Write Your Life: A Metaphor for Being

Write Your LifeWriting is a great way capture, reflect on, and enrich your life. It is even good for your health. And, as someone who has health issues, that is good news.

Write About Your Life

I write about my life for a variety of reasons, to celebrate, to mourn, to dream, to plan, to understand, to pray. Sometimes I do so intentionally, sometimes the words begin to spool out in my mind and I memorize like crazy until I can get my hands on paper and pencil or pen.

A Metaphor for BeingA Metaphor* for Being

Last week I returned to work after being ill for 13 days. I was not well, but I was out of sick leave and I wasn’t contagious. I am a high school writing coach and work one-on-one with students, and I figured, even running a little slow, I could do more for my students than could my sub. So, I went to work last Thursday.

My energy levels were at about .01 on a 0-1,000,000 scale, yet as I moved about the classroom, I felt an urgent need to go faster, even if it made my head ache, even if it made me more tired. My colleagues told me to slow down. I told me to slow down. I just couldn’t seem to do it.

Then, as I was attempting to poke my way along the long hallway, it came to me, “Move like fog.” And in the next instant, my mind took it further yet, saying, “You are fog.” I envisioned how fog slowly rolled in across the San Francisco Bay of my childhood. My pace slowed, my mind stilled, and I moved with the speed appropriate to me physical state! (I even, later that day, was inspired to write a poem about the experience.)

A Metaphor for the Moment

Whether you are struggling to do something or eagerly pursuing a goal, you can craft a metaphor to shape your frame of mind. Then repeat it to yourself when you feel the need for reinforcement.

Your Turn

Please use the comment space below to share a metaphor that would be useful to you today, in your life.

*A metaphor is a comparison that does not use like or said. It simply states the one thing is another.




Play With Your Words: An Autumn Metaphor Poem


The leaves have started turning russet and gold, and teachers and students alike are back in the classroom.

No matter what grade level, literary devices are likely being taught or reviewed. Two key ones include metaphor and the use of sensory details. So, let’s review.


Metaphor is often taught along with simile because both provide a vibrant means for making a comparison. Unlike a simile (which uses the words “like” or “as”), a metaphor compares by stating that one object or idea is actually a different object or idea, thus emphasizing what the two have in common.


Sensory details are descriptive details that can be perceived by the senses–seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. They are evocative, because they appeal to the part of the brain that actually connects to memories of that sensation and therefore make for powerful details in writing.


Using either a 5-circle web (one for each sense) or a 5-column table (one column/sense) brainstorm observations and memories about fall. List them according to which sense is most dominant.

When you have at least three items for each theme (But don’t limit yourself to that amount!) go back and see if any fall into groups that share a similar theme. If you do, you may want to work with that theme or simply select an item from each web/column that you find most appealing.

You are now ready to begin writing your poem.


Line 1 sets up your poem: “Autumn/Fall is…”

Each line, 2-6, will contain a single metaphor for each of the five senses.

For example, one of the things I love about autumn is kicking through drifts of crackling leaves. For me, the real pleasure is the sound, so for my sound detail, I might say, “Crispy crackly leaves.”

Remember, make a metaphor for each of the five senses and make your metaphors as personal, specific, and concrete as possible.

Close the poem with a final thought.

Here is mine:

Autumn is…
Cool mornings,
The rising sun gilding golden trees,
Wood smoke,
Crisp, crackly-crunchy leaves,
Apple cider, hot and sweet,
An invitation
To savor the season
For soon winter’s winds will blow.


When done, look over what you’ve written.

  • Are there some vague words for which you can find more specific replacements?
  • Can you play up the sound effects in your poem? (Note in my example, “crisp” and “crackling” start with a nice, hard, “C” sound.)
  • Can you use repetition for emphasis?
  • Punctuate your poetry like you would a sentence.


When done, share your poem with your family, classmates, or writing friends. Compliment the strengths you see in each others’ creations, their vivid imagery, the poems’ effectiveness at summoning an “autumnal” feeling.

If you are a teacher, consider allowing your students to illustrate their poems and then post (“publish”) them on a bulletin board.

If you are working with a pre-reader/writer, guide your little poet through the same instructions as above, only you do the writing. When you are done, read back what he or she has “written.” Point to the words as you say them to reinforce the one-to-one-correspondence between the written and spoken word. Together use photos, stickers, cut outs, or clip art to illustrate the poem and hang it somewhere it can be enjoyed by all the family.

I would love to savor your autumn metaphors. Please feel free to post your poem as a comment.

Happy Writing!


Summer is—Figuratively Speaking: Play With Your Words Writing Prompt #66


Use the chart below, or create you own to explore ways to describe summer and exercise your skills at using figurative language.

Be sure you:

  • Use sensory imagery. Come up with words or phrases that describe the shape and color of summer, how it sounds, tastes, smells, feels, and what it looks like.
  • Write a simile for summer. Remember a simile is a phrase that uses one thing to explain what another is like—for example: The scotch broom on the hillside is as yellow as pollen. (It’s still allergy season for me. My eyes itch as I type this.)
  • Write a metaphor. Remember a metaphor is a phrase that says one thing is something else it really is not, in order for you to apply that second thing to your understanding of the first. (I apologize for the convoluted sentence! Let’s try an example to show you what I mean—My eyes are leaky faucets. But no, rest assured I’m not crying. It’s just their reaction to all that pollen.


Using the words and phrases, write a paragraph describing summer. Make it a richly detailed paragraph that would assist the reader in “experiencing” your version of summer as they read it. Make it at least five sentences long.


When done, read what you’ve written with your writing partners. Compliment one another on the creativity and the strengths of your descriptive words and phrases. Or, consider sharing it here as a comment. It will probably be the only positive taste of summer I’ll be able to enjoy for at least another week!

