Tag Archives: Writing exercise

Creative Juice #230

Creative Juice #230

Twelve tantalizing articles to spark your imagination this weekend.

Creative Juice #219

Creative Juice #219

It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas. I put a new Christmas bedspread and pillow shams on our bed.

  • Awesome photographs of nature’s power.
  • For the musicians and the music teachers: young composers get to hear their works performed by the New York Philharmonic.
  • Beautiful zentangles.
  • Ways to beat writer’s block.
  • For the writers: flabby characters? Put them through some exercises.
  • Have you taken your Christmas card picture yet?
  • Ways to use your books to decorate for Christmas. (I am seriously thinking of turning my TBR pile into a tree. The books are already stacked on the floor…)
  • In case you need to laugh, here’s a story about what to do when your husband says you can’t buy any more towels.
  • Some ingenious Christmas tree tools.
  • We all know what we should be doing in order to live our best lives. Read this to get it all in one place.
  • Interview with illustrator Jim Starr.
  • Christmas movies to stream.

Brain Dump

elements of fiction
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

My plan for today’s post was to give you a list of writing exercises to try. Many years ago, I was president of the local Christian Writers Club, and one of the things I used to do for meeting programs (when we weren’t critiquing) was lead writing exercises.

For inspiration, I looked at my writing prompts page on Pinterest. Then I googled writing exercises and found this wonderful collection of writing exercises from David Mamet that, frankly, is better than anything I would have come up with.  So instead, I’m recommending you read it and try some of the exercises. (Keep scrolling down in the above article. It’s partially an advertisement for MasterClasses. But scrolling for the content will be worth it.) I felt so inspired by the article that I decided I’m going to try these exercises, too. The first suggestion is freewriting, which I used to do regularly many years ago when I worked through Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. So that’s what I did. I’ve included what I wrote yesterday, just in case you’ve never freewritten and you think it might need to be good. (It doesn’t. In some ways, it serves as a brain dump, a way to get rid of the stuff that’s clogging your mind so you can get rid of it and get on to something more creative.) Here goes:

I haven’t written morning pages in a while. It is a good exercise to get your writing muscles going in the morning. The idea is just to keep typing, free writing whatever comes to mind, and don’t edit.

Write as fast as you can and let it flow from your stream of consciousness. Maybe steam of consciousness would be a good term—steam powered, or powered from the steam of your consciousness.

Steam reminds me of fog. I remember one really foggy Sunday morning a few years ago where we started to go to church and then turned around and went home after one mile because the visibility was so low I was afraid we’d get in an accident. We don’t get a lot of fog in Arizona.

It is now fall in Arizona. Yesterday the high was 87; today’s high will be 67. I am wearing jeans today for the first time since maybe March.

Tonight’s low will be 47. That means 6:30 tomorrow morning when I take the dog out in the back yard, I’ll have to put a sweater on him and a bathrobe over my nightie.

Ralph (the dog) shivers at 60 degrees. I don’t.

Too many doctor appointments this week—mostly Greg’s.

My CAT scan appointment got rescheduled because insurance hasn’t given approval yet. I thank God for insurance, but I wish they weren’t so slow.

National Cat Day is coming up. This is the first year in 19 years that we don’t have a cat. I miss them (especially Zoe and Cloud), but not so much that I want another.

There’s not much of anything that I want right now, but I’d like a new stereo system. Do they even make them anymore? I’d love a good quality CD changer and a turntable and a radio receiver. Our components have died, one by one. Thirty-two years old.

Christmas will be different this year. I wonder if we could have the kids all come at different times—one for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner, one for dessert. They may miss being together at the same time—it’s so long since they’ve seen each other. I’ll have to ask.

Three pages used to be what I wrote for morning pages. How did I do that?

Bible study tonight. I’ll have to refill my water bottle beforehand and make sure I’ve got my book and my notebook. Thank God for Zoom.

I wonder who the new associate pastor will be.

I wonder if we will have handbell choir or vocal choir this season.

Covid sucks.

Ducks. Ducks swimming in ponds. Ducks eating white bread. I remember my father taking my kids to the Cow Pond and feeding the ducks, just like we did when we were kids. Good times.

I remember having swimming lessons in the river through Parks and Recreation. I remember the summer I had tennis lessons for 50 cents a week.

I remember my one and only swimming trophy—most improved. I was so proud.

And I broke the trophy by taking it to school with me in my book bag.

Our school had terrazzo floors. They were so pretty.

I never got to have hot lunch at school. Sometimes they had minestrone. It smelled so good. I was so jealous. About ten years ago I found a minestrone recipe and learned how to make it myself. Desire satisfied.

Three pages. Seems impossible. I have a feeling this will be an abbreviated session.

