If, like me, you’re constantly bogged down by the slog, then you probably understand the frustration that comes with, well, writing too dang slow. In an effort to take the fight to the troublesome pest and kick that writing into motion, I’ve come up with a little exercise (though I’m sure I’m hardly the first to do so) to help encourage getting those words down more freely.
It’s fairly simple. Take a character from your story, pick a starting place or incident, and then write without stopping for ten minutes. Without stopping. Don’t correct mistakes, don’t touch backspace, don’t think too hard, just follow the flow of your thought process. Write whatever pops into your head, as quickly as you can; if your mind is only a sentence ahead of your hands, you’re doing great – you might be surprised what your brain will come up with when you force it into high gear. It doesn’t have to be canonical, it doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t even have to make sense, so long at the end of those ten minutes you have something that vaguely resembles a chunk of narrative (I’ll usually get around 500-600 words). The best part is that you can tell your self-consciousness to take a hike, as you never have to show these to anyone.
So here’s one of mine that I’ll show to everyone. (>^-‘)> I started with the primary protagonist from The Book, put her next to a river, and everything else just came as I typed.
The vermillion dragon lay peacefully next to the riverbed, organizing sticks in a star-like pattern, setting the end of each one next to the middle of the one before, at a slight angle so that the entire design would be saw-like. The last one was imperfect, so she began again.
“Um…hello?” a gentle voice appeared beside her.
Xenasi started, turning her head to look at the one who invaded her solace. It was a deer.
“I am a deer,” said the deer.
“I see that you are…” she said warily. “Though I’m not sure why you can speak.”
“I am the kind of deer that can talk,” he said bashfully.
“There is such a thing?”
“Before you stands proof that there is.” He slumped down into a sitting position. “I have a problem.”
“Why would you approach a dragon with a problem? Would it not occur to you that I might rather eat you than help you?”
“It occurred.” He squinted and wrenched his face and looked away. “But I thought that you wouldn’t.”
Xenasi blinked. “I…I guess I already ate. What should I call you?”
“Malbulous,” the deer sighed.
It was a ponderous name. Though it seemed unlikely to be the source of his problems. “What is this problem that you would approach a dragon to help?”
“Well,” the deer whapped a hoof against the ground in frustration. “Well, my super-awesome-doe-girlfriend left me.
“She left me for another deer. A stupid buck whose antlers are way too big and he’s probably trying to compensate for something with them. So, anyway, I want you to eat him instead of me. He is bigger than me, so you’ll have a much more satisfying meal. I promise.”
Xenasi had just told the deer that she had already eaten, so she was not sure how to respond. I suppose I could stash the carcass for later. “I suppose I can help you. Where is this other buck?”
“Just down the river a way,” replied Malbulous. “If you hurry, you can probably catch him. He’s probably just…getting all over my doefriend.” He got up, but only so his subsequent sulk would have more room to express itself.
“What about your girlfriend? Do you want her alive?”
Xenasi stood and shook off for some reason. “What are you prepared to offer me for this favor?”
“The tasty body of that stupid doe-stealing buckhead. Remember?”
“Well, I thought getting that would just come out of doing that,” the dragon nonsensed.
The deer began to gallop away. “This waaaaaaaay!”
Xenasi narrowed her eyes, but spread her wings and took flight, easily outpacing the deer and making her way down the river, eyes searching for the other buck of whom he spoke.
It was only after a few minutes that she came across him, getting all cuddly with the doe who was once with Malbulous. Unsure of why she was cooperating, Xenasi swooped down and lunged at the unsuspecting buck. The buck jumped in fright, and tried to dart away, but was not so fast as the approaching dragon, and came to meet his end below her claws and between her teeth.
That’s the kind of thing that I end up with when I do these. Just a stupid little passage written spontaneously while barreling over the slog. I hope it goes without saying that it’s not an accurate representation of the character or my finished writing. (>^-‘)> Or would have gone, as I just said it. You know what I mean.
Anyway, it’s something that helps me loosen up a little when I’m feeling brainclogged. What kind of techniques do you use to battle your inhibitions?
Next time, we’ll take a look at extending this exercise into zero-drafting. Until then, bene scribete.