Sunday, July 12, 2015

A one-liner a day keeps verbal diarrhea away

I have been asked for guidance, yet again, on keeping it simple. "How can I eliminate superfluous clutter and say what I need to say in fewer and better words?"
    If it is a matter of getting your story together in speaking to others, our Lightning (or Lightening) process is excellent practice. You take turns with a friend or a group to tell personal experiences, which may be dreams or anything else that has story value. If it is your turn to speak, you make it your game to tell your story as simply and clearly as possible. You leave out unnecessary background. You give your story a title. You are conscious of your need to hold the attention of your listeners, and they accept their need to listen closely and then to offer helpful feedback.
    When it comes to writing, here are a couple of daily games I play that you may find helpful.

     Compress the essence of anything you wish to say so it will fit on one side of a small (3"x 5") index card. We do this very often in my workshops and it is amazing what focus it brings. As  a sample of what is possible through the "index card" process, consider this account of how we harvested remarkable tales in miniature from a deep group journey in a workshop I led in the mountains of Romania. Everything here, apart from my introduction, is a selection of narratives written on one side of a small index card.
      Keep a journal and on any day you can, harvest a one-liner from your experiences, reflections and reading. I do this all the time. I re-write some of my one liners on index cards and keep them in a box I use as a personal oracle, dipping in to pull out a thought for the day. I did this just now, for purposes of illustration, and pulled out the following one-liners:

Don't pray against, pray for.

Creating is healing,

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say and say it hot.

I borrowed that last one from D.H. Lawrence. It is exquisitely relevant to our theme here.

Hone the craft of creating your own one-liners, and you may become an aphorist, a maker of aphorisms, those witty, pithy one-liners that distill something of the human condition. Mark Twain is the American master of this art, forever crackling with snappers and astonishers. I celebrate the art of making aphorisms here.
     Coming up with a one-liner can help you to draw the moral from a life experience, or a message for action. In dreamwork, producing a bumper sticker or action phrase from a dream narrative and any subsequent exploration gives you a way to carry energy and direction from the dream.
     Play like this and you have a chance to entertain the spirits. The Inuits say we need to entertain the spirits by offering them "fresh words", which is grand advice.
    The heart of the matter is this:

The more you need to say, the more need to say it in fewer words.

Let me say that again, in fresh words:

A one-liner a day keeps verbal diarrhea away.

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