Here’s some more information about the purpose of The Writer’s Block* and its exercises within, as quoted from the introduction.
Writing is hard for everyone. We all get stuck. Every short story and novel presents its own unique set of challenges, and a writer encounters them for the first time with every new project.
Some people develop writer’s block halfway through a first draft - they find themselves in the middle of a short story and discover that they’re stuck. The words just won’t come…Other people claim to live in a perpetual state of writer’s block. They say they want to be writers, but they’re waiting for inspiration to strike, or a really good idea to sink their teeth into.
This book offers solutions to all different kinds of writer’s block, but it is not a how-to manual. There is so much contradictory advice within these pages, I don’t think a how-to manual on writing can ever be written…
Aside from this introduction, The Writer’s Block is not meant to be read in a linear fashion. [Author’s Note - However, this is how I will be using it.]
Then, author Jason Rekulak describes the three different exercises featured in the book.
1. Writing Challenges
These short assignments are designed to get you writing as quickly as possible; don’t ponder the exercise for more than a minute or so before putting pen to paper. With all of these exercises, it’s more helpful to think as you write - you can always go back and revise it later..resist the urge to plan, outline, chart or map, and just get the pen moving.
All of these exercises are paired with photographs. For example, the charge “Describe your first brush with danger” is accompanied by by a photograph of a boy playing with matches. Some writers may answer this challenge with an autobiographical piece; others may choose to write about the boy in the photograph. [AN - This is the first challenge; I will be using the latter option.] Either approach is okay. And perhaps you’ll want to develop the exercise into a longer piece…
Welcome these kinds of changes, and remember that each exercise is only a jumping-off point; if your story veers into new terrain, consider yourself blessed and stay along for the ride.
2. Spark Words
Many spreads throughout this book consist of a single word that is paired with a photograph (or photographs). These “spark words” carry different meanings for different people; ask ten different women to write about the word “diet” and you’ll receive ten very different responses…other spark words offer direct challenges to your imagination. Can you write a scene or story that centres around words like “Oops” or “Ouch”?…just remember, as with the exercises, you shouldn’t plan very long before setting pen to paper. And you should only treat these spark words as a jumping-off point - follow the story into new territory if that’s where it wants to go. By obeying the lead of your imagination, you may end up with a perfectly wonderful short story that doesn’t mention the spark word once.
3. Writing Topics
From choosing a title and selecting an opening line to coping with negative criticism, these topics feature advice and exercises from legendary and contemporary writers…When appropriate, these topics conclude with a related exercise or writing challenges, but feel free to ignore them if your instincts pull you in another direction. Again, the key here is to let your imagination take the lead.”
With that, I am ready to start writing the very first exercise, which, as noted in the first quote, is “Describe your first brush with danger” and is paired with a picture of a boy playing with matches.
I will post the story later today.
*Rekulak, Jason. The Writer’s Block: 741 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination. Pennsylvania: Running Press, 2001