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Daydream believer

We are storytellers. Whether we provide a laugh-out-loud escape, or share an emotional, hard-won lesson, the goal is memorable writing.

Feeling the story is the most powerful way to write.  Yet it’s easy to lose touch with emotional resonance, to write from a distance. Perhaps you need a trance dance with your heart.

I’ve been invited back, this time to present, “Hypnotic Recall Fills The Creative Well.” In my workshop I will use guided imagery exercises to mine memories for sensory details and emotions. Self-hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, and trance are all the same things, and the process is already familiar to you.  You daydream, right?

In the creative process you enter that place where scenes flash along in vivid detail and outside reality is suspended temporarily. Then you put fingers to keyboard and share what you “just saw.” That’s self-hypnosis, and a deep reverie can be productive.

In 1990 I was certified in hypnotherapy because of my curiosity about the mind-body connection. I learned to write guided imageries, using words that soothed the senses, to induce an awake but highly relaxed state of mind. The greater the relaxation, the more vivid the recall experience.

Years later as a syndicated columnist and author, I realized its direct connection to writing. The stillness is a realm in which to gather up textures, sounds, mannerisms, words, and emotions to enliven your stories.Often, the meaning of a past experience is made clear.

A writer’s goal is to capture an experience and to bring the reader right into the scene.  We endeavor to answer the reader’s question, “Why are you telling me this?” So we navigate our way to the heart of the story. If you feel it, you can convey it.

Years ago, I continually failed in my own efforts to experience meditation. My mind was a gerbil set afire in a bathtub. During hypnotherapy training it felt liberating the first time someone guided me into total relaxation. Now I can return to it any time on my own.

Much later, as a professional writer, I began applying such techniques to my own work. The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was from my friend, the late Jeff Zaslow, who told me, “You write with a lot of heart.”

So why not help others with this unique strategy?  When I offered a guided imagery workshop in 2010 for EBWW, it was rewarding to hear how new friends were able to finish challenging chapters, to recall memories rich with meaning, and to even pen for the first time very painful episodes.

Recently, due to persistent requests, I finally produced “Suzette Standring: A Writers’ Meditation CD,” which offers two guided imagery exercises; one for complete relaxation, and the second is specific to creative writing. It’s gratifying to create a new tool for the storytelling process. You can find out more about it on my website, the only place where it is available.

I look forward to seeing old and new friends this year at the EBWW.  Be a daydream believer. You owe it to your readers.

—Suzette Martinez Standring

Suzette Martinez Standring is a syndicated columnist with GateHouse News Service, award-winning author of The Art of Column Writing and part of the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop faculty.

Never say neigh

Not many writers collaborate with a horse. Noah, a handsome bay gelding, blogs. He travels. He philosophizes, more or less. He tweets. Mary Farr, his personal assistant, will publish his book, Never Say Neigh, in 2013.

Maggie Lamond Simone

Maggie Lamond Simone, a national award-winning columnist, has written two books, From Beer to Maternity and POSTED! Parenting, Pets and Menopause, One Status Update at a Time. She blogs on the Huffington Post and has just signed on to be a co-creator of a new anthology series called Not Your Mother’s Book. Her humor and observational essays appear regularly in Family Times, a monthly parenting magazine in central New York.

DC Stanfa and Susan Reinhardt

DC Stanfa (The Art of Table Dancing: Escapades of an Irreverent Woman) and Susan Reinhardt (Not Tonight Honey, Wait ‘Til I’m a Size Six and Don’t Sleep with a Bubba) have “joined farces” to edit a humor anthology, Fifty Shades of Funny: Hook-ups, Break-ups and Crack-ups. The two met at the 2006 workshop, became “fast friends” and sought out a number of other EBWW faculty and participants for the book. Reinhardt, Tracy Beckerman, W. Bruce Cameron and Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant have all served on the EBWW faculty, and several other contributors are past winners of the writing competition.

Terrible tweens

Journalist Jennifer Grant published “Five Ways Toddlers and Tweens Are Similar” on Parentesource. She has written two books about family: Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter and MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family.

All pirates safe

Burton Cole just signed a two-book deal with B&H Publishing Group, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources, for a humor/adventure series for middle-school readers. Bash and the Pirate Pig of the Pond is due out Aug. 1, 2013, in hardback. “No actual pirates were harmed in the writing of this book,” says Cole, a humor columnist and assistant metro editor for the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio. He pens a weekly humor column, “Burt’s Eye View.”

Kevin McKeever

Kevin McKeever, who blogs at Always Home and Uncool, swept the 2012 Connecticut Press Club column-writing awards competition and picked up two more top honors from the Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. His work appears regularly in the Stamford (Conn.) Advocate, and his scribblings also have been featured in the (New York) Daily News, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, USA Today and The Huffington Post. McKeever describes himself as “Father. Husband. Writer. Goofball. Order Subject to Change.”

Scratching the itch

Jennifer Neves, owner of Mad Dash Publishing in Olympia, Wash., published her first book, Backpack Like You Mean It: A Crackpot Tale of Travel Through Southeast Asia. It’s described as a book great for scratching the travel itch, or spreading it.

Reflections of Erma