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Posts tagged ‘writing exercises’

If your boss vomits his bad mood on you, note the details in your journal

Today my boss barfed on me his unhappiness at having to come back from vacation. And of course, as my stomach clenched, I couldn’t help but think about what great material I was getting out of the situation.

As writers, we must suffer for our art. As my blood pressure climbed, I watched how his face turned scarlet – noting what was red from the sunburn he’d brought back from his vacation and what was due to his meltdown. Read more

Four ways to cultivate writerly inspiration

A young woman introduced herself to me at a poetry reading recently. “I write poetry, too,” she said. “But only when the inspiration strikes me.”

Ah, youth. I remember saying the same thing when I was younger.

You see, I’d bought into the myth that writers are a temperamental lot who only write when their muse “inspires” them. Fortunately, I’ve grown as an artist and realize now that the best writers are the ones that cultivate their inspiration daily. They discipline themselves to write each day even when they’re tired or don’t feel like writing. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, inspiration becomes a habit.

How can you cultivate inspiration? Read more

Going from panster to plotter

Someone asked me recently if I was a plotter or a panster. In other words, do I outline and plot my stories and poems before writing or fly by the seat of said pants? I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I usually have an idea of where the piece is going and make a few notes along the way, but mostly I just write. And rewrite. And rewrite some more.

But things are changing. Since my next book is fantasy, it will require more planning than my memoir. Also, I don’t want to take as long to write my next book. I’m hoping to shave off a few years. (Yes, seriously, years).

Since I’m in new territory and expanding my comfort zone, I’m using some aids along the way to help me brainstorm, plan, and outline. Read more

Try this practice to get into a subconscious writing groove

Do you ever write something, put it away, find it later, and think, “I wrote that?” I sometimes wonder where some of my sentences came from. I’ve decided it has something to do with getting into a groove and writing from my subconscious.

I ran across some pages like these recently, and I thought of a stream of consciousness writing exercise I learned years ago at a workshop. It’s a good way to create pages of writing from  your subconscious and collect bits and pieces you can use to create poems, inspiration for an essay, or even fodder for a memoir. You can do this writing practice regularly or whenever you’re feeling knocked out of your groove. I’m committing to do it for 12 days just because I want a good collection of material. Read more

Unstick your writing mind

Do you ever feel like you’ve hit the writing wall and you’re not sure what to do? Relax. Read these posts to reveal a strategy that will put you back on track.

Stuck on what to write about? Consider these big ideas

Do you have a deep desire to write but aren’t sure where to start? Find the answer by asking the right questions. Read more

Exercises in memoir: finding your story

We all have a story to tell. Some of us have several. So how do you discover your real story? In memoir, it’s important to sift through the events of your life to discover what’s important.

Below are a few exercises that helped me find the core of my story:

  1. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write 10 sentences that begin with the words, “I remember….” The sentences don’t have to be related, just write, try not to think too much, just let the words flow. When you’re done, read through your list and see if there’s anything that stands out or feels the most honest. Usually, these lines appear later in the list. Read more

What makes a good metaphor?

We’ve all heard them, read them, sometimes written them—those cringe-worthy similes and metaphors that make us wonder what planet the authors came from. Bad metaphors make for good comedy. We get emails with laugh-out-loud examples from student essays, such as:

  • He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
  • She was as easy as the “TV Guide” crossword.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

You get the idea. During my beginning years as a writer, I confess that I too occasionally dipped into the bad-metaphor well. Embarrassing, right? But then I got better. I worked at it. I practiced. When I made the leap from writing poetry to writing stories and books, I made another major discovery about what makes a good metaphor. Read more