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Archive for the tag “writing exercises”

Freewriting Your Way Out of Writer’s Block

Momentum is the impetus of a body resulting from its motion. It is a case of motion fostering motion. The worst case of a virtuous cycle. When the object collides with an obstacle, this momentum is lost. Most of us are juggling parallel roles and ambitions. Collision is bound to happen and when it does, the current project loses steam. Getting it up to speed again is such an uphill struggle.

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With writing, the situation gets stickier. It is all in the mind, you see. There are times when thoughts flow beautifully and you feel like the most intelligent person. At others, you have to shove the thoughts forward. We call this the writer’s block. Some scorn this term, saying it is plain laziness. Well, I agree that the only way to get past it is to keep working. But you cannot simply wish it away.

Freewriting is a simple technique to unclog the mind and allow thoughts to flow more freely. It is like a warm up exercise for the mind. Once you force it all out, you may even find precious gems in all the gloop.

I have categorized freewriting in the following ways:

Timed Writing

Using My Favourite Productivity Tool, set aside ten minutes and don’t stop writing till the timer goes off. If you are procrastinating on freewriting itself, this is the perfect way to force yourself to focus. After all, it is just ten minutes.

Themed writing

Choose any theme and freewrite around it. It could be the very theme that is stumping you or something altogether different. The point is to get the brain into gear for writing. It is okay if most of what you have written cannot be used at all.

Mind Dump Writing

If thoughts are whirring around in the head with no coherence, it helps to just get all of them written down. There are no rules. The easiest way to clear a cluttered head is to write everything down.

Self Talk Writing

Self talk writing is like talking to yourself about all that is stumping you right now with the writing project at hand. Maybe the plot of the story is stuck somewhere and you don’t know how to go ahead. There are possibilities, each leading the story on very different paths. You don’t know which one to choose. Pretend you are talking to yourself and discuss all the options. Why something will work. Why it will not. How to make it all come together in the end. A blunt pencil is better than a sharp mind. Better solutions come when the chaos is funneled into words written down.

The key to a good session of freewriting is to not go over what you have written. Turn off the editor in your head. This is for no one else’s eyes. Once thoughts and words have had a good churn, what remains is thoughts that are nicely lined up for you to pick and choose from to create your written piece.

Have you ever felt blocked? What is your prescription for writer’s block?

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The Importance of Writing Voice

A writing voice is just as unique and distinctive as a speaking or singing voice. If you want your reader or audience to be compelled to read/listen, understand and maybe even enjoy what you are saying, you have to exercise and develop your voice. With a deep and unique voice carrying through your writing, you can aspire to gather readers who will want to return to listen to something new you have to tell.

The writing voice is more than language or style. Somewhat like the spoken voice is different from accent or inflection. To free up the voice one has to train it. I find that my blog voice is different from my fiction voice. Like my Sanskrit chanting voice is different from my English country music voice. All singing helps my voice, but to sing better I spend time practising both of these separately. Once a voice is developed we can hope that our writing does not sound phony, hollow or (heaven forbid!) like someone else.

Try as I might, it is not possible to isolate my writing from myself. My writing, fact or fiction, will reflect many aspects of who I am. That thought in itself is quite scary. But bringing out my real self onto paper is a learning experience. I don’t like to destroy even the worst of what I write. I may not share it with anyone, but everything I write transforms me and helps me grow. I am grateful to technology. Can you imagine how cluttered my house would be if I were to retain every scrap of paper I wrote on?

It is also important to understand why I want to write in the first place. All of us want to be understood and appreciated (and paid 🙂 ). But if that is the sole motivation to write, I don’t think it will carry us through the tough times. The primary reason has to be the joy that writing gives. Yes, I want to write well so that people can pat me on the back and say “well done”. There is still time for that.

I haven’t found my voice yet. Just like in the classical singing that I was taught, riyaaz (practice) is key. The more you flow, the more you grow. Holly Lisle’s article gives ten steps you can take to find your writing voice. The writing games are great as exercises to help train your voice. They free up not just the words, but also the heart. When the heart marinates in emotion, it cultures thought. The voice deepens.

Finding my voice would probably be one of the most important things I do for myself as I begin to walk on the writing path. I might be able to fool others by pretending to be someone else. But, I have found that it is never a good idea to try to fool myself.

 

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