Write Over the Hump: The KISS Principle?

Don’t be afraid to explore what appears to be a simple concept. Sometimes simple isn’t as simple as it seems, especially when your subconscious gets in on the action. Try this one on for size.

Write Over the Hump

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Now write about a green and yellow basket. Start now!

 

What did your green and yellow basket have to say for itself?

Write Over the Hump: Exploring Desires

What we would do if we could reveals a lot about who we are. Heres another self-exploratory prompt to play with.

Write Over the Hump 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Write about what you would find there, what you would do, what you might learn. You have 10 minutes — go!

Where did you go this week?

Write Over the Hump: Characters

Knowing our characters’ favorites helps us get inside their heads. Knowing our own helps us figure out who we are. Either way, this is a fun exercise.

Write Over the Hump

 List: your favorite food, color, song, movie or TV program, book, article of clothing. (Remember, you can do this for one of your characters if you want.) Now write for 10 minutes using all those things in what you write. Start with: “One day I/he/she…”

 

Where did your favorites take you?

Write Over the Hump: Surprise Concepts

Some of the best things happen when we juxtapose things that don’t go together. Surprises can be fun.

Write Over the Hump

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Start with, “It really happened.” Use these words or phrases as part of what you write: red, carnations, anguished hearts, peanut butter. Start writing now.

How did you connect these words into a cohesive whole?

 

Write Over the Hump: Descriptions that Sing

Recap of the “Rules”: Set your timer for 10 minutes. Read the prompt. Start the timer and begin writing. Keep writing no matter what. Don’t stop to think or fix anything. Stop when the timer dings. Beware: Timed writing can be addictive!

Write Over the Hump

Descriptions that sing don’t rely on the obvious. List these words: Cold, flu, cough, fever, chills, shakes, pain, ache, tired, breathe, stuffy, nose, drip, throat, lungs. Now set the timer for 10 minutes and write about being sick with a bad cold or the flu — without using any of those words listed above. Ready? Set… Start the timer and write!

 

What “song” did you write today?

Write Over The Hump: Outside the Box

Welcome to Write Over The Hump!

I’ve learned, though teaching my “What If? Writing Group” classes**, that timed writing exercises are a great way to bypass the conscious mind and enter fully into the subconscious. Timed writing shuts off the inner editor who sits there saying, “That’s a stupid idea; don’t use such a ridiculous word; who ever said you could write, anyway?” And it gets us deep down where our stories reside, enabling us to bring them into the light of day. We can surprise ourselves with what comes out in timed writing: ideas that contain the seeds of brilliance; words and phrases that lift descriptions into the sublime; and pieces of writing that amaze our readers (and ourselves) and often form the basis of fantastic stories we never would have thought of on our own.

Every Wednesday, I’m going to post a timed writing exercise for you to have fun with. There are no rules other than to set your timer for 10 minutes, start writing and keep writing, no matter where your thoughts take you. Don’t stop to “fix” words, phrases or ideas. Don’t stop to consider alternatives. If you don’t know what to write, write about not knowing what to write about until the timer dings. It may take a few weeks to become comfortable with this way of writing, but eventually you’ll find it second nature to read the prompt, start the timer and just write. Without planning. Without editing. Without conscious thought. Just pour those words onto paper, virtual or otherwise.

Some of the exercises will resonate with you. Some may not. But it’s important to do them as they are, because they are structured to enhance specific skills. Here’s a tip: I use the pictures from Tarot cards and Power Decks in my classes to help students who like or need a visual jog to their creative centers. The exercise provides the direction, the picture on the card provides the spark that ignites the imagination. Feel free to use any type of artwork/photographs in conjunction with the exercises, if you’d like.

You’ll be amazed at how fast your 10 minutes speed by. And you’ll probably be amazed at how much you will eventually be able to get done in only 10 minutes. Sometimes it will be impossible to stop after only 10 minutes, but try to discipline yourself to do so. And if you’re used to timed writing, or want a really challenging challenge, give yourself only 5 minutes for each prompt.

