Friday, July 1, 2011

Baggott & Asher Boot Camp. Day 1.

[If you find yourself here, baffled, lost, disoriented,
the link to the post that might clarify
what you've just stumbled upon
complete with pic of Louis Gossett Jr.
and Richard Gere.]

Exercises 1-4 will be used in exercise 6.

1. Memory Exercise. This is designed to guide you (goad you) into mucking around where the important, psychologically resonant stuff is stored.

Today, jot 3 memories of water and 2 of birds.

2. Eavesdropping Exercise. This exercise is ALWAYS the same, every day. Give me 3 things you've overheard. Start a good writerly habit.

This is designed to help get you in the mode of listening and NOTING what you hear. Because some of you do these exercises in the morning (I'm all for freshest brain cells and PAYING YOURSELF FIRST), you might have to do this part of the exercise the day before. Pay attention to things you overhear or bits of conversation or snippets from radio or TV with no other context (an easy way to play catch-up) or the stories people tell or facts they spout off ... Remember cell phones are walking confessionals -- writerly GOLD. Listen to everything. Suffer (some) fools gladly. Trust me on this.

3. Reading as a writer. I'll be mixing this up from day to day, with some repeats.

Today, open a book on your shelf, open randomly to a page. Pick out three concrete words. (Cement, palm, scissors, blue -- not abstract happy, angry, argumentative.) Write them down.

4. Image Exercise. This one is also the same every day -- more or less -- and hopefully habit-forming. Jot 3 images. Look at something closely. Notice something. Pay attention.

Today, one of those three should be a gesture that someone makes when they're speaking.

5. The Quote. Everyday I will provide a quote and either a little rant on it or an exercise paired with it.

Today, "When there is no wind, row." It's an old proverb. I mention it here because I'm not interested in inspiration. Inspiration fills our sails just often enough to create the desire for its return, deeply. You can't rely on it. It's fickle as hell. So, you learn how to row, day in and day out. When there is wind, keep rowing; cut across that body of words with elegant efficiency. The wind will carry you, but if you row daily, you'll also have to have the stamina -- when it does arrive -- to stay with it, let it carry you.

6. Quilting Exercise. This will always be the same but the parts will change daily.

Pick and choose from the things you've jotted so far -- those disparate elements -- and use them to create something. But don't force it too hard. Have some faith in the resonance of these things in and of themselves. These elements have all been dredged to the surface. They're bobbing in your brain. Start writing something even if you don't know what it is. Let these things bounce in and out. Work. Row.