A couple of days ago my husband and I were visiting Montreal’s Botanical Gardens with friends from the UK. As the sun went down, it quickly got cold so we took the ‘short cut’ through the greenhouses to warm up with the tropical plants. After a long, very pleasant walk through the greenhouses, we finally came to the last one which was filled with pumpkins decorated by school kids and a witch sitting knitting outside her house.
She was chatting away to herself, and to anyone passing by. Her nose was long and hooked, her voice high pitched, her laugh squeaky and very contagious through the little microphone. She stroked her oversize cat and Continue reading →
Feel like it’s time for a change in your writing? Looking for portals that might lead you to different kinds of stories or different styles of writing from your usual? Try this exercise!
The exercise has two parts. The first – how to write this exercise – comes courtesy of Montréal poet Blossom Thom*, the second – the prompt – is from me.
You will need plenty of paper (I’d suggest good sized paper, not an itsy-bitsy notebook), and a pen or pencil.
But first, a warm up to power up both sides of the brain!
Clasp your hands in front of you. Note which thumb is on top. Open your hands and clasp them again, this time with the other thumb on top. Clasp and re-clasp your hands, alternating thumbs on top, as fast as you can.
Now do the same hand clasping exercise behind your back! Faster!
In life we constantly shift between different ways of experiencing the world – between inner and outer lives, between doing and thinking, dreaming, remembering, talking, between being (in one’s body) and interacting with people, things. We shift between emotions, between judging, enjoying and complaining, between sensing and moving.
Forcing a character to experience similar rapid shifts disrupts linear thinking, often producing Continue reading →
A change of environment can often work wonders in helping stimulate new ideas, new inspiration, new ways of seeing oneself and the world. New stories too. Perhaps it’s because a strange place makes one hyper-sensitive to new sights, sounds, impressions… That’s why Continue reading →
I’ve not had a productive summer writing-wise. All sorts of humdrum interruptions cropped up, to say nothing of those sunny summery days that simply couldn’t be spent inside (and I’ve always had trouble writing outside!).
But as the first red leaves warn of fall around the corner, my agenda warns me of upcoming visits through September, October and November. So I better get going and get something written before my guests arrive or I’ll be a surly, resentful hostess.
I’m one of those people who work best with a schedule. I’ve always worked from home (except when actually in a school gym or dance studio) so I’ve been easily available. It took a long time to persuade people that there were now certain hours I was ‘out to lunch’. I had to train myself to let the phone go on ringing (argh, but suppose it’s….).
I need to get back to my writing. To help me focus even more, I’ve decided to turn off my email during my writing hours. August seems the perfect month to do this as anyone with any sense will be beside the ocean or a pool or hiking a trail in some lonesome backcountry, far from electronic communications.
Even so, it’s hard. The first few days I couldn’t resist peeking. I’m getting better though and today I’m committing myself to NO peeking during my writing time. At all. Whatsoever. Even if I have a blank moment and am stumped with my writing. Especially if I have a blank moment.
So just one last check now, and then I’ll close my emails down. I will.
I love being beside water. Before going to the ocean, lake, river, pond or stream, I imagine myself sitting on the beach or bank, writing page after page after page, diving at last beneath the surface of the story I’ve been working on, discovering at last its deep secret, or maybe getting caught up into the flow of a new story.
The truth is, I rarely write a word when I’m near water. I just sit, and look.
But that’s OK. Sometimes that’s exactly what a writer needs to do…sit and watch water.
Shadows II by Jaume Plensa MMBA on loan from Georges Marciano
Nothing perks up a piece of prose – and a writer – more than playing around with sentence structures.
A fun exercise I especially enjoy is to take a sentence that feels totally alien and try to write my own sentence in exactly that same style. Why? To surprise myself. To kick myself out of my same old same old ho-hum sentence habits. To discover new rhythms.