Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Utter Expression Without Consequence: a Wednesday Writing Workout by Barney Saltzberg

Howdy, Campers!
(Before I begin...make sure to enter our latest Book Giveaway of Sherry Shahan's Skin & Bones (which ends February 6th)!

Two of the six TeachingAuthors in our corporate headquarters.
photo courtesy
In 2012 we invited author/illustrator (and good friend) Barney Saltzberg into our tree house for a cuppa tea, a chat, and a book give-away, and just last Friday we told you about the newly launched, worldwide Beautiful Oops! Day based on his book.

Today, to complete the trifecta, Barney is graciously sharing a Wednesday Writing Workout with us.  Take it away, Barney!

This is Barney (with friends).  He's the cutest one.
Barney: I thought I'd share something I teach at UCLA Extension which seems to help unleash power and in many cases, people’s dark side.  It's terrific.

I call it, Utter Expression Without Consequence. Here's the prompt:

Write to someone and really let them know how you feel.  It’s a chance to get anything and everything off your chest.  It could be that you secretly are in love with someone.  You could despise someone.  Maybe a boss is constantly picking on you and you haven’t opened you mouth to complain.  Now's your chance!

It can be in the form of a letter, or even a list.
Choose your blackest crayon.
This exercise gives you the opportunity to tap into feelings which you've sat on.  Topics which you've avoided.  Now's your chance to pour everything a boyfriend, a wife, a friend.  Or someone you ‘thought’ was a friend.  A boss.  Anyone you address.  Just let it go and flow.  This is a very freeing moment.

What I find is that this prompt helps shape a character. Ultimately, I hope this exercise lets the writer get into the head of a character who has a lot weighing on them.  It's a step towards shaping a character.  Our job is to know who we are writing about, even if some of the background research we write never makes it into our story.  It just makes it so our characters appear to be writing the story for us when situations arise, because we know them so well.

Have fun with this--dive in!

I wish I had something brilliant to tell you as far as how this writing prompt helped make a story. I can say that time and time again, I saw how it empowered people.  Students who were struggling to find their voice finally had a sense of what that looked and felt like.

C'mon...tell them how you feel!
A woman told off her husband in a letter.  A teacher got everything she ever wanted to yell at an administrator on paper.  If you are looking for a way to tap into feelings, this is a great way to dive in.

Thank you, Barney!  And readers ~ tell us how you really feel!

posted loudly and proudly by April Halprin Wayland

1 comment:

Carmela Martino said...

This exercise sounds terrific! And the timing is perfect. I'm getting ready to start teaching a class on voice and I plan to try this one with my students. Thanks so much!