Writing Exercise #21

Questions and Writing

Questions are used throughout the writing process… from decision-making about what we’ll write, through the research and planning stages, the writing, and on to the marketing and promotional stages.

Exercise ~

Make a list of all the ways you use questions in your writing life. Begin by brainstorming, then add to your list as new examples come to mind.

Reshape your list by rearranging items into positions that feel right to you.

Take some time to ponder the list, and the significance of questions to your work.

Write a piece that highlights the usefulness of questions in relation to your writing.

Ask yourself how many questions you asked during this exercise. You may be surprised!

 

This Writing Exercise relates to my Blog ~ Pondering Questions

Writing Exercise #20

First Day At School

Our first day at school is one of the turning points in our lives. This is when we step from full-time parental protection into the world of shared protection from other adults.

These people play a role in shaping the foundations of who we become, and the students who share our first-day experience have the potential to be life-long friends, again influencing our future.

The school our parents choose for us, usually reflects the family background – financial status, belief systems, and so on. The chosen school also makes an impact on where our first step on the long road to independence will take us.

Exercise ~

Brainstorm at random, the things you remember about your first day at school.

Ask yourself questions to help you find more memories to add to your list. Questions like: What school did I attend? Where was it? What did I wear? What do I remember about getting ready? How did I feel? Was I upset or happy to be there? What happened in the first hour? What did I do at lunch-time and play-time? What was my first impression of the playground? How would I describe the room and where I sat? What sounds, odours, colours and textures do I remember? What was the teacher like? What do I remember about the other children? How did I get to and from school?

Write a piece of three hundred words or more, that gives the reader an insight into your first day at school, your experience, and the important things that have stayed with you from that day.

If you don’t remember your first day at school, substitute the first day of preschool, high school, university, first job… and change the questions to appropriate ones for the circumstances you are exploring.

Writing Exercise #19

A New Approach To Childhood Stories

This is a fun exercise that challenges you to re-think stories and ideas that have been dear to you since childhood. With the benefit of life experiences and shifting perspectives, you may be surprised at the tales you create!

Follow the steps below and see where they take you…

>  Make a list of your favourite fairy tales and stories from childhood.

>  Choose one of these narratives and re-write it with a different ending.

>  If you have difficulty changing a beloved tale, try the exercise with a childhood story that left you unsatisfied. This is your chance to turn it into a favourite!

>  Make any necessary adjustments to your new storyline and do a first edit.

Enjoy the journey!

Writing Exercise #18

Drawing On Past Connections

As we traverse the landscape of life, we live out (and outlive) many roles – both personally and professionally. We are children, siblings, sons and daughters, parents, grandparents and sometimes great-grandparents. We are students, teachers, friends, partners, workers, bosses, and so on…

Over the years we pass through many phases – different careers, house moves, living interstate or abroad, a range of much-loved activities – and experience unique highs and lows.

Put simply, even when a person is plodding through what appears to be the most mundane existence, there are abundant writing opportunities. That is not to say that everything we write that is stimulated by events in our lives must be autobiographical. Of course, they could be… but think laterally.

Let’s take as an example a single aspect of one of my career evolutions. In the eighties and nineties, I was in private practice… counselling, groupwork and natural therapies. Part of my work was in the prison system and I could write about my experiences, or I could choose from many other options – a novel, from the point-of-view of a prisoner (or their partner, a child or parent); a movie, with the central theme of a break-out; non-fiction books/articles… the history of prisons (generally, in this country), the effectiveness of the system, the demographics of crime, an examination of prisoners’ rights; the value of therapeutic work in prisons, transition programs, or the experiences of prisoners’ families while they are inside. And this barely scratches the surface of possibilities.

Exercise ~

>  Consider the various stages of your life and brainstorm them onto paper.

>  Choose one stage and ask yourself… What friendships, relationships and other connections would inform my writing if I revisited this period?

> Write a focussing paragraph beginning with ‘When I lived at…’, ‘When I worked at…’, ‘When I used to fly aeroplanes…’, or similar.

> Take a step back in time by looking at old photographs, reading letters you received/wrote during that stage of your life, reconnecting with people you knew back then – via phone, email, Facebook or some other means.

It is likely your creative juices will be rampant by the end of this journey into the past. List any writing possibilities that are pushing for attention, select one and let your fingers dance on the computer keyboard!

 

This Writing Exercise is related to Writing Tip #18, Writing Exercise #16 ~ Journey Into A Photograph, Writing Exercise #17 ~ Take Five Words, Blog ~ Reconnecting and Blog ~ Hidden Stories Lurk In Photograph Albums.

Tip #17

Dig deeper into your photographs for more inspiration.

This Writing Tip is related to Writing Tip #16, Writing Exercise #16~ Journey Into A Photograph, Writing Exercise #17~ Take Five Words, and Blog ~ Hidden Stories Lurk In Photograph Albums.

Writing Exercise #17

Take Five Words

Choose a photograph from your albums or your computer. Any photo will do, because this exercise can be repeated with any snapshot at any time.

Take a close look at the photo, really scrutinise it, ask yourself questions about it, make sure you notice aspects of it that you’ve never realised were there.

Think about the people, the place, the atmosphere, and any stories behind the scene. Absorb the essence of what has been captured, going deeper than the obvious.

Close your eyes and absorb whatever strikes you from this experience.

Come back to the present and write down the first five words that come to you in relation to the photograph. These will be the five most pertinent words in the moment and you may have other words surface at another time, even with the same photograph.

Write a piece that takes you and the reader on a journey through that photograph, utilising the five words you’ve jotted down or their meaning, and any images or emotions that are stimulated by the snapshot.

 

This Writing Exercise is related to Writing Tip #16, Writing Tip #17, Writing Exercise #16~ Journey Into A Photograph, Blog ~ Hidden Stories Lurk In Photograph Albums.

Writing Exercise #16

Journey Into A Photograph

Part A

Select a photograph from your album or your computer gallery… any photo at all. Take a moment to contemplate where it was taken, when and by whom. Are you in the photograph? What is your relationship to it and to whatever or whoever have been captured in the shot?

Use your new experience of this photograph as a jumping off point to write something inspired by it. Let your writing take whatever form it falls into…  poetry, prose, memoir, story, essay…

You won’t necessarily write about the person or people in the photograph… or even the place or the event. Your piece may be about how you came to have the photograph, how you came to be in it (or not), who took the photo, how you felt at the time (if you were there), an essay about the mountain in the background, or anything else that springs to mind. Try not to control the content as you get the story down, and you may be surprised!

Keep writing until you feel satisfied the piece is complete.

Read what you’ve written and do a first edit.

 

Part B

Take a closer look at the image and dig deeper. What else in or about this photograph is word-worthy? How many stories can it tell? What were the circumstances surrounding it?

You might consider the scene from different perspectives. For example, you could imagine it from the Point-Of-View of various people (subjects in the photo, the photographer, passers-by, other people in similar situations…), or in the context of history (yours, your relationship with associated people, the place, the event, fashion, world events, and so on).

Think laterally, and above all else let your in-the-moment experience of the photograph guide you.

If inspiration for a second story strikes you, begin writing straight away and continue until you’re satisfied the piece is complete. Read over it and do a first edit.

If several ideas push forward, brainstorm them onto paper and allow one to present itself for immediate writing. Proceed with this (as above) and put the other ideas aside for later.

 

This exercise relates to Point-Of-View Writing Exercise #11 – Part A and Writing Exercise #11 – Part B.

 

Watch for my coming Blog, which will also focus on the relationship between photographs and writing.