Exercise Your Pen

Practice Results in Unblocking

By Annette Rey

I tell you writer’s block is an imagination. It’s not real. It has no substance. If you open your mind to such thinking, you will follow advice, go along, and see unblocking results in your own work. I promote doing writing exercises. Once you do them, you will find blocking either goes away in your life or can never exist as long as you keep your pen moving.

In that vein, I am practicing what I preach.

I think I am reading one of the best writing/grammar books of all time, Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale (my book review is coming on this site). In this extremely descriptive book she has exercises at the end of each chapter. Just saying this conjures up well meaning, boring, too-difficult, non-relevant exercises I have seen in other books. Do not be afraid. These forays into improving your writing are not of that ilk.

I pray my readers have fun doing the exercises I encourage them to do, so must Ms. Hale hope her writer readers grow from following her suggestions.

So, I followed.

And I achieved something to today.

And I feel accomplished.

For the longest while, I have not been able to find the words to describe the distant sky behind my house. It is beautiful beyond words, and I felt afraid to diminish it with my feeble attempts to do it justice.

Today, at the end of Chapter 4 of Sin and Syntax, Ms. Hale directed the reader to paint a picture of a turbulent sky. I chose to put pen to paper and attempted to describe the sky I had in mind. And I accomplished it(!) with relative ease. That is because I have studied her book up to this point. (That is another magic formula I promote for unblocking: study your craft.)

Because I followed another writer’s exercise, here is my accomplished result:

In the far sky above the field and woods behind my house, sometimes, I see a horizontal blur of alternating stripes of a fluid blend of Mediterranean blues and gauzy, fairy tale pink, each thinly outlined by strips of angelic white. They splash the width of my view, while near and above me is a boring-solid, non-color; the remnants of night. My eyes fix in obeisance on the distant display and as I am enraptured, it blanches. Stolen quickly from me, the vision does not pass as much as evaporate. It is like sleight-of-hand stealth in a magician’s repertoire; now you see it, now you don’t. And I’m left alone, missing something ethereal I will never see again.

THAT is the breaking of block!

Read, study your craft, put pen to paper and exercise just as if you are at the gym sweating to improve your health – and writing is physically easier! What better?

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