Why I write Short Form

A wadi in Oman. Photo by John Couper

For me, experiencing is breathing; writing is breathing hard.

In my multi-continent, multi-decade life, everything has circled back to writing: poetry, philosophy, science journalism, broadcasting, freelancing, academic research, novels, now self-development books.

My hyperactive brain makes Short Form satisfying — instead of wondering whether a thought might interest anyone, I can plunk it down, offer it, and find out. What a luxury! Reading what other writers plunk down and offer just makes the process conversational.

It’s about more than reading and writing — I love connecting with people, so Medium’s community spirit is irresistible. So thank you all for opening your eyes and minds to my breathing, and for letting me enjoy yours.

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Photo: John Couper

Remember when you started writing?

In 1955 our second-grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor, asked my class to write a story that we’d show to a local writer.

I wrote and drew “Dina Saur and the Triceratops Trio”, inspired by then-popular singer Dinah Shore. I fell in love with writing.

When the visitor came to our class he enthusiastically told me “I really like your story.”

My pride swelled. Then, disaster.

“I know you’ll be an author!” he added.

I was horrified. When I arrived home, dejected, my mother asked about my day.

“Terrible. I’ll NEVER write again!” She asked why, but I wouldn’t say.

After refusing to write for the next month, I finally explained.

“He said if I write, I’ll be an Arthur. My whole class hates Arthur!”

Happy holidays, and please share your own early writing experiences here.

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Photo by Yasin Hoşgör on Unsplash

Can you feel centered and feel control despite COVID’s stress tsunami? Sure— just activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which counterbalances its fight/flight sibling, the sympathetic system.

In just one minute, you’ll create focused calm, linking to any activity.

Here’s how:

1. Get comfy; mentally place yourself in any safe, invigorating location (like a forest or beach). Experience this with ALL your senses. Also, force a smile to intensify the benefits.

2. Inhale twice quickly, then slowly, completely exhale. This “physiological sigh” helps the lungs expel stress-inducing CO2 and increase oxygen. Repeat for at least 40 seconds to reduce your heart rate.

3. Add a desired task to your mental location. E.g. you’re still in the forest, but now writing there.

Do this every day to magically reduce stress, increase serenity in anything you do.

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John Couper

Photo by Will on Unsplash

Writing makes me feel alive and integrated, connecting my inner/reflective and outer/active aspects. In her The Shortform article, “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 5 Rules of Success”, Kristina God (@kristinagod) reminds us that writing is stronger when it draws on all our inner resources, such as resilience, organizing, passion, and support.

Society especially values our neocortex’s shallower, analytical mind. This imbalance blocks anyone’s holistic efforts by encouraging a fussy selfcriticism that shuts down creativity. Instead, undam the stream of consciousness that will flex your imagination and symbolism. How? Cover your computer screen; this lets you write without the distraction of second-guessing. Later, focus separately on analyzing, correcting, and rewriting.

Yeah — writing can be a deeper microcosm of living… if we engage all our complex aspects, as Arnold and Kristina suggest.

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John Couper

John Couper

Retired professor, global traveler, writer, photographer, dreamer, general nuisance.