Monday, January 25, 2010

 

It's time for some exercises!

While interviewing an author recently, she mentioned she had enjoyed Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott so much that she tries to read it each year. That sounded like a wonderful suggestion so, I went to work to find my copy of Lamott's book. Along the way, I found a couple interesting writing books I thought I'd recommend:
One of my favorite books for fiction writing prompts is "What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers" by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. Published in 1990, they released a revised edition in 2009. I like the book mainly because it was one of my first fiction writing exercise books, which I then recommended to my writing students. I've continued to enjoy it because of the approach of the authors as they lead the reader through 83 different exercises ranging from beginnings to mechanics to plot. The book sets out the objective of the exercise and uses examples from either a published writer or from a student. If you are a beginning or an advanced writer, there are element that will keep you busy. Often these exercises seem to serve the author who is writing a story.
Another book that I've started relying on when I feel the need for a fiction exercise is "The 3 A.M. Epiphany" by Brian Kiteley (2005). In Kitely's introduction, he explains that when he uses exercises in his workshops "to derange student stories, find new possibilities, and foster strangeness, irregularity, and non-linearity as much as to encourage revision and cleaning up after yourself." Kitely's 201 exercises guide his students and readers to have a better understanding of why you're writing what you are writing. These exercises--or pairing them up--can be used in the service of a story or not.
Sometimes doing an exercise without having a goal in mind is the best way to release your creativity.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach, who is still looking for her copy of Bird-by-Bird. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

 

Five's the Charm

By Jill Earl

While checking out Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writing blog a couple of days ago, I came across an interesting exercise, which you may have seen out on the blogosphere. Called an exercise in fives, it’s easy and can be used to get your creativity going. I've listed my responses to two of topics that particularly reasonated with me below:

What were you doing five years ago (December 2003)?
1. Working as an employment & training counselor with a county agency providing outplacement services for displaced steel workers
2. Packing for a missions conference in Illinois
3. Experiencing my first Christmas with my first tree.
4. Working as a voice artist, writer and editor for an Internet radio drama
5. Looking forward to holiday vacation time

What are five jobs you've had?
1. See #1 under ‘What were you doing five years ago?’
2. Kennel and bird technician at a pet store
3. Staff writer at a media production company
4. Orientation program assistant at a local university
5. Reading tutor

Five years doesn't seem that long ago, and it really isn't, but I was amazed that I had forgotten some of the things I did back then. And while working at the pet store, I was reminded of the adventures I had with the animals there. Puppies and hamsters and parrots, oh my!

To see the rest of the list, and see how others answered, here's the link to the post:
<http://practicing-writing.blogspot.com/2008/12/tagged-on-tuesday.html#links>

Give it a try. Who knows, you might discover a story or article idea hidden among your memories!

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