Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Creative Write & Playshop continued

Assignment #2 Art lies in the details. Observe. Notice. Experience.

Good morning writers! Let's get started on our journey. To begin, you will be going back to your own beginnings and for this assignment you'll be writing down your memories from your first five years. I know that some of you have done this already for other workshops (including this one from last year), and if you have, dig out those old notebooks or files and review what you've written. You'll need them for future assignments.

For those of you who are tapping into your emotional memories for the first time, read on. (okay, read on anyway!) And don't forget to do those morning pages as per The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'll be writing along with you, and we'll all be writing buddies for the summer. If you don't have a copy of her book, just write nonstop for 10-30 minutes each morning without making any judgments. Write about anything or nothing, and don't worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation or content, just write! See, you can do it.


The long option is to just start writing everything you remember from your first five years--the years when you experience so many firsts--walking, talking, learning to tie shoelaces, button a shirt or blouse, zipper a jacket. . . Some of those things none of us will remember, but write down the ones that you do. You may start with the anecdotes that always get told at family gatherings. That's fine, but you'll want to move beyond those. Once you start, you'll be surprised how many memories you have. For this option, you can skip around if you want because one memory often leads to another and soon the memories will pour out of you, and you'll simply want to keep writing and writing. When the flood comes, get down the most important details first like a synopsis and go back and fill in later. If it's a memory that was emotionally significant for you, you may want to write the whole event as you experienced it.

Be sure to keep a little notebook with you all the time to jot down those memories that are sure to come when you're showering or walking or driving. Memories really can be fleeting, so write them down.

The next two options involve making a list. I'm offering one here. Look over the list. You may want to add some headings of your own, and you may want to leave several pages or more between the headings. If you're a fiction writer, it'll look a lot like a list for character development. It is. Except this time it's all about you! For the short short option just write a list with a few details under the headings. For the longer option, you'll want to add more details. Some of you may want to develop scenes. It's all up to you. Do whatever works best for you. Feel free to add to the list.
1. Things I learned how to do
2. Family, friends--write a little about your primary relationships. You can do mini character sketches of them as well if you want, writing something about how they looked and their personalities.
3. Setting--what do you remember about where you lived. You can draw your house, inside and out, a detailed drawing of how you remember your private world and even your neighborhood. For fun, grab some colored pencils or crayons and put some color in your world.
4. Favorite things--toys, books, food, games, and things you hated, and why.
5. Fears. What frightened you? Why? Suddenly discovering that you were alone? Darkness? Shadows? Spiders?
6. Illnesses. Write about how that felt. Not just the physical but the emotional such as feeling left out, the isolation.
7. Trips.
8. Embarrassed.
9. Angry.
10. Ashamed.
11. What is the very best memory you have of your early years. Describe it as completely as you can. Then write about your most traumatizing memory.
12. Holidays.

When you're writing about a particularly emotional memory, try to recall as many specific details as you can. Was it day or night? Was the sun shining? Rainy? Snowing? Cold or hot. Do you remember what you were wearing? Can you recall any smells? Sounds? Think about touch. Try to recapture your experience through your senses. It is through our senses that we remember, so the more specific sensory detail you can add the more you will feel as if you are right there in that moment, and that's where you want to get--to live it as the child, not just look back from an adult's perspective. Once you can do this for yourself, you can do it in all your writing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail. claragillowclark (@) gmail.com. If you want to share, do the same. Most of all, I want you to enjoy this journey into yourself.

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart!

5 comments:

  1. This is great. I hope to be able to remember things from my first 5 years. I'm getting ready for a conference I'm going to this weekend, so I've printed this out and will get to it later. The items you've listed will be helpful.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by, Janet. Have a great time at the conference and bring back some writing nuggets to share.

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  3. The first five years idea ties in with what I'm reading right now - Stephen King's "On Writing." He describes events of his first five years that are bone-chillingly, heart-breakingly real. It's made me want to write down my experiences with childhood illnesses - which I do remember, now that I think about it...thanks, good post.

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  4. Toby, Thanks for mentioning Stephen King's book "On Writing". It's an excellent book on writing. I'd forgotten about his childhood stories. I'll have to reread.

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  5. I really thought this lesson was worthwhile. Thanks for setting it out.

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