Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weight Lifting, Brain Style

Wow, we’re into February already. Feels like Christmas was just a few days ago. Time sure flies. And speaking of time flying, last summer I made a promise to myself—to start querying in the spring of 2011. Well spring is just around the corner so I better get crackin’.

I’ve been working on my synopsis—seems like I have been working on it forever, but in my defense . . . okay, I don’t have an excuse. I’ve been lazy. But not anymore. Time to shake off the procrastination blues and finish up my synopsis and query.

To be honest, I’ve been riding the procrastination train for some time now—since before Christmas. I used Christmas as a reason for why I wasn’t writing. Then I convinced myself that I would start writing after the New Year. Now we are well into February and I still find myself riding that damn train most days.

The thing is, once you’ve taken a significant break from writing, it’s hard to get back into it. So in order to warm up my creative muscle again, I’ve been working on a few writing exercises.

This particular creative work out is good for learning how to show a person’s appearance not only through physical traits, but by also showing through their personality. In addition, it teaches one not to give descriptions in a list form, but by distributing them throughout a scene.

The exercise is to write a short description about someone or something, about 250 to 500 words. Remember to add a little setting and personality as well.

Here’s one I’ve written about my oldest son. LOL, he would be so mad if he knew I not only wrote this, but used it as my blog post. I call this piece, The Joys Of Life. He was seventeen at the time of this incident. A couple years have passed, but he still acts like this.

“What? The B button was stuck down! Did you see that?” Tyler glowered at the TV, frustration and annoyance clear in every line of his body. Sitting forward on our brown and tan suede love seat, he slammed his fist on the cushion beside his long legs, bare below the ragged edge of his blue shorts. “This sucks.”

Frustration of my own pulsed through me at his irate tone and childish behavior. I didn’t answer for I knew he didn’t want one. He was only stating the fault didn’t lie with him.

Oh, never that, I thought as I gazed at my son’s face. Irritation clouded his milk-chocolate brown eyes, and his dark brows were an angry slash across his forehead. With a quick flick of his head, he dislodged an oily strand of brown hair from his eyes.

At seventeen, he was a tall, lanky boy, not yet grown into his large hands and feet. The delicate bones of his shoulders stuck out through the faded black T-shirt he wore, and his knees looked as if they would burst out of the skin stretched across.

He mumbled something I couldn’t understand, and resumed playing his video game.

I shook my head, wondering why he bothered playing games when they were supposed to be fun and relaxing; a way to escape the worries of our real lives.

Watching him skillfully maneuver his character around the race track, I wanted to shut it off. Wanted to tell him to give it a rest until he learned how to have fun and accept we don’t always need to win. But instead, I returned to the book I’d been reading.

“Come ooon!” That’s so unfair,” Tyler shouted. He dragged long fingers roughly through his hair, causing it to stick up around his freckled face. “Could this game be any more cheap?”

I opened my mouth, but shut it. With a violent jerk, he spun the plastic steering wheel, manipulating the vehicle on the screen to slide around a sharp corner.

It suddenly occurred to me, he couldn’t even enjoy a game without expecting perfection from himself. With his rigid personality, he is his own worst enemy. He demands excellence in every aspect of his life, from school work to hobbies.

Does he ever have fun? I worried for him because we all know life is messy, throwing us curve-balls when we least expect them. I’m afraid he will never know true joy.


D'Ann said...

Great post!
I warm up by doing crits, or reading crits I've gotten and making those changes!

Brenda said...

Oh those are both excellent ways to warm up the creative muscle, D'Ann.
Thank you so much for stopping by.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Brenda~ I warm up with two cups of java! LOL I need to try the exercises you mention. For the time being, I warm up much the way D'Ann does. I think because it gets me in the mood to write. Also, for some reason, after I exercise my body my brain engages better. Gee, you'd think the two were related somehow! Great post and Tyler sounds like my son on the bad end of the video game's maneuvers.

Brenda said...

LOL, the java goes without saying!
Physical exercise does do wonders for creativity. After a day of working outside, I find the following day my brain is sharper--well as sharp as my brain can be, hehehe.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Trish said...

Brenda, I have a horrible time getting back into writing after taking a break. Those writing muscles atrophy almost immediately. lol

Part of the problem is that I try to make the sentences/images perfect. And when you have haven't been writing for a while, it takes a while for the old brain to start spewing...and those first few spews are pure crap.

So, I've discovered a way to get the rhythm back, a way to force myself past the need for perfection. I sit down and fast draft a scene. Just write as fast as I can, whatever comes to me, trusting the vision and voice. I write this scene knowing I will print it out and delete it, so I don't have to worry about it being perfect. But it does loosen up my mind again, the words come easier and stronger. And I use the printed page as a starting point in the WIP.

I've found this is the only way I can get back into the WIP/writing after a long absence.

Jenna Jaxon said...

I start thinking about writing, plotting, characters, incidents, whatever, in the car coming home from work. Not being able to write and drive gets me revved up to actually sit down and type. Tyler sounds like my 16 yr old, especially with the idea that it's never her fault. But that was a great description: I can so see him sitting there. Good post.

Brenda said...

Oh Trish, it is sooo hard to climb back into the saddle again--well, computer chair, lol--after a long absence. The creative muscle does atrophy very quickly.
I think the best advice ever given me was to try and write everyday. LOL, of course being the noob I am I didn't listen.
Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Brenda said...

Hello, Jenna. I'm constantly brainstorming while I'm driving, but what irks me is unless I pull over and jot it down I forget as soon as I'm staring at the blank computer screen, lol. I need to invest in a hand-held recorder.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Martha Ramirez said...

Great post, Brenda! I had read that somewhere before and had forgotten about it.
I tend to warm up by reading emails and reading blog posts from agents/editors and writers. Then I start writing. But after some time off it is hard to get back into things cuz you gotta figure out where you left off an d what the plan was.
Great subject:)

Brenda said...

Thanks Mart. I've been procrastinating for some time now and I really find it hard to get back into it. So instead of jumping right back into my MS, I write out a couple of these exercises to get the blood flowing to my brain again.
I also find it a great way to retrain myself again. Writing isn't like riding a bike so I'm finding out, LOL.
Thanks very much for stopping by.

Charli Mac said...

If I start with the blogging, Fb-ing, Tweeting, and such I end up in the rabbit hole.

Nothing gets me more in the mood than to be with the characters I plan on writing about. So, I do that by reading polished excerpts, favorite scenes, getting in their heads.

BTW, my soon to be 13 year old freaks out when playing softball. She loves it and she deflates at the simplest error. We are our own worst enemies when we are passionate about something. Plus side, he has passion abut something. Many kids today do not. :)