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Jim Morrison and post-it note poetry: 2 of 3

I try to make writing easy and fun and achievable – and one technique along with writing on post-it notes is to use the Jim Morrison technique of rhyme and repetition.



I call this technique: Words sound deep…when you rhyme and repeat.


Now deep and repeat are imperfect rather than a perfect rhyme but it’s memorable and illustrates the technique used so often in Doors songs like the official recording of “The End” with repeated lines such as:


The blue bus is calling us (repeated)  and


The West is the best


and a variation but still deep:

Ride the snake, ride the snake, to the lake…


Now, I mentioned above that these are from the ‘official version’ of The End.

In concert,  Jim would often make up fresh lines. I was never there at a Doors concert! I got into the music and poetry of Jim Morrison in the 80s when I was at university in Australia.

I did, however, go on Doors pilgrimages on trips to the US.


(Venice Beach)




I’m also a big fan of the moody and often ‘meandering’ keyboards of Ray Manzarek – and it’s fun to collect the post-it notes ‘profound poetry’ of scribbled rhymes and repeat the lines over a Doors-sounding soundscape.


It’s amazing how deep and profound the lines sound – and it doesn’t matter what order you pick a post-it note in. It still sounds amazingly Doors-ish.



Here’s a link to part 1:

Jim Morrison and post-it note poetry: 1 of 3


If you’re interested in seeing more – here’s a link to the Facebook page of  Writers on the Storm:

Writers on the Storm

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Jim Morrison and post-it note poetry: 1 of 3

Writing a whole poem can be intimidating – so I encourage budding writers to write just one line at a time – even just a few words.

If a blank page or blank screen seems intimidating – just write a few words on a small post-it note.


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I’m a huge fan of the words – the poetic lyrics and lyrical poetry – of Jim Morrison from The Doors. I often encourage writers to start off by emulating one of the many devices he used and jot down their words on a post-it note.

For example, I love the use of alliteration in the line from the song “People are Strange”:

Women seem Wicked When you’re unWanted

Try it yourself.

You can start off using Women seem…   as a creative catalyst and use words with alliteration – repeating the same consonant sound – even if it appears as an accented syllable inside a word like unWanted.



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Sure, you can handwrite your line on a normal pad or type it on a computer.

I just find post-it notes so unintimidating to fill with words.

Also, you can later put together different post-it note lines and ‘build’ a bigger poem.

In future posts, I’ll share other easy-to-emulate poetic devices, Jim Morrison used.

So start writing and keeping some poetic lines on post-it notes and…take it easy, take it as it comes.


If you’re interested in seeing more – here’s a link to the Facebook page of  Writers on the Storm:

Writers on the Storm

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I spill the beans on where ‘spill the beans’ came from

Do you use the expression ‘spill the beans’? You vaguely know what it means but you are not sure where the expression came from?



This headline prompted me to ‘research’ the origin of that expression. The media loves the promise of insider insight with expressions and words like REVEALED, INSIDE THE… THE REAL REASON….etc.


,..and the quaint ‘spills the beans’.


I understand some people are happy just to use expressions without wondering where the expressions came from. Ever since I was a university student (and now as a uni teacher) I’ve BEAN fascinated by the stories behind expressions.


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I encourage my own children and my students to ask about any expressions they are curious about. The other day, I had to explain ‘smoko’ ‘to my son. If I don’t know a word or the origin/meaning of an expression, I look it up – as I did this morning about ‘spill the beans’.

If I don’t know a word or the origin/meaning of an expression, I look it up – as I did this morning about ‘spill the beans’.


From my initial ‘research’ – the expression originates from the practice of anonymous voting (as far back as Ancient Greece). Different coloured beans indicated YES or NO. If the bean collector ‘spilled the beans’ it would reveal if there was dissent and how close a vote was.


Now I understand, many stories about expression origins are just ‘good stories’ and may be false. But the explanation above is certainly a good story.


Which leads me to question how and why beans inspired so many other expressions like ‘bean counters’, ‘full of beans’, ‘bean town’ and ‘bean eaters’. (Expressions/words  often take on newer and extra meanings too)

Why were beans so often used in serious matters like voting and ancient accountancy?

I appreciate to many this may not amount to a ‘hill of beans’ – but many may hunger to learn the stories of the origins of expressions.

The adventurer reading ritual – ripping yarns

I was horrified and impressed at the same time and in equal measure.


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I was sharing a tiny tent in the snow with an adventurer who was training for an Antarctic expedition. I was the reporter in a TV crew doing a story and we had to share small tents with different adventurers.


Bad, bitter weather blew across Australian snowfields – just the harsh conditions needed to help prepare for the Antarctic adventure.


The experienced mountaineer I shared the tiny tent with told me of his reading ritual when he was on climbing adventures.


He explained how he packed ONE book in his backpack. When darkness fell he would read a few pages before exhaustion and sleep dragged him down.


What horrified me was his tiny tent ‘cramped confessional’ that he would later rip out the pages he’d read when he needed to use them as toilet paper.


He had borrowed the discipline from another mountaineer. At first, he too was horrified by the ‘disrespect’ of using a book’s pages as toilet paper but he learned to respect this unusual ‘ripping yarns reading ritual’.


