The Write-Brain & a Gerbil

I picked up some craft-y books for my Christmas present to myself. Craft-y as in writer’s craft stuff. One, The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer, is, well, exactly that. 366 fun writing exercises.

I decided that each day, before cracking open my WIP (currently titled the enigmatic, glamorous and oh-so-original “Book 3”), I would do one of these exercises. You know, warm up my brain and fingers, get the juices flowing…should be a great way to spark some awesome writing. It’s day 12 of the new year and I’ve done one so far.

It was fun, though, and I enjoyed seeing where I went with it. The direction actually surprised me – no paranormal/fantastical/supernatural!!! – and it makes me wonder now what I had on my mind!! lol Actually, I DO know what’s been on my mind and it’s quite apparent here.

The exercise provided 3 sets of words and I had to pick 1 word from each set. Then I had to write something using all three words and starting with the sentence provided. Here’s what I wrote (warning – total free-writing, unedited, unproofed, unimaginative and all – I feel a little naked) (sentence in italics is what I had to start with):

Three words: banister, insensitive, keepsake
Sometimes I feel just like a gerbil, running around and around on his wheel! I keep running and running, though I go nowhere, stuck in this place I call life. A box surrounds me, one I can’t see but can’t escape, either. It closes me in, confining me within its boundaries. I can press my face to the glass and see a world beyond it. A world much bigger than me, than this box, a world taunting me with so many places to see and explore, things to do and experience.
Others go by, moving about freely, doing all those things I want to do. They come and go, share exciting stories with each other about their adventures and they feel so insensitive to me, who sits here, trapped, scurrying back and forth in this box, running and running on my wheel, pretending if I run hard and fast enough, I might actually escape.
Through the glass of my world, I see them descend and ascend stairs, taking them to new levels that I will never know. A door sits ajar at the bottom of the stairs, a door opening to something unknown to me. Part of me wants to slide down the banister, feel the air rushing in my hair as it takes me to a new place, a new life, a new world beyond that door. But, admittedly, part of me tenses with anxiety with the fear of the unknown.
What if I’m fooling myself? I know what to expect in my box—food, water, basic comforts, all that I need for survival. I know every square inch, having traversed the same paths over and over again. It is all familiar. I know what I’m doing. I can’t fail here.
That world out there, beyond my glass walls, promises so much…including the potential for complete and utter failure. What if I can’t make it? What if it’s not what I thought? It looks so bright and shiny from here, but what if, up close, it’s dingy, grimy, dark and dim?  What if I lose my way? Lose myself?
As I ponder these thoughts, the shrill sound of shattering glass pierces my ears. A curtain of rain—sharp-edged little pieces, not water drops—falls before me. The wall. The glass wall that confines me no longer exists. Something has destroyed it, giving me the freedom I ache for.
I sniff the air. It smells so different, scents of promise, hope, disaster and failure layering the air. But mostly I smell fear. My own fear. Fear I must overcome. I must not be afraid. I must take this opportunity given to me, not hide out in my three-sided box, always wondering…wondering.
I take with me a little bell. A token to remind me of this place and this life that was comforting but never enough for me. It is my keepsake so I can remember who I am and not lose myself, even as I get lost in the big world ahead of me.
I think I’m going to like this book and the exercises. I’ve browsed ahead and I know there are some I won’t do, but I don’t get to write every single day either, so maybe it’ll all work out and I’ll get through most of it by the end of the year. If you’d like a little jump-start to writing sessions, check it out.
What do you think? Did I go in a totally different direction than you would have with the same words and sentence? Would what you’d write change if accompanied by this picture instead:
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2 Responses to The Write-Brain & a Gerbil

  1. Wow, that was pretty awesome, especially for a writing exercise. I could feel the anxiety in the words. I miss doing writing exercises! Some of my best short stories came out of them. Perhaps it’s time to pick them back up again. You never know where it’ll take you.

    As for that picture, I have no idea where I would’ve gone with it. I probably would’ve done something about the little guy stuck at the bottom…

  2. Kristie Cook says:

    Thank you! I’ve done a few more since, and, admittedly, they don’t all turn out so, er, literate. I’m enjoying them, though. They help me get in the zone.

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