,” Do Good said.

    “You do not,” the woman said, and her cheeks turned the
    color of summer tomatoes.

    “I do,” Do Good said. “I was telling my boy Layman just the
    other day how women nowadays don’t understand the value of pigtails.  I said, ‘Layman, if I found a woman who knew
    how to wear her hair I might be inclined to ask her to dinner.’”

    Do Good shocked himself. 
    He hadn’t spoken to Layman going on seven years.  And he hadn ‘t felt one way or another about
    pigtails until this very moment.

    “My ex-husband hated them,” the woman said.

    “Not a smart man,” Do Good said, and he realized he was
    flirting.

    “So you come here to sleep?” the woman asked.  She rubbed the inside of her wrist where a
    tattoo of an elephant, a bad rendition of Dumbo maybe, rose across her blue veins.

    “Nah, just a turkey call. I have a house over the hill
    there,” Do Good said, and pointed in the direction of the front door, where a
    covey of boys hovered beside a machine where you could win a stuffed animal if
    you could operate the ratchety crane inside. 
    Not many could.

    The woman smiled.  “I
    like my hat,” she said. 

    She’d had chicken pox before, Do Good could see.  Her face had tiny craters, perfectly round,
    near her eyes and two along her jaw line.

    “A fine hat,” Do Good said. 
    “A perfectly fine hat.  I meant no
    harm.  I’ve been feeling unwell of late –
    well, really just the last hour or so, nothing serious, I’m sure – and you
    startled me.  Seeing a message about
    Jesus made me wonder if you were my guiding angel and if I’d been carried from
    this carnal abyss into the great beyond.”

    Do Good smiled.  He’d
    always had a way with words. 

    The woman touched Do Good’s cheek, and the air turned warm
    around them.  Maybe she was an angel, he
    thought.  Maybe she’d been sent to
    Delbert’s Sporting Goods Emporium on this day at this time to rescue him.

    He touched the woman’s hand. 
    “I want to ask the question again,” Do Good said.  “What’s for dinner?”

    The woman laughed.  “I
    don’t know,” she said. 

    Do Good leaned forward and pulled out the wallet that was
    attached to his belt by a silver chain.  He
    fumbled through it until he found a half-off coupon to the Wide Awake Café.  He handed it over like an offering.  “Anything your heart desires,” he said.  “Anything at all.”

     

     

     

    Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      Marla,
      That was great. Loved their awkwardly romantic conversation. 

      I had to laugh at the last paragraph, as I just spent the weekend with my 80 year old parents. We went out to eat with them plus some of my aunts and uncles, and they all pulled out their coupons. But I reminded them to be sure and tip on the full amount of the meal 🙂

    • Marla

      Why thank you Tom. It was fun to write. I love what you said about coupons!

    • ShelleyD

      Marla, 

      That was awesome.  You can just visualize every aspect, the characters just jump right out.  

      “The woman touched Do Good’s cheek and the air turned warm around them.”  Such a way with words.

    • Marla

      Thanks Shelley.  The story didn’t come out very jazzy, but there you go.  Sometimes things just happen.  And I like Do Good.  I think he must be a rascal.

    • John Fisher

      What a sweet story!

    • Marla

      Thank you John!

    • DanS

      I enjoyed your story, Marla. The ending was particularly powerful. Thank you!

    • Marla

      Dan, Thank you so much.  It was fun to write.

  7. Bronson O'Quinn

    I agree wholeheartedly. Just put pen to paper or fingers to keys and just let go!

    Reply
  8. Kristin

    Melting. Thoughts like jello. Hard to place. Hard to tell. Hard to grasp. 
    Is everything always  this hard to accomplish?
    Finished before it’s begun, staring, red, bug-eyed, taunting.
    You will not finish because you will not begin. 
    You will not begin because you will not finish.
    On the backside of a fleeting thought comes the superhero. The defender of the spark, gives a satisfying fist to the chin. 
    Shut up. You will not have the final say.
    Superhero pries open the vault, high, weathered bronze. Well-acquainted with where to apply pressure. He’s done this many times. Open! Open! Open like broken glass, shards float. Open like a flower, delicate, elusive, ethereal. It opens, it falls, it has no choice.
    The choice is forever choosing.
    The vault melts, superhero melts, flower melts, pouring through fingers. 
    Drip, drip onto the page. 
    Fingerpainting jello thoughts while drinking jello shots.
    Puddles of jagged snowflakes. Melting cools the synaptic servers. Jello melting, dripping off synapses. Melting magic tricks. 
    And all is forever melting.  Melting.