The “you” in these prompts can be yourself, a character in one of your stories, or a character you make up just for the exercise. The interpretation of the exercises is up to you. Use them as the basis of a scene in one of your stories, let them stand on their own as flash fiction, or let them become something new to work on. Or any combination. Each exercise has a specific aim, be it stretching your imagination, developing characters, defining settings, adding depth to your writing, working with point of view, etc. While you are having fun writing, you will also be learning or enhancing skills that will make whatever you write even better.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that these timed writing exercises will help you:

  • Access your subconscious mind where your best ideas reside
  • Shut off the annoying inner editor that makes you second-guess yourself
  • Allow words to simply flow onto the paper without interruption
  • Focus and stay focused
  • Move in directions that your conscious mind would never consider
  • See connections that are invisible to the conscious mind
  • Sharpen the skills needed to lift your writing to the next level
  • Juxtapose opposing ideas into new concepts
  • Make the best use of your writing time
  • Add depth to your characters and stories

So join me every Wednesday for “Write Over the Hump” and gift yourself with 10 minutes of extra-special, creative writing time. And let me know what happens! I’d love to see what you’re coming up with each week.

**The “What If? Writing Group” classes and exercises are based on my *****Write It Right: Exercises to Unlock the Writer in Everyone***** series, available on Amazon Kindle. See my Publications Page for further information.

Write Over the Hump

This week, let’s think outside the proverbial box: Look around the room and pick out three pieces of furniture. Use those three pieces in your writing, but not as they are intended to be used. Set your timer for 10 minutes and begin to write – now!

 

Let me know how you used your three pieces of furniture.

Death, Life and Writing

It’s been an interesting year, starting last October, when I almost died from pneumonia, heart problems and pulmonary blood clots. While it’s been both an interesting and scary experience, it’s also been a blessing. Mainly because all the tests showed a problem that I still would not know about, and that would have mega-serious consequences in the future. Now it’s (almost) a thing of the past… just one more simple treatment and then some more healing time. And I’ll be fully back in the saddle.

But all this physical stuff has certainly put a crimp in my writing agenda. Which is why my poor little blog here hasn’t been updated in a while. But I’m revamping, simplifying, and actually making it lots better. So I just wanted to give you a teaser today… what you can look forward to.

Think increased writing skills. Think accessing your inner truth. Think a lot of fun in a small amount of time. Think Hump Day…

Yes, that’s right. I’ll be launching the revamped version of Woman of 1,000 Words (with a new sub-category of its own) this Wednesday, and posting every Wednesday – rain or shine, health not withstanding. My aim is to get your creative juices flowing, help you hone your skills and have a great time doing it. Curious? Intrigued? Be sure to check back on Wednesday. Every Wednesday. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Blog and Photos

My photo blog is up and running again. Hooray! If you’d like to contribute a photo to see what I do with it, feel free to send one along, along with whatever attribution and link you want me to use. I love to see what other people choose to photograph, and their artist’s eye gets my creative juices flowing.

Now, it seems the more things stay the same they more they change… or something like that. No sooner had I posted about the problems with media and links with WordPress, than somehow the media part got fixed. For me, at least. I know others are still having problems. Or maybe I just haven’t upgraded to the new version yet. Who can remember stuff like that? I’m still not sure if links work or not because I used my own photo this time.

Then I discovered that my new photo blog post didn’t automatically post to Facebook and Twitter like they did in the past. No, wait – now there is a new way to work with posting links to Facebook and Twitter. Social Broadcasting. Lets you post to other sites in your lineup, or keep them posted only to your blog. This is light-speed progress, in my opnion. Who stays up at night dreaming up these changes? May I suggest: get a life, please, and give us techno-dummies time to catch up!

I do, however, nominate them for the 100-yard dash in the Olympics. These light-speed progressions would win hands down. And I’m still here, huffing and puffing in the rear. I just hope there are still some hot dogs left by the time I reach the finish line.

What? You moved it? Again? Arrrrrgh!

