So the Rahnd Table writing group has been doing writing exercises lately as a part of our bi-weekly workshop sessions. There’s a lot of us in editing mode, not producing much in the way of new work, so it’s good to get the words flowing again, even if it’s just for a few minutes. We did one a couple weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about since, and I figured if it’s stuck with me this long others out there might find it helpful, too.
The workshopper who brought this exercise in adapted it from one she’d done in a creative writing classroom. It’s a familiar format for anyone who’s done a formal workshop. We all got out paper and pens, and she set a stopwatch for five minutes and got out her list of questions. For each one we had five minutes to freewrite. Simple, right? The key to the exercise, though, is that you’re writing the entire five minutes. Never stopping, pen never leaving the page until time is called.
These are the five questions we free-wrote on during the exercise:
1) Where did you come from, and how did you arrive?
2) What do you know about beginnings?
3) Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?
4) What is the shape of your body?
5) What do you know about endings?
….and you could ask different questions, of course, or more or less, although many more and my hand would’ve started cramping up, so. After we all got done writing, we went around and read our responses to one of the questions (with a round of shots at hand to bolster our confidence). Maybe the more daunting activity for your typical writer, but I think an important part of the exercise. A workshop’s about the sharing of ideas, after all, and we so rarely get to see each others’ rawest words.
We want to try it again with each of us bringing in our own questions. The ones that really got the brainjuice going dipped deeper than the others, forcing access to memory and subconscious. Let us know if you think of any really good ones! We’ll do the same.