Pay more attention and fall in love with the world.
Start 2014 by clearing space for beauty. Will you be joining our Mindful Writing Challenge?
The Everso Quick Version:
1. Notice something properly every day during January.
2. Write it down.
That’s it. You can stop reading now. Go out and buy yourself a gorgeous notebook, start writing your small stones, and you’ll be in the river. If you join half-way through January you can either write 31 daily small stones or stop at the end of the month.
a small stone: “bluebells hover above ground, a mist of spring. dark greens, the snap of twigs. at the exit of the woods the fields drop away. in the bowl of the vista, neat rows of poplars blaze orange.” For more examples of small stones, have a peek here.
The Slightly Longer Version:
Kaspa & Satya from Writing Our Way Home will curate their FOURTH Mindful Writing Challenge (previously known as the River of Stones) during Jan ’14. Get started here…
ONE: find out what small stones are.
TWO: make a commitment to writing one small stone every day for 31 days.
THREE: decide what you’d like to do with your small stones.
FOUR: get our funky badge and put it on your blog.
FIVE: sign up to our Writing Our Way Home list.
SIX: invest in our special Mindful Writing Booster e-course.
SEVEN: visit a handful of stones, our small stones blogzine & read Fiona’s free ebook about Lorrie with pea-green eyes.
EIGHT: come & join our Facebook invite & invite a few of your friends.
NINE: get hold of our first anthology of small stones, ‘pay attention: a river of stones’ book or our second, ‘A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems’.
TEN: have a practice before the day – go & write one right now & then share it on Facebook or Twitter or email it to a few of your friends…
Why should I join?
What are small stones?
How will the January Mindful Writing Challenge work?
Where can I share my small stones?
Where can I get a gorgeous small stones badge for my blog?
Who runs Mindful Writing Challenge?
What is the history of small stones?
Where can I find other small-stoners?
Are you doing a blogroll this year?
Where can I sign up for the mailing list?
How can I help spread the word?
Will there be another Mindful Writing Challenge book?
Where can I buy the Mindful Writing books, ‘pay attention: a river of stones’ and ‘A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems’?
Writing small stones is a very simple way of engaging you with the world around you, in all its richness and complexity and beauty. They are a gateway into praise and clear-seeing. They will help you to acknowledge the ugly things (the slugs in the compost pile) as well as the pretty ones (blackbird song). You don’t need to be a writer to write small stones – the important thing is starting to open up to what’s around you.
If you still need convincing, have a look at what some of our previous small-stoners have to say.
A small stone is a short piece of writing (prose or poetry) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment. The process of finding small stones is as important as the finished product – searching for them will encourage you to keep your eyes (and ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind) open.
Read more about small stones here, and read many examples of small stones at my blogzine, a handful of stones. Read Fiona’s free ebook about Lorrie with pea-green eyes. You can also pay to download our book ‘pay attention: a river of stones’ (or buy a hard copy) for many exquisite examples of small stones, and to read about the experience of last year’s small-stoners.
“I love it just because it is a stone, because today and now it appears to me a stone.” ~Hermann Hesse
The Mindful Writing Challenge will consist of everyone who writes small stones during January, whether you keep them in your notebooks or publish them somewhere on the web.
If you’d like some extra support, do consider signing up to our Mindful Writing Booster which includes a 128 page PDF and 31 daily emails.
This year you can share your small stones with the world (and other small stone writers) by:
ONE: share them on this blog by posting them in the comments section of our special daily posts
TWO: create a blog for your small stones, or post them on your existing blog. If you’re new to blogging you can create one very simply at www.blogger.com or using other blogging platforms.
THREE: post them on Twitter using the #smallstone hash-tag. Either keep them less than 140 characters, or include a link to your blog.
You could also post them on Facebook, put them on your fridge, make a booklet for your friends and family, get together with friends and read them out… let’s take over the world…
Remember – sharing your small stones is fun (and getting nice feedback on them is lovely) but the main aim of the January challenge is to help you connect with the world. Keep returning to this.
The Mindful Writing Challenge will be curated by Fiona & Kaspa, who run Writing Our Way Home.
Fiona started writing a daily small stone at a small stone in 2005 after the concept of mindful writing floated up from her unconsciousness during a drive home from the sea-side. She wanted to help herself pay attention to at least ONE thing every day, and she’s been doing so ever since.
