Today’s Thursday Quick-Write is courtesy of guest author D. Dina Friedman, whose titles include ESCAPING INTO THE NIGHT and PLAYING DAD’S SONG. Dina grew up in New York City and can be found online at http://ddinafriedman.com/
When I’m stuck, I generally do one of two things:
I thumb through a book of poetry, writing down lines that appeal to me. It’s important not to think, “Oh, I could write a poem about this,” or “This would be a good thing to say about my character.” I try to simply pick lines that intrigue me, and then free-write whatever images they might bring up. Here are two lines that have worked well for me, but if they don’t work for you, feel free to pick your own.
The day is a woman who loves you…
When the wind ended …
A variation of the first-line exercise is to pick a line that can repeat itself and use that as a jumping off point. When you get stuck, come back to the original words, generating a list. Some good lines to start with:
I remember ….
If only ….
I believe in ….
A second thing I tend to do when I’m stuck is look out the window, especially if I’m not at home. “Writing landscapes” helps me hone in on the key details, which are often the small unnoticed things—dust particles in the sunlight, a crumpled leaf, the bird dropping staining a cracked brick step. I try to start by simply describing what I’m seeing, but I let that writing take me to different places. The initial attempt at literal description helps me hone my visual skills and also challenges me to use evocative, sensory language that goes beyond the physical details and helps to convey metaphor and mood.
If your window does not jazz you, you can do the same thing by thumbing through a book of landscape photographs. I highly recommend Earth from Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. You can find many of these images on-line.