Stan Went Fishing is a testament to the power of free writing as a tool to wake up in life…to see what is there to see, to deepen relationships with intention, and live with interest, curiosity, and attentiveness.

Nancy Dorrier has created suggestions (below) to help readers keep waking up, using stories from the book as inspiration. May they enrich your life and relationships through your own writing practice!


Suggestions on How to Use Stan Went Fishing to Keep Waking Up

Get a red journal if you can. I like Moleskine (7.5” by 10”, unlined). Not required. I use printer paper or a spiral notebook too.

This practice of free writing is to find out what you have to say, to sort yourself out, to get over the embarrassment of writing and or making speeches and toasts. You have more to say than you know. AND–this is important–you never have to share what you write. This is for you.

Take the first story,

“Write Today,” page five

Write a big goal or dream you have at the top of the page.
Then make a list of all the things you do that distract you from working on the goal.
Spend about three minutes at least, keep your hand moving, just keep listing, tell the truth.

Do this as many times as you want, every day or once a month, once a week.
The more you do this, you will get closer to your goal by telling the truth about the distractions. Ultimately, the distractions will disappear. And the goal will be your focus.

“Staring Off,” page 14

What do you want to do, and what does your partner/spouse want to do? What are the “politics”? Who gets his/her way? Is there trouble? Are you grateful for this difference and what you learn? Write the details. Ask your partner to write the details. Talk about it, if you can. If you can’t quite yet, still write about it and see what you discover. You want to move to gratitude for the difference. (I am not talking about differences of fighting or abuse.) I am talking about differences of what activities you like to share.

“Bless you, Sister,” page 55

Start writing with this “jumpstart” first line. (Jumpstart means to take a line from somewhere else than your head and jump off in your writing from there.)
“I told him that I regularly collect sticks,” and keep writing for three minutes keeping your hand moving. Write from your life, not fiction. Write what collecting sticks evokes and take off from there and see what happens. This doesn’t have to make sense. Set the timer and go.

“Ham Sandwiches and Tea,” page 62 

“Finally making sense to you that this is a place you belong” is your first phrase. Now write for three minutes without stopping.

“Things I Didn’t Know,” page 109

What can you remember finding out about that you didn’t know? What have you always known? Write about someone you have not always known and what you love about them. Start the sentence this way: “I didn’t always know ______ and then…” and write all the magical wonderful things you can think of. I have used this for preparing a toast for a going away party. And another time for getting ready for the holidays, and what did I want to say/write to people? You can do this over and over again for different people or again and again for the same person.