All posts tagged: writing exercise

When the Muse is Absent

On those days when the muse doesn’t show up and you feel stumped (again), here’s a technique that will keep the pen moving: List your favorite things, your favorite activities, or your favorite places. In Word Painting, Rebecca McClanahan sites author Larry Brown’s list of things that firemen use in their work: …ladders, axes, forcible entry tools, rappelling gear, ropes, safety belts, breathing apparatus, nozzles, generators, a Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life), flashlights, pike poles, entry saws, bolt cutters, fire extinguishers… After listing things that you love, employ the “I love” technique Brown uses in his book, On Fire. Brown has three pages detailing the things he loves.  Here is a paragraph he wrote using some of the items from the list: “I love to go down on the floor and see the smoke over me, worm my way forward to the fire, the hose hard as a brick, the scuffed rubber on the end of the fog nozzle. I love the two-and-a-half-inch hoses and the big chrome nozzles that no man can hold, the red axes and the pry bars …

Writing from a Different Perspective

Literally writing from a different perspective can add color to our writing, says Jill Jepson: “Writing in a physical position that is unusual for us – and not quite as cozy as our normal posture – can help spur us into a crazy wisdom state.” This crazy wisdom state, Jepson says, can be achieved by writing while standing up if we’re used to working at a desk or table. Or, write while sitting on the floor, At the very extreme, Jepson says you can write while lying down. Eric Maisel suggests taking short writing trips during days when we feel uninspired to write at our desk: “You can choose among your excellent haunts and decide which feels most congenial at the moment. By all means maintain a primary writing place; then add alternates.”  Photo credit:TheBrassGlass via Morguefile

How to Write Crisp, Evocative Descriptions: Regain the Child’s Eye (10)

“Man’s maturity: to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche “I have fierce, perfect muscles that you can see far away. I used to have a perfect mouth till I lied.” “My parents got divorced and my dad got me.” “What’s quieter than the rain Wednesday morning? Silence is the quietest thing that people break.” “Sometimes I feel kinda only.” All of the above were written by children who used to be Rebecca McClanahan’s students. McClanahan points out that, like children,  writers should have a different spin on creativity –  artistic expression should both be playful and highly concentrated. Writers should also be patient: “Like a child who manipulates a doll or a piece of string for the pure sensory pleasure of it, the imaginative writer takes pleasure in the purely descriptive moment, without hurrying the task.” Children, McClanahan observed, were fully engaged in the task at hand. Also, as the children wrote, they frequently changed their viewing perspective: “A child rarely looks at this world straight on. …