Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Best Way to Eat an Elephant...

Have you heard that saying before?  The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time?**

One of the workshops I went to at the Erma Bombeck Writers Conference awesomely applied this theory to writing.  The session was lead by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff.  If you ever watched the Drew Carey Show in the mid-90s you will recognize Kathy. They have been friends for 40 years, and wrote a book together called Queen of Your Own Life.  They started writing together by just picking a simple prompt, writing for a few minutes, and then reading the stories they had written to each other on Skype.  

At their session, they handed each of us a timer (appropriately embellished :-)), and took us through a process of giving us a prompt (name, place, situation) and 8 minutes to write something.  No editing, no picking up the pen, just a pure stream of consciousness.  Then some brave folks read their stories.  This is definitely a writing style so different than anything I did in the Air Force!  They talked about writing and creativity as a muscle that should be exercised every day.  It sounds super intimidating, but at 8-10 minutes a day it's doable.  I commute on the Washington Metro 3 days a week, and the trip is about 20-30 minutes, so I have been typing up my no-editing-no-stopping stories on my phone.  And the train cars are FULL of writing prompts, I just need to look around.

** The quote is attributed to General Creighton Abrams, who commanded military operations in Vietnam from 1968-72.  Talk about an elephant...

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