Tag: writing exercise

Writing Exercise: Random Word Generator

After spending so long focused on my job and family and not spending much time writing, it is natural to feel like I have entered into unknown territory. There is this familiarity when I sit down but also a lack of confidence. I have to consistently work at having confidence in myself and my writing, even when I was committed to writing every day. When I make time that part is easier, but stepping away for so took a toll. Writing exercises are amazing for bringing forth new perspectives, different ideas, fresh inspiration and when you have fallen out of the habit of consistency, it works wonders to build that confidence level back up.

Today, I am going to do a writing exercise, right now as I am writing this post. I invite you to join me. Go grab 4 random words from this generator.

Ok, got them? Mine are:

Fast, Safari, Crossing, Date

I don’t expect this writing will be good, but anything is a great starting point. Anyways, it’s just for practice, fun and inspiration. I usually write poetry, but you can write anything you feel comfortable with, so let’s get to it.

Look up, the deep vastness beyond the sky,

crossing lovers lie in between the galaxies.

Space and time meeting precisely in this moment

leaving everything else meaningless.

A safari of stars, a light and darkness in each others eyes,

a supernova, bursting ember

a cosmic stir, the universe will forever remember,

and though this moment will not last,

though our time together, much to fast,

nothing ever will equate

to this memory of our first, our only date.

There it is, a short poem including each of my randomly generated words and actually I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s not amazing, but it certainly is not the worst I have written. I enjoy this exercise because although it’s not always successful, it is easy to grab random words and you can do this exercise over and over with different results. You can change the number of words you generate and apply other constraints, like poetry form or use together with a prompt.

Have you guys tried this writing exercise before? Please share your words and what they led you to write in the comments.

Writing Update and Mini-Workshop

Friends! It has been a long time since I have written anything really noteworthy. I became very engrossed with my job and family and while those things are amazing, I’ve said it a million times before, writing is essential for me.

Here I am here bringing you an update as to what I have in the works regarding writings.

I have already talked about my other undertakings; videos, travel, gaming, ect., but what about books, poems, writing workshops? Yes! I am so excited to get back into making writing a focus. I think many writers suffer from a constant ebb and flow of creativity, the struggle to write consistently and the feeling of failure when you do not produce something. Writing is a weird sort of beast. Your accomplishments give you this amazing high and if you don’t reach your own personal goals or you feel it’s “not good enough,” well, the lows are incredibly defeating.

You can feel on top of the world one minute and like a speck of garbage not even worth cleaning up the next. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and it’s not easy.

Now, throw in distractions, family, day job. other hobbies and you have a recipe for procrastination and the procrastination diminishes your self-esteem, you feel like garbage and therefore let the distractions become even more distracting.

This cycle is hard to break and most people won’t break it, or you’ll break it for a little while maybe a year or five years, but its an easy slip and it only takes a little to fall back into the folds of distractions.

That’s OK. Everyone is a work in progress and sometimes we are going to show the kind of discipline it takes to write that novel we’ve had in our head for years. Other times, we are going to eat a try of cookies and say F#$! it! Then, probably feel like shit later and regret it, while eating another 2 cookies and watching Netflix. Guess what, you can still write that novel. You don’t have to be anywhere close to perfect, but you do have to try.

And be honest with yourself. Most people don’t learn to be honest with themselves until, shoot I don’t know if most people ever learn it. I think you start to learn it when you start to learn to love yourself. When you love yourself, you can accept your flaws and failures with grace, understanding and a reasonable sense of betterment.

If you let the distractions get in your way, instead of grumbling about it, succumbing to the idea you are a failure, acknowledge the misstep, try to understand why you acted that way. Are you afraid that if you wrote something, you would hate it? Are you not sure where to start? Did you actually just WANT to watch Netflix instead?

By the way, all of the answers to those questions are okay, no matter what they are, but you have to be honest with yourself. Once you find the real answers, you can focus on real solutions. So you’re afraid? Fair, now research some ways to handle and conquer fear. I’m going to tell you, that answer is exposure, which means you need to sit down and face the blank page. Throw away your pages at first if necessary. BURN them. Do whatever it takes to take the edge off the fear and you will see progress.

