Writing from Life Autumn 2022
We looked at everyday, practical objects – a screwdriver, a reel of cotton, a roll of sellotape, a torch, a pair of glasses, a box of matches, a knife and fork – to see how they might provide a way into writing about people.
The exercise was to choose one and imagine someone you know or knew using the object.
The first stage of the exercise is just to sketch down a few notes of whatever comes to mind, eg a specific incident, details and atmosphere, without worry too much about what any of it might mean.
The second stage is to use these initial ideas to write a scene.
Finally, look at what you've got and see what you think it says. Could you take this further? Perhaps there is a telling moment or key detail within the writing that you could explore further.
Remember that the initial writing is your discovery draft so don't edit or judge your writing but simply write. It often takes time to write through to the good stuff.
To try at home: I suggested that you write up your piece of writing, now making any edits or revisions you you like, to read out next week (if you want to).
We also spend some time talking about detail and that the more particular you are with detail, the more vivid your writing can be. We also talked about the importance of sensory detail when writing memory.
1. What we did:
In the session you talked about books that have been important to you in some way. In the writing task that followed, you wrote memories associated with the book. For next week, you could develop this piece and, if you'd like to, read it to the group. Don't feel under any pressure to read aloud at this stage. (It's best just to read a short piece – a paragraph or two – so we're really able to listen and focus).
We also discussed the course schedule. There is plenty of flexibility and we can adjust things according to the needs of the group. There will be opportunities, as we go along, to email out work for the group to read in advance of the following session. We'll discuss the logistics of this as things progress. There will also be an opportunity for everyone to give a short presentation to the group on a memoir they have read. Again, we'll talk about this before we do it but, in the meantime, do feel free to recommend books to each other that you have found useful or inspiring.
2. Optional exercises to try out:
If you'd like to take this idea further, you could open it out and create more scenes that relate to it. For example, you could do this by taking the other characters who appear and write another scene for each, or take an object that appeared and find another memory that connects to it, so that you create interconnecting scenes and can have fun seeing where they take you. Or you could try writing the moment before your scene and the moment afterwards.
3. Writer's notebook:
If you don't already have one, now would be a great time to start. It's good, obviously, to note down thoughts as you have them so that you don't forget them. It can also be helpful to set yourself exercises and tasks to do. Timed writing sessions, a number of pages to fill, or simple observation tasks you might complete over a day are all helpful, both in getting ideas on the page and keeping your material alive and developing in your mind.