We did two writing exercises at VoiceCATCH this morning, covering two extremes: the everyday moments of life, and the bizarre/fantastical.
1. Write about an everyday moment. For inspiration, we read ”Adlestrop” by Edward Thomas, “Noise” by Alexander Long (found in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry), and “Water” by Gary Snyder (found in Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems).
In “Adlestrop,” the narrator describes a brief stop of an express train, noting the willow trees, the hiss of steam from the train, the bare platform, the song of a blackbird. “Noise” depicts two characters and the narrator standing in line. In “Water,” the narrator dips his head and shoulders in a creek and comes face to face with a trout.
What simple moments can you find to write about? Think about your day: waiting for a bus or your commute into work/school, mealtime, the early morning hours, the time just before bed. Robert Pinsky in his discussion of “Adlestrop” (found in Singing School) suggests writing a piece about a name or word.
Bonus exercise: When you’re stuck, try writing six observations about what you can see, hear, smell, etc. around you. For an extended exercise, write six observations a day for a week. Then look back through your journal. Can you connect the details in some way to create a larger piece of writing?
2. Write a piece that pushes reality into the unreal. As an example, we read “The Experiment” by Jeffrey Skinner (found in Salt Water Amnesia, and also Field Guide to Prose Poetry). In “The Experiment,” the narrator places his father in a bear suit, and the father appears to turn into a real bear. What ordinary, or at least possible, scenario can you push into the unreal?