I get the train most days in London and it often makes me stressed and anxious, and in honesty I have been in a bit of an anxiety cyclone recently and when that happens I tend to avoid writing which is odd because is always makes me feel better. So yesterday I deliberately didn’t take my headphones out with me, just a little A6 notepad and a couple pens.
So here is a simple writing exercise for your daily commute (if you have an iPad/tablet or a phone you could even do the editing on it too although on a phone the lineation might be hard)
-First part of the writing happens on your way TO SOMETHING/SOMEWHERE so it will take as long as that chunk of the journey.
-By hand: this is a key challenge for me at the moment, I am so used to and comfortable with typing I want to see how writing by hand changes what I find.
-Choose every third thought: (I definitely stole this off of one of my friends but can’t remember which SO SORRY) but write slowly, look around you for images, phrases, smells.
-Same rules as part 1
-Write with a different pen
-Don’t read the first chunk of writing, just carry on writing.
3. EDITING PART 1 – TYPE IT UP
-Leave the line and stanza breaks wherever they fell which, if you are like me will probably be largely restrained by the narrowness of your book!
-Keep any typos, these can sometimes be more interesting. (Big up my fellow dyslexia massive, it’s sometimes a better poet than we are!)
Obstructing the doors can
be dangerous – Mind the
thigh gap. This is a circle line
service, suspended, suspenders,
skin coloured rights and a
pair of black Asics’.
It’s simple – no touching. It’s
6.47 in the morning so
we lye on the concrete outside
the club to catch the
I’m embarrassed to say it’s
Please stand clear of the yellow
Line – but when it’s
far out we all play the
game. Train as fast as
hairs to blade or a baby’s
face – the line between laugh
and cry as you tickle away today.
The next station is
Embankment. When I told strangers
I was a Vigrin they told me
They didn’t like sex
Or it’s the best
Or when you start can I be next?
The train is ready to
depart can you mind the closing
If you need to ask
If I need to pause.
Get on the night tube
Or the N25
Hear your converse splash
As your backside dives
Look down at the lino
Smell where you’ve arrived
Vomit more extensive than
The M25 –
Running down the carriage
Like period down a thigh
Puss from a stye
Everyone sitting like
Everything’s fine –
Is the apocalypse ny?
The next station is Temple
My body – what will you
Sacrifice on my steps?
This train is being held
At a red light because
Of a person on the line –
A fatality at Westminster.
We are now ready to
Depart – please do
Not obstruct the closing
What doors inside you
Tell us what you think,
Contacting us is easy.
The gaps between my
Cheek and his hand.
No one taught me the
don’t touch me
and I love you
That thye can live
There are Cannons
On the streets inside
The tube map looks so
Simple when you’re from
This cound of London.
Squint. What do you think?
When did I loose my
Virginity if it’s not just
About a dick going in?
Australia is the best because
It’s daytime is out nighttime
You can reply to all
Their emails whilst
#Metoo… how many hashtags
have I drawn a line
I’ve thouh of too many
Hands in my sleep –
Seen too many men on
Dance floors tonguing
I heart they got rid
Of bendy buses cause a
Body was trapped
In the rubber fold –
Dragged for miles
Like chewing fun on
My mate had sex
With a train driver
Said it was
Great. I didn’t
Really like strangling
People but I
Also don’t know
What I do like –
once and embarrassed
I didn’t know
What to say except
Stay, stay, stay
Behind the yellow
4. EDIT 2 – CUT & PLAY
-Cut and add trying to find sense, I always feel like first drafts are subconscious Debris leaving conscious Debris some sort of riddle and when I edit I need to get closer to the answer. So, read out loud if you can and cut and add to try and find the core thread of this riddle.
-Edit your line and stanza breaks to add to meaning (play around to see what works).
-Get rid of the explicit divide between the first and second half unless if feels like it’s serving something.
Obstructing the doors
can be dangerous – This circle is suspended,
suspenders, skin coloured tights and black Asics’.
6.47 in the morning, catch
It’s embarrassed to say anything
stay behind of the yellow line – but when it’s
unnecessarily far in we all play the
game. Train fast as a baby’s face –
laugh to cry in naught point six
then as you tickle the fear away.
Get on the night tube or N25 – Converse splash
vomit more extensive than than M25 –
Running down the carriage like period down a thigh
Puss from a sty – everyone sitting like
Everything’s fine?! Is the apocalypse nigh?
The next station is Temple, my body –
what will you sacrifice on my steps?
This train is being held at a red light
person on the line, fatality at Westminster. We are now ready
to depart – please do not obstruct
the closing doors. What doors inside you are closing?
Tell us what you think, contacting us is easy.
The gaps between my cheek and his hand.
There are Cannons on the streets inside Me.
The tube map looks so simple when you’re from
his country of London. Squint. What do you think?
When did you loose your
Virginity if it’s not just
about a dick going in?
My mate had sex with a train driver
Said it was great. I was asked
What I like once, and I didn’t know what to say
Except stay, stay, stay, please
stay behind the yellow line.
5. EDIT 3 – CUT IT DOWN TO 16 LINES
-So I am working on a series of poems that are all 16 lines in length at the moment, but it also works as a nice exercise to cut something down radically!
-You might want to have an additional exercise where it gets a bit bigger or maybe even smaller but working towards a specific line length is a nice exercise to challenge you to trim down to the essentials of a piece.
-Come up with a title.
It’s Simple, No Touching
6.47AM, catch shadows yawn. Commuters rebel, [please
stay behind of the yellow line] trains fast as a baby’s face –
bird-song fights with tracks to tickle the fear away.
N25 – Converse splash vomit more extensive than M25. Chunky fluid
running down carriage like period down thigh. Everyone sitting like
everything’s fine? Is the apocalypse nigh?
[The next station is Temple] My Body, what will you sacrifice on my steps?
[This train is being held at a red light – person on the line – fatality at Westminster.
We are now ready to depart, please do not obstruct the closing doors]
What doors inside you are closing? [Tell us what you think,
contacting us is easy] The gap between my cheek and his hand.
There are Cannons on the streets inside me. A tube of privacy –
When did you lose your Virginity if it’s not just about a dick going in?
My mate had sex with a train driver said it was great. I was asked
what I like once, and I didn’t know what to say
except stay, stay, stay, please [stay behind the yellow line].
Far from done but I have a DRAFT of something for my 16 series. Hope you get something out of this too!