“It’s like the old stories of the Native Americans who would give gratitude and respect to animals they killed,” he said with sincerity. “ I appreciate those pages even more.”


He told me not to worry as his training expedition had brought ‘proper toilet paper’ with them for all to use. Even he would use ‘proper toilet paper’ this trip – not toilet rolls…but carefully rationed flat tissue paper.


I remember laughing at his response when I asked if he read and ’sacrificed’ adventure books and tales of adventure like “The Call of the Wild”.




With mock machismo he told me : “Mate, I LIVE adventure. I don’t have to read about it. I want a distraction from the cold and dark outside this tent. Often cheap airport books. Not too thick and always paperback. Easier to rip out the pages.”


It was a tough shoot. Our camera gear froze and we had to ‘rescue’ some skiers and snowboarders who got caught out in the bad weather.


In snow shoes we trudged back to our accommodation at a ski resort. Even on this short trip, I got sick of seeing white. I looked forward to seeing different colours, to a warm shower and a big, juicy steak.


I came back from that TV story with personal stories to tell – and with a fresh insight into this ‘adventurer reading ritual’ – and a new appreciation for soft, white and fluffy toilet rolls.




Writing and mackerel skies part 2

Clouds have often inspired writers and the ‘mackerel sky’


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(that resembles fish scales) has inspired not just writers but also many folklore rhyming weather sayings such as:

“Mackerel sky, not twenty-four hours dry” 

“Mares’ tails and mackerel scales make lofty ships to carry low sails”


But did you know other ways this type of sky is described?

These types of skies have been described by comparisons to sheep, food, cobblestones, and yes, women.

One of my favourite descriptions of a mackerel sky is:

“A dappled sky, like a painted woman, soon changes its face”


In Spain, it’s described as ‘cielo empedrado’ a cobbled sky – whereas the French called it ‘ciel moutonne’ – a fleecy sky.


The Italians call these types of clouds pecorelle – little sheep.


And the Germans call the phenomenon Schäfchenwolken – sheep clouds.


To me, German sounds so serious while Italian and French can sound so lyrical.


My theory is that  Italian, German and French farmers and shepherds created the sheep comparisons – comparing the clouds to their frame of reference – while mackerel skies and fish scale comparisons came from sea-faring folk.


I just love the expression mackerel skies – maybe, it’s the alliteration of the Ks.


As I wrote in Writing and Mackerel Skies part 1:

One of my most satisfying ‘jobs’ was helping set up and promote a writing retreat at Sirenia  Retreat on Macleay Island near Brisbane, Queensland.

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One of the most attractive things, for me, about Sirenia was the gorgeous sunsets and cloud formations – especially in Autumn and Winter. Brisbane winters are not usually very cold – and the view from Sirenia is stunning. On the mainland on East Coast of Australia, the sun sets over the land

On the mainland on East Coast of Australia, the sun sets over the land not the sea. However, if you are on the western side of an island (like Sirenia on Macleay Island), the sun sets over the water to your west.

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I always try to plan my day so even when I am working and writing, I try to enjoy the sunsets – and sometimes the sunrises. At Sirenia Retreat, because of its location, the back deck is a great viewing platform for the sunsets.


Macleay island can be very quiet and ‘sleepy’ without the distractions of life on the mainland or even more ‘exciting’ islands like North Stradbroke. I love leaving my usual problems and distractions back on the mainland and having the ‘headspace’ to work on projects at Sirenia.

I am a ‘sit and savor’ type of guy –  watching the day unfold. Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed cloud watching and thinking and clouds were like big fluffy ‘thought bubbles’.


One of my favourite songs and lyrics is Both Sides Now – all about Clouds

Clouds are also ephemeral and so are thoughts – so I always found it important to  capture creative thoughts and ideas before they disappeared – blown away by the wind or burnt off by the sun.


Oh, I think I’ll now have to write a part 3 on this topic – about capturing creative ideas. I better write that down – inspired by ephemeral mackerel skies! Don’t those words sound good together? – ephemeral mackerel.

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If you’d like to find out more about Sirenia Retreat, here’s the website and please feel free to add in the comments any of your fabourite descriptions of skies or weather.


Writing and mackerel skies – part 1

This post was inspired by this photo from a friend.


mackerel sky 33400740_10213937709169987_8924528092140011520_nThe photo reminded me of that wonderful expression ‘mackerel skies’ that has inspired many writers.

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One of my most satisfying ‘jobs’ was helping set up and promote a writing retreat at Sirenia on Macleay Island near Brisbane, Queensland.


One of the most attractive things, for me, about Sirenia was the gorgeous sunsets and cloud formations – especially in Autumn and Winter. Brisbane winters are not usually very cold – and the view from Sirenia is stunning.



I always try to plan my day so even when I am working and writing, I try to enjoy the sunsets – and sometimes the sunrises. At Sirenia, because of its location, the back deck is a great viewing platform for the sunsets.


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In future posts, I’ll share more about the description mackerel skies and how writers in other languages often chose different comparisons – to sheep rather than fish.