Preschool Literacy:


Get out pen or pencil and paper and using the prompts above, ask your preschooler to describe summer—(or even just “today”). Write down everything she says.


Choose an image from the list and cut out a big shape. Transfer your child’s words onto the shape.

Share When you are done, read back what he said, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoke word. Hang this summer reflection somewhere others in the household can enjoy it.

A Summer Metaphor Poem: Play With Your Words Poetry Prompt #14

When I was a kid, Charles Schultz, of Peanuts fame, used to put out little books that were basically a series of metaphors, for example, Happiness is a Warm PuppyA week ago Wednesday, I wrote a post, “Summer is…Writing Conference Season,” and the title reminded me of those little books and that poetry prompt Friday was coming up.

Thus the “Summer is…” metaphor poetry prompt–

Think of as many metaphors for summer as you can. Remember a metaphor is a comparison of one thing to another, stating that one is actually the other, thus emphasizing the things the two have in common. (For example, the Charles Schultz title above, Happiness is a Warm Puppy.) Make your metaphors as personal, specific, and concrete as possible.

When you have a good page of them, go back and see if any fall into groups that share a similar theme—for example the foods of summer: magenta and black speckled watermelon, candy-lope, twisty Red Vines, seared hot dogs with sauerkraut, Sweet 100’s cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine… Mmm! Your grouping may relate to recreational activities, summer clothing, summer movies, or anything else you associate with summer. Choose one of the categories and write a “Summer Is…” poem.

When you are done, share your poem with your writing friends. Compliment the strengths you see in each others’ writing, their vivid imagery, the poems’ effectiveness at summoning a “summer” feeling.

If you are working with a pre-reader, guide your little poet through the  same instructions as above, only you do the writing for your her. When you are done, read back what he has written, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between the written and spoke word. Together use photos, stickers, cut outs, or clip art to illustrate the poem and hang it somewhere it can be enjoyed by all the family.

Here’s mine: Summer is…

Waking up to sunlight
shining through the leaves,
Sipping my mocha, reading
Bathed by the morn’s coolbreeze,
Days that stretch long until nightfall,
Eating ice cream out on the lawn,
Sleeping with the window open
And next to nothing on.

Share your or your little one’s poems as a comment. I would love to savor your visions of summer, and I’m sure others would too.


Play With Your Words Poetry Prompt #10: What Is…? Poems

What is happiness? What is beauty? What is love?

Or, forget feelings. What is red? What is  gold? What is  blue?

Still not inspired? What is a grandpa? What is Oregon? What is milk?

Or, let’s consider some adjectives. What is faithful? What is freezing? What is wobbly?

A What is…? poem can address any topic, and how you describe and define that topic is something that can only be written by you. So, what to do?

Step 1: Web or brainstorm four lists of words, one for each of the following categories: feelings, colors, nouns (that’s people, places or things), and adjectives (words used to describe things). If you wish, create a category of your own that interests you, for example—food. Try to come up with three to five items for each category you are working with. Now, pick a topic, or maybe several, to write a poem about.

Step 2: Focus on the word you have selected for your What is…? poem. Again, list, web, or brainstorm images, activities, similes (comparisons using “like” or “as”), and metaphors (comparison implied by saying one thing is something else). Consider also hyperbole (exaggeration) and sounds (use onomatopoeia—words that sound like what they describe).

Step 3: Select the items from your list that best express your feelings about what your selected topic is and use them to build a poem. There are many types of poems you can build, for example, an acrostic, formal poetry with a set rhythm and rhyme scheme, or free verse.

My What is…? Poem–

What is Yosemite?

Walls and rocks and sheets and slides of it,
Speckled white, arched over by fleecy clouds, blue sky.
The rhythmic swaying of tall trees.
The sound of the river
Rushing, roaring, trickling, laughing.
My heart’s home.

Other topics I’d like to get to? What is blue? What is a perfect day?

Share your topics or completed poems as comments here on the blog, or at the very least with your writing companions. Enjoy.

Working with a preschooler? List for your child topics she would like to write about. List statements he makes about a topic. Put each statement on a separate piece of paper and work with the child to arrange them in the order she would like them to appear. Make a clean copy of the poem and read it to him pointing to each word as you read. Cut out or draw pictures to go with the poem.

P.S. Writing my own poem was fun. I should allow myself some time to play with my prompt more often :-)

Reading Response Exercise #27: Literary Language–Similes and Metaphors

For this week’s reading response, read for at least twenty to thirty minutes with a pen or pencil and paper on hand.

When you come across a simile or metaphor the author has used to help describe something in the text, jot the phrase down.

What are similes and metaphors? They are ways of describing things in the text using the technique of comparisons. Similes are blatant comparisons and use the terms “like” or “as,” and say that something in the text is like something else. Metaphors are like sneaky similes. The major difference being they do not use the words “like” or “as.” Metaphors simply say or imply that something is something else, with the author intending the reader to understand it is like this other thing, not really being this other thing.

When done with your reading, look over the similes and metaphors you’ve collected. Then choose two nouns that relate to your reading (these could be persons, places, things, or ideas) and write a simile for one, and a metaphor for the other.

Share your responses with your reading partners. Maybe even have fun trying to create more similes and metaphors as a group.

Play With Your Words # 20 Expository Prompt

Being able to explain your thoughts and ideas is an important life skill, whether you do so orally or in writing. So here’s an opportunity to share what you think and feel.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Happiness is when you see the rainbow and not the dishes in the soapsuds.”

Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain why? Can you expand on his thinking, perhaps provide a metaphor or examples of your own?

Gather your thoughts and write your response.

When you are done, share your writing, here as a comment or with family or friends. Consider each other’s ideas. Discuss them. And of course, compliment each other on the strengths in your writing.