Chapter 7 – Distilling Voice
Following from the introduction of free writing in the previous chapter, this one challenges you to make use of it to develop your ear, your instinct for where your writing is ‘on’.
For a week, free-write for 10 minutes each day (new or continuing piece) as quickly as you can, no thinking, no judging. Then leave it in a drawer for a week, before reading it out loud and marking any words or passages that leap out and grab you. In the third week, repeat the daily 10 minute free-write, but this time start each session with one of your underlined phrase – this avoids ‘introduction’ and starts with something vital.
After another week off, repeat the reading aloud and marking provocative, interesting, and unusual bits. But this time, delete everything else. What’s left should really ‘sing’ – if not, repeat the process.
Chapter 8 – Inviting Accidents
Like drawing with ink blots, free-writing encourages ‘interesting accidents’. You;re looking to find something that sparks excitement. Most of what you free write will be completely disposable, but occasionally you will stumble across something that comes not from your brain but from your nervous system. Once you train yourself to spot this, you’ll find bits in your other writing – parts that should be kept and built on.
Chapter 9 – Listening to the Voice of Childhood
This isn’t about reliving childhood memories, but more about the way children tell stories. Everything is immediate. They grab inspiration between breaths, based on whatever they can see. Children haven’t cut themselves off from their passions: everything matters, from not being allowed to go to the circus to the jam tarts mum bakes to make up for the disappointment – think how powerful those stories, those memories, can be.
Along with some other suggested exercises, I liked this one: experiment with your senses. Listen to the sounds of a supermarket, observe the people at a music event.