Monday, February 27, 2012

A Little Stretching Exercise

As most of you know, I don't believe in writer's block. Daily, crappy writing is the solution to that chimerical dilemma. But if someone thinks he/she is blocked and just wants to limber up, here's something that might work. Billy Collins and others have pointed out how much like a family reunion the thesaurus is and I think they're right.


Let's imagine words like "friend" and "comrade" standing by the big picnic table and saying hello to everyone and that includes "amigo"and "chum" and "buddy," the last one having driven all the way from Topeka for the potato salad.



Here's the drill: Write a simple sentence: "Robert looked at the garage." Then start fooling around with your thesaurus. Try the verb first, probably: "peeked" or "scowled" or ogled." Already I'm more interested. Any of the choices is stronger/weirder than "looked." Now the noun: "silo" or "shed" or "arsenal." Okay, we're getting someplace; if Robert is ogling the arsenal I want to know more about Robert. And perhaps call the authorities.



If you're working with an existing story or poem, this is an almost surefire way to get a little fire started in your brain.



Try it. Let me know if it works. If I don't reply, don't get your feelings hurt. I'm busy writing embarrassingly bad prose.

2 comments:

  1. At last, an exercise I can manage while ogling cattle, comma splices, and random capitalization! and while my brain is the size of a peanut.

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