I wonder if it will still be beneficial. I guess it’s good typing practice. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. All the letters of the alphabet. Alphabet soup. Remember alpha bits cereal? How much fun when a word accidentally spelled itself in your bowl.

Spelling bees. So much fun—so much stress. I loved them but rarely won. I was a bad loser.

Bee stings—not fun. I haven’t been stung since I was small, and then only twice. Why never as an adult? We get a lot of bees in our flowers. If I were smaller, it would have bothered me, but not anymore.

Ice cream cones. Soft ice cream. Vanilla/chocolate swirl. (We used to call it “squirrel.”)

I like sugar cones best. And waffle cones.

I remember the first time being asked to the Fireman’s Fair by a boy (and his sister) and him asking me if I could finish a large soft-serve cone. I insisted I could. I couldn’t.

The Fireman’s Fair was a wonderful event. Carnival games, rides, 50/50 drawings.

Do volunteer fire departments still exist? Maybe only in small towns. That’s all I knew wqhen I was growing up. It’s hard for me to leave a typo, but no editing. Although I did correct some others.

Three pages, huh? Maybe not.

I remember when I used to write a lot of words at a time—like over 1000. Now I seldom write more than 500 words a day. I’m already up to 830 now. Yay!

As late as August, there were still people who said the pandemic was a hoax. They’d ask “Do you know anyone who has it?” I think now everyone knows someone who has had it. Or died of it.

I made lots of masks. But I wash and wear the same ones over and over. I have favorite masks.

I can’t believe people are letting their kids trick or treat this year. Last year we only got a couple of trick or treaters. I think I’m going to turn off my porchlight and not answer the door this year.

I remember when I used to sew costunes for my kids.  They I worried about the dark nature of the holiday and downplayed it alrtogether.

I’m making sutpicd mistakes and I hate not correcting them.

I’m going to stop at two pages. I’ve already got 979 words, not bad for stream of consciousness. Or stream of unconsciousness—what would that look like?

More fun than a barrel of monkeys. I had that toy as a kid. That was fun. I liked linking them, making as long a chain of them as I could. I’m stopping now.

Music/Story Exercise


Music is a source of creative inspiration for me. When I taught elementary music, I occasionally passed out drawing paper and crayons and had the students draw a scene suggested by music I played for them.

Some authors make WIP-specific playlists that puts them in the zone as they work on their projects.

Yesterday I tried an experiment. I turned my iTunes on shuffle and hit play, then wrote down the scene I saw in my head as I listened. Here’s what came up:

  1. J.S. Bach, French Suite No.2 in C minor: Sarabande. Played on harpsichord. I imagined Marie Antoinette with her powered up-do swishing around her palace in one of her low-cut, full-skirted gowns.
  2. Peter Davison, Invoking the Warriorfrom Adagio: Music for Tai Chi. An instructor at a gym I used to attend had the best workout music. I fell in love with this piece and asked her what it was so I could buy it. While listening, I imagined a scene from The Last Samuri when Tom Cruise watched the warriors practice and then joined in and got the tar beat out of him.
  3. Muzio Clementi, Sonatina No. 3 in F Major, Op. 38, 1st movement, on piano. I imagined a piano teacher working with a talented young student, demonstrating trills and turns. The student struggles with them, keeps repeating them, and gradually is able to play them smoothly and up to tempo, to the delight of his teacher.
  4. Astor Piazzolla, Libertango. I imagined a scene where the camera alternates between showing the musicians who have a deep rapport really digging into the music, allowing each other to improvise solos, and then showing the dancers who are flirting with one another as they sensuously explore the nuances of the tango.
  5. Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I imagined a young man walking along a shore while winds blew and dark clouds gathered and lightning flashed and finally rain came down in sheets. The man struggled to keep upright against the wind, and finally turned away from the sea and looked for shelter.
  6. Felix Mendelssohn, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture. Though this doesn’t relate to midsummer at all, I imagined a couple in a horse-drawn as snow came down. They sped silently through woods and fields with a sense of urgency.
  7. Simon and Garfunkel, The Sun Is Burning. This doesn’t match the words, but based on the guitar line and the soft voices, I see a little boy digging in a sandbox on a beautiful sunny day.
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4, 3rd movement, rondo. Part of the music sounds martial in nature, and I imagined soldiers marching in a parade. But I didn’t know what to do with my soldiers when the music sounded less military. Making they could just take a break for a minute until the rhythm returns. . .

Any of these little snippets could be the germ of a short story or a novel. Now, someone else listening to this music could envision something entirely different than what I saw, and, of course, that’s wonderful. Inspiration is magic.

Now it’s your turn. Choose any of these pieces of music (or even something not on this list) and describe the scene that plays forth in your imagination. Share with us in the comments below.