Creative Writing – Week 11 – The Extra Mile

In her book, “The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing,” I enjoyed her interviews with many authors, including Wil Haygood, who writes his ass off! I’d been loving his Washington Post articles for years, and when I read his biography of Sammy Davis Jr., for a literary contest I was judging, I fell in love with the jazzy rhythms of his writing.

 

M.G.: What has your writing career given you?

 

WH: Writing has been my attempt to unravel some of the hardships of my past life. My mother was an alcoholic, my father was separated from my mother a month after I was born, divorced, you know, family members in prison, family members who were on and off drugs, all my life, you know? So, I came with a whole lot of turmoil in my stomach, a lot of pain, because there was always a lot of drama around. A writer can be a kind of inward-looking psychiatrist, almost, trying to go back, trying to assess the damage, trying to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Explore your reasons for writing. In 10 minutes – or more – finish this sentence, “I write…”

Creative Writing – Week 9

“I had a notebook. You could buy little things from the canteen, and I bought a notebook and started writing things down. Prison ain’t exactly the best place to be telling somebody your deepest feelings, talking about your pain. So, I was writing stuff down. And I realized that it made me feel better, whatever I said, whether it was a paragraph or a page….”

 

(Award-winning author Nathan McCall tells award-winning author and master writing teacher Marita Golden in her book, “The Word”)

 

Do you have a writing routine? If so, for how long have you had it and what benefits have you gained from it? Is it time to rev. up your writing, take it to the next level? I’ve been journaling more than 15 years and this year I happened upon the book, “Creative Journaling,” which is helping me “monetize” this habit. It’s giving me ways to use this journaling habit to improve my craft and discover great stories – cha-ching!

Creative Writing – Week 8

Choose one of the five prompts and write to your heart’s content – but no less then 15 minutes. If you can make time in the evening or on the weekend, give yourself an hour or two to explore this prompt on paper.

 

1)   I give most of my time to….

2)   A letter to someone no longer in your life…

3)   The values I have chosen to live by…

4)   If I dared to say what I really think….

5)   The talent I would develop if I had half a chance is…

Creative Writing – Week 7

Go to your local library before the weekend is gone and check out a book about writing or the writing life. This assignment is two-fold. It gives you a reason to support your local library staying in the business of warehousing books and keeping them available; and it engages you in the book world – in a way.

Go and check out ay book about writing or the writing life.

Creative Writing Workshop – Week Six

Write about your worst habit. Twenty-minutes non-stop. Put it down. Plan to return to this assignment tomorrow for 20 more minutes. End this assignment by completing the sentence, “Now that I realize how (disgusting/or harmless) this habit is, I can…..”

Creative Writing – Week 5

No break for the holiday. I read in Walter Mosley’s book, “Finish Your Novel This Year,” that he writes every single day – weekends and holidays are no exception. So, here’s something for you to think about this week – and something for you to do.

Ethan Canin enrolled in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the age of 22 and felt so “utterly paralyzed” by the experience that he barely completed two short stories in two years. After finishing the program, he enrolled in Harvard Medical School, where the stories began pouring out of him. While dealing with the brutal workloads that cause many medical students to drop out, Canin completed the ten stories in his first book, “Emperor of the Air,” which won a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. That success was followed by two novels, “Blue River” and “For Kings and Planets,” as well as a book of novellas.

 

“I’ve always set assignments for myself,” Canin told The Atlantic Monthly, according to the book, “Writer’s Block,” by Jason Rekulak. “The assignment for the story ‘Emperor of the Air,’ for example, was to write a story in which an unlikable character becomes likable by the end of the story. For ‘Accountant’, it was to write a story in which a pair of socks takes on large emotional importance.”

 

Jason Rulak suggests tackling one of these assignments yourself.

Creative Writing – Week 4

Consider what are your optimal conditions for writing well. Consider this from Legendary Author Toni Morrison: “I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are at their best creatively. They need to ask themselves, ‘What does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence? Is there chaos outside or is there serenity outside? What do I need in order to release my imagination?”

 

If you suffer from writer’s block, ask these questions of yourself: Where do you write well? During what time of the day are you most creative? Then adjust your surroundings in a way that best suits your imagination.

 

(from the book, “Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump Start Your Imagination”)

Creative Writing – Week 3

Have fun. Take out a couple sheets of paper – or go to your computer – and do this: Trace a five dollar bill through five the lives of five different owners.

What was exchanged in the transaction? How much – or how little – did each transaction mean to the owner involved? Give yourself only 15 minutes for this exercise. It’s just for fun.

If the bill doesn’t make it through five people in 15 minutes, that’s fine. If you had fun with this you’re a success! (from the book: “The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump Start Your Imagination” by Jason Rekulak)

Creative Writing – Week 2

Free associations and our five senses. Try this: wherever you are, something will have a distinctive smell. If not, stick your head out the window, close your eyes and take a whiff, open your refrigerator, or take a trip to a nearby coffee shop. What memories, thoughts, beliefs do the smells conjure for you? If you smell a foul body odor, for instance, you may remember your minister or Grandma saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness!” Someone’s perfume may remind you of a favorite person or a memorable experience. The smell of incense, for instance, always harkens me back to my Muslim upbringing.

1)   What do you smell?

2)   What does it remind you of or make you think about?

3)   Is it a good or bad smell? Why

4)   Ramble on about this smell and see what stories – philosophies or insights – emerge.

5)   Before you finish this exercise complete this sentence: “The most surprising association of all was…”

Of course, you may do this exercise using any one of your five senses. What did it sound like? What memory did the sound (song?) generate? Have fun with this.

 

(From the book “Creative Journal Writing” by Stephanie Dowrick)

Creative Writing – Week 1

Wingtip Wednesdays – Tips for My Writing Friends

For the next ten weeks, I will share writing tips and inspiration I have thoroughly enjoyed the past two years. I worked on researching the publishing business and learning about the writing life. Here are things you can do to 1) establish a fun, daily writing routine (for pleasure, profit or both; 2) hone your craft; 3) develop literary products if that is your goal.

Choose one of the five writing prompts. Write for 20 minutes, none-stop. It’s ok if you get off-subject. Delight in where this writing takes you. Rejoice that you did it. Twenty-minutes non-stop. Go!

 

1)   My life as a five-year-old…

2)   I have everything I need…

3)   People expect me to…

4)   I give the impression that…

5)   I am sorry about…

 

Enjoy more writing tips at www.stephaniedowrick.com.