Courtney S. Barr

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Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What do you do to climb outside the box?

Just the other day my sister & I were talking about the writing segments I do weekly (Wednesday's Written Word). She asked me how it works, really. I told her exactly what I did that first week that I posted an entry:

We have a bowl, one word for each letter of the Alphabet, Marcus pulls it out and I write. She asked me WHEN was I given the word. Well, to be honest I am given it around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night & my husband gives me 45 minutes to write the entry. It has to be immediate, it cannot be something to stew over & flesh out.

That is not what I am trying to accomplish.

For my readers I am hoping to give them a short story or scene to read for pure entertainment.

For me it is something entirely different.

I created Wednesday's Written Word so that I could have a fun, creative break during my current manuscript. It forces me to react in a creative manner - I don't know what word is coming (in fact I don't know what words are in the bowl, I let Marcus create them all), I have to create on the fly, and I have to write around subject matter that might not be my norm. It pushes me outside my 'creative box'.

When I was in High School my Creative Writing teacher loved to do this. We would walk into class (all 10 of us - small town - told ya) and on the chalkboard he would have a word or a picture or a letter. Our assignment may be to create a singular word - first one that comes to mind or we could be told to write a descriptive paragraph.

My personal favorites were:
1. Describe a grape to a blind man.
2. Explain to a child who has never experienced it, what WIND is.

College brought me a Creative Writing teacher who loved Graphic Novels. She would place a scene from a novel, blown up on her whiteboard. We had to go from there. We could write what lead up to the scene, what happened after the scene, what was going on in the scene or choose an individual element of the scene. This was to get our creative juices flowing. They knew we had other classes, other projects on our minds that might influence our creativity.

These were activities meant to break away from those projects if only for an hour. To relax and just let the words & thoughts come out. No pressure. The only guidelines were time & reaction.

A world was opened the first time I participated. My vocabulary was tested, my descriptive skills reached a level of importance that I had overlooked and my appreciation for the written word became even more deeply seeded. I love doing this. I even catch myself doing it mentally - seeing a word and taking a moment to spell it out, then create a snippet about it.

Be warned though: it can be a distracting technique! Keep your eyes on the road if you do this while driving... ;o)

So what do you do when you need to flake out from your current project but still create? To still feed the hungry writer on the inside?
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  1. Great post! I think blogger is really invaluable for that. When my brain just can't process anything more to do with my current project, I find blogging really helpful to let off steam and create without having to structure!

  2. Great ideas here. I don't think could handle the thinking AND driving though. I'd better stay in bed to do these.

  3. Fun post, Princess! I blog and blog and blog, until I'm motivated to catch up with all my more productive and successful bloggy friends.

  4. Tall - YES! Blogger is definitely one of my favorite escapes *scratch that* my ADDICTIONS! lol It really lets me vent too.

    Betty - yeah if my mind wanders too much while driving...well lets just say the blonde jokes become more than just jokes... ;o)

    Shannon O' - thanks! Honey you are already so productive! your blogging makes me smile always! keep it up! ;o)

  5. I'm with Talli. I've only recently become an addict - I mean member - of blogger, and it is definitely the great escape from structured, plot driven writing. Not to mention, I get to "meet" great people like you all. (Or is that y'all, Southern Princess?)

  6. Writing prompts are fun, and I like it when they're timed. It forces me to think quickly and openly. Have a great weekend!

  7. Wow, I'm impressed. I've always been a chicken when it comes to writing on the fly, especially if it's direction given my someone else. I guess I need sufficient time to mentally stew about what I'm going to write before I actually write.

    Good for you, though. That's awesome.

  8. I love creative activities like this - just wish I had a bit more time :)

  9. Sounds like a great technique! Testing yourself is definitely the way to make you a stronger writer :)

  10. This is a great writing technique! I am a freelance writer and I'm working on a novel set to release in Dec or Jan. To get my creative juices flowing I take a half hour block of my writing time everyday to do journaling. I might be writing about something that's going on in my life. It might end up being a character study. I story idea. You name it, but it gets me motivated for my writing day.

    P.S. I gave you a shoutout on my blog today:

  11. Thank y'all (yes, Wendy, it's y'all ;o) ) for visiting!

    I am always interested in more techniques that will push me to get outside of my comfort zone.

    It definitely forces me to look at not only where I am in the journey of writing but also allows me to experience something new!

    I appreciate each & everyone of you for stopping by the Kingdom!


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