How To Be
Cooking Time: 5 minutes, 4 seconds
Growing writing love.
Gifting someone with words.
Discovering what matters to you most.
How To Be written by Lisa Brown
Quick and casual list of five things you love.
Here’s my list: mountains, road trips, poetry, moon, skiing, teaching, and writing.
Notice my list has more than five.
I like to break my own rules.
Also, notice that my dog, daughter, husband, and Jesus aren't on this list, but can we all just agree that those are beloveds, too?
1. Read How To Be for pure enjoyment. Savor Brown's words. Adore her illustrations. Here's an excerpt:
How to be a Spider
Creep along walls.
Wait for a meal to come to you.
Build a web.
How to be a Dog
Beg for food.
2. Read the text again, but this time like a writer, noticing what Lisa Brown does with words.
a. She tells readers how to be a bear, monkey, turtle, snake, spider, dog, and finally a person (when you read the book, you’ll see the clever twist for how to be a person – it’s adorable!).
b. All lines start with a verb – this is a writing move you can do, too. Mix up the way you start sentences. Feel free to start sentences with the classic subject + verb, but sometimes mix it up and start some of those babies with a verb. This creates a unique rhythm in your writing, and rhythm is what catches your reader’s attention.
c. All lines are short. This also creates a unique rhythm, especially when you mix up long and short sentences. Long, long, short is a classic rhythm that works and any writer can do it! That short sentence at the end can often signal, “Hey, pay attention. This is important!”
d. Pro tip: If you want to see an expert using this writing move, read Charlotte’s Web and search for those long, long, short patterns.
3. Read a sample piece, written under the influence of Lisa Brown’s words.
How to be Lorrie
Watch the moon.
Time to Get Cooking
1. Put How To Be _______ (insert your name) at the top of a piece of paper.
2. Then, using the Quick Write Method (see number 3 below), write three lines, all starting with a verb, and end with a borrowed fourth line which is Be myself! (or Be ________ - fill in the blank with whatever you want!)
3. Quick Write means:
a. Write for 5 minutes, 4 seconds without stopping or talking. (Studies show that 5 minutes, 4 seconds is the perfect amount of time for this piece.)
b. Keep pen/pencil/keyboard moving the entire time.
c. If you get stuck, write I’m stuck I’m stuck I’m stuck until you aren’t anymore. Cross that part out later.
d. Don’t worry about spelling.
4. Quick Writes grow writing love because:
a. Writing fast for a short period of time helps you outrun the inner voice that says, “You can’t write. You are bad at this!”
b. Tell yourself, “I don’t have time to listen to that critical voice. I’m gonna go for it!”
Share Your Words
1. When you are done, read your piece aloud – to a real live human, your dog, or your bathroom mirror. It’s essential to hear your writing aloud. You’ll hear what works. You’ll hear what doesn’t work.
2. If you do read this to a real live human, ask them to tell you a word, phrase, or sentence that stands out to them (this is called SAYBACK ). Don’t ask for or receive advice about revision or editing. Just absorb what someone likes about your writing and say, “Thank you very much.”
3. Select one line you like the best – or one that moves you the most - or one that stands out the most. I call these golden lines. It’s good to notice what you are already doing well as a writer. Often, if you get response from a human, your golden lines might be the same! That’s fun and tells you a lot about what readers think is good writing.
a. I’d even suggest making a collection of all your golden lines in a journal. Over time, you’ll see a pattern of all your writing awesomeness!
Serve It Pretty
You can also make your writing look pretty with some quick word art. Watch this Facebook Live Video to see how.
Mixing It Up
1. This is also a great recipe for showing knowledge about learned content or life experiences. For example:
How To Be Martha
How To Be a Girl Scout
How To Be George Washington·
2. You could also make this into a longer piece – with a bunch of linked HOW TO BE pieces - following the structure of Brown’s book to the letter. Here’s an example:
How to Be Lorrie
How To Be A Skier
Attack the mountain with strong legs.
How To Be A Writer
Dare to bare my soul.
…and I could do more like...
How To Be A Mom
How To Be A Wife
How To Be A Teacher
...and end with...
How to be Lorrie.
Be outdoorsy, honest…
Give It Away
If you would like to make this into a gift, do the same writing recipe, but about a loved one. For example, How To Be My Grandpa, How To Be My Son's Teacher, How To Be My Husband, etc. etc.
Also, you can pair the book with a sweet How To Be writing piece for birthday, shower gifts etc. Doesn't How To Be Seven Years Old, or How To Be A Mama sound like the sweetest gift?
If you write a How To Be Masterpiece and you're feeling bold, please put it in the comments.
I'd be honored to reply with golden lines!