First of all, I have to tell you that you are amazing. I’m away at BEA in New York this week but came back to my hotel room late Monday night and read your posts and your commitments to make writing time, and I’m so, so excited. (I might have teared up a little, too. Collectively, the 700+ of you are a serious inspiration!) I’ll be commenting more later in the week, but for now, I just wanted to say to all of you….well…wow. Well done walking that walk.
So…let’s get on with Day Two, shall we? On Tuesdays & Thursdays during Teachers Write! Virtual Summer Writing Camp, I’ll be sharing quick-write prompts, designed to get you free-writing for a few minutes in response to a question or idea. These can be used as a simple free-write, brainstorming, warm-up activity OR as a way to deepen your thinking about a work-in-progress. Got your keyboard or pencil ready?
Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place. If you’re just free-writing, it can be a place that you love, or have visited, or a place that frightens you.
This is one of my favorite places (which also happens to frighten me sometimes), the Florida Everglades.
Anyplace is fine. If you want to relate this to your work-in-progress, choose a very specific setting within the piece and imagine yourself there.
When your two minutes are up, stop writing.
Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now. I’ll wait….
If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:
- Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
- Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.” You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
- Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
- Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better? More vivid? This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!
Feel free to share your final paragraph in the comments if you’d like! I’m busy at BEA in New York through tonight but will check in to read from the airport if I can, and you can cheer one another on, too!