Your turn: New tricks

I painted the refrigerator last weekend. I’d taken food in and out of that fridge every day for the past two years, pondering things like how one of my characters wrinkles her nose when she’s miffed and how another’s voice ratchets up when a certain subject is broached, and somehow failing to actually notice that the fridge was almond while the other appliances were black. Quite the embarrassment for A Writer Who is Supposed to Pay Attention to Details. At any rate, the situation is now rectified, though in the process I have affirmed that appliance-painting is not my special calling.

I guess with the coming of spring we all pay more attention to things. It’s not just the long light of the sun that makes the familiar seem worn and dusty. It’s also the new energy that rushes in with the season.

Thumbing through the writers’ magazine I brought to my physical therapy appointment (apparently I managed to tear my rotator cuff when I broke a bone I didn’t know I had, something called a greater tuberosity), I skimmed an article on free software for writers. Free! But then I thought about the energy it takes to tackle new tech stuff, and my idea – right or wrong – that if in the economy of energy I spend too much on learning new tricks, I have little left for real creative work. But the alternative is getting stuck in the same dusty routines, when there are new approaches, methods, and technology that would improve what I do.

It’s just that it takes so much energy to try them all out. So I thought I’d ask you, in honor of almost-spring. What new tricks, techy or not, are worth adding to your writing routine?

8 thoughts on “Your turn: New tricks”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    The new tricks I’d like to learn are not new or techy at all, and might include: starting the day by reading a poem (still thinking about that Marybeth Holleman poetry post — I did actually try this last week); not reading email UNTIL I’m done with the day’s writing (that would be something); and spending more time reading (working on it). As for new software/hardware? Nope. Though I sure wish I could get someone else to organize my digital music so that I had more diverse choices for listening while I’m writing.

  2. Me too, on the poetry. I re-activated my Panhala emails so the poems come straight to my inbox, feeding my bad habit of reading email first. I’m more focused if I write before email, but trying to sustain that pattern – very tough.

  3. My new trick is something I read about on your blog. The Writer’s Digest Poetry Asides Blog is keeping me focused on writing a poem a day through the month of April. I don’t consider myself to be a poet at all, but this has been a great exercise for me as I struggle to write on a daily basis. I’ve been reading the prompts in the morning, mulling ideas around in my head all day, then writing in the evening. Thanks for the heads-up on this one.

  4. I stumbled on this trick a few months ago and though it seems like the kind you read often in writer’s magazines and don’t try, it worked for me this time. I keep an alphabet journal. Every morning (when I’m in writing mode–I don’t waste them on weekends or busy-with-other-work periods), I open my alphabet document, look at the letter of the alphabet I’m up to, and give myself 5 minutes to list every word beginning with that letter that I can think of. Including articles, made-up words, foreign ones, proper nouns, acronymns, et al. I don’t edit or stop. Just go, five minutes, done. I end up with a list that is not only interesting for what it says about my mind (so many animals that begin with T today!), but also for how in love with language it always makes me feel. It’s a good exercise for loosening up the gears and letting the body (hands) trump the brain, like a sun salutation for writers. Plus, I just start the list over again when I’ve finished it once, and comparing the repeated entries is cool–same letter, new month, and look how different the list!

  5. Great suggestions, sundrose and Trucklover. Good to get the feedback on the links we post, too, like the Poem a Day.

  6. A new dictionary – do tell. A little carry-around one or a big bruiser? Do you browse at random or is there a method? Fascinating.

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