Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Creative Writing - An Exercise

I went to a small and intimate writer's workshop on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Instead of listening to lectures about how to write (plot, style, publishing etc.) we were given actual writing exercises.

One exercise in particular seems to be "write" up my alley. I am not a person who needs to practice ways to discover ideas. I have too many as it is, which can be and is a distraction to actually writing. So this exercise works for me because it is like priming the pump. It's like squeezing a tube of toothpaste that's maybe gotten a little old and hard. If you squeeze hard enough a sudden splarg comes out of the tube, usually far more than you need. This exercise, for me, is like that. And what I like best is that it doesn't cause new ideas for stories to pop into my head. Rather it causes me to think about writing sentences and describing things in a new way. Also, it's very short and doesn't take any time.

It is a mere three line process and turns into a kind of very short poem.

Line 1: Take an abstraction + a verb + a place
Line 2: Describe what the abstraction is wearing
Line 3: Summarize the action.

Now of course, because I am sometimes a bit slow, I had to be reminded about what the heck an abstraction is. Once reminded I got excited.

Abstractions include: love, hate, fear, delight, joy, hope, prudence, anger, glee, reason, happiness, thought, virtue...the list is looooong.

And here are my first three attempts to give you an idea of what you can do with an abstraction.

Anger roars across the rooftop
in a tattered tux
and leaps off the edge in despair.

Reason viewed herself in a mirror.
As she admired her stilettos and lace
the mirror broke piercing her with a million shards

Friendship breathes through aching rooms
wearing the fragrance of contentment
and washes the air clean with her passing.

My goal is to collect 365 abstractions, or other words I can use in this manner, and write one a day.

I think this exercise could also be cathartic, depending on the word picked and ones state of mind. They can also be wonderfully humorous.

I hope someone else finds this as fun as I do.


  1. What a great idea for a daily exercise - I'll try it. I don't know how you went about it, but it might be fun to choose the verb for line 1 randomly.
    I really enjoyed what you wrote - especially the first one.

  2. I love this, and for just the same reasons you do. As soon as I read your description of this, I wanted to try it, so here goes:

    Self pity wore her shapeless, tattered grey sweater with the raveling sleeves. She rubbed her red-rimmed eyes with her knuckles and sighed herself into a cloud.

    I am definitely going to work on these!

  3. I love this exercise! So here's my first stab...and you'll know exactly where it's coming from.

    Grief, born under a tree,
    Was clothed in bright blue freedom.
    Death, as life, screams dreams unrealized.

  4. Adrienne, the verb idea is interesting.

    Yahoo Mary and Erva to trying it out. I'm making my list of words and have just under 200. It's the first time I've been truly excited about a writing exercise in a long time.

  5. This is so great! I love it, it is so poetic. I love your examples, too .Thanks for sharing, Bish!

  6. It's always nice to try new things to help get the writing juices flowing.

  7. Wow, the workshop exercises we got were like "...think of a childhood experience and write 400 words about it. Use details."

    This is so much better!

  8. Very cool and unusual exercise. I like it!

  9. Thanks Kelly!

    Kim, It's WAY nice to try new things.

    Anne, there were a couple of other exercise too, which were good, but cause me to have MORE ideas (which I don't need.) One was to write down a dream you remember having in present perfect (which I had to be reminded about: You walked into the room and you picked up the dead mouse your cat dragged in....)This exercise makes you change perspective.
    The other exercise was, using a prop, (any prop, a shell, the smell of coffee in the morning, a flower, a rooster crowing, the feel of velvet) write a first person monolog in which the person describes an important memory the prop brings to mind. The exercise was called a confession. It doesn't need to be long, a paragraph or so.

    Glad you liked Angela!


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