June 27, 2014 Prompt #56
Today, more random play as we explore ways to re-vision, re-see, and re-imagine our work. This exercise comes from writer and translator T. Begley, from whom I took a writing workshop 20 years ago at The Naropa Institute (that’s what it was called back then).
- Choose a section of a story or essay you’ve written that is about a page long. Or choose a single piece of flash fiction or a short to medium-length poem.
- Retype it or rewrite it backwards. That is, on a fresh sheet of paper, write the last sentence of the paragraph, followed by the second to last sentence, and so on until you write the original first sentence as the new last sentence.
- Read it out loud.
- Highlight something that surprised you.
- Circle something that has taken on a new meaning with the rewrite.
- Underline something that you think could be improved or changed.
- Underline a sentence or phrase that particularly speaks to you. Write it on the top of a new sheet of page and write for 10 minutes.
- Thinking about #4 above, for 10 minutes, write in response to what surprised you. You can continue in the same style (fiction, verse, etc.) or try more of a self-review.
- Thinking about #5 above, for 10 minutes, write in response to what has taken on new meaning. Again, you can continue in the same style (fiction, verse, etc.) or try more of a self-review.
Variations for Writing Groups
- Cut up your original poem or prose excerpt into individual sentences or long phrases.
- Swap one each of your sentences or phrases with two other writing group members.
- Rearrange your sentences and your newly-obtained sentences into a new piece.
If your style or subject matter is feeling stale or repetitious, prompts like this can help you step back from your writing and see it in a new light.