Danger From Above

Here’s a photo I snapped one dark night, when clouds boiled across the sky and the moon snuck into corners of shadow, hiding from its own light.

Moon beams

What I see here is a UFO approaching Earth, ready to do—what? Destroy all life and take control of the planet? Or perhaps they, whoever they are, come in peace. Maybe those rays will induce joy and harmony throughout all the world.

But it could be a natural phenomenon, a huge asteroid heading on a collision course with Terra. If so, what then are those rays? Where does the light come from? Could this asteroid (or space rock) be inhabited?

It could be a planet in a faraway galaxy, one that owns its own internal light that radiates out into the universe. What kind of creatures would inhabit such a world? What would their lives be like, their hopes and dreams? It could even be a dying sun, it’s fire diminishing from the center out while on its edge one small hot spot fights to live. Or a birthing sun, it’s hard dark crusted shell breaking apart as exultant life bursts from within.

Or maybe it’s a dark chariot, the vehicle of anti-light that bears the Lord of Darkness to us. Or the hand of God, returning to Earth once again.

Amazing what happens when you take your iPad into the night, photograph the moon in Photo Booth’s “Light Tunnel” mode, and then enhance the colors. What do you see in this eerie, spine-tingling picture?

Happy writing!

Susan

I Recommend: Roxanne Britton by Shirley S. Allen, a delightful historical novel about settling the West during and after the Civil War. It’s wonderfully plotted, expertly written and filled with fascinating detail and nail0biting suspense. Find it at the Kindle store. You’ll be glad you did.

Of Farm Fields and Writers Block

The latest update of WordPress has caused two major problems. Until some extra code is placed in the proper config file (whatever that is), I can’t post any photos. And they don’t seem to be in a great hurry to fix the problem, either. Not the world’s best news for a blog that is based on photos, is it? Especially since I’m a self-styled techno-dummy and don’t even understand what I’m talking about here.

They also left out the code that lets one post links to other sites. The photo problem is fixable if you’re a computer whiz, but so far no one seems to an answer to the link problem. We’ll have to do it the old way: copy and paste into a new window in our browser instead of executing a simple mouse click. Sigh…

So, until I can con my computer guru son (who’s still working off in trade the ten grand he drank in orange juice while growing up) into inserting tab “Code A” into slot “Config B” so I can at least get back to photos, I’m stuck with only words. Oh, what a tragedy for a writer.  ; )

But today, while I was driving into town to meet a friend, I had a thought that doesn’t necessarily need a photo (though an illustrative one would be nice…). I was driving down a long, lovely country lane. Newly plowed fields of dark, rich earth stretched out on both sides of the road. The deep mahogany soil made the leaves of both trees and bushes glow. The air shimmered with a clean, refreshing light. These fields had lain fallow yesterday, covered with an unruly mob of drab, dissonant weeds. Today those weeds had been plowed under to enrich the moist chocolate soil that now lay ready to accept seed and nourish fledgling plants into the joy of maturity.

And I thought: Writer’s block. Not that ephemeral kind that lasts a mere day or two, but the long-term, four month/six month/twelve month or longer period of devastating desert dryness. That writer’s block, I thought, is like a fallow field, a dull blank expanse that lies inert, capturing the detritus of thought and dream and experience. In the fullness of time our imagination plows under what seems useless. Inspiration then waters the newly plowed field. Then the seed of plot and situation, or perhaps character, is winnowed from the chaff and planted in the deep rich soil to be nourished by plowed-under scraps of life until a new story sprouts, grows and comes into fruition.

Writers are not machines that can work on and on, never resting. Without a fallow period, the genius of writing cannot sprout, for it has no nourishment on which to feed.

So how can a writer survive the dry desert of writer’s block?

Don’t fear it. Never fear it. Fear is what keeps the block strong and arid. Fear is what stops the plowing under. Instead, celebrate writer’s block when it arrives, as it will for all of us at least once in our writing life. Use the fallow time to live, to love, to experience. Soon it will all be plowed under, giving nourishment to another round of the genius of creation: stories richer and more compelling than any you’ve crafted before.