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Getting Started Exercises

I know every writer struggles with the blank page sooner or later.

But, if, like me, the writer in question has been a way from the Work for a bit getting started again can be a little extra difficult. So, when Jeff VanderMeer over at Ecstatic Days wrote about Mimicry and Gap Analysis, I got excited. You can follow the link and read it in his words, but, in short, the idea is to find an author you love and retype a chapter of their work. Then, re-read it and set it aside so you can’t see it and re-write the chapter from memory. The intent is to try and get the feeling and purpose the author was striving to get, not reproduce the work precisely. So, it’s not fair to use a photographic memory! When you’ve done this, compare the two works. What does this teach you? How does this help you find gaps in your own writing?

It also put me in mind of another, similar writing exercise. This one comes from a movie titled Finding Forrester. The movie is about a reclusive, but very well-off, writer who brushes up against a poor, writing prodigy in the heart of New York city and helps him achieve his full potential as a young writer. In the movie, which is surely more complicated than I made it in my brief description, William Forrester, the famous writer has the young prodigy sit down and start retyping one of Forrester’s stories to get the rhythm of typing and then, one a rhythm has been established, to keep working and make the story something new, something his own. Of course, the idea is to do this and then go back and edit the story so that there is none of the other writer’s work in it, but it’s a way to get started and past that first creative hump.

Try it and let me know how it works!


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