I Can So Too

Sara Deurell‘s comment that I took the easy way out on Friday by merely recommending other blogs instead of setting up a writing exercise has cut me to the quick. Therefore, I will set up a writing exercise today.

This is one the fabulous poet Alice Friman did with us in a workshop: Set a timer for three minutes. Close your eyes and just listen. Think about what you hear. When the timer goes off, write down what you heard.

Sound easy? Here’s the trick: You are to write WHAT YOU HEAR. You are not to write what you know it is or what it sounds like or what it could be a metaphor for. Not, “the jungle-roar of the furnace, pursuing the gazelle of Winter”. Not, “the tick of the clock’s teeth, eating my life in one-second bites”. (Yes, I had breakfast this morning. These are YOUR imaginary examples, not mine. Blame yourselves.) Not even, “the tick of the clock”. List what you HEAR–exactly what you hear.

What’s the point of this exercise? It’s kind of like the art exercise where you draw the empty spaces around an object instead of drawing the object itself. The purpose is to work toward removing your interpretation of what you experience and focusing on what you’re experiencing. What do you actually see/hear, not what do you think you see/hear or what do you think about what you see/hear?

WRITING PROMPT: Do the above exercise several times in different rooms or settings. If three minutes aren’t enough, feel free to increase the time.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “I Can So Too

  1. Sara Deurell

    January 8, 2011 at 1:11pm

    I was just joshin’ ya. 🙂

    Anyway, this is an awesome exercise! Seems like a good way to strip away unoriginal first-reaction description and force you to think about what you’re describing from a fresh perspective. Cool!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 8, 2011 at 1:25pm

      Right! In the workshop, a lot of people wanted to do the metaphor thing, and Ms. Friman was like, “Really? Seriously? You heard a lion roar? How did you know it was a lion? Oh, you mean you heard a sound that sounded like you imagine a lion roar sounds like. But what was the sound actually LIKE? Low, high-pitched, sustained, intermittent, what?” Then she had us do it again. lol!

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  2. Nancy Williams

    January 8, 2011 at 1:32pm

    Now I have a picture of my furnace chasing gazelles in my front yard. Wait, I remember the old furnace that looked like an octopus in my Mother’s basement. Yes, it freaked me out. Now the arms are moving all over the place, the gazelles are hopping madly away and Dr. Who just showed up in his British phone booth. Oh my, I’m checking my tea for more than ice just in case. LOL

    Seriously, it “sounds” like a great exercise.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 8, 2011 at 3:46pm

      LOL! Nancy, I think you have a story here–Cthulhu thrashing all over a suburban lawn trying to catch a gazelle…. Definitely in the bizarro genre. ~grin~ You made my day!

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  3. Sarah G

    January 8, 2011 at 9:27pm

    During my time at the billboard company, my mentor was a weaver. I did comic book art. I drew the lines around things, she saw things in terms of shapes. Very different way of thinking.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 9, 2011 at 4:06pm

      Very interesting! One really does see things differently, depending on the medium. I used to draw and paint, and I saw things differently when I was doing line drawing than I did when I was painting. Brains are funny old things, aren’t they?

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