Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jump Start your Writing with this Magazine Tool

One of my favorite writing exercises to do with my clients is one I lamely call, magazine pictures. Though the name is lame, the writing exercise definitely gets your heard a pumping.

I have put together a binder of magazine pictures that stimulate the imagination, and enclose them in plastic inserts. That way, the pictures can be used over and over and won't tear out. I inspire my clients to do the same, to create a notebook of pictures that strikes their imagination and to use it when they need an extra dose of inspiration.

Photo by Karen Horton, Courtesy of Flickr

I cut out most of the advertising words from the magazine picture, except for key writing starter points such as:

"Some men just need to be slapped."


"Welcome to paradise. You've earned it."

But most of the pictures are just that--pictures without words.

The first time I use these pictures with a new writer I ask the writer to describe what they see. Most of the time I get pretty dry renditions, mostly using the sense of sight. He is wearing shorts and sunglasses. She has cucumbers on her eyes. When I have the client re-work their paragraphs I ask them to include other sensory words in the categories of sound, taste, touch, and smell. It is amazing how alive their work becomes!

Comparing the two writing exercises usually leaves the client with an a-ha experience, one that they take with them and continue to use; but I tell them it's always a good idea to re-visit the magazine pictures when they are feeling a bit of writer's block or just need a great starting point for a new story.

Minke Wagenaar, courtesy of Flickr
Another exercise I do is with the use of "Masterpiece" cards. Masterpiece is an older board art auction game that has a great selection of cards with famous painters' work. For example, do you recall "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat? Or "The Bedroom" by Vincent Van Gogh"?

I use these painting in the same way the I use the magazine pictures. The results are always fantastic and memorable, especially when the writer has remembered to incorporate the five senses.

Finding a need to jump start your own writing? You may want to try one or both of the ideas above.















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