Exercise One: “Find the seventh book from your bookshelf. Open it to page seven, and take the seventh line on that page to begin a poem. Limit the length to seven lines.”
Seemed simple enough. I did cheat a bit, as the bookshelf closest to me had mostly things like style guides, grammar books, and a dictionary, but I did spot The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore on there (tenth book in). I cracked it open. My line: “Wow, this was convenient.” What the heck was I supposed to do with that?
My resulting poem:
“Wow, this was convenient”
said Mr. Moore
not reflecting the
of it all.
Not bad, right? Maybe there was something to this writing exercise thing. I moved on.
Exercise Two: “Describe a first: your first kiss, your first kitten . . . all will make excellent stories.”
My first kiss? Isn’t that kind of personal? And won’t that make some readers—my mother, my sister-in-law, my husband—kind of uncomfortable reading it? However, I did need to get my creative juices amped up. I gave it my best shot.
My first kiss was at summer camp. I was thirteen, and M.B. was an older man (fourteen). When he winked at me and leaned in, I was unprepared. I jerked back, throwing his aim off, and he wound up planting a sloppy buss on my chin. He laughed, I cringed, and he leaned in again . . .
Pookie. My first kitten was a white cat named Pookie.
Exercise Three: “Start a paragraph with ‘I remember . . .’ and let your memories dictate what you write.
Finally! My creative muses were speaking a little louder now. This was an exercise I could get on board with.
I remember when I was feeling creatively drained. I had no new ideas, and in desperation, I Googled “Writing Exercises.” The result? A debacle in which I was reminded of three important things:
1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. I, for instance, am no poet.
2. Know your audience. I’m really uncomfortable telling the world about my first kiss.
3. Know your pets. Whatever happened to Pookie, anyway? Did I forget to feed her?
Overall, I’m not feeling any more inspired than I was before I started. But it did remind me of the one thing that does help stoke my creative fires: reading. And I had a copy of The Stupidest Angel just waiting to be cracked.
In the words of Christopher Moore, this was convenient.
This week from The Storyside:
“Terrible Writing Advice I’ve Received” by Stacey Longo (hey, that’s me!)
“From Idea to Printed Page, Part 2”: getting your book written and published, by Ursula Wong