The other day I was sitting at my favorite coffee house, attempting – and I do mean attempting – to work on my WiP. I have to post weekly for my critique partners and I was feeling a little freaked since I wasn’t ready. Before I sat down to work, I chatted with one of my favorite baristas about writing. Somehow we started talking about the creative writing process and exercises to spark fresh ideas and practice writing skills. Our conversation ended with a promise to find good exercises.
And so I did.
I started with my favorite old writing book, Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg. This book approaches writing with a zen-like discipline. The book is full of writing prompts and exercises that will definitely get your mind working.
Natalie starts off with some rules about writing. I know, I know, some of you guys out there HATE rules…but these are really good ones that extend far beyond writing:
- “Keep your hand moving” – Natalie insists that once you sit down to start writing – keep writing. Look for uninterrupted time and write, write,write – without letting your internal editor get in the way.
- “Lose control” – This one sounds fun, right (see I told you rules aren’t all bad) This refers to writing without editing again – just let it rip and say whatever you need to say.
- “Be specific”– that is, don’t vaguely label – but go in deep. Get underneath the surface label of things and get to the authenticity of the character or thing you are describing
- “Don’t think” – This is not the time to think about how some character is doing something, etc. It is the time to BE that character and write from there. remove the layers of incessant thinking and just write.
- “Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar” – No internal editing…not at this stage
- Feel free to write junk – stop striving for perfection an just write.
- “Go for the jugular” – Don’t go half way with your writing….go 100%. Go deep. And then go even deeper. If it is scary, let it be terrifying. The energy for your writing always lies in the authenticity – so don’t be afraid of the hard stuff.
Okay, now that we are clear on the rules for writing practices, where do we start. For me, I decided that I needed to commit to weekly writing practice. I will post my prompt and the writing I did here on this blog. Starting today.
So, this is my weekend practice. Again, taken from Wild Mind, I am going to do ten-minute writing exercises focusing on the following:
- “I remember…” followed by “I don’t remember…”
- “I thinking of…” followed by “I’m not thinking of…”
- “I know…” followed by “I don’t know…”
I like these because it they get into the crevices of thought – especially the second half of them – the negatives.
Here are additional links for excellent story starters and ideas to get you going. I will be posting some of the results of this little exercise next week.
Story Starter Links:
The Story Starter – This is a great random generator for prompts.
The Write Anything blog posts a new creative writing prompt weekly.
Write a Writing Blog is full of creative story exercises
Do you guys have any others that you like?