Mindful Writing Challenge – Jan ’14

January Mindful Writing ChallengeJoin us & begin 2014 by clearing space for beauty. 

“Use your life to wake you up.” ~ Pema Chodron

The Very Quick Version: 
1. Pay proper attention to one thing every day during January.
2. Write it down (this is a small stone).
3. Get daily support & inspiration.

It’s that simple. You don’t have to be a writer, and you only need ten minutes a day. Buy yourself a lovely notebook, start writing small stones & watch them work their magic on you.

a small stone: “three leaves, a smeared clod of dark mud, wall-paper scratchings from under the cat’s paws.” For more examples of small stones, look here or here on Facebook.

The Slightly Longer Version:
Kaspa & Satya from Writing Our Way Home will curate their FOURTH Mindful Writing Challenge during Jan ’14. Start your adventure here…

ONE: find out what small stones are.
TWO: make a firm commitment to yourself to writing one small stone every day for 31 days.
THREE: sign up on Facebook & invite all your friends to join you – it’s more fun with company.
FOUR: give yourself the gift of 31 Days of Waking Up to accompany you during January. 
FIVE: sign up to our Writing Our Way Home list.
SIX: decide what you’d like to do with your small stones.
SEVEN: visit & enjoy a handful of stones, our small stones blogzine.
EIGHT: buy yourself a lovely notebook &, if you’re feeling creative, customise it ready for January.
NINE: get hold of our anthologies of small stones, ‘A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems‘ or ‘pay attention: a river of stones‘.
TEN: get some practice in. Go & write one right now & share it on Facebook or Twitter (using #smallstone) or email it to a few of your friends…

If you’d like to know more, click on the FAQ below. If your question isn’t answered below, do email Satya or Kaspa.

Why should I join?
What are small stones?
How will the January Mindful Writing Challenge work?
Where can I share my small stones?
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 previous Mindful Writing books?
What have previous small-stoners said?

Why should I join?

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 (blackbirds singing).

You don’t need to be a writer to write small stones – the important thing is to begin 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.

What are small stones?

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 writing small stones here, and enjoy many small stones at my blogzine, a handful of stones.

“I love it just because it is a stone, because today and now it appears to me a stone.” ~ Hermann Hesse

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How will the January Mindful Writing Challenge work?

If you’d like some extra support, do consider signing up to our 31 Days of Waking Up package which includes an original essay, exercises & 31 daily emails including information and advice on waking up, a suggested theme or subject for your daily small stone and an inspirational quote.

You don’t need to share your small stones anywhere public to take part in the challenge. Whether you keep them in your notebook or publish them somewhere on the web, you’ll have a rich experience of the benefits of mindful writing.

Where can I share my small stones?

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. These posts will appear every day during January, starting on the 1st. You can also read and comment on other people’s small stones here on the blog – last year it was a very supportive place.
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 or Facebook using the #smallstone hash-tag.

You could also put them on your fridge, make a booklet for your friends and family, have a small stones party with your friends and take turns reading them out…

Remember – sharing your small stones is fun (and getting nice feedback on them is very lovely) but the main aim of the January challenge is to help you to connect with the world. Keep returning to this.

Who runs the Mindful Writing Challenge?

The Mindful Writing Challenge will be curated by Satya & Kaspa, who run Writing Our Way Home. If you’d like to organise your own projects or events for the month we’d be delighted. Feel free to use anything you can find here – just include a link to this site.

What is the history of small stones?

Satya 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). 

Where can I find other small-stoners? 

Visit this blog during January to meet other writers and read their small stones in the comments section.

You could also find other small-stoners by searching for ‘small stone’ on Google and by searching for the #smallstone tag on Twitter and Facebook. Here is a friendly group on Facebook which started during a previous mindful challenge, no longer officially affiliated with Writing Our Way Home and now run by its members.

Do comment on other people’s small stones when you can. One of the wonderful things about the small stone community is the good-will our small-stoners have for each other – we’re expecting this year to be the same.

Are you doing a blogroll this year?

No. It takes a long time and there are too many of you now!

Where can I sign up for the mailing list?

Here. 

How can I help spread the word?

We’d love it if you would!

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends. Share the link to this post on Facebook and on Twitter. Write a post on your blog during December. Ask your friends to join you (it’ll be more fun) and email them the link to this page. Share your small stones during January. We feel passionately about the benefits of mindful writing, and we love it when new people discover these benefits for themselves.

A Blackbird SingsWill there be another Mindful Writing Challenge anthology?

Not this year. If you’d like to submit five of your small stones to Satya’s blogzine ‘a handful of stones‘ at the end of the month she’d be very glad to receive them – submission guidelines are here

Where can I buy the previous small stones anthologies?

Read more about A Blackbird Sings. Download it on Kindle US or Kindle UK or buy the gorgeous paperback in the UK or the US.

Read more about pay attention: a river of stones or buy the paperback from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

What some of our previous small-stoners have said:

“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

A few more example small stones by Satya:

nearly november: two luminous orange poppies wave their tattered flags

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the cars have gone. the roads are slicked with drizzle. an eraser of mist has rubbed out the top of the hills.

*

over bitter coffee
we talk about how deeply flawed we are
being human

*

eleven year old boy at the ceilidh, slicked back hair and an emerald green shirt, indicates how disgusted he is to be dancing with his mother with every cell in his body

*

from where I sit, each raindrop is carrying light

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Badge image based on leaves by: bangli 1