Friday Writing Exercise 8 Comments

Friday Writing Exercise

Third week in of Friday Writing Exercises and we are going great guns!  We’ve had posts about spelling at school on a wet afternoon, bogan window-cleaners planning their holidays, angsty couples inside while it rains outside, a dog named WOGGER and some sinister book burning activities.

Just remember that if you do the exercise but don’t want to post it up as a comment we’d still love to hear how you’ve gone and if you found it inspiring or boring or awful or great. We’d also love to know things like how long it took you, where you did the exercise, how many other people you roped into writing with you, etc.

Now to this week’s exercise. It’s a form of freewriting with a little more structure. Freewriting is basically the idea that you set yourself a time limit and write continuously until the time is up. That means keeping the pen moving the whole time, no going back and rereading, no editing – nothing. With practice, it’s a great way to avoid self-censoring and apathy. It’s great for those moments of ‘God I have nothing to write about.’ and those of ‘Everything I write is utter crap.’

So first find a timer. A stopwatch is good or one on a new-fangled fancy mobile phone is good too. Here’s one online for you lazy types. Set the timer to 10 minutes.

Now write down the words I remember on your paper. And this exercise is probably better done on paper, less chance of deleting and going back over things.

Now start the timer and write! Every time you feel stuck or like the writing isn’t going anywhere just write the words I remember and see what comes next. If you are really stuck write I remember I remember I remember over and over until something else comes out of the pen. And trust me, it will.

The most important thing is to not stop writing until the time is up. Keep the pen moving across the page!

For those adventurous kids out there, try this same exercise but with the words I’ve forgotten instead.

  • phill

    I cheated and typed, but I promise this was all SoC and unedited. Thanks for the exercise, it was nice to get lost in memories for a while :)

    I remember trees with leaves like dabs of paint, in yellows and greens and colours that didn’t have names but shone brightly despite the sun muted by clouds and the curvature of the erarth. I remember the thuck thuck thuck of the honkeynut that my brother would try and get up to the end of the long back alley, to be replaced in future times by the rattle and shake of a coke can, or a poonk of empty water bottles–a ridiculous concept, paying for water, according to my Mum at the time–that we never did quite get all the way, taken as they were by wind.

    I remember I remember I remember I remember the way that the bus would sit for ten minutes at the bus stop, lurking, waiting for its timetable to shift, and the way the bus driver would have to walk up to the back of the bus after letting us on to manually handwheel the numbers from 000 to 287 or 298, I remember that one day I dared ist with my brother and his girl friend at the back of the bus, and my brother gently teasing me until I–passive, un-understanding–relinqusihed the back left corner in preference of the second to last seat, and a twisted back to listen to their casually tossed insults and trendy opinions.

    I remembe I rember I remember I remember I remember the hole in the fence that I used to cut through on the way back from school, alone, wary of the hills hand built by bike riding groups of friends that encouraged the kind of kid that could always shout an insult from the safety of velocity. I remember the way I wished I had a bike other than the legacy of my sister; pink handles, the stumps of ribbons cut savagely off, rusting from disuse in the back shed.

    I remember evenings spent on homework, with only the occasional shuffle to the CD player to change albums from BFF to RHCP to The Offspring. I remember the feeling of satisfaction and elation as I sped through mathematics, the lovely glow as equations equated, and afterwards, the SNES loaded up. I remember sleep as a thing of inconvenience, getting in the way of brakfast and Mum getting home from her night duty at the hospital. I remember the time I fought with her before she left, and how she said you should never sleep on an argument and then deliberately came home half an hour late.

  • Cathy Tran

    I love Phill’s bike memory. I remember I hated my bike because it had flowers all over it. I made my dad spray paint it silver and then I named it Silvia.

    Just so Maddie will get off my back.

    I remember what it was like not to have a phone. It didn’t make a difference. I remember that I spent my time at the park trying to swing across the stream like a cool kid but dragging my legs in the water instead. I remember doubting whether I was good enough to be counted on my own. Without my sisters on either side of me, tending to my scratched up knees and tears in my chest. I remember being told that they would lose me to high school next year and I’d be on my own. If I fell over at lunchtime and started crying my sister would no longer have her downball game interrupted.

    I remember when Ted and I showed up wearing green clothes because he told me it was St. Patrick’s day. Only it wasn’t. I remember crying. I remember swinging upside down on the monkey bars at lunchtime, happy that I wasn’t wearing a skirt. I remember that each grade had a specific day on the playground at St.M&M’s. I remember at Wembley there was a playground for every grade. I remember wearing my red slippers to school. I remember crying again.

