Simple writing exercise – Rory’s Story Cubes

If there’s one thing in the writing process I seriously underestimated it would be the importance of warming up before you write. Before university if I was to write something, I would open my laptop, get up a word document and just write. The start of my writing was always a bit clunky; it didn’t flow very well. If anything needed the most editing in my work, I could guarantee you it would be the start. I now understand that was because I didn’t warm up before I wrote anything.

Since being at university I’ve come to realise the importance of being in the right mindset before I write. I’m not talking about making sure I’m relaxed or feeling very motivated, what I’m talking about is making sure the ideas are flowing and I’m warmed up. So far, I’ve been doing this by free writing. I will set a two-minute or five-minute timer on my phone, pick up a pen and write non-stop until the time was up. What this did was let me get most of my clunky writing out of my system before I was working on my manuscript or essay. You don’t have to do this with a pen and paper, it’s just I find it a little bit easier to be less perfect when I’m scribbling down ideas on paper and not typing them.

It’s all been very well and good but over time it’s got a bit boring so when I went back home at Christmas, I found my story cubes and decided to bring them back with me to university.

I’ve had these since I was about 13 and I think they’re so useful. They’re a fantastic way to just have fun thinking of stories and plots. Since I’ve been back at university, I’ve been using these cubes regularly as writing prompts and over time they became my warm up, replacing free writing. What I wanted to share with you all today is how I use these as a professional writer as a method of warming up my writing muscles. I understand they’re designed for children, but I really wouldn’t underestimate them or dismiss them because of the target audience. Continue reading “Simple writing exercise – Rory’s Story Cubes”

Making a familiar place strange

Location: Coffee shop

Look at what people are ordering, do they drink what you’d expect, is there a pattern in what people have? Consider if coffee is worth it or could you have made instant coffee at your flat? Try to describe the smell of the coffee beans, take your time, spend too long finding the right word. Disregard that word, it doesn’t feel right.

Count the seconds of steam that is created with each cup of coffee, or find an odd layer of beauty in the time taken for it to disperse, absorbed into its surroundings. Concentrate on the sound it makes until it becomes white noise.

Watch the staff behind the counters, decipher any habits they may have. Do they reach for a certain appliance in a certain way, do they lean on a certain counter when they’re tired? Carry on watching then. People watch, and if you don’t know how to then this is a great time to learn. Coffee shops are good for that. Start with the person ahead of you. Notice the timing of their pen hitting the table. Tap… tap…tap… then occasionally there’s a pause then tap… tap tap… pause once more. Let yourself imagine what they’re working on. Are they a student? A professor? A member of the public? If they are a student what do you think they’re be studying? Take note of the lighting. The light is to the side of them, it’s not too bright but it casts a shadow. Sometimes a piece of dust floats by, focus on that. The smallest of things can be the most intriguing.  Continue reading “Making a familiar place strange”