This is a slower burning week long writing workout, you could do a bit every day, every other day, or at the beggining and end of the week maybe – totally up to you. I have just been feeling really physically exhausted recently (currently on a dance tour with The Heatwave) and felt to put something together that you could spread over the week in whatever way you fancy. 

This is also a really good exercise for when you feel like the whole world is against you, maybe you didn’t put a pen or paper in your bag, your word processor is crashing, you keep dropping sh** – you know them days/ weeks/ months where it feels like NOTHING IS GOING YOUR WAY. So I want to say to you what this post it on my wall reminds me of every day, ‘Turn every possible excuse into a surprising source of creation or creativity.’ I am going to set some rules/ options/ examples of rules in each phase of this workout to give examples of how that might work!

TASK 1 – Surprise Yourself. 

-Step into this week knowing that at some point you are going to write, but let it surprise you. I was sitting in a Pret between meetings, when I realised I needed to and I actually didn’t have any paper on me so I ended up writing on the back of a series of Cue-Cards (I am mad dyslexic is that how you spell it) that I had just used at a conference! Rules I gave myself: 

  1. As I said – let the writing surprise you.
  2. Ideally write in a unconventional unexpected way i.e. the cue cards, on your hand, on a napkin, with a crayon, on the toilet, on the bus, whilst walking, make an audio note on your phone WHATEVER.
  3. Do it fast and without questioning yourself (for me this resulted in largely ineligible handwriting, if this is an option for you – go with it).
  4. Ideally then leave whatever it is for a day or two without reading, questioning or worrying about it. Let it brew.

TASK 2 – Write it Out When Your Most Reluctant

Since I submitted a 72 page long first draft a month ago I have been avoiding writing which I think is justifiable rest BUT the past couple weeks I have known I need to go back to training (as a writer I mean). So I had these cue-cards in my bag for a couple days, and they kept whispering to me and it got louder and louder till at 6pm an hour before I had to go to the gym I just KNEW I HAD TO DO SOMETHING WITH THEM DESPITE REAALLLLLY NOT WANTING TO. So I:

  1. Tried to use Word but it crashed so instead wrote out the scribbles into my big A3 note book and decided to
  2. have fun with the hand-writing I couldn’t understand, things I had spelt wrong, things that didn’t make sense.
  3. Instead of turning all my social media onto flight mode (which I usually do when I write) I actually went on instagram every time I got stuck and used the first phase or image that jumped out at me in the poem!

TASK 3 – Answer the Phone to Inspiration.

 

  1. Wait a bit if you can.
  2. Have a meaningful phone conversation with someone you don’t speak to enough and that you love (we all don’t answer the phone to these people enough because we are preoccupied with emails – My human was an amazing friend I have known for a long time called Akilah).
  3. Type up the draft and add where you feel inspired – actively sourcing from the phone conversation.
  4. Cut where is feels dull and unnecessary, let yourself take the poem to a completely new place/tangent from where it started.

 

Draft 1

Struggle is contextual

Black is the new black

What is the new death?

I take unread emails instead of cows milk in my coffee

 

I want to tell you I feel free when you kiss me

You cant dance to his tune because you actually have rhythm

Don’t kiss me with your autoresponder

Why wear shoulder pads – we are angular enough?

 

I’m scared that if I look at you for too long I might vanish.

Do you know there is blue under my gold nail varhish?

What’s wrong with these guys that never climax – I don’t understand them

 

WARNING – CHOKING RISK

THIS CAP CONTAINS SMALL PARTS

No hats, hoods, caps, sportswear – hard soled shoes only.

I contain small parts.

How many do you contain?

In order to leave I am doing to have to ask myself some very hard questions.

 

What are you in denial about?

What pornography do you like to watch?

What are you running from or towards?

 

A toddler is crying.

Do you hug the child?

If so, is the hug for you or them?

That moustache doesn’t suit you.

A beautiful woman tells me that in her country

She could never dress like me and be taken seriously.

You push your forehead into the back of my neck.

If my body is a house

Which organ is the wifi box?

I can feel the miscellaneous lights dancing.

Stand on the edge of the toilet like a tourist.

Ladies, have you ever seen your own wee hole.

Butter knife through breast bone like easter egg.

Bora in right buttock.

Moments of meeting or merit?

What is enough?

The dark fragrance,

The amount of seconds it is socially acceptable

To watch your shopping role down the train isle –

Watching 17p tangerines navigate random shoes

Until someone tells you whilst passing you a banana

(lost leader) that when you go home you should get some rest

then return to your desk

pupils big as king sized beds

what next, what’s next, what is next?

Make a coffee

Answer a text

Mix yesterdays microwave dinner with eggs.

Cocaine omelet and a tidy mess.

Buy stationary from muji,  fuck the rest.

 

TASK 4 – SKRRRT 

1. What else is on your mind right now? What is bothering you? What do you NEED to write about? You might even want to do a separate journal entry (if you like that kinda thing or need that kinda thing) to get to the answer of that.

2. Redraft and SKRRRT, redirect the poem towards that need.

3. Cut savagely.

 

Draft 2

Too many people kiss like an autoresponder,

 eyes close fast as ctl/ copy/ paste,

the unbuffered rush of an anonymous face.

 

I want to tell you –

This message was deleted.

Finger circling central of Mac screen.

Wait.

Are we loading or have we crashed.

Is our generation to fast to hit restart?

I feel free when you kiss me.

I’m scared that if I look at you for too long I might vanish.

WARNING – CHOKING RISK

THIS CAP CONTAINS SMALL PARTS

I contain small parts.

How many do you contain?

 

A toddler somewhere is crying.

Do you hug? If so, who is the hug for?

You push your forehead into the back of my neck.

If my body is a house

Which organ is the wifi box?

I can feel the miscellaneous lights dancing.

Stand on the edge of the toilet like a tourist.

A playstation has all the component parts of a computer tower.

Pull it apart like lego, or bread, or your chest

And start again –

What is enough?

The amount of seconds it is socially acceptable

To watch your shopping role down the train isle –

17p tangerines navigating Doctor Marten’s

Until someone tells you whilst (passing a banana –

lost leader) that when you go home, you should get some rest

then return to your desk – pupils intimidating as empty king sized beds

what next, what’s next,

what is next? Make a coffee/

Answer a text/ Mix yesterdays microwave dinner with eggs/

Cocaine omelet and a tidy mess/

When I blink I imagine your fingers escaping through my hair

Unseen circles whirring, something inside is loading,

Pull apart this PlayStation and start creating.

 

TASK 5 – MAKE IT SOMETHING 

1. Copy and Paste the draft

2. Give it a title

3. Play with the order

4. Mess with the rules of punctuation

5. Make it 16 lines long (I am playing with this as a set length atm if you have your own your working with choose that of course)

6. Think slowly and breathe

7. Make sure the line breaks/the space in the poem has as much purpose as the words

 

 

If it takes you a month or two that is fine too you know! Basically a slower burn for those months we want to be a bit less ruthless with ourselves.

Happy writing.

Debris x

P.S. I wanted to say a big thank you for an amazing friend of mine for 10 years now, Akilah , who took the time to let me know my writing exercises had been there for her even when I couldn’t be – I stole quite a few beautiful images in this poem from her (amazing writer, love you) x