Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Roo Borson Inspired Writing Exercise

I've been suffering from writer's block. I had some good stuff going earlier in the year, and then when school finished (and subsequently my creative writing class), I stopped. "The worse thing you can do is stop," my professor Struan Sinclair told me.

For the past few months I've been struggling to get my momentum back. I am stuck. I have fragments, but no real story. Before I could sit down and crank out 1000 words, now I trudge my way through 200. It's pathetic and sad. But more sad.

When I heard that Roo Borson was doing a talk on creativity for the Big Ideas series, I thought, "Ah-ha! Just what I need!"

Part of her creative process is writing fragments of ideas down ("Hey, I have those!"). She then takes years worth of these fragments, and collages them together like "newspaper clippings, except you wrote all the content."

I asked her, "What do you do when you have trouble putting together the pieces?"

Her response: "Rearrange them to get new ideas, but you'll likely have to write more to fill in the gaps."

"Write more."

So here are some fragments of my own from my Big Ideas experience:
Would David Waltner-Toews consider writing about the appropriation of food chemicals by molecular gastronomists?

My best friend started to pick "fair trade" when we went for coffee, but I think she just liked the taste.

A man had a U-shaped foam cushion strapped to his hiking backpack. He placed on his seat, but spent most of the reading standing up.

I eyed the last piece of a California Roll on the platter. The disposable chopsticks wrappers said "Sushi Train," but I was so hungry it didn't matter.

It's silly to stop the elevator going down on the second floor.

Now to fill in the gaps. Arg.

* * *

Ashley Sy is a Winnipeg born and bred freelance writer specializing in arts, music, and culture. She has written for Stylus, The Manitoban, and, and has begun copywriting for the Regina-based firm Benchmark PR. Currently, Ashley is working on getting her short fiction published—she fully embraces the classification of emerging writer. You can hear Ashley every Saturday night on 101.5 UMFM, on her pop-punk nostalgia show, Parking Lot Rock.

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