Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writer's Words

"Over the years I have come across several places that offered the ideal conditions in which to work. The room in Montepulciano, for example, with the lovely wooden bed and white sheets, the window gazing out over the Tuscan countryside. the terrace formed by what had once been a little bridge connecting our building to the one next door. Or the house in Lauzun with the room overlooking a field of wheat, facing west so that in the evening, the paper on the desk was bathed red. Or an apartment on rue Popincourt with the floor-to-ceiling window from which you could see right down rue de la Roquette, as far as the Bastille almost. What they all had in common, these ideal places for working, was that I never got any work done in them."

~Geoff Dyer
from How I Write, The Secret Lives of Authors, edited by Dan Crowe

How about you? Have you the "perfect place to work"? Do you get any work done there??

Sunday, October 7, 2007

This Week in Writing-Five Minute Free Writes

Courage and Craft, a new book by Barbara Abercrombie, is chock full of good, practical writing advice and exercises for the writer at any stage. Based on the course of the same name,which she teaches at the Writers' Program-UCLA Extension, the books focus is on "turning your life into story"~molding the events and experiences of your life into meaningful essays, stories, or books.

In the first chapter alone there were at least several positive writing "igniters," as I call them, ideas to get your pen moving across the page. My favorite is the "five minute free write." Take a topic, a sentence, even just one word, set a timer for five minutes and write without not lift the pen from the paper, or your fingers from the keys.

"Don't think," Abercrombie cautions, "you just write whatever comes into your head. If the subject or word you've given yourself to write about stops you dead in your tracks, you write your way out of it by writing about being stopped dead in your tracks. If you stop to erase something, or pause to think, you'll get in your own way. Even if you're writing nonsense or what you're going to have for lunch, you're writing. And writing leads to more writing."

The five minute time frame seems to allow for the most potent bursts of creativity, the wildest unleashing of ideas and emotions, since we feel some sense of pressure to get everything on the page we possibly can.

Write about the room you're sitting in, get down every detail you can. Write about your first time at the beach. Write about falling in love, or out of love. Write about strong coffee or good wine. Write about snow. Write about the thing that most often keeps you from writing!

Set the timer...ready, set...


Abercrombie also co-authors a great blog called Writing Time, with excellent tips and encouragement for writers of all levels. She's currently posting lessons from her class on Courage and Craft.