3 Day Weekend Workout

I’m still in blog syndication through July, but when I pulled this exercise out to repurpose it I decided to make it a little more hard core. We have a 3 Day weekend up here in Canada, after all, and it might rain. What better way to spend your rainy holiday than working out…
Getting Out of Slog

We all go through what I call the SLOG when we’re writing or rewriting a story.

We lose our way, we get stuck, we get unmotivated.

This is about the time when I look at every other idea I have and think… hmmm, maybe I should be working on that instead? Look, shiny object!

But I always think it’s best to push through the slog to the end. Then you can put it aside for a little bit and then see what you’ve got.

To push through, I generally do some good old fashioned spontaneous writing. (and even if you’re not in the slog, you can still play along)

Pick whatever piece of writing you’re working on and start from where you’re stuck (don’t go back and polish your buttons; keep on truckin).

Step 1) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. At the top of your page, write the startline: The scene that needs to be written is the scene where

Don’t stop, don’t cross out, don’t edit (you know the rules). Just write in one long stream of consciousness.If you get stuck, you can always start again with This scene needs to be written because

Example:

The scene that needs to be written is the scene where Mabbe confronts Croilus because it gets Mabbe outside of her burl. This scene needs to be written because it’s where Zhay learns that Brigitta was telling the truth. It needs to be written because it’s where Zhay loses it and all his anger about being abandoned by the Ancients bursts forth and he attacks Mabbe but she’s too strong for him and she strikes him down and when that happens the spell seed falls to the ground and they…

Step 2) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. Pick one of the following as your start line:

In this scene my protagonist learns…
In this scene my protagonist reveals…
In this scene my protagonist proves…

You can also put in another character if that works better for you. In this scene my villain, my antagonist, my protagonist’s mother… feel free to make it work for you.

example:

In this scene Brigitta proves that she can fight the force of the green zynthia and she believes it has to do with her having both air and water elements now and she discovers that she is more powerful than before and the extra element has made it easier to manipulate her environment and there is no way to give it back and maybe it was her first true element…

Step 3) Set your timer for 5-7 Minutes. It’s time for a “What if” wild list! By wild I mean don’t discount any thought or idea. Let the What Ifs fall where they may. This is a list that you write as fast as you can.

You can use any of the following prompts:

During this scene, what if…
After this scene, what if…
After my protagonist reveals ____, what if…
After my protagonist learns ____, what if…
After my protagonist proves _____, what if…

example:

After Brigitta reveals that she can overpower the zythia…
what if Croilus realizes the prophesy is coming true?
What if Devin and Ferris attack Zhay?
What if Brigitta thinks Croilus is going to attack the White Forest?
What if Zhay tries to kill Croilus?
etc.

Usually at least one lightbulb goes on during this exercise. But you’ve got to just let go and allow it to happen. Write as fast as you can, keeping pen on the page.

I do this “what if” list a lot and oftentimes I don’t time myself at all. I just keep writing until THE idea comes. Sometimes that takes 3 minutes, sometimes it takes 15, but it always eventually comes.

Step 4) Now, the fun part. Pick the best What if.. and set your timer for at least 20 minutes (you heard me).

The start line is your best What if:

In this scene, what if . . .

For example (using one of mine from above):

In this scene, what if Zhay decides to attack Croilus and he’s incapacitated because of the spell potion he drank and Brigitta and Jarlath try to come to the rescue but get caught up in the fight between Croilus and Mabbe and Brigitta has to decide between saving Zhay or Jarlath and…

Have a great weekend!

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1 Comment

Filed under weekend workout, writing exercises

One response to “3 Day Weekend Workout

  1. Lately, I have been battling with my instinct to write without a plan, and the pro advice to follow an outline. I feel that with outlines I explore less and write the story the way I think it should be written, rather than letting the story write itself. So, instead I hit the story every day with no plan in mind and simply write, write, write.

    For this reason, I don’t usually get stuck to the point where I get blocked. I wonder if it is because I haven’t written myself down one designed path?

    I like how you keep your options open with your wild “what if” list. I guess subconsciously I do this. Anytime I come to a fork in the story and I need to make a choice, that is when I try multiple options.

    When I get cracking on my next story, I’ll be sure to think of this exercise.

From my brain to yours

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