She started collecting other people’s stones at a handful of stones in 2008 (submission guidelines are here). In 2011 she and Kaspa launched the first river of stones challenge and hundreds of people all over the world took part (and loved it). You can see a video of us talking about the project here (it’s a bit old now, Kaspa has a beard now).
You will still be able to find other small-stoners by searching for ‘small stone’ on Google, by searching for the #smallstone tag on Twitter, or by joining the Facebook page.
Do comment on other people’s small stones when you can. One of the wonderful things about the River of stones is the good-will our small-stoners have for each other – we’re expecting this one to be the same.
No. The River has got too big!
We’d love it if you would!
Put a badge on your blog. Write a post on your blog introducing the river of stones during December. Ask your friends to join you (it’ll be more fun) and email them the link to this page. Share the link on Facebook and on Twitter. Share your small stones during January. Let’s grow the river until its nice and wide…
Not this year.
“My father was recently put into Hospice care and dealing with the imminent loss and pain and joy of his journey has become sweeter for me because I am paying attention. That is no small thing.”
~Lisa Haight, small stone writer
“This first week back at work after the long Christmas holiday has been pretty relentless and tiring. Several times I’ve had the thought that I absolutely don’t have the time or mental space or energy to stop and notice something outside my driven daily preoccupations, to compose even this tiny ‘small stone’ of words. But I keep finding that it doesn’t eat up time or mental space; on the contrary, time stops and new space is created”.
~Jean Morris, small stone writer
“I have to tell you readers, I have loved writing a small stone every day for the last 31 days. It’s the most glorious exercise in mindfulness, in pulling yourself into this moment and if you haven’t tried it yet please give it a go, if only for a week.”
~Rachel Hawes, small stone writer
“A month of small stones. Because I’ve observed Lent and, to a lesser extent, Advent for many years, it’s not strange for me to “give things up” or keep to some sort of daily discipline, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or natural. Making the observations is pretty easy, and writing something is a good but not foreign challenge. What’s hard is not going into the other areas my mind often inhabits – the regions of opinions, judgments, arguments, where words can be used not only as pointers but as weapons, or proofs of cleverness and erudition. And partly because of that, I think I’ve found blogging exhausting sometimes, in the same way that coming up with a good meal and cooking it can be exhausting when one does it day after day, year after year; it doesn’t mean you don’t like cooking, it just means you’ve run dry. Writing the “stones” was like going on a fast that was simple, cleansing, and healing rather than a deprivation. I plan to incorporate it much more regularly into my writing life.”
~Elizabeth Adams, small stone writer
“In today’s society, we are bombarded with ringing, beeping, texting and instant messaging. We seek immediate gratification through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If we need to reach someone, we can usually contact that person right away. I find all my peace and serenity diminishing the further I get caught up in this whirlwind of technology mumbo jumbo. That is why I loved participating in A River of Stones during the month of January; it forced me to slow down and take note of life’s simple pleasures. Writing small observations daily was like a spiritual experience for me. I felt happy, joyous and free. I looked forward to my daily meditation. As a result, I feel awakened and alive; and I am truly thankful.”
~Laurie Kolp, small stone writer
“At first, writing small stones, I still felt the pressure of producing. Odd how vulnerable we are, but then turning over these small stones is turning over parts of our…selves and then showing others. Even when we keep ourselves out of the observation, the observation still comes from some part of our thoughts. We may be writers recording, we may, or may not set up a speaker as a buffer, but each word, each grain of every stone, comes from a part of our minds, our hearts, our souls. And then we set the stones on a path, or atop a wall, or on a window sill, for others to spot and pick up, and, if they like what they see, to place the stones in their pockets to carry home. Because of the sense of community and the support, the vulnerability disappeared at some point in the process. And to continue the support, the writers’ community you have formed is a safe place to be ourselves, to not hide, or worry about what we write and whether it is ready, or not, for others’ eyes.”
~Margo Roby, small stone writer
tulips: upturned spanish skirts in poster-paint yellow, raspberry ripple, virgin white, purple-brown
He asks for the order seven times. Two small sausages, two fish and three chips. He’s stopped from putting the plastic bag where it will melt. He smiles at his mistakes. He wants to get it right. People get impatient, despite themselves. ‘He’s a good kid really’, the owner says to the customers, and we all feel better.
lime-green periscopes of fern rise through the dead
towels and shirts and pillowcases show me the shapes of the breeze
we sit outside in the first warm-enough sun of the year. we drink our tea. there is a small slug in the grass. kaspa pulls two white hairs from my head.