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Day in Disguise: A Writing Exercise

13 Apr

Between each sunrise, writers should have written…something.

After a busy day, it’s difficult to swim in your imagination. If you need a help transitioning from the adreline pumping confines of reality into a writer’s groove, forget curious liquids, there’s a writing exercise waiting to assist you.

Remember, writing is the key: you don’t always have to pen a staggering slice of a novel. If you’ve had a full day, use the activities, events, and experiences of the day to your advantage.

Say hello to the “Day in Disguise” writing exercise. Simply recall all of the things you did today but instead of writing them down like any Joe Shmoe (no offense to the Shmoe family), enlist your creative dominance over the letters to remix the day.

For example, “ate grapes” becomes “savored the flavor of juicy spheres after ripping them from their umbilical cord.” Or “watching the movie Sorceror’s Apprentice” becomes “Witnessed a skull faced motorcyclist who could be gone in 60 seconds wait 1,000 years to train a dork who previously scored a girl “out of his league” to be Merlin’s apprentice.”

You can also choose keep it simple by remixing “took a nap” to “visited the dream SPA.”

For each “Day in Disguise,” start from the beginning of your day and simply list all of the things you did or want to remember. Then one by one, until you’re satisfied, in the writing mood, or successfully defeated writer’s block.

In addition, you can use this list to test the power/humor of your writing, while entertaining others.  Bring it to work or school the next day and have your peers try to see through the figurative language and guess what you actually did. Remember, sharing is caring, and there’s nothing better than to easing others into reading your work.

Happy creative listing imaginators!

ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES:

*Can you guess what they are?

  • Gave my teeth a bath.
  • Was attacked by an indoor rain storm.
  • Calmed the waves of the blanket ocean.
  • Fancy footwork accelerated two circles towards my destination.
  • Mowed my facial fields.
  • Avoided the temptation of Ronnie M’s dead cows and feasted on a bowl of green.
  • Co-workers laughed at the color of my refrigerated urine.

Morning Ritual

10 Mar

“Each morning sees some task begun, each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, has earned a night’s repose.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Writing is not a task; it’s a lifestyle. To climb the mountain of success, every imaginator must live the life of a productive writer each and every day. Just as breakfast is empowered as the ‘most important meal of the day,” what better time to swim in the currents of writing than morning?

Over the past few months I’ve developed and am ‘owning’ a morning ritual. It has nothing to do with push-ups, orange juice or tooth paste. Instead, this ritual is all reading, reading about writing. Monday through Friday when I arrive at work, I’ve conditioned myself with 4 tasks. Now keep in mind I have a desk job, meaning I literally (95% of the time) sit at a desk. I’m left to do whatever I desire, and take advantage by stocking my shelf with writer-friendly texts.

The first task is reading the daily entry from Eileen and Jerry Spinelli’s “Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself.” It’s short, simple and provides a motivational sting to start the day. The Spinellis use excerpts from children’s literature providing me with a crash-course in authors, titles, and quotable phrases. While this book was intended for youngsters, with 365 days, it gives me consistency, while instilling patience.

The second task is reading two entries from “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book.” This helpful resource furnishes readers with excerpts from children’s books, explanations by editor Anita Silvey, and comments from ‘famous’ people affected by the excerpted books. To avoid drowning in a sea of quotables, I’m purposefully reading this book slowly.

The third task is much like the latter, and I’m currently absorbing quotes from established children’s authors and illustrators in Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoof’s “The ABCs of Writing for Children.” This is a MUST own for any children’s writer. Though, reader beware. This book is so rich with insightful and inspiring words that if you take too big of a bite, you’ll end up with a toothache. I recommend choosing a section, such as ‘plot,’ ‘rhyme,’ or ‘book signings,’ and digesting its contents when best suited to your current stage of the writing process. For me, I simply choose one section a day and circle the sugary tidbits in pink. Previously, I used this slot in the morning to read “I Wish Someone Had Told Me That,” an e-book  from Children’s Book Insider with advice from a variety of children’s writers.

To complete the saga, I use the 4th task to read a chapter from a middle-grade or early chapter book. Previous selections include P.B. Kerr’s “Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure,” and Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler’s “Hank Zipzer: Niagara Falls, or Does It?” At the moment, I’m playing in Neverland with Peter Pan. I’ve made it a personal goal to read all (most of) the classics. On deck is “Alice and Wonderland,” followed by “The Neverending Story.”

While some may argue that a writer should start their day writing, I do my best work at night. I’m more of a night owl than an early bird and therefore absorb in the morning, and create at night. More importantly, this ritual helps fill a void. Having not read as a child, and while currently living in Japan, I’m left out of children’s book society. But by ritualizing my mornings, each day I take a step towards the center of this joyous community.

Please comment below with some of your ‘writing-esque’ rituals.

Happy ritualizing imaginators!

Animalistic Combutation

30 Aug

If Shakespeare had asked me “What’s in a name?” I would have answered “Black and white stripes, a trunk, and a ROAR!” For within the animal kingdom creative names hibernate. It’s up to us writers to wake them.

First realize that not all names are unique. Harry Potter comes to mind, but it’s HP’s life story and struggle that paints his picture. More so in the case of the supporting cast, a creative licence can help sprinkle life over a character, or set them apart from the crowd.

Since a writer is the creator of his/her world, it’s not just characters he/she must worry about naming. Everything needs a name. Countries, mountains, things and even an electric plunger must be imagined and appropriately placed within the context of the writer’s world. This can be a taxing affair.

I’ve often hesitated leaping from the inner lightbulb to paper simply because I lacked a name for my overweight Asian-American obsessed with adorning colonial fatigues. The writing commenced only when he was nicknamed ‘Cornwallis.’

While looking to history or pop culture can generate a sparkling name or three, there are other methods. Specifically, ‘Animalistic Combutation,’ my makeshift moniker for cutting, combining and mutating animal species names.

With my legs pushed together, my back uncomfortably straight, and Gladys Dillophant snoring on my shoulder, writing saved me during my flight bound for Taiwan. The more pages I wrote, the better I felt. Though after an hour of continuous penning, I needed a filler.

Happening to think of my favorite animal, the ‘hippopotamus,’ I somehow merged it with the ending for its friend the rhinoceros and came up with “Ceros Potamus.” I thought, “What an evil sounding villian!”

I continued to disect species’ names and combined them to form a buffet of creative, yet familiar sounds. Zear, Lugaboon, and Orsetor may have died on journal page 15, but others such as Panger, Peliraffe and Armazelle are biding their time until they are called upon to brand a person, place, or thing.

Get out those wildlife books, flip on Animal Planet, or pay the zoo a visit. Interchange those animals, and wildy name your world!