Thursday, 24 November 2011

Poetic Zumba

I quite like writing exercises. I completely understand why people don’t, they seem prescriptive, and lacking in true creativity as they adhere to rules. I don’t much like rules. I do however like the rigidity of them, while I take a run up and bounce off them, ricocheting like a rubber ball between them and creating something which technically fits but is spilling out of the top a little. I am the lone voice in the corner that stands out from the technically accurate and beautiful language, poetry and prose and has clearly gone for the laugh, no matter how far I’ve had to stretch it.

This may well be a self preservation exercise; I don’t want to write serious stuff in case I’m told its crap. But I usually manage to get a giggle somewhere in the room if not a raised eyebrow, and that’s enough for me. My proudest achievement on my Writing for Children MA has been reducing a fellow student from Texas into hysterics to the point she couldn’t speak, she kept repeating my character’s name and was a mixture of pity at his predicament and choking laughter at his reaction. My humour has managed to transfer to the US quite well, I thought. It was work written based on an exercise, and I used it as a springboard for ideas. I played up, like the naughty child in the class, but using the written word rather than a ruler and the back of another child’s head.

So, I guess my point here is that yes, exercises may seem a little bit dull, and you might not feel like you’re doing anything truly original with them. But they can be useful to get you writing, to work within those rigid outlines to twist everything on its head and come up with something that is definitely different to the predicted outcome. Go for the laugh, go for attention, shock, reach for new language, challenge those boundaries, try and do something no-one around you is doing. Sometimes a few rules can help creativity. Just make sure you get the right momentum going for a good rebound...


Ashley R Lister said...

And are you going to tell us the name of the character that had your Texan colleague in such a state of mirth?

I'm hoping it was Betty Swollox (the character name - not the Texan).


PS - Great post. I wholly sympathise and always go for the giggle factor rather than running the risk of being told my attempts at seriousness aren't valid.

Lindsay said...

Ash - It was a children's story I've started featuring a sheep named Wullie whose fleece has been rudely taken from him, and he wasn't happy about it at all. It doesn't seem that funny written there but it tickled her and she read it to one of her American friends via webcam and she told me he was falling about with laughter as well. I'm thinking about pitching it to an American publisher judging by that reaction.

Ashley R Lister said...

Wullie? I like that. Now,if Wullie has a sister called Felice...


Anonymous said...

Wullie is a great name!