Jan 11 2011

Peculiar Pose

Melissa Crytzer Fry

No, I didn’t say pelican pose. Or peculiar prose (though I’ve seen some of that emerge from my keyboard lately). Peculiar pose, as in, “What is that crazy bird doing?”

A lone turkey vulture along Arizona’s San Pedro River, although separated from his group of pals, seems unfazed that I am madly snapping photos of his comical sunbathing stance. Click to enlarge.

This turkey vulture, with his spread-wing posture, is working to absorb solar energy so that he can passively raise his body temperature. Turns out, the vulture’s internal temperature drops during the nighttime, so it needs that pick-me-up in the morning to get the wings a’flappin again.

For Writers: Where do you get your writing energy? How do you warm up? What techniques do you use to start your writing day without stiff muscles?

I find, personally, that reading the works of others is a great warm up – and quite inspirational. And so is outdoor running, which seems always to jostle some creative morsels from my mind. I also wanted to share some excellent instructional tips from Janet Burroway et. al, in the text, Writing Fiction:

  • Regular journaling: Write about anything. Write as little or as much as you want. But make journaling a regular habit. Include brief notes or descriptions, overheard phrases, ideas for future stories. “Keeping a journal regularly will put you in the habit of observing in words,” says Burroway.
  • Freewriting: Get something down on paper, anything – and at whatever time of day you want. Or use freewriting to unlock your creativity. The point is simply to write. Says Burroway, “If you freewrite often, pretty soon you’ll be bored with writing about how you don’t feel like writing and you will find your mind and phrases running on things that interest you.” It’s a way of developing “verbal muscles,” she says.
  • Roll out of bed and write: Dorothea Brande, in her book Becoming a Writer, suggests that writers “unlock” their thoughts on paper by rising each day and heading straight for the desk for 20-30 minutes. Let whatever thoughts roll from your head out on to the keyboard … before you are quite awake, before you’ve spoken to anyone, before you’ve read anything, “before reason has begun to take over from the dream-functioning of your brain.”  The key, she says, is to write it, put it away without reading it, and after a week or two, do two such writing sessions each day. “It doesn’t matter what you write,” says Burroway of Brande’s technique. “What does matter is that you develop the habit of beginning to write the moment you sit down to do so.”

What works for you? Would you be willing to try any of the above suggestions? Or do you already employ them? I think I am going to try the “roll-out-of-bed-and-write” technique. If nothing else, some of my bizarre dreams will see the light of day before crawling back to the recesses of my mind. I will be sure to let you know how it goes.


5 Responses to “Peculiar Pose”

  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Hey Melissa….I am with you on roll-out-of-the-bed-and-write. I am sure going to start that, and also on keeping a journal. Even free writing sounds fun. Better still, I will try all three. Thanks for sharing.

    Will let you know how its goes. I am sure in my case it will be all my crazy dreams of the night before. 🙂

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    Melissa Reply:

    I did the ‘roll-out-of-bed’ technique this morning. Wow. I have to say that it was a pretty interesting experience. I had about three to four disjointed, completely unconnected (and senseless) dreams that just fell on to the paper. I was done with my 20 min warmup before I knew it. I can totally see how beginning your day this way unleashes some creativity and makes the act of writing feel, somehow, less daunting. I think, on another level, the act of writing being the VERY first thing you do says, “Writing is my TOP priority.”

    I’m definitely going to try to make this part of my daily routine. How did it go for you?

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  • avatar Jamie Says:

    What a great post, and so timely for me. I actually just found an old book of writing prompts (one a day for a year), and I started re-reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, both have which reminded me that writing everyday (even just the smallest amount) is important. I can tell a difference in my writing when I do — it’s like it helps me access a more creative space or something. It’s very cool, but it’s so hard to do consistently! Thanks for the reminder. And, I will definitely not be trying the roll out of bed and write technique — I’m so not a morning person!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I can fully relate to ‘not being a morning person,’ but so far, the roll-out-of-bed thing has been a bit invigorating for me. (Who’d a thunk?). Bird By Bird is on my list of to-reread this year, too! Great minds think alike. And, yes, I agree that there is some mystical power at work when we write regularly – that it somehow keeps the creative mind awake.

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  • avatar P.I. Barrington Says:

    I’ve never utilized any type of warm-up or ritual that some writers use but am thinking of trying one or two just to see if it helps! Maybe journaling since my niece bought me a gorgeous one for Christmas!

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