Friday, July 8, 2011

Baggott & Asher Witerly Boot Camp. Day 7.

[If you find yourself here, baffled, lost, disoriented, here's the link to the post that might clarify what you've just stumbled upon -- complete with pic of Louis Gossett Jr. and Richard Gere.] A small note: If you want to share your bits, head on over to the link that I post on Facebook every morning around 9 or 10am. You can decide how much or how little you want to share. You don't have to share ANYthing at all. Not one word. (People have been asking and I had mentioned opening up my comments section but have decided Facebook works just fine.) I'm there at this link.

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.

Neighbors. Craziest neighbor. Saddest neighbor. Kindest neighbor. Angriest neighbor. Neighbors make great characters.

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, TITLES. Open the Table of Contents of an anthology of poetry or fiction. (If you don't have an anthology -- a big fat old anthology of poetry or fiction, you can skip the rest of this exercise and simply go order one. I use 3X33 for short fiction because it's easy for my students to get their hands on. BEST AMERICAN POETRY or BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES or ... ESSAYS are all good. Nortons will be fine, too.) Write the titles of stories or poems that don't exist. 1. look at the syntax of titles -- the gerund phrase, the declarative article-noun, the odd phrase that's more mood than anything, the title in sentence form. Write a few titles in these forms, loosely. Look at the kinds of words that make vivid titles.

If one strikes you, use that title that you've just invented to start a story/poem/essay.
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.

Okay. You're on your own today. Look closely. You can do these three -- without prompts.

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

"I am governed by the pull of a sentence as the pull of a fabric is governed by gravity.” -- Marianne Moore

Let go of your sentences a little.

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.

Remember: If this works for you in some way -- this daily jump start --
and the writing that comes of it startles you in a good way --
then you might want to sign up for THE WRITING REGIMENS at THE SOUTHEAST REVIEW. It's super cheap and very smart and jammed with great resources and pep talks and exercises. Brilliant stuff and a great way to support a literary magazine at the same time.
(They also have contests and post winning works by regimen participants
so a good way to get published.)
If you want to know when the next one is, email