    I remember Ted telling us the scar on his leg was from a bullet. I remember thinking that was the coolest thing I had ever heard. I tell much bigger lies now. I remember lying to my parents about drinking for the first time. My face was Bel Moneypenny red, my words were slurred and I smelt like smoke. I remember thinking I was the best liar who ever lived. I remember lying about my grades, about parent teacher interviews, about playing pool with boys. It’s not that they cared, it’s just that I felt better not telling them.

  • Madeleine Crofts

    I remember throwing a remote control at my sister’s face when I was so angry at her I didn’t know what else to do. I remember she was going out on her first date with her boyfriend and she had a split lip and I felt sad and angry and happy all at the same time.

    I remember how when my dog was dying he would run in circles because he couldn’t see and he couldn’t smell anymore and I wonder what that complete lack of sensation beyond touch would be like.

    I remember listening to the White Stripes for the first time and being amazed at the sound two people could make and the roughness and the rawness and how grown up I was. I remember sitting on the front step and talking about the world while the light leached from the sky and I was worried and worried and worried.

    I remember getting hit by a car and the world was tumbling and I was tumbling. I remember the overwhelming fear that came later when I was safe at home and how I had never before questioned my mortality and how scared I felt. I remember the fear of crossing roads and the way I always imagine that cars are going faster than they are. I remember driving to Hall’s Gap on my learner’s and going down Rollercoaster Roads and you put your hands in the air and screamed and I wanted to close my eyes but I was the one driving and so I could only hope that we wouldn’t crash. That we wouldn’t ever crash.

    I remember going to sleep in my sister’s bedroom and waking up in my bed and not knowing how I got there. I remember falling asleep at the theatre on the floor while my Grandma sang along softly to the songs. I remember falling asleep at the bar and the security guard waking me up and telling me I’d have to leave if I couldn’t stay awake. I remember falling asleep on the tram and my boyfriend telling me the next morning how mean I was to him when he made get off the tram and walk home.

  • Matthew O’Donnell

    Great little exercise. This is me remembering a ridiculous moment in my young life. I’m not sure why, but recalling it, even under the pump, I changed her name, and where it was written. But, yes, she was crazy, sad and gorgeous.

    I remember her saying, don’t you love me? If you loved me, you’d do this.

    She handed me the razor blade, fresh out of her dad’s toiletries bag.

    I sweated. My hands were still but I shuddered from the inside out. I could feel the pain well before I took the blade to my arm. The anticipation hurt.

    I could see the regret I would feel later, but something inside of me was begging to be loved, begging to be needed, begging to be wanted.

    So I did it. I dragged the blade down my arm. At first the cut wasn’t very deep and blood oozed out. It wasn’t offensive, or scary. But by the end of her violently long name the blade was sinking deeper and deeper into my flesh. I barely noticed my skin was open in the shape of ‘Suzannah’ by the last curve in the ‘H’. It just looked like a mistake I was meant to be making.

    I lit up a cigarette and drew back hard. My lungs filled, slapped hard against my chest. My hand dangled over the edge of the bed and we collected my blood in a pint. It coagulated quicker than I expected and she ended up feeding it to her rat. I let the smoke fall from my mouth and it slowly rolled down my arm, over her name.

    I remember her saying, don’t you love me? If you loved me, you’d do this.

    She handed me the nicotine patch, fresh from her mother’s medicine cabinet.

  • Jack Olsen North

    I remember being young once.

    I remember Peter Scutts, a larger boy than I, sliding down the slippery dip at the park by the oval when I was standing below it probably goading him. He landed on my foot and broke my little toe. Not that either of us realised that at the time. We were both too interested in the competition of being boys of the same age.

    I remember I ended up with my foot, er, lower leg in plaster up to my knee.

    I remember how adept I became at getting around on crutches and how cool I thought it was that I was or it was, whatever.

    I rember the the exhuberance or what I thought was an exhuberance that my father applied to the rehabilitation of my foot movement when the plaster was finally removed – by him, if memory serves, with a pair of garden secateurs. I think he became tired of … hmmm… it doesn’t matter.

    I remember mowing the lawn shortly after the plaster was removed wearing gym boots nailed to a contraption meant not only to fast track my foots return to natural dexterity but also to enhance it. I could not breastroke to save my life.

    I rember it was August, no July and we went down to the – 10 minutes are up.

