Recently, the fabulous local writing group, Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles, aka CBW-LA, revamped our website. As the publications editor, I am responsible for spearheading a quarterly newsletter (tick tock, tick tock) as well as populating the website with writing prompts. They are a tad more sterile than my twisting and turning writercize set-ups, but the gist is essentially the same. In order to succeed at writing, one must ... write. Anything at all. Even frequent e-mail can hone your skills as long as you don't take too many short-cuts.
When it comes to my work, I spend most of my writing time in my head, composing the outline and constructing a lead, editing fluff, tapping into the voice I want in my piece. That way, when I sit down to write, it pours out rather quickly and with nothing more than a quick edit or two the piece is ready to leave my hands and visit my trustworthy editor. Often, I find the story takes an unexpected turn or two as I clickity-clack on my keyboard, but that just means my subconscious is doing its job of finding the story's flow.
When it comes to my blog, there are days when an entire post has appeared in my mind ahead of time, but oftentimes, especially as it pertains to my sample writercize, what you see is what you get. Raw and unedited. Sometimes a little awkward, but generally, hopefully, worth getting to know.
Today's writercize is sheer instinctual writing. There is absolutely no editing, punctuation, capitalization, thought. It will be messy. But it will speak truth. And that is more important than precise construction, for without a heart, no story will pump life. That is true for every genre, at every age group. A great story speaks to the mind and emotion of your reader.
I borrowed and slightly adapted this writercize from a CBW-LA writing workshop I attended last Spring, and a highly truncated version of this post is available over at the CBW-LA website under writing prompts. (Visible to the public! Only members can comment, but anyone can find great writing prompts, events, challenges, lessons and more.) It calls for a timer and a pencil and paper or a keyboard.
writercize: Before you dive into your current manuscript, put yourself in the right mindset and allow your mind to free fall. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write - without punctuation or capitalization. Coherent and connected thoughts are not even necessary.
This is your time to free write, within some guidelines. Find one theme or topic within your manuscript and use that as your free write title. From there, write any thoughts on the theme or topic. (Do not use this time to relate any free writing to the book or devise an outline.)
If you are stuck even getting to a manuscript, try one of these free writes:
- Want to write for children? Free write about your favorite games and toys to play as a child.
- Want to write for teens? Recall the names of friends, activities you enjoyed, clubs and sports, even mistakes you made.
- Want to write poetry? Pick one element - earth, water, wind, fire.
- Thinking of nonfiction? Free write newsworthy events in the past year.
I love reading your comments and especially your writercize results, so please, drop me a line to let me know if this worked for you! Better yet, share it with the world. :)
Click "read more" for writercizer sample response - all about some of my favorite things to do as a child. So much fun to reminisce and get back to childhood!
writercizer sample response:
topic: growing up - fave toys to play with as a child (full disclosure - this free write is 100% recycled from CBW-LA workshop - thinking green today!)
wooden duck to pull around teddy bear who i swore could drink coffee evidenced by his very brown chin playing school for hours on end with my poor bored sister who just wanted to play with dolls hula hoops basketballs digging in the garden with a shovel with dad searching for potato bugs and ant colonies slugs and other hidden wonders from terra firma kits friends watching sister play in her kitchen books books and more books writing stories first about a bird and its babies painting big sunshines with pipes hanging out of their mouths because thats what distinguished suns ought to do playing chemistry make believe pretending to be on double dare daydreaming about getting the neighbors together to build a massive interconnected lagoon in the backyard cuddling with my cat formosa having tea parties gi joes and tranformers hot wheels at my cousins house to drive around for hours shoe store with sister