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Reconsider the mundane

Think of a hobby or passion you have, outside of writing and literature. So perhaps baking, or dancing, or gardening, or a specific genre of film, or long-distance running, or knitting (to name just a few possible examples).

Once you’ve thought of what that is for you, just write it down at the top of a fresh sheet of paper or a new page in your notebook.

Now, simply list every single word you can think of that you would associate with that hobby or passion; you might write down some concrete nouns, or descriptive words, verbs, words to describe how you feel when you’re involved with the hobby/passion. Give yourself three minutes and get down as many words as possible (the more you write down, the better the second half of this exercise will be).

Now, set that list of words to one side, and get another blank piece of paper in front of you. Those words you just wrote down are going to be the ‘ingredients’ for what you’re going to write next.

I want you to write something that sounds quite mundane. Just imagine opening your front door, and walking down your street and then onwards through the place that you live. It’s a journey that you probably make every day and have made a thousand times before.

All I want you to do is describe what you see as you move through that place BUT I want you to draw all the images and descriptions from that list of words you wrote down before. So, you have to bring all your language of knitting or singing or embroidery or martial arts or football into conversation with your description; you have to craft images and metaphors and similes using that list of words.

Don’t worry if it sounds a bit odd in places, or gets a bit surreal, that’s the point; all writing should show us something familiar in a new way – doing this exercise might feel artificial but I guarantee you’ll be forced to reconsider the mundane, and describe something in a way you never would have previously. It’s an exercise that might not give you, directly, a usable piece of writing, but it will give you new and interesting ways of looking, which you can then harvest out for future use.

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