  • http://- James Mangisi

    I really enjoyed this, and really liked your one phil, esp colours that didn’t have names but shone brightly despite the sun muted by clouds and the curvature of the erarth.

    I typed mine too, but i like to do it with my eyes closed cause otherwise i correct and edit, and generally i think it helps the stream of consciousness.

    cool exercise


    I remember a time when things came easy when the idea of direction was never a problem and when I could just rely on the fact that things would fall into place, everything seemed so simple then. Never worrying about the future as this overwhelming ogre ready to bash down my door and gobble me up. I remember a time when careless days wandered seamlessly into the next without the notion of deadlines and consequence and… I remember times that I thought were terrible which in hindsight weren’t so bad. Having such a tendency toward negativity hasn’t served me well because it’s meant that in a world of all or nothing, nothing is usually the direction that’s chosen. But it wasn’t always like this. Or was it just because I never thought about it? Was it that I did have direction then or that that was just a time when direction didn’t matter? perhaps its because the path toward the destination isn’t as clear is it once was. I remember warm humid days and nylon feeling school shirts stinking to brown skin in the hot wet air. Of pleasant and warm greetings every morning at school. I remember the countless days spent ditching school. I remember when ‘the future’ meant what was on that weekend and nothing more, never a thing more than that. I remember trepidation but that’s more recent, I remember feelings of doubt so large that bed and sleep were the only remedy. I remember the sacrifices for generations that have gone into my circumstance, that span back into at least the last 100 years and across four generations of measurable action. I remember hearing those stories and never feeling so loved, that love, love that had come from a forebear. I remember breathing in and out and trying to feel normal again.

  • Harry Honeysuckle

    i’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a father. it wasn’t very long ago that i was one, but that understanding has left me now.

    i was green and kicking at the start, all pink smiles and proud shoulders. she grew big and told me to touch her, and i touched her. her feet were closer to the ground and i was always on the move, looking to help and helping to look. it was years every single day and i had dreams that belonged to people that weren’t me.

    i’ve forgotten now, but that is the easy part. forgetting took forever; it took forever but i can count it on my fingers. and fingers were the first thing – small and curled and right there in front of me. there had never been a warmer thing. i’d always felt the same, even when i woke up, but this was different. this was new.

    once, i borrowed a ladder to clean the roof. cleaning the roof wasn’t something i did, it was something i thought i should do, and i climbed aluminum rung after aluminum rung, until i was balancing on the gutter. the house was old, the gutter was old. rust had eaten into it like surf and it crumbled and the sky was everywhere and my eyes tingled.

    i’ve forgotten how to be a father; i was never really a father; i will always be a father.

  • Suzannah Macbeth

    This is the first Friday exercise I’ve done, I may have to try and make a habit of it from now on… I’m amazed at how much one can write in ten minutes.

    Madeleine’s part about the dog made me sad.

    Here’s mine:

    I remember walking down the street yesterday. Yes, it’s true. I walked down the street parallel to mine, in my head, and it was all because of those orange and pink leaves: they make that street the most beautiful in the neighbourhood.

    I remember wood of all sorts, the wood on this table is nothing in comparison to the wood on the ship’s rail, smooth but weathered. I touched that wood every day while I was there and leaned out across that rail to watch the river.

    And there’s wooden stockyards and an old wooden wagon, and the wooden blocks that made up the floor of the old stable, and the wooden heart of the trees by the river, exposed now to the sky. All this wood is stacked up in my memory and once in a while I take a piece and split it on the chopping block and it goes into the wood stove with all the rest.

    I remember sheep in those wooden yards, they replaced them with bar-and-pipe a long time ago (the yards not the sheep). I think someone got ripped off in that deal, and it wasn’t just the sheep.

    I remember wooden hulled ships and the way they sound when they come up hard against a pier, ad later you run your fingers over the splinters in the hull and mourn a little for your perfect ship.

    I remember that we used to call Markus “pineapple head” because of his blonde dreadlocks. I remember visiting him in Trier and the dreads are gone. I remember lots of laughter in those days. I remember wood at that house too, a chestnut wooden table and a dark mahogany coloured wooden stool that I picked up on the side of the road. At least, I thought it was a stool but it was actually a chair with no back. Anyhow, it didn’t matter, it went well with the five dollar plastic table-and-chairs set that we got at Freo Auctions. Kat also bought a mirror, which is probably why it always took her ages to get dressed – I’m quite sure the mirror was crooked or distorted in its (wooden) frame.

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