Not sure where to start? Again, easiest thing you can do is research. Research some ways to get organized, or ways to create a work space that inspires you. Research prompts, do them daily. Again, you can get there, you will see progress.

Okay, you actually just want to watch Netflix instead. There are probably a few things going on with that one and you need to answer honestly. Are you serious about writing? Yes or no? Is your current lifestyle able to accommodate writing, realistically? If you are working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you have kids, or a family, pets, you need time for self care and as much as you want the self care to be your writing time, writing is work. You have a lot on your plate and you actually just want to watch Netflix instead. You know what? That’s fine too. Being honest and realistic about who you are, what you fill your life with and not feeling ashamed because you cannot realistically fit more into without suffering in other areas is a very important step. You may decide that writing regularly is not for you and you would rather play with your kids at the park and get good sleep than try to cram it in daily. You could choose to devote one day a month to writing, see if it’s something that fulfills you and if it does, eventually, you will want to choose it over Netflix. Or maybe you don’t want to. Again, that’s ok. Being a casual writer is ok.

I know I choose movies, games, my family over writing. I started to choose a job I was not passionate about over writing as well. So, with a lot of planning, I quit, because if I was honest with myself, it was going to take that big of a change to put me in the right space for writing and I want to write.

I have babbled on enough. Here is today’s short exercise:

Be Honest with yourself. Grab a piece of paper, right now, and answer these questions:

  • What do I really want from life?
  • Do I enjoy how I am spending my time?
  • What do I like about my life?
  • What do I like most about myself?
  • What do I like least about myself
  • Am I prepared to change?

Practice honesty, don’t feel bad about the honest answer. If you don’t like the answer, you, and only you, have the power to change it. No one is going to do it for you.

As for what I am writing, I have a children’s book that needs some last edits and illustrations. In fact, a highly rated, cheap drawing tablet just came to my doorstep thanks to Amazon. I am going to finish this up and go test it out. I have never used one before, and I’m sure I am in for some failures, but honestly this is what I want to be doing and illustrating this book will be so worth the failed attempts. I will probably also put on Netflix, just in the background… honestly.

 

 

 

Writing Sound

Today we have an exercise in sound. Now, there are several ways to incorporate sound in your writing; by way of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, etc. In my opinion, I lean towards using similes or metaphors more often than onomatopoeia because I find that onomatopoeia tends seem more childish, the clock goes tick, the horse says neigh, the horn went honk. I think that if you want to use words that mimic their sound, the sentence has to be a bit more complicated. When your sentence is more complicated and uses more educated words, certain onomatopoeic words blend well and add that sound effect the writer is looking for. I still think when I see something like:

Crash! The car skidded into the power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

sounds a little young, simply because of “Crash!” I think the writer’s goal is to surprise the reader and by making a one word sound/action it hooks the reader, but from a readers stand point I think a little bit more subtle hits me harder and grabs me. Instead try:

That’s when they crashed. The car skidded into a power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

It’s a statement and although the reader will take more time allowing the to figure it out before they finish the sentence, it works to build tension.

In other cases onomatopoeia works very well. You could argue that “skidded” from that sentence is onomatopoeic, the skid mimicking the tire vibration when the car slides and in this case it serves the sentence very well. Other not quite so blatant words like “plop”, “giggle”, and “sizzle”, when used well transform the mundane sentence into a well rounded sensory expirience.

But in no sentence does the word “buzz” belong.

Do you know of any instances where an onomatopoeic word worked well, or did not work at all?

Improper Words

Today’s writing exercise is a mind workout. It’s a simple process, that for me really opens my mind to new word choice possibilities.

Here we go:

  • First grab a dictionary.
  • Flip to any page you want.
  • Randomly choose a word from the page.
  • Now, use the word in a sentence, but change the part of speech it normally is to another one. So, if the word is a noun, use it as an adjective, or a preposition.
  • Do any part of speech, but try to maintain a similar meaning or at least a meaning you would expect that word to have in the new form.

Colors are a good example. You hear about a leaf greening, or a face yellowing, what would be oranging?

How about the sun oranging the street?

What about the word corolla – a noun meaning the petals of a flower?