    Reply
  9. Yalí Noriega

    Jazz. I like jazz; it is isad and lively at the same time and makes me think of marshes, hot nights and sweet smells. Pastries. And jazz hands, of course. One cannot not think of jazz hands.

    Which leads me to dancing. Ballroom dancing or salsa, which is not the same thing. Salsa should be more free-style than other ballroom dances. It has more spirit, more fire. It shows we are alive. You shake, you shimmy, you turn. And you really connect to your partner… if he’s not stepping on your toes all the time. It’s nice that they try, though. I cannot imagine life without at least trying to dance.

    What do you dance to jazz? I don’t know. I wasn’t raised on jazz. I was raised on tropical beats and classical music. And pop songs. What an odd combination! Comes from being an 80s child wth really old fashioned grandparents. (“What is that?! Turn it off. Here, play some Chopin). I don’t like Chopin. I love Mozart and Beethoven, and I don’t care how cliché it sounds. I know there are other composers and I even like some of them, but only old Ludwig van and dear Wolfgang give me goosebumps. I don’t even know why that is.

    I remember my sister and I arguing about what record to play before we went to bed. I always wanted A Little Night Music. She argued in favor of Saint-Saenz. Then we grew to love Ravel.

    We still listened to pop, though. Sang it at the top of our lungs. But we’ve always had an ear for all sorts of music, jazz included. Anything that makes us feel. Or dance.

    Reply
  10. Chris (TextualWeb)

    Unfortunately my 15 minutes are up for the day 🙂 Excellent advice though; writing should definitely be a daily habit!

    Reply
  11. JB Lacaden

    When I was still in my youth, I’ve managed to visit every single desert—the named and the unnamed ones. Within each desert, I managed to visit their mirages. Mirages are real. They’re not illusions brought forth by the heat and the desert sun. They’re windows (gateways if you want, either one fits just fine) into a different plane of existence. Sounds like the Twilight Zone? Maybe that’s where Rod Serling got the idea. Maybe he’s just like me—a journeyman, a man able to travel from plane to plane, a special man.
     
    I know I’m special. There’s this one story my parents told me, a story about the time when I was born. The doctor pulled me out of my mother’s womb and I cried like the rest of the babies when they’ve been pulled by their heads. I cried. But the normality ended there. Light bulbs started exploding and my mother told me that she saw the doctor almost drop me. The doctor explained he felt an electric shock come from my baby pink skin. I am special.
     
    There are billions of them—billions of planes of existence, maybe even an infinite number. We only live in just one. We live in a world where the sky is blue and humans are the majority. I’ve been in worlds strange and new and into worlds not that different in ours. But I haven’t been in all of them. The windows within the deserts are the strongest, the most visible. Windows are all around us. Sometimes, when heat waves crashed down on us, we see the air distorting, dancing, and that’s a window. Sometimes, when we’ve just woken up, we see something that’s not supposed to be there, we think we’re just dreaming, but that’s a window. Doppelgangers are short glimpses inside the other planes of existence.
     
    Think of it this way. Draw a picture on a thin paper. Then draw another one on a different sheet. Keep on drawing until you have ten sheets of paper. Stack them up on top of each other. That’s what’s it’s like. If you look closely, you’ll see the image underneath the paper on top. But the papers stacked on the bottom part are left unseen. We can see glimpses of planes near ours, but the farther ones will always be a mystery.
     
