Embracing the bad

Kyle A. Massa’s recent post on his most embarrassing writing fails is a cracking read. But it’s not the writing fails that makes it so good; it’s Kyle’s retelling of events and his ability to look past the cringe of reading back through old writing to find the lessons therein. Those lessons being, if I can paraphrase, that we are never to old to learn and improve, and that looking back through your old writing can remind you of how far your writing has come.

It’s on the back on Kyle’s article that I thought I would post a few of the writing exercises that I’ve been doing recently as a way of getting my brain out of my work and into the creative space. They are pretty bad (the bit I’ve written obviously, not the exercises themselves – the exercise rock). They also don’t make sense but that’s okay because it’s an exercise. When has exercising ever made sense?

So, the first one is from How to write short stories and get them published by Dr Ashley Lister. The premise is pretty simple – all you do is write an alphabetical sentence where the first word starts with a, the next word with b, and so on until you get stuck. I gave myself the extra challenge of not going back and reworking the sentence, so what you’ve got here is exactly as I wrote it, no corrections, no crossing out, no ‘x’.

Anthony braced, carefully, discreetly emerging from Georgia’s house. ‘I just keep looking more naughty.’

‘Or, perhaps,’ queried Roger, ‘she tempers ungrateful violinists?’

‘Wow, X.’

‘Yeah, zany.’

Yeah, I know, bad. I did warn you. The next exercise was to do the same (a to z), but then to go from z back to a.

A big Cadillac drove easterly from Georgia’s house. It jolted, kept left, moved north. Ordeal past, quietness returned. She trembled, unaware violence was x.

‘Your zany yeah, Xi. What vehicle usually toured so regularly?’

‘Quiet, patient or naughty?’

‘Maybe.’ Leila knew, judged it harshly.

Georgia’s friends eventually did come. Big adrenaline.

Still rubbish, but it did get the brain into gear and I’m sure (hope) that if I spent a considered amount of time on it, I could come up with something that is at least readable.

The other exercise is one from my writing class. This time all that was needed was to write for a couple of minutes without using the letter ‘e’. Initial reaction was ‘what? how?’But it was actually quite easy and a lot more fun than the alphabetising.

So, a paragraph without that, you know, that thing that I can’t say. Sounds straightforward until you actually must sit down and do it.

So, a starting point. A thing that’s mind grabbing and will hold a human’s focus so that a story can unfold.

A cat sat on a mat. That’s a story. Not a good story mind you.

I said it was more fun to do, I didn’t say the result was any better.

Anyway, the point of posting those exercises (other than meeting the challenge of putting my bad writing out there) is to remind ourselves that not all writing will be good writing in and of itself, but if that writing spurs an idea or leads on to other writing, then it’s achieved everything it needs to.

Happy creation!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. suzanne says:

    I love the exercises! I’m going to try them. Thanks for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

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