Monday, June 23, 2014

Summertime and the living is easy

Novel Matters is running favorite posts from over the years. We're pleased to bring you, over the next couple of months, some of our favorite articles about writing. We will still interact on the comment page.
Here's a favorite from Bonnie Grove.

I was an actor in my former life. My high school years can be summed up in two words: drama geek.
  I love the sweaty palm feel of a night at the improv—you know, when you jump onto a bare stage, someone yells out a situation, or maybe just a character trait, and then says, “GO!” You start acting your heart out, creating scene, tension, character, and reaction on the fly.
There’s nothing like a creative riff to blow the rust off your brain.
There’s a secret rule to improv: never say no.
No matter what happens, no matter what a fellow actor insists of you, don’t resist. The challenge is to find a way to go it. Run with an ever changing, ever evolving moment. If you’re up on stage pretending to fly a kite and another actor comes in and tells you he’s a lion tamer and starts cracking his whip at you, you don’t turn to that actor and say, “I’m not a lion.”
  You embrace your inner creative and bend to the lion tamer’s will (not to mention that whip), by reacting in a way that allows the kite flying scene to evolve and become more than it was. You are no longer a person flying a kite, but a lion clawing at a rope, trying to escape.
You go with it.
Writing prompts are the improv of words: permission to let go of our preset ideas and splash in the puddles of our minds. And when we let loose, when we go a-playing for the sheer fun of it, something amazing happens.
We get real honest, real fast.
When we let our mind fly, the fetters come off. We let go of our fears. We're no longer worried what an editor might think. We let go of social constraints, family, church, fussy friendships that hold us back from riffing on what we truly think, feel, ache for.
Writing prompts help us stuff our inner nagging Granny in the closet. They invite us to, mentally and emotionally, take off our girdles and scratch. Words flying without constraint. We only react. We only pour out the words. 
And that’s why we should all be riffing with writing prompts.
Burn the thing afterwards if you have to, or bury it in the backyard, but get to that honest place.
If the golden rule is to write what you know, then the governing rule is Writer, know thyself.
 Here are a few more prompts to nudge you to the knowing place. Have fun with them, and, if you’re daring, please share your riff with us in the comments section.
1 1  A bag lady finds a crying baby in a back alley dumpster.
   2 Write a paragraph about orange.
3 3 Write a stream of consciousness sentence that begins with the word “noise”. Write down the next word that comes to mind, then the next, and the next. Do not stop to think, just write the words down for three minutes.
4 4 Describe falling asleep.
The above prompts are original to Bonnie Grove. You are free to share them as you like, just please reference Novel Matters when you do. Thanks!


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Love the connection you've drawn here, Bonnie! I was a drama teacher in a former life, so this resonates with me! The first time I tried stream of consciousness writing was a freeing epiphany of a moment. It was like kicking offshore and floating away on the river of the mind, carried by invisible currents. I love that our brains have the capacity to surprise us.

Adelaide said...

My three minutes of stream-of consciousness.

noise Sat. night restaurant too crowded hate crowds remember the fete de geneve caught in that crowd and again skiing had to carry chris out thought he would faint i fainted christma eve spent day in hospital hate hospitals and ER too long a wait the last time walked out walked out of a dull meeting everyone looking at me others bored no nerve didn't always have nerve never wanted to speak up in class hated latin class when called on to translate a real horror that teacher can't remember name she didn't like girls wearing pony tails poor helen when she came in wearing one no teacher would dare to criticize the way miss woodhead did that was her name woodhead funny about names some come back to me others don't like dr. darvis why should i think of him funny man with a passion for wagner