Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Writing exercises - one

Writing exercises - one

Originally began this blog because I was doing so little writing. So. Writing exercise from an old copy of Mslexia magazine…

choose four ordinary objects-

I chose the following:-

Cheque book                     light bulb             framed photo of a child                 old floppy disc

Without naming it, write a purely physical description of one…

I wrote:

There are lots of these. They are square, plastic and brightly coloured. This one is green. It has no label, no indication of what lies inside. You can slide the metal plate on the top to one side, revealing a dark, shiny surface, which reflects some light and gives no clues, then a tiny spring exerts just enough force to push the metal cover back into place. So you’re still left ignorant.

The trouble with choosing four objects is that I automatically select four that resound with dramatic potential. These are not mundane things! But then what is mundane? A trowel? It can plant seeds that burst into miraculous life. A carpet? Whose feet have walked on that? A dustbin – containing who knows what secrets! Mundane? Nothing is really mundane.


A floppy disc is something that I used to be dependent on – much of my life’s work still resides within a couple of boxes of these, even though some of the work has later revisions and anyway  they have been technologically superseded . Mundane? Not for me.

A light bulb, mundane? These simple inventions have revolutionised people’s lives! No need for smoky torches and braziers, dangerous and, unless you can afford hundreds, ineffectual candles. Ever tried reading by the light of one candle? Even a dead light bulb is redolent with the scenes it might have illuminated!

Framed photo of a child – mundane? Obviously not. Even better if you don’t know the child, from a fiction writer’s point of view anyway.

Chequebook. Mundane? A new one has such potential, it doesn’t have to only be used to pay the water bill! It could be used to buy a holiday in the Namib desert.., or a magic lamp. A used chequebook tells a story in the stubs.

OK, I don’t believe in mundane and this is obviously one of the aims of this exercise, writing a purely physical description is very hard, it leaves so much out; no emotions, value judgements, intimations…etc.  This may be the best thing that my time at Leeds Uni taught me. If you are a writer, there is always something to write about. I am a writer. Any writing is better than not writing and feeling sorry for myself.



  1. "Any writing is better than not writing and feeling sorry for myself"

    Very much agreed!

    (Dropping into your blog from Jottify, where I am Andrew MacLaren-Scott. Don QuiScottie is my blogging identity)

  2. Thanks Andrew/Don. Posted this when stuff was getting in the way of writing. I'm still not sure that it's worth posting my writing exercises, but I'm not writing much that's new anyway apart from the blogs.