Before beginning this post, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the people of Paris and of France. In the wake of these terrible attacks, I’ve had a hard time focusing on the prompt. But, here goes--
I offer today an exercise. (I hope everyone has on their work-out clothes.)
Writers’ block. The absent muse. A vacuum in the head--or the opposite--so much going on up there that there is no blank mental space. Worst of all -- a lack of faith that one’s ideas are worth setting onto the page.
series of blog posts about them, but I am certainly no expert. All I can say is that for me, these are moments when a writing exercise may work as a kind of jump-start.
Essentially, the exercise is to make yourself write for a short and specific amount of time. As part of this forced timed writing, you are required (i) to move you pen across the page without stopping, and (ii) to not go back and cross anything out (until the time is through.)
I tend to advocate a pen for this part of the exercise, but you certainly are welcome to try it on a computer. A computer seems more difficult, however, because the screen is a lot like a mirror--what you have just written stares back at you and can make it difficult to forge unself-consciously ahead--
Okay, so, here’s the exercise, if you wish to participate.
The starting point is : “I remember” or “I don’t remember." (Feel free to use the third person instead, thinking of he or she remembers, or doesn’t remember.)
With these words in your head, sit down somewhere where you will not be interrupted, and write for seven minutes with a timer.
You should start writing immediately once you set your timer, and keep your pen moving until its little ping.
If you cannot think of something to write, write down “I cannot think of what to write,” and “I still can’t think of what to write.” Just keep your pen, or fingers (or whatever you use to write) moving.
At the end of your 7 minutes, read what you’ve written (or not.) Then take that piece or take the place you are in and and use it as a springboard for your poem. Your initial text is not your poem, but just a peephole into it.
Your final poem (or draft if you are me!) can be made up of edited snippets of your initial text, or it can be completely different. (Maybe what you wrote opened a vein and you want to move on from there. ) Again, the forced timed text should merely be a springboard, not your poem.
Note that you can stop and think about your poem! In fact, you are encouraged to stop and think about your poem! However, keep in mind that the whole thing is still just an exercise. Meaning, don't overly judge yourself!
To sum up--take seven minutes to write down what you remember or do not remember in this very instant--what comes actually to mind right now and for the minutes that your pen moves.Then take another little bit of time to turn that exercise into a poem.
Keep in mind that the word “remember” does not need to be in your poem. The only thing you DO need to remember is to visit your fellow poets! (Also--I am not asking anyone to post their timed write here--you should feel completely private about that.)
Finally, finally (!) if all this just seems to laborious--and it is-- just write a poem on the prompt.
(Only, if you don't do the exercise, maybe don't tell me! Ha!) (All pics are mine--feel free to use crediting Karin Gustafson, a/k/a Manicddaily.)