    I’ve been in countless of them, but there’ll always be this one journey that I will never forget. I stepped inside the mirage as we call them. The air around me seemed to suck me in. The sands and the skies swirled around and kept on swirling like they were laundry being washed. I kept on walking. Images of other planes sped by on all sides. I even saw myself—an old man with leathery skin and a sullen face. Then I reached the end. Everything stabilized. I stepped out of the window (or gateway, for some). In front of me was a pool of water and standing around the place I was in, standing around in a circle, were palm trees. Seated by the pool of water, his feet dipped inside, was a man with his back facing me.
     
    “Tell them,” he started saying, his voice was like nightmare, was like darkness, was like every single bad thing I’ve done. “tell them I’ll be free soon. My sentence would end and I’ll be free.”
     
    My throat tightened. The man started to get up…then vanished into wisps of smoke, only to reappear in front of me. His eyes were burning coals on a skull white face. His smile was sinister. He looked hard at me and I wanted to cry and to run back to where I came. I wanted to die just so he would stop looking at me. He held my face in place with painfully cold fingers, his grip was strong.
     
    “Tell them journeyman, tell them I’ll be coming and I’ll be bringing my legions with me. Tell them their rightful king will soon be set free.”

    Reply
  12. Bjhousewriter

    I am doing the 15 minute writing. Here it goes.

    I enjoy doing these 15 minute writings as I can just write for fun. I can write about what I want not worrying I am going to be grated on spelling, grammar, or subject.

    Today I want to write about my djeme drum. It is a beautiful drum. All hand made and has such a beautiful designs crafted into the wood. The fist thing I did was put my own charms on it to show it was mine.

    It has such a beautiful deep African sound to it. I took lessons for awhile but had to give them up. Now I have gotten a new idea that I can use my drum for so will be starting my project this week. Writing my own music with words and beat to go with it. I am using Psalm 120-134. That is the music the used in the temple each time they went in.

    Not being Jewish and using an African drum the song is going to be different hang I am sure not going to be used in church but it will be one way for me to praise the Lord. In the Bible there is a verse that says to make a joyful notice unto the Lord. That is what I will be doing and I think my Heavenly Father won,t mind and neither will His Son or the Holy Spirit.

    Reply
    • ShelleyD

      You’ve piqued my curiosity.  I want to know all about your drum, such as what it looks like and where you got it.  I’m also going to read those particular Psalms and envision you rejoicing!

  13. Kathy

    Looking deeply into her eyes, I could see the trail of
    contentment that led into her innermost being. She looked intently at me,
    piercing gaze drifting deep within my soul, challenging me with new thoughts
    and ideas that weren’t my own.

     

    “Why can’t we all get along?” was her first question.

     

    I looked at her blankly, unsure of what to say.

     

    Should I tell her about the separation of ideologies, the
    drifting apart of social norms that cast their members into straightjackets
    bent on stifling thought and action and connection?

     

    Should I elaborate on the division of countries, of
    conflict, strife and ultimately, war?

     

    Need I discuss the value of the dollar – the ultimate
    currency that slowly has transformed into a symbol of the very life we cherish,
    admire and grasp tightly to our chest?

     

    Or should I mention the angst-ridden routine of everyday
    life, waking, working, watching television, sleeping, then waking to resume
    once again?

     

    Looking deeply into her eyes, I could see the trail of
    contentment that led into her innermost being. She looked intently at me,
    piercing gaze drifting deep within my soul, challenging me with new thoughts
    and ideas that weren’t my own.

     

    “Why can’t we all get along?” was her first question.

     

    I looked at her blankly, unsure of what to say.

     

    Should I tell her about the separation of ideologies, the
    drifting apart of social norms that cast their members into straightjackets
    bent on stifling thought and action and connection?

     

    Should I elaborate on the division of countries, of
    conflict, strife and ultimately, war?

     

    Need I discuss the value of the dollar – the ultimate
    currency that slowly has transformed into a symbol of the very life we cherish,
    admire and grasp tightly to our chest?

     

    Or should I mention the angst-ridden routine of everyday
    life, waking, working, watching television, sleeping, then waking to resume
    once again?

     

    She shook her head and snorted, her gaze leaving mine.
    My answers were left to ruminate over for another day. Turning away, idling
    along, she took one last sideways look at me, and slowly headed off to the
    green grass of the pasture. 

