Writing Exercise: Two Minutes Out of Control

I am a controlled writer. I have often thought out the words before they hit the page–the first dozen, at least–and they unspool from there in a fairly metered way. I don’t suffer typos (a peeve my smartphone is trying to cure me of through exposure therapy) and I sometimes spend too long deliberating my diction. However, there are times when the writing flows without thinking. These are often the best times. Yes, they might need a bit of editing on the next read and when brought to workshop I have occasionally baffled readers with my oddball phrasing. No, these sentences might not end up in the final draft. But sometimes, whether the words end up working or not, I simply need to turn off my brain and let my fingers fly.

So that’s today’s challenge. Write without thinking. Set a timer for two minutes and simply begin. Don’t go back for typos, if you can help it. Just roll down the hill of your thoughts.

Here’s mine:

Continue reading “Writing Exercise: Two Minutes Out of Control”
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Writing Prompt: Office Supplies

A lot of us write on our computers. A lot of us do so at a desk. A lot of us sit and stare and cannot find a subject for our writing.

So look around you. Find the closest office supply to you. Yes, I mean it–the stapler, the desk lamp, even the keyboard. Me, I’ve got a ruler near my left hand. So this morning, I shall write about a ruler. Putting ten minutes on the clock.

Continue reading “Writing Prompt: Office Supplies”

Writing Challenge: Micro Memoirs

Some of you know I’ve been posting writing prompts on Wednesdays for a while now; sometimes I post whatever I produced from that inspiration, as well. At this point, I’ve posted so many that it seems whatever I come up with is a variation on something we’ve done before.

Now, I present to you what I’ll call writing challenges. Continue reading “Writing Challenge: Micro Memoirs”

Writing Exercise: Write Drunk, Edit Sober

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Do you ever follow Hemingway’s famous advice, “Write drunk, edit sober?”

I’ve never had great luck writing drunk. Alcohol used to make me write these crazy, horrible poems–the kind of stuff you might’ve written in seventh grade–and then email them to an old friend who found them highly amusing.

Only once have I written anything under the influence that I later considered worth editing: a section of a story in which the character had been drinking. It was like method acting. The character had some hilariously twisted thoughts that I don’t know if I could have written sober. Interesting thoughts. Uninhibited thoughts, I suppose.

So maybe it’s worth a try, huh? Let me know if you like it.

Writing Prompt: Laid Up

IMG_20180220_163252.jpgI had a classmate in grad school who became a bit obsessed with the idea that his protagonists should be somehow impaired: injured, disabled, ailing. He was interested in characters who were at war with their own bodies, taking the whole “man vs himself” dilemma to another level.

I didn’t think about it too much then, but since I got my wisdom tooth pulled yesterday, I’m thinking about it now.

Probably the most famous example I can come up with is Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where Jimmy Stewart’s broken leg is the impetus for the whole story. Of course, not all examples are so extreme. In Richard Russo’s novel, Straight Man, the protagonist is struggling with a prostate problem that always seems to act up at the most inconvenient (or for the writer, convenient) times.

So that’s my challenge for you this week: get your character laid up. Make him or her work against his own body.

I hope it’s not too painful.

 

Writing Prompt: Valentine’s Day

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How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

For me, it’s a mixed bag. I mean, it no longer causes the anxiety it once did–I’m married, so no worries about finding a Valentine–but it’s still such a strange holiday. I like the cute cards and hearts and it’s fun to dress up in pink and purple (You should see my outfit today! I’ve got hearts on my leggings). I like having an excuse to eat chocolate with abandon. Continue reading “Writing Prompt: Valentine’s Day”

Writing Prompt: The Horizon

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This is an exercise for those of you who are currently working on a project and might be stuck on plot or character development. I want you to take a character you’ve been with for a while and have them stop, mid-scene, and look at the horizon. It might sound cheesy, and it probably won’t end up staying in your finished work, but what does the horizon evoke for them? Where are they going?