Susan G. Wooldridge conducts writing workshops privately, through Poets & Writers, Inc., and with the California Poets in the Schools program. She is also the author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words. In this frolicsome work, Wooldridge calls upon her creativity to help carry her through the death of her father, the grieving of her mother, the end of a long marriage, and the breakup of a subsequent romance. Here is one of the first things she did:

"I decided to make a small collage box each day for a year with what I found on my walks — often the most ordinary, seemingly worthless bits of nothing. That's when fool's gold became foolsgold for me, a field around us, or state of being, where everything can be transformed by our seeing and creativity. Merged into one word, foolsgold describes a paradox, the value in what may seem to be worthless. Foolsgold reminds us to look beyond appearances, even in ourselves. What seems to loom in us most darkly may finally be what brings the most light. Everything can be transmuted by attention, play, love."

Here's some advice and a few practices to help you draw out your innate creativity:

• Quit saying no to yourself when the need to express yourself in a spontaneous and wild way.

• Speak to your heart now and then and see what wise counsel it has for you.

• "Our bodies — especially our knees — hold some of the same receptor cells that alert animals to earthquakes and other shifts in nature." Pay attention to signs in your body of things to come.

• "Try walking backward. A friend of mine walks backward up hills near his home. (The Chinese believe this is one secret to longevity.)"

• "I consult my journal as if it were an oracle, an entity, a water hole, an oasis where the answers bubble forth when I hold it in my hands and gather myself together on its smooth white paper."

• "Write several lines beginning with the words I wonder. Are there some closed-off areas in your life that might be opened with these words? Play with the words I wonder in your business, your daily life, and your writing."

• Take your blunders, mistakes, breakdowns, and wrong-turns as chances to revision and renew your spiritual journey.

• Japanese sages tell us to play at everything in life, even death.

• "Emulate Winnie the Pooh, who often felt 'a hum' coming on. Put a few words to the hum. Sing it when you're driving or walking."