Lately I've found that the best way to improve my writing is to spend time with other writers. Being in a class has reignited my interest and sparked my creativity. For a while, I felt as if I were in a slump, but I'm once again loving the process.
This weekend, I met with a couple of friends who are also writers. We spent the evening at a coffee shop in Greenwich Village and though we, of course, enjoyed some girl talk, we actually got quite a bit accomplished.
My friend Amy is part of my editing "team" and usually does a read of my drafts. She's also taught writing classes herself, so she had some great ideas for exercises.
First, she suggested we each choose a random object in the coffee shop. I chose a cheesecake; she chose a ceiling fan and Susan chose a pillow. We then had 10 minutes to write a scene in which we somehow included the objects. I misunderstood and only wrote about my object, the cheesecake... but I ended up crafting a romantic comedy scene where the protagonist shoved the cake in the villain's face.
While my scene was silly, Susan put together a very thoughtful piece about how the spinning of the ceiling fan reminded her of the passage of certain moments in her life. I've known Susan for many years, but wasn't that familiar with her writing -- and I was very impressed. She's a busy woman, but I hope she eventually finds time to complete a book or at least a magazine article. I'd definitely read her work!
Next, Amy gave us another 10 minutes to write about an embarrassing childhood memory. This was a little easier for me since we've been doing this in my memoir class. Still, it was a challenge to come up with a complete story in only a few minutes.
I don't do a lot of free writing, but think I need to do it more often. It's a great way to open your mind when you have a block and to get started on a project. I spend so much time worrying about the exact way to phrase something, sometimes it's just nice to let the words flow without limits.
I'm home sick today, but am feeling inspired enough to try a free write with my next novel idea. I have a basic outline for the book, but nothing is fully developed. I want to see what happens if I just write without thinking too much about it. Maybe I'll come up with something I like!
Meantime, please read and review my completed novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.