    Reply
    • Kathy

      No idea why the formatting is off. It was only intended to be copied here once, and I can’t seem to find a way to edit or delete the comment. First time posting here! 

    • John Fisher

      That’s okay, I get it.  This is a good piece of writing in my opinion — it is, perhaps, a person looking inside herself, and encountering the self that will hear only the truth.  And that’s important!

  14. Mark Hatcher

    I sure needed that. As I am in the beginnings of a new short story attempt, I am practicing my improvising skills and letting go with a show of past experiences and the unknown. I know that sounds weird, however it is where I am at. I do not know where I will end up, but I believe that is where the fun of exploring comes from. I look forward to living out the scenes throughout the process. I do not believe this will be a short process, by no means, I have to take chances and hopefully prevail in the end.

    Reply
  15. DanS

                  Jazz is a useful
    metaphor for collaboration, creativity, learning, and life: the more the
    musician knows about his instrument, notes, harmony, the more he can improvise.
    Seems to me that jazz is anything but undisciplined play because it requires
    practice and experience to lead to greatness. And most of all it requires
    listening to others. To play a riff that makes sense, the musician needs to
    listen to his fellow players, understand and hear what THEY are playing, and
    then add to the musical tapestry. 

         Like an
    orchestra, jazz requires “group work.” Hard to do it alone and produce powerful
    music. The conductor uses his baton to bring out the best from each of the
    musicians. Maybe a bit more democratic, the jazz group has the same aim—bring
    out the best in each other so that each player can reach new musical
    heights—and contribute them to the group.

          Individual
    practice is essential to all good music, but it is with others that we produce
    and hear the sweetest harmonies.

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      Very insightful about the ceative process in performing music.

    • Marla

      Such a great way to explain what constitutes the creative process.  And what a great tie to how to live a good life.

  16. Melissa

    I don’t really know what to write about today. Maybe it’s
    funny how you get to know someone. It’s funny that I always have goals and don’t
    really know what to do with that part of myself that can’t let go, can’t take
    my hands off the steering wheel sometimes. And letting go of control is so
    scary. A journey I’m on, despite the fact that it’s scary. I heard a talk about
    anxiety a few weeks ago. Trust should be my word for this year.

    What do you tell your friends when you aren’t sure about
    their decisions? I feel like my decisions lately have probably be suspect, in
    some ways. All I do is drive. Drive drive. I wonder if my car is going to break
    down soon. This is fun to just write whatever I’m thinking out on a page. I
    wonder if I could ever climb a mountain. Those hikers on Mount Blanc, did they
    know that today was their last day? That an avalanche and then a massive fall
    would claim their lives? That’s scary to think about, but what a way to go. To
    just know you’re taking a risk, living a bigger story.  Despite the risk.

    I wonder if you’re in the thick of the story if you know you’re
    in the thick of it at the time. They say God sees the world outside of time.
    Almost like a reader reading a book. He can skip forward or backward in the
    story at any time and see the whole thing for what it is. I wonder if God has
    favorite parts of our stories. Like chapters in a fairy tale book. I used to
    read Rapunzel over and over. I wondered if my hair would ever grow that long. I
    tried once. I was 5. But then I liked to suck my hair so my mom cut it all off.
    I never had long hair again until I was old enough. And by then perms were in
    and of course I had to have one.

    Seasons. They change. We grow. We listen. We change again. I
    heard someone last night say that people are like amoebas, they change every
    time we touch them. What a glorious way to see the world. If we really were
    able to have that much impact, God must really trust us a lot. I wonder how God
    trusts me. Does he trust me as little as I trust him? I doubt it. I want to
    trust more, but it’s easier and less scary for me to just keep on holding tight
    to the reins. But man, is it tiring. I’m sick of always being in control,
    trying to rearrange the details, keep organized, dreaming all night about
    calendars and expense reports. I probably would do well with a vacation…I
    wonder how much time I have off.  I’d
    like to take a little retreat. That’d be nice. I like the idea of quarterly
    retreats. My last one was in April. Makes sense that it’s July and I’d like
    another. So much change since that last retreat. New things. New people. New
    possibilities and new things to make me tired. I’m tired. Maybe I’ll sleep my
    lunch break away. Is it bad that that sounds nice? When did I decide to be the
    person who gets lunch breaks? Am I ever going to write as a freelancer and make
    a living? That would be so awesome.

