"Writing energy is like anything else: The more you put in, the more you get out." --Richard Reeves
I heart this little flower. It brings back memories of childhood and fistfuls of the purple joy often gathered in the field back by the creek and in turn offered to my mother, who would treat the dainty blossoms like a treasure and immediately put them in a small vase of water. The bouquet always took center stage on the dining room table. Nevermind that the violet is not a hardy flower, and that the whole bunch will wilt in a matter of hours. They're here for a short spell, then gone--but their beauty lingers because they existed.
Sometimes a writer's progress is short-lived, too. We sit down at the desk only to find that plucking the words out of thin air comes hard, the muse has wilted, the ideas that sounded so beautiful in the mind shrivel up once confined to black and white. How can we get started, foster creativity, and/or frame a bit of beauty through something as common and small as, well, words?
Sometimes simple writing exercises capture a bit of the elusive.
I recently came across an old issue of The Writer magazine (October 2002). In it, Diane Mayr wrote an aticle entitled, "Too Busy to Write? Keep in Writing Shape with Rhymes, Limericks and Haiku." Now, I'm not a poet, although in my secret life I'd like to be, but this caught my eye. Mayr says, "It could be your job, your family, your health, but whatever the stress, it's preventing you from working on that writing project you've been thinking about. When life interferes, the time has come to think small. I'm not talking about breaking down a book into segments that may be written a weekend at a time--stress doesn't usually take the weekend off. I'm talking about writing really small, five lines or less, and doing it whenever you can squeeze in a few minutes of writing time."
She continued, "You must keep working through the stressful times, so you don't lose your writer's edge. One way to keep it sharp is by writing terse verse, limericks and haiku."
Terse verse? "Simply put, terse verse is an idea expressed solely through rhyming words." Her example: "Green/wood/scene/good."
"Can you see the forested landscape?" she asks. "Does it make you think of the good times you spent at camp, or a special spot? Those four words have done a lot of work!"
"Coming up with rhyming words," she continues, "is something that can be done anytime, anywhere. Use your commuting time to write terse verse. Experiment with different rhyme patterns...If you have a few extra minutes, flip through a rhyming dictionary...and be inspired. Keep those words working."
I returned to my memories of the violet, and picked up a pen. I scribbled...and ended up with: Violet/peeks/kisses the air/then once again sleeps.
Although the results won't win any prizes (I've already admitted I'm not a poet), the exercise got me started, and before I was done I had extra pages toward my day's writing goals to account for. I don't know if those few terse words can take all the credit, but I'd like to think they loosened the writer's dried-up soil a bit with their roots and fostered extra growth.
Still and all, don't ask me to do limericks or haiku. I haven't advanced that far yet!
Do you have any special exercises that help grow your writing sessions or you do on the run during stressful times? Want to try your hand at "terse verse," and share your poem here? Would love to read it!
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." --Jim Ryun