Sunday, April 18, 2010

WordPlay! WriteNet Week 14

Today is my 60th birthday. One of my friends maintains that at this age, a birthday is just another day. Which is true. What is also true is that I have experienced so many days that my life is now an historical experience. I can say, "I was at the March on Washington in 1963." I can remember where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated. I have vivid memories of watching the television during coverage of both the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters. I love watching Jeopardy and realizing that I can recall an event that occurred before the contestants were born.

While narrative accounts of these and other events are the stuff of "history," personal recollections are used as the building blocks of memoir. Whether an author chooses to label anecdotal writing as memoir or fiction is a personal choice, but all good writing results from the writer's willingness to open a vein and bleed onto the page, as the proverb demands. Whether a specific piece of writing details an actual event or simply draws the emotions from one, the reader should not be able to discern the difference. Put your true emotions into whatever you write!

Weekly Exercises

External Exercises

1. Observation Exercises
Sit in a public place, such as a mall, a restaurant, a bus stop, or a waiting room. Use a notebook to record overheard conversations or physical descriptions of people you see or details about the place. These will come in handy as you create characters and settings for your writing.

2. Reading Report
This is NOT the dreaded book report you detested in school. This is a chance for you to use reading as a laboratory for your own writing. Write down the things about the book that made you excited to turn the page. Likewise, record the parts that turned you off, bored you, or otherwise made you want to stop reading. What character pops up in your thoughts even after you completed the book? What about an author's style makes you want to read everything they have ever written?
3. Literary Journal
Write about ideas that you have for future work. Write about your PROCESS as a writer. What makes it easier for you to write? (time of day, at home or in a public place, hand written or computer keyboard, with music or silence, etc.)
4. Sensory Details Exercise
Choose an event (ANY event from brushing your teeth to a wedding). First describe the event as a photograph (what you can SEE). Then describe the event as a radio program (what you can HEAR). In succession, write about each of the senses separately as they pertain to your chosen event (what you SMELL, TASTE, and TOUCH). Then record all the EMOTIONS associated with the event. Finally, write one piece that integrates information from all the preceding writing.

Weekly Exercises: April 19, 2010

1. Do a cluster exercise on the word "history."
2. Pick an event that was important to you during your childhood. Write about that event as it would have been described by a grandparent.
3. What is your relationship to technology?
4. Start with the phrase, "I never liked..." and keep writing.

There is no wrong way to do it: just WRITE!

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