What if a building had no windows on the first floor, but the higher up you looked the more windows there were and the tighter together they were built? What if they seemed to curve together and make up the whole top of the building. Could the windows be corolla windows?

Not only is it a word that evokes specific imagery but the vowels smooth over from one word to another. Corolla windows.

Words are limitless.

I always joke with Justin that my English degree certifies me to change the language at my will.

The truth is (I love this topic, if you can’t tell) language changes by anyone’s will.

Obviously, I think there is importance in the proper way of writing and using the language -proper spelling, grammar and all that, but I think about how fun it is to manipulate the language as well and really-how important it is too. Creatively changing the language to meet the needs of a writer wanting to express a very specific idea makes using words in uncommon ways important, as an exercise of the creative mind and a practice for writers pushing envelopes like e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare.

What are some of your favorite uncommon, improper uses of words?

 

Also, check out a review for my poetry collection by Michelle Proulx! A big thank you goes out to her for reading and letting people know about it.

Some Axel, Some Writing and Some Frosty!

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Today I have a couple things for you.

First off this picture of Axel, he is such a monster.

Second a fun little exercise to get that pen moving!

In stories, many characters have something very particular about them, a signifier. It’s something that reminds the reader who they are or what they do. As I was reading some Stephen King I realized how often he uses these signifiers as character names. “The Yellow Card Man” from
11/22/63 never had a name, he was just always the yellow card man because of the yellow card on his hat. By naming him only with his signifier King accomplishes several things; the reader never has to try to remember who the yellow card man is, the reader gains a very distinct image of the character by one phrase and the author cuts out a lot of descriptive language otherwise used to tell the reader more about the character.

I’m not sure whether it’s the choice of names or the contents of the books, but I always get the “vibe” of the character, and usually it is not nice, but really adds a richness to the text. So, for tonight choose a character and replace their name with a solid signifier.

In my book right now I use the name “red hard hat” for a fireman. The character who sees him is a little boy and he does not initially realize that it is a fireman. Giving the term I add some liveliness to the word choice and still tell the reader what is going on in the story.

I’m excited to use this method as a way to continue bringing life to the characters without paragraphs of detail that would otherwise be lost within words.

Lastly, a tiny rant for the day!

I have yet to use a very awesome free Wendy’s frosty card! Glad it’s free frosties for a year and its only February!

A Poem to Read

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share another poem with you guys. This one is from about 4 or 5 years ago, and although my style has refined and changed in the last few years it holds a lot of similarities to my current trends in writing.

This poem follows an exercise you may be familiar with, known as the cut and paste or the black out. In this exercise you take a couple different forms of writing, things very different from each other (like a garden magazine and news article), for this I chose a Game Informer Magazine and an article about customs in Mexico. After all the editing, I think the article vanished from the poem, but I kept the tie with the article in Game Informer tight. It’s easy for one piece to overshadow the other, but I think what this exercise is supposed to help do is bring together words you wouldn’t naturally think go together and inspire you to use words in unexpected ways. On one level, I do not think this exercise was successful. I did not meld the two writings together in a way that takes the reader away from both and into something new. However, I think the words I have chosen to put together are interesting and create a story of their own. It has bits that I love and bits that I think still do not work well, but I like the rhythm and the energy, the mystery and the journey and I hope you like it too.

Dear GI

From day and back
No checkpoints
The recent forgettable years.
Remember:
the mind is an untold legend.

A player, stunning,
Far to endure the fight.
Determine
your great hunger.
Page your overlooked
Release
The true.

Yet enter the interest,
my decided Wanderer.
The thoughts, though never the same, have us related.

You will climb a vast city,
The darkness receding before you
To see beyond the flesh and bone
Beyond the sickness that ravages within.

A few first falls
and familiarity forms.
You will hone a finer final force.

You will learn
Warned seals blaze madly
And
Worn fields grace you sadly.

Command and
Conquer
Touch Oblivion.

Facing yourself
Trace your memory.
Captivating
Challenging your
Longest Journey.

Of Shadow Hearts and
Phantasy.

Embrace a horrible ending.

For you are:
Landstalker, Wanderer.