Thursday, 3 July 2014

Writing Exercises Help: Who'da thunk?

"I write only when inspiration strikes.  Fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9 o'clock sharp." ~ W. Somerset Maugham

That quote irritates the crap out of me.  I read it and think "Well, bravo and good for you, Dubs!  Let me slow clap while you sashay your butt out of the room."  (I realize that he passed in 1965, but you get the gist.)

We are told that as writers we must write every day, regardless.  And I get it.  You will never play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma or paint like Pablo Picasso, if you don't practice.

Speaking of Picasso, I found an inspirational quote of his, that I feel is more helpful:  Inspiration does exist.  But it must find you working.

Love it.
People who get writer's block are jerks*
*W. Somerset Maugham never said this ... probably
We have all had those moments, where we are writing and then BAM!  Out of nowhere we find that stream of consciousness where we write, and write, and write, and 4 hours later we have thousands of beautiful words.  Sometimes it's only 20 minutes and a few hundred words.  They are gold nuggets just waiting to be polished.

But you are not going to find any gold if you don't first break the ground.  

I don't know about you, but I need a coffee as soon as I get up.  I require a caffeine kick in the pants to get me going for the day.  Same goes with my writing.  If I sit down and wrack my brain, trying to come up with something, and come up with nothing - I go looking for something to inspire me.

Here's another awesome quote that applies here:

You can't wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it.  ~Jack London

In my last post, I mentioned that I had joined an online writer's group, and so far, I'm finding that it is helping me with my writing.  We were given another writing exercise, in which we had to pick one of five possible opening lines, and then write a 500 word short story.

At first I was hesitant.  I don't write short stories - I write novels.  Then the devil on my left shoulder retorted "Actually, you haven't finished anything.  So ...".  Hmmmm.  Ok, fine.

I didn't think that I had anything to say really, but, 30 minutes later I was trying to cut 800 words down to 500.

I had some great feedback from the group.  One of which was the group leader and published author who told me that she hopes I will flesh this out into a longer short story, she liked it that much.  Yay me!  :)

For your reading pleasure, I give to you my short-short story!  I have italicized and underlined what was given as the opening line prompt:


They called it a near miss, but I called it a warning.  The universe fired one hell of a warning shot across my bough, that day.

"A real man provides food, shelter, and stability for their family, son.  That's how you show them you love them.  Bust your ass." my father would say.  My father was pragmatic, not "mushy" like my mother.  He busted his ass at a job that gnarled his fingers and bent his back by the time he was 40.

I had always wanted to be a musician.  To stand on stage, shredding on an electric guitar, reverberating love to thousands of people.  But that's not what a man does.  After high school I got a job like my dad.  And I hated every second of it.

I missed music like a girlfriend who ripped out your heart.  Eventually you start to hate that ex-girlfriend and you convince yourself of all the reasons why you are better off without her.

That was to be my first day as supervisor.  Every step I took closer to work, I felt like a dead man walking.

I thought "What if I just turn around and go home?" And then the usual thoughts pervaded.  "What will your wife say?  What will people say when you quit your steady job?  Do you know how hard it is being a musician?"

As I stepped off the curb, I looked up, and the bus was barrelling towards me.  I lurched back, falling on the sidewalk, throwing my thermos and lunch bag behind me, and I landed, hard.

My heart was pounding out of my chest and up into my eyeballs.  Some of my coworkers came running over, as did the bus driver once the bus was parked.

A near miss they said.  No, not a near miss.  A warning.


I thought that I had been suffering with writer's block or that perhaps my WIP was stupid.  Now I think I just needed a creative kick in the butt to help me get going.  Writing gurus say that creative exercises help.  Who'da thunk that the experts actually know what they are talking about?

I would love if YOU - yes you - would take that first line and write your own short story and post it here in my comment section!  Or, post it on your own blog and let me know.  I would love to read it.

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