Remember the childhood chant, “School’s out, school’s out, Teacher let the monkeys out”? Maybe you joined the sing-song chorus as you dashed away from the classroom on a beautiful day in late spring, eager to put learning behind you and just revel in summer’s freedom.
But maybe you were like me, a child who loved school and, while joining in the group chant to avoid being seen for the nerd you are, secretly counted the days until summer school would start.
This June I hope some of the secret scholars among us will join me for a class that I promise won’t break your brain—just brush up some basics. I am referring to “Refresh Your Expressive Writing Skills,” which I’ll be teaching in the StoryCircle Network class term starting June 7th.
Whether or not you join the class, perhaps you’ll enjoy these games for writers, specifically chosen to get you outside and enjoying being a “writer in residence” in your own life.
- Five Sense Survey
Go out to a place you don’t usually write. Allow yourself about 10 minutes to write. Begin by noting where you are. Then, Interview yourself about the place you have chosen. What do you…
Write a sensory description of the place you have chosen, using these “interview prompts” as your springboard. Bonus point: Is your sixth sense—intuition—telling you something? Note that too!
- One Inch Window
While the first exercise invokes free association, this exercise demands close observation.
Cut a one-inch window into the center of a small piece of paper, such as an index card. You can slice or tear the edges; the important thing is to give yourself a “peep hole” through which to view some small piece of the world. Try holding up your one-inch window to five different surfaces or objects. Write a description of what you see through each window. Avoid poetic metaphor or simile for description: Simply focus on what presents itself to your eye, and describe it as clearly as you can.
- Hear, Now
This one might be a challenge in “Pandemic World,” but if you are successful, consider it a celebration of returning normalcy.
Go out to a public place. Get comfortable: plan to be here at least 20 minutes. Listen. Write down any bits of conversation you overhear that appeal to you. Record other sounds that strike your ear. What do the sounds in the air around you bring to mind? How did you feel about what you heard—did it make you want to respond in some way? Contribute to the conversation? Upbraid someone for being so silly? Grab a cell phone and smash it? Let each sound send you on a free-association stream of thought. Perhaps you’ll end up far down some memory lane… or deeply present to this momet in time.
Three just-for-fun exercises, three invitations to take your writing out into the world. If you feel so inspired, email your responses to me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear how the Five Sense Survey, One Inch Window, or Hear Now worked for you!