Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guest Blogger, Mari L. McCarthy, and a Giveaway

This morning, as part of the Women on Writing WOW! Author's Blog Tour, I'm pleased to welcome my guest blogger, Mari L. McCarthy, who will share with my visitors her thoughts on "Using Your Five Senses While Journaling."

As a special token of her appreciation to visitors to Donna's Book Pub, Mari is giving away an e-copy of her book, "27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness." To be eligible for the e-book just leave a comment between now and May 6. Winner will be announced after that date.

Mari L. McCarthy is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Journaling for the Health of It™. Please visit Mari's blog at In 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness (, Mari walks you through an easy process for accessing your natural inner strengths. Mari's latest publication is titled, Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life. See for details.

Heres's what Mari has to say about "Using Your Five Senses While Journaling."

Do you sometimes seem to run out of ideas about what to write, even in your journal? Do you have dry spells, in which your words seem uninspired?

Do you ever arrive at a fresh page, eager to write, and then grind to a halt, not knowing where to begin? Or have you ever hesitated, doodling and procrastinating because the "right" way to start writing isn't forthcoming?

I obsess sometimes, worrying that I will run out of ideas. For some crazy reason, the thought of not having useful thoughts is one of my most fearsome and persistent mental monsters.

I depend on my creativity in so many ways. I don't know what I'd do without it.

But like just about all of our fears, this one is purely imaginary, totally fabricated from groundless assumptions. I know this is true because if I ever sense a lack of creativity, or if I don't know where to turn, I have only to tune in to my senses.

You know, the old ears, eyes, nose, tongue, and fingertips. Listening, looking, smelling, tasting, touching. You can add in your sixth sense, too, but we'll save that for another article.

If you can still use any one of your five senses, you have instant access to more creativity than you can ever use.

Right now, for instance: I hear crickets. I see night falling. I smell the lingering flavors of dinner we just finished. I taste its satisfaction. I touch the sagging flesh under my chin.

Clearly, there are infinite stories wrapped up in every one of those sensations. And if I wait five minutes, there will be another set of five.

If you doubt me on this, try the following:

  1. Open your journal to a new page, and then concentrate all your attention for a few moments on one of your senses.

  2. Let your awareness rest on what you are receiving through your ears, for instance, or what the inside of your mouth feels like, or the sensation of the tip of your thumb massaging the tip of your forefinger.

  3. Transitioning from sensing to writing as seamlessly as you can, start moving your pen on the page.

What happens thereafter should be noted. And then the process should be repeated the next day.

Following this formula provides five days of journaling on different sensations, which can be repeated as a cycle, endlessly.

It's true that you'll most likely dispense with the routine as soon as a tangent takes you elsewhere.

But remember, you can always return to the simple yet keen observation of your current sensations to jumpstart your writing or creativity of any kind.

Thank you, Mari, for your advice and stimulating exercise.

If you would like to enter to win Mari's e-book giveaway, leave a comment on this post by Friday, May 6.

Good luck, and happy journaling!


  1. Great idea--using the 5-sense exercise would be great in a travel journal to bring the entirety of a place onto your page. Thanks!

  2. I can see how you could easily use this exercise to create sensory-filled scenes in fiction writing too. Great ideas!

  3. Good idea. It would also work in your other writing, not just journaling. We sometimes forget to add those senses to our writing.

  4. Yes, ladies, it was a fiction writing teacher's comment that prompted this article. Accessing all our senses helps us show and tell the whole story and nothing but. It also helps me become more aware of what's really going on inside all of me! WriteON!

  5. It's surprising what such an exercise will reveal. I took a conference workshop on lyrical poetry a couple of years ago and I wrote a paragraph from the point of view of one of my knees. My poor knee came across sounding very whiny, blaming it's misery on my weight and resistance to exercise. Stupid knee. :)

  6. I never thought of using the senses. I get overly obsessed with the visual. Thanks for this great idea!

  7. I was amazed at how many memories I rediscovered through sensory awareness when I was introduced to this exercise a few years ago. They led to the first poetry I'd ever published (which I'd always said I couldn't write) and a creative nonfiction story which took top honors in two contests, including "Writer's Digest." This exercise is very much a winner! Thank you for reminding me.

  8. I'm getting the smell of Tilex bleach with Fabreeze (trying to mask the Tilex), and waffles and maple syrup, and last night's fried chicken, and steam from the dishwasher ... maybe I should open a window.

  9. Right now I am remembering the smells at work. I'm a hospice nurse, and yes, you can smell death. You can also smell love and forgiveness and resignation. There are flowers all over the place, each bouquet with its own unique aroma.

    Hey, this is cool! I'm so glad I was invited to read this very helpful piece. I've been journaling for decades and never thought to use my senses as a springboard.

    Thanks and Namaste..........cj

  10. I'll try it! My father-in-law is 87 and I am usually the one to take him to the doctor. I don't like to leave him, so I always stay, and I've tried to write sitting there in the waiting room, but it is hard to concentrate. I'll give this a go and see what happens. :)

  11. I'm just getting back into journaling after years of not touching one. It's sometimes really hard for me to open up on paper honestly. I can write fiction, but my own feelings? Not so easy.

  12. Where would we be without our senses? After sight,I'm an olfactory person myself.It's always good to be consciously aware of using all our senses in our life and in our writing. I'd love to win this book!

  13. All I can say is WOW!
    Thanks to Mari for her guest post and for all the wonderful discussion.
    I'll post the name of the winner later this week.

  14. Donna,thanks for being such a gracious host. Need some unique journaling jumpstart prompts, tips and ideas, we have 100+ here:


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