Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Exercises To Help You Create FICTION not FRICTION

By Bonnie Neubauer, @NeuBon

Part of the How They Do It Series

Every writer gets stuck at some point. Sometimes our writing stalls because we can't figure out a plot point, other times our lives have gotten complicated and it blocks our creative flow. Whatever stops us, we lose our creative momentum and the words fail us. Bonnie Neubauer visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on getting past these sticky moments and jump-starting our writing again.

Bonnie is the author of four writing prompt books: The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded, Take Ten for Writers, 303 Writing Prompts, and The Write-Brain Workbook (original). She is also the creator of Story Spinner, a hand-held and digital tool for generating millions of creative writing exercises. You can try it for free at www.storyspinner.com. On her website, www.bonnieneubauer.com, you will also be able to download more sample pages from her writing books to keep your FRICTION at bay.

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Take it away Bonnie...

This is a picture of a (Isaac) Newton’s Cradle. Sometimes it’s called Newton’s Balls, a name I prefer especially when I use it to illustrate writing practice instead of the physics principles for which it is intended.

When Newton's Balls are sitting on the table, untouched (keep your head out of the anatomy gutter, please), they are said to be at rest. When it comes to writing, the same thing holds true for your hands. When they aren't using your pen or keyboard, they are also at rest.

If you pull back one of Newton's Balls and then let it go, it swings into the second ball which then hits the third ball and on and on. When the energy makes its way to the last ball, it magically swings out and away from the others. This is what momentum looks like. The beauty of momentum is that it will keep going until something stops it.

When you put pen in hand or fingers to keyboard and write, you, too, can stay in motion and build momentum, word by word. ...Until something (or someone, ahem) stops it.

What's so ironic is that the thing that stops momentum is called FRICTION, a word with just one more letter than your intended goal of FICTION.

In the writing world, FRICTION is your inner critic, your judge, perfection paralysis, comparisons to others, fear of the blank page, overwhelm, self-doubt, fear of rejection, fear of success, not knowing the next step... or, in the worst case scenario, writer's block.

But fear not. You have the antidote for FRICTION/writer's block right in your own hands. Literally. That cure is to pick up your pen and do writing exercises or prompts.

The exercises that will help are the ones that have you write on topics about which you have no preconceived expectations or judgments. This is what frees up your mind and hands to write whatever comes to them. By doing prompts, your momentum will return. You will even start to have some fun with your words and hopefully rediscover the joy that started you on this writing path in the first place.

(Important Note: Exercises that reference or include your 'real' writing will not stop your friction; they may even make it worse. Please, please, please steer clear of them.)

After doing a handful of the good type of writing exercises you will be itching to get back to your current writing. And when you do, you will take your momentum and joy with you. You will also be armed with the knowledge that, in your hands at all times, you have the means to beat writer's block FRICTION so that you can continue your FICTION.

As a gift to everyone at FICTION UNIVERSITY, here are two pdf's of exercises that were specifically designed to keep you in FICTION and out of FRICTION. One is from The Write-Brain Workbook, Revised & Expanded (Writer's Digest Books, 2015) and the other is from 303 Writing Prompts (Fall River Press, 2015). I hope you enjoy them.

About The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded: 400 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing

Banish the Blank Page!

You're seated at your desk, fingers poised above the keyboard, ready to write...but the words aren't coming. You're tapped out--or worse, burnt out. The blank page strikes again.

Never fear. If you're battling writer's block, or if you're just looking for ways to flex your creative writing muscles, The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded will ensure that you never have to face another wordless day. Brimming with 400 stimulating writing prompts--including more than 60 exercises new to this edition--you'll create quirky characters, discover fresh twists on classic word games, sample new forms, and generate scores of ideas for poems, short stories, articles, and even novels. Write, scrawl, scribble, and dream on each page--the possibilities for creativity are endless!

The Write-Brain Workbook will help you:
  • Write without the pressure of preconceived expectations.
  • Tailor your unique writing process.
  • Build the momentum of a quick, daily writing practice.
  • Apply the breakthroughs from your daily practice to your "real" writing.
  • Expand how you see yourself as a writer.
  • Experiment with different ways to approach writing.
  • Affirm your commitment to being a writer.

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