It’s been suggested by professionals, whether it’s professors or teachers, personal coaches, or others, that before you begin an intensive work-out, physical or mental, it’s a good idea to have a “warm-up”. Some suggest writing a few paragraphs about a specific memory or a random topic. Others are of the mind to also prepare your surroundings with everything you might need. If you use a computer to type your work on, they advise having things handy like a dictionary, thesaurus, a pen & paper, a beverage, music perhaps. Anything to help facilitate your literary “flow” in being productive and expansive.
I’m the kind of writer that usually meditates on mysubject or idea for several days, if not weeks, before I actually write an outline or begin to put my thoughts down. I like to mentally plan out then visualize the whole story from beginning to end first. I seldom do “warm-up” exercises immediately before I write, but if I have a very definite topic to consider, sometimes I do write “flash fics” as if they are excerpts drawn from the whole. I might incorporate them into the main narrative later, but maybe not. It does get my mind focussed on the task at hand. I take extra care to focus on correct grammatics and if my “voice” is not just telling the story, but “showing” it also. I want it to be readable.
There are times when I couldn’t get my writing going if someone offered me a million dollars for a sole paragraph. If I happen to try a writing exercise, and it is difficult to produce, I put writing aside for moment. That saves me time of simply sitting and getting a “blank” or typing and deleting over and over again.
Here an exercise I did preparing to focus on a mystery story I am in the process of writing at the moment called “Hazardous Confessions.” It involves a former law enforcement officer who is having difficulty adapting to civilian life. I am on a chapter where he happens to be relating parts of his past to a friend who currently serves in a municipal department.
“The young woman, late twenties, brand new sports car and very bad attitude, had been impatient and rude from the time I motioned her to the side, out the line of traffic. As soon as she rolled down her window the words out of her mouth, after a very loud sigh, were, “I haven’t done anything wrong!” One of the telling comments wrongdoers’ have been known to immediately ejaculate after being pulled over.
I’d taken her information and issued the citation she deserved, among others I didn’t give, and though I never took anything for granted with the indicators her behaviour had highlighted, I turned and was walking back to my car when I heard the squeal of tires laced with a string of expletives and instinctually launched into a dive to my left out of the radius of which her tires could turn, but not before the left front quarterpanel struck my lower legs causing serious injury. It was almost stereotypical: the sounds, the world seeming to move in slow motion as I was struck and lifted into the air while the car sped off.
The next weeks were as a strange dream you are experience awake yet cannot truly be a part of or understand. There was response to my calls for back-up, and an ambulance which took me away. The woman was apprehended, and in due course, there was a trial and a conviction. The evidence had been clear and there were a number of credible witnesses, a team of roofers who had been working very nearby on a house. That could have been considered a triumph but I was no longer able to pass specifications. It was suggested I request and test for another position behind a desk, not the average, but one still vital. I did so. I went to the interview with high hopes yet when I walked into the office of the captain who was to be interviewing me, I could see in his face something was wrong. I could tell when I walked in the office and his secretary refused to meet my eye or answer my friendly greeting directly. Her response had been terse and almost sneering.
In further checking my references and contacting friends, family, co-workers or managers from the past, they’d contacted a former supervisor whom I’d had a strong disagreement with and this former supervisor had given the most derogatory comments possible, almost to the point of accusing me of criminal activity. Instead of considering the many glowing comments made from over two dozen others, or checking further into that supervisor’s own activities, as they were fired from their position less than a month after that review for mendacity, I was denied the job and it was suggested I move on to another career. With hindsight, that captain rescinded that suggestion and acknowledged a wrong had been done to me but I no longer wished the job. It might have been devastating to me. The day it happened, the day afterwards it truly was, for I was in a shock which crested to terrible anger then into bitterness. Ironically enough, only a week after that, it was the greatest thing which could have happened to me.
For years I had questioned myself about my choice of career. There were many aspects of the law enforcement I enjoyed. I loved helping people. It was my privilege to try to help those who could not help themselves even if they were convicted criminals, drug users or whatever else, but the department I worked in was rife with bigotry and if not that strong description, a certain apathy towards those they considered “less desirable or worthy”. I had questioned my remaining in the USA when I was unhappy. Had I been offered the promotion I would likely have accepted and remained in my misery and kept it hidden to my emotional detriment.
Instead, I booked a one way flight back to Germany but not to the city of my birth I was familiar with, but to the capital Berlin, where I knew no one. I had no accommodations or plans or hope for work. I just needed to get away and return to the place I had loved and felt I had been loved. I succeeded in finding many dear friends, and love, and work.
Some might believe a terrible incidence such as my injury might have caused lassitude. Some might believe the humiliation of a horribly failed interview even if I was later justified might have caused a sense of failure, but those events were the ones which allowed me to actually achieve happiness and true acceptance in my life. Those were negative events to be sure, but their effect was an epiphany and rebirth of self for me.”
There are many writing groups and forums across the web that both challenge and provide creative outlets for authors such as Indie Ink. I’ve not had the time to participate recently, but if you’re looking for a fun place to polish your “skills”, check them out:
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