7 unique methods to write with a twist

In ancient times, where eras were recognized as AD and BC, our current lives can be categorized as Before Pandemic and After Pandemic. While we’re still living amidst the pandemic, it has reached a tipping point for all of us. Most of us are still dealing with a huge magnitude of stress in different forms. However only we can cure ourselves of this monotonic era, which seems to be disintegrating like a volcano.

You wake up one day, it’s a curfew, the next day is a cyclone, the third day is a hushed-up rumor of a Covid-19 patient in your vicinity and if nothing, the fourth day is terrible: the maid cancels on you. Life truly has been amusing and melancholic at the same time. It has made us laugh at our misery while also washing some dishes by the side.

Amidst this chaos, creativity can take a serious hit, and writing a new piece can be quite exhausting. Writing is like a workout that needs to be done every day, even when the epiphany doesn’t strike. As writers, it is important to step back from the work you’re doing and take a different approach. With some experiences through workshops and some insightful teachers, here are 7 fun ways to rekindle the lost spark on writing, and make it a fun exercise.

Before we get into some interesting techniques that I’ve picked up over some years, here are some practical guides from the best in the business to get that wheel moving.

1. Sensible method

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of attending a workshop at the Tata Literature Live ‘When The Landscape Speaks: Listening And Conversing With Places’ by writer Yvonne Owuors.

She introduced us to an interesting technique to trigger our senses. She handed over a couple of raisins and a piece of cinnamon stick to all of us. We were then given 10 minutes to write down a personal essay about a memory that was triggered by the smell of cinnamon and the taste of raisins. The diversity in the essays written was enriching and this exercise proved to be quite impactful.

Research has proven that we associate strong memories with the sense of smell and flavor and there’s a lot to explore in this memorabilia in our brains.  A good pre-exercise would be to figure out the scent or flavor that you associate a happy incident with. It could be a piece of dried leaf in an old notebook, coffee beans, an old diary, or even a spice. This is a fun exercise to get you some momentum in writing.


2. Mad Libs

This is a super fun game for creating stories. Although it is a popular party game, it can get the ball rolling. Inspiration strikes anytime and Mad Libs is a game that can bring in a zing to an unfinished piece. If it helps you can start with a family member or a friend, and start building a fun plot using mad libs. Next time you’re stuck on a blank page, you can just WhatsApp a fun mad lib in your group. The results will be nothing short of epic!

3. Voice notes

“A writer works when he’s staring out of the window.“ – Burton Rascoe.

A tricky thing with writers is to be able to retain an idea whenever it strikes. As writers, we tend to time travel often into different worlds and it’s a struggle to revisit the idea when it originally struck. For me, all my household chores are a breeding ground for ideas, but as I motion back to my work desk, I am seeking the lost idea. However, with experience, I’ve learned to retain the idea when it strikes i.e. using voice notes. Except for washing clothes, almost all errands can be done with our mobile where we can use the feature of voice notes. We can use it to quickly record the idea, keywords, or key points and then revisit when we get to work. It’s easy, fuss-free, and can be used effectively to implement an idea.

4. Stopwatch

This is a skill I picked up from SkillShare training courses. I enrolled for a short writing course where the author used a stopwatch to list down her ideas. This is great technique when you need a starting point. You can set yourself a timer of 2 minutes, and list down all the important keywords. Repeat this a couple more times, and you’re sure to zero in on the idea with better detailing and a broad skeleton prepared that you can work later on.

5. Ambiance switch

This can be a tricky method but is also an effective test. You can switch between a completely quiet ambiance to a noisy one and allow yourself to write with abandon. Leave aside, the syntax and the layering for editing. This is an interesting test where you’d be surprised to see the end product. If you’re at the epicenter of a family and the primary caregiver, this is a regular scenario and you can leverage it to your advantage.

6. Word count technique

This is quite popular in writing workshops. You start by picking up a random writing prompt. You can use Pinterest or Google to find yourself a writing prompt and set yourself a word limit of say 500 words. Subsequently, you compress it down to 250 words, 100, 50, and then into a single sentence of max 20 words. This can be very exciting and effective and it can produce some amazing results.

7. Photographs and stories

Nostalgia can be a great starter for ideas. Childhood photographs, slam books, memorabilia can be a great point to have a plot line. You can re-ignite the imagination from your early days and create a zany zesty arc to build on. Go on and open that trunk, that stuff is waiting to be rediscovered. Give it another run, and it will surely be worth the time.

Writing is a labor, a constant work in progress. And just like any other art form it needs to be developed regularly. The struggle is to sail through the mundane days, and a little twist in the tale can truly spice things up.

Do try these techniques and let me know what worked for you. Also, share some new and fun tips that you use to get your writing wheel out of the mud and we can have an interesting think tank right there. Cheers!

This post was published as Guest post on Blogchatter circa October 2020.

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