Monday, August 30, 2010

Random Words

Writers need exercise every bit as much as athletes, but ours is mental exercise. We need to do some of those body exercises, too. Think of what is happening as we sit hour after hour at the computer. It's not a pretty picture.

But back to writing exercises. One that my writersandcritters group offers on a weekly basis is called Random Word. We each take one month to be responsible for sending the exercise word to the group. There are various ways to select the words. Some people open a dictionary, close their eyes and point. Wherever the finger lands, that's the word for the week. Or they might use a novel. Any kind of book. Others choose a theme for the month. They might use words related to a season, a color, an emotion.

There is usually a single word, but occasionally two which go together quite naturally, such as soda fountain.
The writer looks at the word, sets a timer or notes the time, and free writes for a full ten minutes. It can be
pure gibberish, it can be a piece of fiction, it can be a memory. Whatever the word triggers in your mind. Some people start out with a memory and end up with a paragraph of pure fiction. The rule is that the word chosen must be used at least once. Most often, it gets repeated several times.

It's fun to read the various approaches writers take, all using the very same word. Most of us don't read the others until our own is completed. The biggest benefit is that quite often a writer will end up with something that can be the beginning of a story or essay. More than one full submission in our group started out as a Random Word offering.

We've had some pretty interesting words and some extremely ingenious responses. Freewriting is a terrific emotional outlet as has been evidenced in the offerings of our group members.

Try it yourself. Open a book, close your eyes and point. See where your finger lands, then write for a full ten minutes without stopping to think. Let it flow, even if some of what you write makes no sense at all. Do this on a regular basis and you're training your mind in yet another way, and it's also an emotional outlet. Have fun with this exercise. Do it with another writer or by yourself

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