Saturday, September 13, 2008


Running - and Writing - in a Circle

by LuAnn Schindler

There are days when a situation presents itself and we feel overwhelmed, unsure of what direction to take. We're running in a circle to accomplish the daily to-do list or running around trying to focus on too many things at once.

It's the same way with writing. Sometimes, the words on the page seem like they are in a circular motion, trying to form a connection that simply doesn't exist.

A good exercise I like to use to get the total connection is in the book The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer. It's called the Circle Game.

Write these three lists of words on a piece of paper:
Alabama Banister Carousel Diesel Exorcist
Flatulence Garage Harried Insensitive Jambalaya
Keepsake Lamb Massage Nonsense Oriole

Now, circle one word in each line.

The next step is to create a story incorporating these words. The first line of your work will be:
Sometimes I feel just like a gerbil, running around and around on his wheel.

When you're writing, it's important to make the connection. Circular writing and thinking ties the elements together, allowing readers to follow the path the writer is traveling.

Circular thinking is a good thing, a positive step in linking words, items, people, places together. Use the running around exercise to expand your circle of knowledge.

Exercise reprinted from The Write-Brain Exercise: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer. Copyright 2006.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008


Got Writer's Block? Go Dish!

Ever gone shopping while hungry? You go to the grocery store for a couple of things and end up with a shopping cart filled with chocolate desserts, salty snacks, and a hefty receipt to match. I hate to admit it, but I fall into this trap all the time. But what about when your writing is as empty as your stomach? You stare at the blank page and blinking cursor, and know that you need to fill it with delicious prose; yet, your words fail you. Why not try adding some culinary creativity to your story?

Here’s an excerpt from The Writer’s Block that may just get your fingers tapping:

We pause to eat at least three times a day—and yet so many writers neglect the powerful sense of taste. One of the most memorable chapters in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is simply called “Chowder,” in which Ishmael enjoys a steaming bowl of stew: “It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”

More recently, Laura Esquivel had an international bestseller with Like Water for Chocolate, a novel that includes recipes for Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, Northern-style Chorizo, and Cream Fritters. Each chapter begins with a list of ingredients and notes on preparation, which Esquivel weaves seamlessly into the narrative.

And Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is practically a primer in country cooking; his characters slaughter hogs, churn apple butter, and cook savory chicken stew.

Prompt: Write a story or scene that centers around an extraordinary meal. The food itself can be quite simple—even as simple as a TV dinner—but the meal should have an important and lasting significance to the characters.

Food is a universal language—so, go dish!

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