Sunday, October 16, 2016

A crookedly fun creative writing exercise

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
-Mother Goose

It is time for the fun of a creative writing exercise! It will be a timed writing. A timed writing is an exercise that will loosen you up so that you can enjoy feeling creative and using your imagination. Many of us, when we are given a writing project, freeze up. We become afraid that we won't make sense or that the quality of our writing will not be good. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fears and concerns cause the editor part of the brain to go into overdrive. The editor part, in fact, turns into a mean critic that says, "That's not good enough. Why are you writing that drivel?" Who wants to hear that kind of self-talk? It's easier just to say, "I can't write" or "I have no imagination" or "I really don't have anything to say."

That, however, is not true. If you can talk, you can write. If you can tell a story, you can write a story.

It's time to tell the mean critic that lives inside our heads, "Oh, put a sock in it."

The timed writing exercise does just that. The goal of the timed writing exercise is to write nonstop for fifteen minutes. Let your imagination fly. Don't worry about anything. It doesn't matter if the spelling or the grammar are off (that, I admit is hard for me). Your writing doesn't even have to make sense. 

Today's writing exercise will be based on a Mother Goose rhyme. You will use the first sentence of the rhyme as the first sentence of your creative writing exercise. After you type or write that, set a timer for fifteen minutes and just compose, nonstop. Write whatever pops in your head. 

So...
here goes...
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile. His clothing,  it was old and not at all in style. 

The man walked and walked and walked until he had walked ten crooked miles, which was like walking only one crooked mile because he kept walking in circles and wondering why he saw the same scene over and over and over again.

Well, that's an interesting concept because I remember, when I was a kid, that my dad once drove a crooked mile or ten or 350 miles. We had gone to New York City to visit the grandparents and my dad was driving. Apparently, he didn't know New York City as well as he claimed to. He kept driving in circles. He drove past Yankee Stadium three times. After the first time, the reaction was, "oh Yankee Stadium," that's interesting. After the second time, the reaction was, "hmm, that looks familiar. have we been there before?" After the third time, it was the same response that you would get from having lived the movie "Groundhog Day." This is deja vu all over again. Of course that is redundant. Deja vu all over again and again and again. Endlessly repetitive.

But I digress. Or maybe I don't digress. It is all about walking a crooked mile when you are a crooked man. Maybe I am a crooked woman. I walk and walk and walk and... yep. I almost got stuck in an infinite loop and this is definitely turning into stream of consciousness writing, which is amazing because when I purposely try to do stream of consciousness, it doesn't work. It doesn't make sense. Oh. But wait. This doesn't have to make sense because it is supposed to be free writing. I don't care if I make sense or not. This is like stretching before running. You don't start running without a warm up. It is always good to get that nice stretch in. It makes running feel better.

So anyway, back to crooked men running crooked miles. Actually, that does make sense. I have walked many miles and, sometimes, the miles are not in a straight line as the crow flies. Sometimes, it is necessary to take twists and turns because, like walking, life is all about twists and turns. There is a saying that life is what happens when you are busily making plans. I don't know if I believe that or not. But it could be true. Writers like to talk about twists and turns because that's what makes the story or the novel more entertaining and suspenseful. People like entertainment and suspense. I suspect that creative writing is a good thing for that. Just use your imagination and enjoy. What am I saying? Oh yeah, twists and turns. It's like... you think that you know who the killer in the murder mystery. You're ready to point the finger at that no-good who killed the sweet old lady, who actually wasn't a sweet old lady but you don't know that yet. You are clueless because the sweet old lady puts on a good show of making you think that she is sweet.

Well, it is hard to fake sweet when you are not sweet.

What else can I say? I am running out of words so I will go back to the idea of a crooked man living in his crooked house with the little crooked mouse who ate a piece of little crooked cheese. Which brings me to another point. What kind of little crooked cheese did the little crooked man and the little crooked mouse like? Cheddar? Provolone? Swiss? Gryure? Is that spelled right? Or some other type of cheese? Maybe goat cheese? I'm getting myself pretty excited about having cheese and so...

The thing about this kind of writing is that you can write whatever pops into your head. You don't have to think or worry or experience any other negative emotions when you write. All that you need to do is to create something in fifteen minutes. It doesn't have to be good. It doesn't even have to make sense. It just has to come from you.

This is like the warmup in a workout. Once you've got your limbs or your writing juices warmed up, write away! Maybe your internal editor will be kinder after this experience.

7 comments:

Martha DeMeo said...

There was a crooked lady, that her back is out and she can't move! LOL That's the best I can do, half setting up.

Alice Gerard said...

Poor crooked lady. She needs to visit the crooked chiropractor, lolol!

Jean said...

There was a crooked Alice who walked a crooked mile
To work in someone's garden, and do it up in style.
She pulled the crooked weeds and trimmed the crooked bush.
She planted crooked bulb while sitting on her tush.
The garden was no longer crooked, but quite straight,
And Alice and the garden owner set another date.

Alana said...

There was a crooked woman, who walked her crooked mile. She passed historic site after historic site, and dreamed about all the kinds of cheese she would eat after she weeded her garden. She walked and walked and walked. She couldn't stop walking. The weeds grew up and consumed her garden. The cheese waited, and finally grew mold. But she kept walking and walking. The end.

Alice Gerard said...

I love the poems!!!!!!! Thank you!!!

Doug Jarvie said...

I wonder if Mother Goose knew that the meaning of "crooked" would change with time to mean "dishonest" ? What would a dishonest cat look like? The cat who ate the bird? What is dishonest cheese? I know the one advertised as non dairy, no fat. But my son tells me there is a cheese made with soy. Is that even cheese?

This warm up exercise to get the creative juices flowing is similar to an exercise called "morning pages" where a writer begins the day by writing down whatever pops into their head, like the waking dreams that you sometimes want to go on longer. The intent of the pages is to do nothing with them, maybe discard them, shred them or burn them, for they have served their purpose. I avoided saying delete them because hand writing works better than typing. I have played with recording a message to myself. Just phone yourself and leave a message. this may work for people who's creative work is audio recordings or video blogs.

Blog on!

vishal bheeroo said...

Amazing piece of writing and pointers to write are simply fab. Very helpful. Such an engaging story that captures interest.

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