Using objects, images, or incidents is a great starting point when you have writer's block, or when simply warming up for your writing day. In this Five Part Series, I will introduce you to some of the exercises I use in my classroom and in my own writing practice.
Let's start with OBJECTS.
There are numerous ways I use objects in my writing. For spontaneity in my writing workshops, I have everyone write random objects on pieces of paper and we draw from them for each exercise. You might try this on your own, just keep a little bag full of pieces of paper, each with a different object listed on it. (umbrella, drum, coffee mug, little red pillow, etc.)
Sometimes, when I'm on my own, I simply look around the room and pick something. It doesn't really matter what the object is, it's simply a launching point to get you writing.
The Precious Object Exercise
1) Decide which character you are going to develop / work on for this exercise.
2) Pick a random object, let's say a drum.
3) Imagine that this object is the MOST precious object in the world to your character.
Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. Using the start line below, write (without stopping, without editing) until your timer goes off:
The most precious object in my character's life is her...
The most precious object in Helen's life is her drum. It was the first thing she bought after her divorce. It's cracked from too many moves and she can't play it anyway. She has terrible rhythm. At the time, when Steve left her, she felt she needed a drum. She took her drum to weekly drum circles for 6 months and the sound of the rest of the drummers drowned out her own rhythm. It was like beating something without hurting anything. She needed that, to beat something, but to not cause harm. She was a Buddhist after all...
(If you have the time, you can go into the MIDDLE of this exercise and pull out a line and write for 5-7 more minutes, using that line as a start line. I think doing this THREE times is best. It gets you quite deep into it all)
4) Decide what scene you are going to write.
5) Decide who will be in this scene with your character. (example: Helen's mother and brother)
6) Write your scene, incorporating your object, and starting with this line:
"What are you doing with that?"
"What are you doing with that?" Helen asked her brother Mark.
"What, this thing?" Mark held up the drum, "As if you ever use it."
Helen marched over to Mark and pulled the drum from his fingers. "That's not the point."
"Helen, it's dusty," coughed her Mother, fanning the air as if the drum dust were cigarette smoke. "Why are you keeping that silly thing. You're a grown woman for God's sake."
IF YOU HAVE TIME write the scene a SECOND time, this time giving the start line to one of the OTHER characters. (in my example, Mark or Helen's Mom would have the start line "What are you doing with that?")
Have a great weekend. Write on!
AND A NEW ITEM! If you choose to do any or all of this exercise, post the results on your blog and leave your link here.