Today in class, I walked you through a writing exercise that I’ve lifted from the great comics author and teacher Lynda Barry.
First, I read Roger Rosenblatt’s “I Am Writing Blindly” as you drew a tight spiral on a sheet of paper.
Then I asked you to make a list of ten memories that come to mind when you think about your history as a reader and/or writer. Once you had a list of ten memories, I asked you to choose a single item from your list and put that as the title of a new page, then to draw an X through the page so that it’s it’s already imperfect; there’s no pressure for eloquent wording or precision.
Then I asked you a series of questions and asked you to jot down details on that page in response:
1. Where are you?
2. What time of day does it seem to be?
3. What season does it seem to be?
4. Where is the light coming from?
5. What kind of light is it?
6. How old are you in this image?
7. Is there anyone else in this image?
8. What are they doing?
9. Is there anyone who just left or who may be coming?
10. What is the temperature in this image?
11. What does the air smell like?
12. What are some of the sounds in this image?
13. What’s in front of you?
14. If you turn your head to the right, what’s there?
15. If you turn your head to the left, what do you see?
16. What’s behind you?
17. What’s above you?
18. What’s at your feet or below you?
19. What are some of the objects in this image?
20. What are you doing?
21. What’s going on?
22. Why are you there?
After you jotted down answers to those questions, I asked you to turn to a new page and write for 8 minutes without stopping, keeping your hand in motion for the entire time putting words down on the paper.