Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Writing Exercise

 For those of us who are lucky enough to experience seasons, fall often tops the favourites list. Although the weather can get turbulent, there are pockets of the perfect day.

It's not brutally hot. It's not cold. You can walk down the street dressed nicely, perhaps with a sweater or jacket, without getting soggy from some kind of torrential wetness, whether it's from rain, sweat, snow, or hail.

Fall can often provide a brief glimpse into perfect weather. Nothing's melting and making a mess. You aren't afraid you're going to break your hip. There's no worry about dying from being too hot or too cold (most of the time). Leaves blow around but are pretty while they do it and aren't that much of a nuisance. Squirrels are funny to watch as they scamper around in a frenzy collecting their nuts. Kids are back in school. You might be back at school. Even for those of us not in school, Labour Day routinely marks the end of fun in the sun times no matter what the climate is doing. The good weather days grow less frequent, and the days grow shorter.

As we hurtle towards Thanksgiving and Halloween, we grasp at the last glimpses of the sun as we enjoy our lunchtime walks, smell the change in crispier air with our layers of clothing increasing, and prepare ourselves for the impending months of darkness, inconvenience, and for many, cabin fever.

Why Do You Write?
You may have become a writer because of cold dark winters with nothing else to do. For those of us of a certain age, we remember the times when the three channels on the TV didn't come in because of a blizzard, and the power went out, and there was nothing to do but read or write by flashlight, candlelight, or fireplace. These days there are many ways to continue to stay connected to entertainment and the outside world, so there is no real "forced" reason to explore different manners of self-expression as we can be engaged 24/7 in other people's imaginations should we so choose.

Engage Your Imagination
This fall as the nights grow long, foggy, and cool, take some time to unplug and explore your writing. Get in touch with your senses, your imagination, and your creation of atmosphere. Try penning a spooky poem or short story with no second-guessing or self-censorship. Give yourself a set amount of time like thirty minutes. That's the only time you have to do this exercise.

Go to parks and graveyards. Sit by the lake or a pond. Watch the sun rise or set, depending on your schedule. Listen to and watch the migrating birds creating their flight patterns for their journeys. See bats and owls fly by in the moonlight. Take pictures of the changing landscape around you as the leaves turn colour and blow away. Take out your pen and notebook.

Breathe in the fall air. Let your imagination run wild. See what kind of poems and stories you can create as you take a few minutes to just play with your creativity. Don't worry about what you're doing. Just let the words flow onto the page and see where they go. Once you're finished your session you're finished. You wrote what you wrote and that's what you wrote.

Keeping little exercises such as this in a journal can help you chart your progress. Noodling thoughts in this manner can sometimes lead to bigger story developments later on when you return to reflect on past entries.

Keep Seasonal Affective Disorder at Bay
Giving yourself little tasks can work well if you're suffering writer's block, depression, or just need a nudge to write. Sometimes we can get too focused in the writing we're working on so giving our imaginations permission to "play" for a half an hour or so can free up creativity.

Fun with Dictionaries
If you need a kick-start, there are other tricks. Close your eyes and open the dictionary. Put your finger on a word. Open your eyes and write down the word. Do this for five words.

Now do the same with your name dictionary for one or two names. Now you have a character or place name.

Write these words in your journal so you that you have them with you when you find your writing spot. Use the words in your exercise. Free associate and see what happens.