I did a twist on the idea of writing secrets here yesterday. We've been blogging this week about our
writing secrets, or tips, this week. There have been good ones.
My twist wasn't intentional, it was just that the very word conjured up the fertile material we all keep
locked up tight in our minds and hearts.
The Pandora's Box of our lives, if you will. While some of the memories are sweet
the chances are good that the more interesting secrets
While thinking about this yesterday, I was reminded of a writing exercise
the inimitable Jane Resh Thomas often suggests to her students.
Many of us on the tollbooth worked with Jane. We all know about her ironclad certainty
that nothing good will come until a writer plumbs to the very
depth of her basement ...
Jane asks her students to do an exercise:
Set a clock for 20 minutes. Without stopping, start listing PEOPLE.
It's important that you not stop and that you write names for the entire time. You'll be amazed at the people from your childhood you are forced to dredge up.
Jane then asks you to write a sketch about one of the names on the list. The farther down
on the list, the more forgotten the person tends to be.
She also assigns the same exercise with PLACES and THINGS. (I'm not a thing person, so that was the least successful of the lists. Everyone gets something different out of the exercises.)
So. What I was thinking about yesterday (at last! hurrah!)
was that the same exercise could be done listing SECRETS.
You might want to write them in invisible ink.
You definitely shouldn't write them in a diary if anyone else lives in your house.
But if you set that clock for 20 minutes,
and forced yourself to remember back to all of the
mean-spirited, sad, kind, loving, hurtful, traumatic ... I could go on ... things
that either happened to you or that you did to another person,
you might unearth some rich material.
And that's my writing secret for the day.