I am part of a writers group, an academic one but we still like to think of ourselves as creatives. We meet irregularly but often and I personally find it a highly productive experience. We usually kick off the writing sessions with a creative exercise followed by a little goal setting and brief discussion with partners. This aims to loosen up our creative ideas and to help us focus on what we are trying to do. then the rest of the day we just write. It is a joy let me tell you.
Anyway, this last writers group we were introduced to the Writers Toolbox, a really useful tool for sparking ideas and for structuring a free writing exercise. I had seen these tool boxes around and often wondered about trying them out in the classroom. Now I have had a goo I will certainly use it. In fact I have just ordered one and will try t out in a week or so when I get a chance.
We used the writers prompts and followed a three stage exercise: the first two sentences had to begin a paragraph and the final one had to end a paragraph (though I go this confused so ended up using it at the start and at the finish. I love free writing, it is amazing what you are capable of when you turn off the filters. This is a conversation I have with students all the time during ideation sessions. Turn off the filters, give yourself permission to be creative and make some time for free writing.
Anyway this is what I came up with and the lines I was given are in blue:
Dad gave me a wink, like we were pals or something while the nurse tucked in the corder of the bed sheets. A bright morning sun streamed into the room, illuminating the pale walls and blinding us, forcing every bit of life out of the shadows. I hovered over the solitary chair, wondering if I should sit or stand. Distracted by the wink as the last breath eased out of my fathers chest.
Margaret had a habit of spitting, it began to get on my nerves. It shouldn’t have worried me after so long, but it did and every time I heard her hawk it raised my hackles a trifle more.I should have been able to look beyond it. It shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. I still loved her though, we were inseparable, despite the spitting and hawking, despite the endless trail of phlegm that traced our every pathway through our life together.
The way Herb defrosted the refrigerator always left me wondering if the man had been born with an ounce of common sense. It always ended the same way, with a mop and a pail with a pile of defrosted food ready for the bin. Why he couldn’t leave it alone I could never understand. But that was him all over. He was a breath of fresh air, the sun in my life, but please, leave the defrosting to me. The way Herb defrosted the refrigerator, it always made me as mad as hell.
This was written in around 20 minutes, after we read the stories out aloud though I declined as it felt too personal, too emotional. I still feel like that and I doubt if I would have been ale to access that depth of feeling with out the free writing. As I say, you need to turn the filters off and let your deeper mind do the work it wants to do while the chattering of the monkey mind is quite.