Last week we looked at Laura Whitcomb’s Heartstorm tool. “If you’re having trouble letting go and allowing your inner poet to babble on the topic of your scene,” she says to “try this poetry exercise to warm up.”
Take as long as you like (it doesn’t need to be limited to ten minutes) and write a stream of consciousness page on . . . a topic that holds emotion: what it’s like waking up the morning after you’ve had your heart broken, the experience of seeing the ocean for the first time after growing up in the desert, recalling an embarrassing episode from junior high school. Try to choose a powerful concept, then let your imagination run wild.
To practice distilling your language, she says to “choose ten or more phrases that you like. . . . line them up like a poem; enhance the wording if you like. Then read it back as if it were composed as a poem. . . . the babbling of the ‘say anything’ page [can] be distilled into some concise imagery.”
You can also use this exercise to access the specific emotions you need for a scene. Just select a moment that yields similar emotions.
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