If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Sirenia website.

Sirenia retreat


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I’ll have to go back soon – because it’s a great time of year if you like peace and quiet and beautiful skies.


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Surprising advice on the best time to write – what you may be doing wrong!

I Wanna Be Creative!

What’s YOUR most effective time to write?

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For me, I’m a ‘morning person’ and I love to get up early and write AFTER I’ve had my morning coffee and woken up. BUT, apparently, I’m doing it wrong!

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I like to rise before the sun and sip my coffee and just sit and observe – observing things like the way the morning light highlights certain things in the room. Then after I’m​ ‘awake’ and not ‘half-awake’ , I start to write.

I like to escape to a writing retreat Sirenia Retreat on Macleay Island. I’m helping equip and promote the retreat – and ‘test’ it for writing. Yes, I enjoy the assignment – especially rising early and enjoying a fine coffee and gently waking up before I start writing.

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But according to Writer Kevan Lee in Lifehacker (link at the end of this post, if you want to read more) I…

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A clean, well-lighted and quiet place to boost your writing inspiration and productivity

I Wanna Be Creative!

Yes, this post was inspired by Hemingway’s short story – A clean well-lighted​ place.

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Although the Hemingway short story is bleak (yet powerful) the title reminds me of why I enjoy escaping to Sirenia to focus on writing projects.

Sirenia IS clean…and well-lighted…….and so quiet!

1. Because Sirenia is so so clean – there is little distraction in wanting to do house chores. My wife may laugh at this and disagree, but often I get distracted by seeing something at home that needs to be tidied or cleaned. At Sirenia, you can focus on your writing.

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2. The light at Sirenia is a big appeal for me. I enjoy waking up early and just sitting and sipping my coffee and observing how the morning light falls across the floor and various objects at Sirenia.

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Plus, there are glorious sunrises and sunsets to enjoy. The place really is built to make…

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The importance of mobility and ‘plugability’ for executive escapes and writing retreats

What do YOU need when you work on projects – for business or creative pursuits?

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One of my recent ‘tasks’ was to advise the owners of the beautiful Sirenia Retreat on Macleay Island.

The owners wanted to set up Sirenia as a perfect escape for writers and executives wanting to escape and focus on their projects.

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One of my tasks was to ‘test’ it – and help improve its amenities as a place to get work done. I gave honest feedback on what was good and what needed to be added. Yes, I write promotional copy too – usually best done when I am ‘experiencing’ and describing Sirenia.

One of the main things to ensure for an executive escape and writing retreat is good internet access. I understand many people like to escape from the distractions of the internet – but it’s good to have internet access if and when you need it!  


I suggested two other things to improve – two things I found out by ‘experiencing’ Sirenia – and writing there – on my trusty MacBook​ and one a Sirenia portable typewriter The MacBook​ is for my main writing. The portable typewriter was more for the ‘experience’ and, of course, writerly  ‘photo opps.


My main two recommendations for improvement involved ‘plugability’ and mobility.




‘Plugability’ describes being able to plug into power points and even USB chargers


As you may know, old houses did not need as many power points and most power points were in the kitchen for appliances.

In modern living, we often have so many devices that need charging and so I recommended that the owners get lots of extra powerboards and to even put in USB chargers  (in case guests forget adapters/chargers).


Mobility – for the new ‘wi-fi writer’

A ‘change expert’ I interviewed for another project once taught me how with wi-fi, many execs and writers like to be ‘free’ and ‘mobile’ – and to not be stuck in an office chair or at a desk. These days, many people write on their devices – in bed or sitting on a comfy couch or in some more scenic location.

Sirenia’s owners also took my advice and invested in those little portable lap tables that make it easier to write on your computer from the comfort of a lounge or even a chair outside on the deck.

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There are many places and spaces to write at Sirenia – outside on the back deck or the deck in front of the main bedroom or on the comfy daybed or on the couch.  With those little portable lap tables you have the mobility to write anywhere.


It has been a very satisfying project ‘testing’ Sirenia and suggesting improvements. From my experience writing there, the space is very quiet and yet scenic – and kitted out with the ‘little extras’ that make it easier to write and create and get inspired.


If you want to find out more, you can check out the Sirenia website

Some of the best other additions to make the experience better for execs and writers include:

Great coffee (and calming teas)

a great bath and waterproof note pads

The pain behind Lou Reed’s imperfect lyrics

I Wanna Be Creative!

What’s your favourite Lou Reed lyric? I reckon we can all learn from the harsh honesty of his lyrics – especially about imperfection and the ups and downs and upside-downs of life – sometimes feeling happy – sometimes feeling sad.

In music in general and in Lou’s songbook, there are so many sad songs  – and happy ones – but in my opinion. Lou was the master of that happy-sad combination.

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To me, Reed could come across as a prickly, grumpy character – but I loved the vulnerability in his lyrics – the way he seemed well aware of his faults. His imperfections! I think his honesty helps people connect with his lyrics.

My all-time favourite lyrics is from Perfect Day:

“Just a perfect day. You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else…someone good”.

(it’s the…’someone good’ part that gets me). It’s happy – a perfect day…thinking…

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