Posts Tagged ‘Writing Exercises’

Everyday Objects as Lenses of Creativity

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Did you ever think that the objects all around you could spark your imagination?

Too often, we take for granted the ordinary world and the mundane objects that compose it. So accustomed to them do we become, in fact, that we just about cease to see them! Our eye passes over millions of objects a day but, unless we have a real need, our conscious mind doesn’t notice. Selective perception – or filtering — they call it in psychology. To be a writer, however, we need to broaden our perception, to learn to notice the details. It’s time to wake up; to begin to notice, once again, the objects all around us and what they all mean.  So let’s start simple in this exercise and work up from there.

This writing exercise can be done in five minutes or fifty, depending on how involved you get. You’ll need a computer, or pen and paper for writing, and any object from your home.

Now, sit down with the object in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and hold the object in your hand. If it’s too large to hold, place it before you on a table. Run your fingers over the surface, feeling the texture, temperature… Does it reflect light, absorb heat; have a smell? Close your eyes and let your mind wander. What does the smell, the sound — the feel of it — remind you of? Does it trigger a memory; ignite a thought? Write it down NOW.

EXAMPLE: I’m holding the fine ceramic tea cup, with red roses on the side. The edge is gilded in gold. I imagine it used to have a saucer too, but it got broken somewhere along the line… My mind wanders into a story about an old grandmother who used the cup every afternoon. Grandma would sit in her rocker in the sunny place by the window, looking out at her roses which surrounded the house with glorious fragrance all summer long. It was from this cozy spot that grand-mama dispensed wisdom to all would listen. I used to go every Wednesday and visit, bringing her groceries and mail on my way. As we sat and had tea and cookies (I had milk), she shared with me the stories of her childhood, the depression…how her father would work for a dollar a day, and how excited she and her siblings would get when he came home with a quart of milk and potatoes to eat. Grandma had lived through a lot, and she knew a lot too. A consummate reader, grandma always…

See? That only took me a minute and I’m off and running with a potential story. And so it goes…

Any old object can be an inspiration. Do you have a spatula? How about how you got spanked by grandpa when you were just wee lad? Got a painting? How about the starving artist struggling to make it in the poor village in Mexico? Got a mp3 player? How about a story of a runaway teenager, her only possession the mp3 player her mom got her for Christmas last year? See what I mean. Now, you go and try it.  :-)

Copyright 2008 Ashandra-Aah

Make the Difference - a haiku

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

One strong and noble
One weak in need of helping
Make the difference

Copyright 2004 Ashandra-Aah

Writing Exercise: Poetry from a Hat

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Before a show, some actors make odd sounds or strange faces to loosen up their tongue, throat and facial muscles. Likewise, an athlete may stretch, a singer may run scales. All these are simply ways of relaxing and preparing the body for a time of concentrated, high performance. Likewise, if you want to use your brain to write, it helps to “stretch” your mind it a bit, warming it up for its time of “performance.” Here’s a fun exercise that I enjoy. You can use this to “prime the pump” for a specific writing project, to jump-start your creativity if you feel your writing getting stale or, if you’re new to writing, as a way to get start putting pen to paper. I call this “Poetry in a Hat” because it reminds me of a magician pulling a rabbit from of a hat. I’ve also occasionally called it “poetry on the fly ” because I’m whizzin’ right through it.

What you’ll need

Preparing for this exercise involves a bit of work but, once it’s set up, it’ll be ready anytime you need it. What is required is a basket, bowl, bag, or hat with thousands of words in it. You can buy ready-made strips of paper containing words in some stores or you can cut them out of magazines while you sit around watching TV or other entertainment. It may take you a few days or weeks but, eventually, you’ll have it. If you have kids, try enlisting their help for a family project, teaching them how to use the words afterwards. They’ll love it. Or bribe them with a penny a word, a nice treat, or whatever their particular personalities respond to. At any rate, all you need for this exercise is a deep container and thousands of individual words.

How to use

Just mix up all your words and pull five from the hat. Now write a poem. Don’t think about it — just do it! We’re not going for a masterpiece. We just wanna loosen up. Here’s one I wrote:

Struggling humble
through the bramble
Strong words blow
the ruthless roots.
Prowl the dark side of the island,
cold steel and cypress beams;
Wreckage formed by friendly shatter.

Cavernous implosion
governed by Venus
Floats upon the flying wave
Touch the ruthless
rocky shadow
But ne’er walk
upon the grave!

See? Nothin’ to it. It doesn’t have to make total sense. In fact, you can come up with some interesting word choices when you just allow anything to come and not fight so hard. If I was trying to make sense, I would never have come up with “ruthless roots” or “friendly shatter,” two phrases I find appealing. The main thing is to get yourself playing with words and having fun. Then, before you know it, you’re back in touch with your creativity. :)

Copyright 2008 Ashandra-Aah

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