Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kat's Eye Writing Warm-Up

Looking for a creative way to exercise your gray matter before butt-in-chair time? Consider the following:

Select one of the items listed below (by the way, I discovered them all during last night's church rummage sale set-up):

1. Cast-iron stove, the perfect size for a doll house.

2. Area 51 sign, complete with warning that deadly force has been authorized for use against trespassers.

3. Off-white antique soup tureen and matching ladle, hand-painted with wildflowers.

4. Old white porch swing, rusty chains included.

After choosing your item, write its story for 10 uninterrupted minutes. Set a timer if you have to. Do not lift pen from paper or fingers from keyboard for the duration of the exercise. (Doing so will encourage your inner editor to second-guess what you've written. )

If you're stuck on how to begin, start the exercise with the sentence: "I remember when..." then insert the item in the opening sentence. If you're looking for a further challenge, write an additional 10 minutes, this time telling the item's story from your MC's perspective. (Even if your MC would never interact with the item on the actual stage of your story, you might be surprised by what you learn by placing it next to him or her during the exercise. I know I was.)

Why 10 minutes? In yoga class, J allows us at least that long to shed ourselves of the outside world before moving into the more rigorous asanas. Each breath, each movement during those beginning minutes brings us deeper inside ourselves, until our cares drop away, and all that matters is entering the pose to the best of our ability, and becoming one with it.

The focus I find during yoga feels very similar to the focus I achieve on good days with my story. Through experience, I've learned that by allowing myself a warm-up, I can ease into the flow of a piece more readily, my inner critic loses its power, and all that matters is the story.

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