Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Writing Life: Thinking Outside the Box
Since I typically do my best writing after a hike in the woods, the weather has cramped my style on several levels. Even if I were lucky, I’m not immune to writer’s block, which is why I keep several books, like Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones on my bookshelf.
One of my favorite exercises is the one Goldberg calls “The Action of a Sentence.” Here are the rules:
1. Fold a sheet of paper in half the long way
2. On the left side of the page, list any ten nouns
3. Turn the paper over to the right column
4. Think of any occupation (teacher, plumber, mechanic, scientist)
5. List fifteen verbs that relate to that occupation
6. Open the page - you will see nouns listed on the left and verbs listed on the right
Now, create sentences using one noun and one verb (you can change the tense) from each column. Here is what I came up with:
Pillows planed the bed sheets until they were flat.
Brochures drilled holes into the desk.
An old shoe chiseled a place for itself on the rack.
A maple leaf hammered at the window.
The idea is not to “make sense” in conventional terms, but to open up creative channels and stimulate new ideas. Try it!
JJ Murphy is a freelance nature writer, photographer, blogging hiker, forager, locavore, and tree-hugger with more than 50 years of eco-centric living experience. Visit www.WriterByNature.com if you need relevant content that captures your personal style and tone.