Tonight the Writer Zen Garden met in the lounge for another Prompt Circle. Using various kinds of writing prompts, we write for between 10 and 20 minutes at a time, experimenting with lots of little new ideas or linking each of the ideas together. This is a great, low pressure way to get onto the page, whether you’ve always wanted to write and haven’t taken the plunge or if you’re a seasoned writer but need some new inspiration.
We started with a freewriting exercise to “prime the pump.” Freewriting is just like it sounds: start with where you are right now and just write. We set the timer for ten minutes but if you’re trying this on your own, use whatever time works for you. Write whatever is in your mind, and let it flow out of your pen. Freewriting exercises are better done with a pen and paper because it more intimately connects you to your thoughts than the keyboard (working on a keyboard involves both hands and therefore a cross-hemispheric operation on the brain).
We then experimented with some prompts from Ursula K. LeGuin’s book, Steering the Craft. The first was to write a scene with no punctuation whatsoever. A good scene to write is something that has a lot of action; she suggests the opening of a revolution or a one-day sale. I have found that when we read what we wrote out loud, it naturally develops its own syntax and is much easier to understand.
Next we wrote a scene with sentences of seven or fewer words. This forces the writer to focus on the words used to get the story across and trims the fat, so-to-speak. After that we experimented with one from Josip Novakovich’s book, Fiction Writer’s Workshop. Describe a scene with a party or gathering that you observed, and see if you can fatten it up with imagined details. We then switched gears to play with a dream; writing a scene from one of our own dreams and peppering it with fantastical elements.
The final prompt was a light one: write a scene of a space opera (think Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). While no one at the table self-identified as a science-fiction writer, it seemed to be the most fun prompt of the evening.
If you’ve been tempted to write before but don’t know where to start, or you’ve always wished you were more creative, then join us for a couple hours of fun, conviviality, and writing prompts. All you need to do is bring a pen and notebook or, if you prefer, a laptop. We’ll do the rest.
How does it work? That’s easy! We bring an assortment of writing prompts (a “prompt” is something that gets you started with a story, scene, or description), and we write for short bursts of ten to twenty minutes. You’d be surprised at how much you produce and how fast the time flies.
Why not give it a shot?
The next one is Saturday, 01/11/2014, 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. in the Lounge. Hosted by PS1 members Amanda Clothier (writing as A. Catherine Noon) and Lyn Cole.
Hope to see you there!
For more information about Writer Zen Garden, please check out our Meetup page. We are an online and in-person creative community with a forum, blog, and supportive members. You have nothing to lose but your skepticism.