Currently Browsing: Helpful Exercises

Book of the Year for Writers – The 3AM Epiphany

  There is a man out there, a man I have never met, named Brian Kiteley. He happens to direct the creative writing program at the University of Denver, where the aspiring writer can go to receive the rarely offered PhD in creative writing. Amongst his many other accomplishments, he has written two very inspiring books for the writing student at home. If I were to seriously do each of the exercises in the book, The 3AM Epiphany, I would probably deserve a degree. Well, it would be nice to get some feedback on it, though! I have done some of the exercises in this book, and plan on posting them periodically. The goal: to do them all! Once finished, however, I won’t be done… as he has faithfully provided another book full of exercises: The 4AM Breakthrough. These exercises have it all: An explanation behind the theory of the exercise. In other words: Why do it? Clearly defined word limit Clear instructions with just enough boundary to make me want to push the envelope of creativity. Shall we have a turn with the exercises? Let’s pray to the sleeping baby Muse: Exercises coming...

Phantom of the Pen

-by Lori Moritz Writing tools are important. Consider the tools above: a pen, a pen case, ink, and a Carnival of Venice Mask. Why are these important? The Pen There is nothing like writing by hand. It creates a mental time warp that slows thought down to perfect narrative speed. It buffers the mind enough to imbue language with passion, something I can’t get while typing at ludicrous speed illuminated by nothing but the milky backlight of a computer screen. Writing instruments are personal. I prefer fountain pens that are heavy. I can’t hold a pen like that; I must wield it. Fountain pens glide over the paper and magically make their mark independent from pressure or force. I can write for a long time riding the inertia and momentum of such a pen. The only trick is getting up enough force to start. (ahem) I also love how such pens vibrate in response to the texture of the paper. Point is: the correct writing tool will inspire you. Find the pen, the color, and the notebook! (the only thing missing in my photo…) that you LOVE. And write in it. Write stupid things. Write smart things. Write secrets and write puns. Test out a few until you find a favorite, and then incorporate your pen into your writing routine. Computer work is fine, but every writer needs to write a little by hand. The Pen Case: Simple. A wonderful pen must be protected from would be pen fiddlers. The case is the solution. Ink: The right color and consistency is a key partner to your pen. Not Pictured Here Paper: Make sure you get paper that doesn’t bleed. You should enjoy the texture of it. Try a few in various notebooks. Carnival of Venice Mask: If it makes you feel like part of the Eyes Wide Shut Cast,...

Exercise for Better Writing Ideas

By Lori Moritz This is not about a writing exercise… this is a writing about exercise… the physical kind. I have read it countless times by a countless number of successful writers: You should exercise your body if you want to exercise your mind. Now, I used to shrug this stuff off with an, “ of course!” But that was because I always maintained a strict exercise schedule consisting of running, biking, and weight-lifting… that is, until I had a baby. That sort of threw a wrench in the whole “I’m the healthiest writer in the Universe!!!” mantra. It wasn’t that I had no time to get the sweat on. Instead, I had absolutely no motivation to find out that I had gotten VERY out of shape. So, many months pass with absolutely NO exercise, and guess what… the same amount of months pass with NO writing or fresh writing ideas, either. Why was that? Well, I wasn’t exercising. So, how does exercise help the writing mind? For me, exercise forces me to get deep in thought… it is the only way I can avoid the pain of exertion. While deep in thought, the ideas flow. I can concentrate on character, plot line, dialogue… I find solutions to logical inconsistencies in my storyline… it’s amazing! Recently, I have had a dearth of ideas. Running cured that. It happened this weekend, when I decided to start back on the old routine. I took a four-mile loop around the neighborhood and ran into a patch of bees. In short, I got stung in the chest, back, and the upper left arm. I have an aunt that is deathly allergic to bees. I asked myself the question, “What if I were deathly allergic to bees?” I really could be. It runs in the family. I wondered if I should stop running and...

Eavesdropping and BananaFish….

. J.D. Salinger, God rest his soul, wrote more than just the incredible coming to age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. He wrote many short stories, and many related to a central group of characters. I’m taking a UCLA Extension class called Putting Dialogue to Work. The first assignment requires that we read the Salinger story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Although the story is in the American Realism genre, I LOVED it. I think it is because my grandfather was a WWII veteran, and from him, I came closer to understanding what a veteran might feel while trying to reinstitute himself into society. Here was my assessment of the story: * Muriel comes across as shallow and indifferent. She hadn’t been able to get her call through for 2.5 hours, but when the phone finally rings, she doesn’t bother to rush for it. Her call seems habitual rather than motivated by any sort of conscious desire or need to communicate. She paints her nails while she talks. I inferred that she probably spent more attention on that than the actual conversation. She takes her rings off, probably including her wedding ring, to hang around the hotel room. Despite her mother’s concern, Muriel behaves like any teenage girl. I can envision her rolling her eyes to look at her brain as her mother voices her concerns. Muriel is so far removed from reality that she feel invincible. She has, “It can’t happen to me syndrome.” I was taken by the following dialogue between Muriel and her mother: “When I think of how you waited for that boy all through the war-I mean when you think of all those crazy little wives who–” “Mother,” said the girl, “we’d better hang up. Seymour may come in any minute.” The fact that Muriel cuts her mother off in mid thought here...

Using Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration – A writing exercise that’s worth it!

Alright. Sure. Maybe it sounds strange… of course it does. But Tarot DOES have its uses outside of predicting the future and personal insight. If you find yourself stuck, with no inspiration, in the dreaded state of Writer’s Block, get yourself a tarot deck. Here’s the exercise: If you want, you can light some candles and dim the lights. (LOL) No really. You can. Then… Shuffle the deck. Pick a card. If you are a tarot expert already you can skip the next step. Read the tarot book or look up the meaning of the card on the internet. (You can find the meaning of the cards for free on many websites, but most decks come with explanations.) Apply the aspect of this card to any aspect of your writing you are having troubles with… Character… plot… story idea… you name it… This is rich. Let me illustrate the process with my own experience: I did this tonight (YES TONIGHT!). No candles, but the light was dim. I shuffled my perfectly ordered deck (which my friend Jennifer informed me was a no-no in regards to Tarot. I was embarrassed about it and blamed it on my German blood. No really. I ordered my cards because I was worried I was missing a few. And because I am a little obsessive compulsive, but I digress…) I pulled the Queen of Cups. It turns out that the Queen of Cups is a mother figure. A nurturer. A great wife, a great mother, someone in balance with feminine home structure…. it goes on, and gets deeper, but this is not a Tarot lesson. I sat back and thought about it. An idea formed. What if there was a mother who loved so much, and was so nurturing and full of love, that she smothered all those she cared for. I mean literally...