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Do the shuffle!

Why not try this narrative shuffle, in the same vein as that act of estrangement with your writing personas. Cut up the poem or short prose passage, spread it on the floor (if you have the room) and see if you can shuffle the order, move things around, and come up with a new and more vibrant arrangement. You may have to leave out a passage or two to help the new pattern. You may find gaps open up in the narration that need filling with a new bit of writing or not (if you do not, you are to mind that gap). You may recognise quantum leaps in your composition that can be instructive to you about how you create as a matter of habit. The habit can be broken or disrupted in order to improve on it or make it stronger.

If it helps to give yourself permission to work in such a new way or if you prefer to have a practice run with this exercise, use a published poem, a golden oldie that’s in the public domain. Make a copy of it in large type and cut up the lines, sentences, stanzas or paragraphs, then rearrange them. Try not to leave anything out. I did this with a group of students and they proceeded to reassemble Yeats’ Lake Isle of Innisfree by omitting a few key phrases! Another group simply put the poem back together by matching the scissor cuts line by line!

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Do a THAT return

Back in the mists of time, when I was working on my very first novel, I received my…

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Looking out to the world, and in to your truths

The exercise to go with this tip is very simple. Choose one of your passions and write about…

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Can you show, rather than tell?

One of the most popular radio devices is the narrative voice, inside the head. Usually given to the…

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An Unwriting Exercise

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns…

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Taking a character for a walk

Begin by inventing ten or twelve separate characters, all different from each other. For each one, choose five…

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Radical Reinvention

One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about…

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Improve your writing through cutting back

If you don’t know how to begin to improve your writing through cutting back, you might like to…

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Write towards the discomfort

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to…

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Let the place do the talking

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer….

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The Gap Between

I’d like you to do something very simple. Sit back, close your eyes, and try to remember an…

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Find the shape of your story

Pick up one of the books you really like – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction….

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