"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


submitted by Carol Stilz aka booklady777

If a genie appeared offering me three wishes, one wish would be for more time. Since that hasn't happened yet, I'm finding "lost time". Reclaiming lost time means using those minutes waiting for someone or something and worrying. I'll share my 11 ways to use 11 minutes and perhaps you'll share yours with me.

Since some places do not allow cell phone usage, I keep a small notebook and pen in my purse, pocket or briefcase. Whenever possible I use the notepad function on my phone, as well as relying on it for files, docs, photos, videos and recordings. With these tools handy and the list below, I'm prepared for the gift of minutes waiting in a line, office, car, etc. Choose one exercise from those below, and then, adapt it to your situation and writing projects.

1. Create a word picture of the place you are in based on the five senses. What are the sounds, colors and shapes, scents and tastes of this place? How do you feel—warm or cold, comfortable or uncomfortable, anxious or eager, reluctant or fearful? What prompts these reactions in this environment? If possible, record sounds or make a video. Take a few photos. This exercise helps me create a
sense of place.

2. What would a character from your writing experience in this situation? Ask the same questions as above, but record your character's reactions. Why would this character react accordingly? This exercise helps me get into a character's feelings and thoughts and motives.

3. If your character were in this situation, what would he/she do, buy, read, etc.?
What would your character notice and be most concerned about and why?

4. Choose one person in your viewing area. Imagine their secrets, wishes, dreams, and fears. Without staring or taking photos, jot down a phrase that describes his/her appearance. Can you create a memorable "tag" for this character, capturing speech or mannerisms?

5. Write a haiku. When my daughter was younger I wrote haiku while waiting for soccer practice or orthodontist appointments to wrap up. Haiku is a three line poem with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. Often a season or place is described in haiku. True haiku, with the leap of thought between the second and third line is a true challenge. For this exercise focus on the imagery. A helpful template can be downloaded at www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson.../haiku_pattern.pdf

6. Write a cinquain, a five-line poem describing someone or something. If you have the internet available, go to this website for an explanation of the form and a fill-in form http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/cinqain.htm.

I keep the basic format in a notebook so I can write one in 11 minutes or less. The website
http://www.readwritethink.org has the cinquain format also.

7. If you are in a grocery store, imagine what one of your characters would have in his/her cart. What does this tell you about your character? For fun, you can peek at other carts and see what you learn about the people buying those items.

8. If you see magazine covers where you are, imagine your character on the front. Why would your character be on the cover? How would your character feel looking at the picture and caption? Imagine your character in a cartoon or super hero role. Create the cartoon or word picture.

9. If you are in a bookstore, pick up a book and read the first line or first page. Does it capture your attention? Why or why not? Be as specific as possible. Using different books repeat this exercise as much as time allows. Are there similarities in the openings? Are all very different? How do opening lines in one genre differ from another? Which opening is most like yours? Would you buy any of these books? What would you expect from the opening page? What do authors promise readers in the first page or two? Would your character buy any of these books? Why or why not?

10. Save a selection of sample chapters from a site that offers them free over the internet. Download a variety of samples: fiction, nonfiction, genre, etc. I save a selection at home during commercials or when I'm on hold on a phone. Then I can access them when later.

11. I'm a worrier in rehab from a long lineage of worriers. I discovered one exercise helped me reclaim minutes from my repeated worrying: jotting down a concern and pledging to let it go until later. Each week I devote 11 minutes to reading these worries. Amazing how many worries have vanished by the time I read them.

Finally, I say a prayer of thanks for the found time I discover in 24 little hours. Of course, you can always use 11 minutes to read a blog or check messages and social media, but you already know that's possible.

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