    I don’t know what to do with myself. Tomorrow I don’t have
    plans after work. Slowing down sounds nice. I went to the beach once after
    work. I thought I was in the middle of a tempest. It was cool though because I
    was the only one on the beach and the wind had etched little patterns along the
    sand. There were no footsteps but mine and they were covered as soon as I
    stepped again by sandy wind. It was like the beginning of Star Wars out there.
    Except that the winds were kicking up the waves. Lots of whitecaps. That’s when
    you know the ocean has a force and a power behind it that isn’t explainable.
    Maybe God just had an upset stomach that day?
     

    Reply
  17. Juliana Austen

    Just write! I’m a bit slow this month – so many good posts to think about. So here goes – totally on the Comments page – no cut and paste from Word!
    It all started when Moira’s car wouldn’t. Start that is. Of course it had to be on the wettest morning of the entire winter. Moira didn’t “do” buses but today she had to. It was horrendous – the man next to her sniffed and sneezed, she couldn’t see ou the window for the film of condensation dripping down the glass. There was a gaggle of school children, young adults all hanging off straps with absurdly big back packs. Moira had to push past them – her “excuse me’s” where unheard or unheeded – they were all plugged into some device or other.
    At last she clambered down the bus steps and into the morning light. The doors shushed behind her and she was left in a cloud of diesal fumes. The wind had picked up – her umbrella  opened only to be blown inside out. She abandoned it in the nearest dustbin and trudged up the hill, her coat collar gave little or no protection, cars sprayed her with water as they passed. When she stepped off the curb to cross the road her foot landed in a puddle so deep the water oozed over the top of her boot and she squelched the rest of the way to work.
    “Moira!” exclaimed Janet as she opened the staffroom door for her wet and bedraggled boss.
    “The car has broken down – I think it is terminal.” Moira for the first time in many years felt close to tears.
    “Your boots! Your beautiful red suede boots!” Janet was not helping Moira feel better.
    “Ruined” she replied crisply. “I’ll just go upstairs and get a hot drink and dry off. You have everything sorted?”
    Janet nodded “I don’t think we will be very busy today” she said.
    Moira put down the phone. There was no way she could find the money to get her car fixed, not this time and she certainly couldn’t afford a new one. The thought of catching that damn bus everyday was heart breaking. She would have to find some money somehow.
    “What can I sell?” she thought. She looked around her office in the Grantham Library and pondered the prices being reached for rare books. 

    Reply
  18. I'm determined

    Fifteen minutes of free form writing. Of just letting the
    words flow, to come to go and to come back again in maybe a different form.
    Just like this. Words are notes on the human subconscious. Words are melodies
    in one’s mind. Words are the secret to being centered, being absolutely
    connected. Words are.

    That’s only 2 minutes. Now the flow has ceased, has stuttered,
    flickering as a candle flame in an errant breeze. Similes, metaphors, they slip
    in and around. Words are the mouthings of fish eating the waters around them.
    And that’s a total of four minutes. It is 12:08 am. I need my bed. What’s the
    bet that the words will dance though my head as I’m trying to sleep? Good
    night.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Just Dance | The Dance of My Days - [...] initial post encourages us to let our fingers flow freely (which is easier said than done), and just dance.…
  2. Friday Features #13 | Yesenia Vargas - [...] Write Like Jazz: How to Inhibit Your Inhibitions by Joe Bunting at The Write Practice [...]
  3. There Are No Mistakes In the Writer’s Studio - […] this a better way to write, like jazz. Isn’t this preferable to wrestling your stories down so you can…
  4. Music in the Cabin | Fair E Tales - […] for writing and cutting loose any inhibitions. That was suggested in a blog by Joe Bunting to Write Like…

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