Free Your Connective Brain

It was a group smaller than usual this week at our Bixby Library writing workshop. The weather was cold and the morning had left us with a few inches of snow from a scant brush with a nor’easter that dropped 18″ a bit closer to the coast. It was nice to warm our bodies and our minds together for a few minutes at the end of a sleepy Thursday.


We finally got around to sharing and critiquing the pieces we started two weeks ago. We finished that session two weeks ago with a ten minute freewrite following the prompt “I wish my mother knew…”

Each was promising in its own right. One a poem, one a memoir-type episode, and few still in rough pieces waiting for their final (or next) shape. We discussed how each started with a mother and some quickly shifted focus to another person through which we better understood the woman. Sometimes writing can subconsciously lead us to the subject that helps us express exactly what we need.


This week’s prompt is more complicated than usual, and adapted from an exercise in poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. Her book is about as dense as any with prompts and writing exercise and a love of words. She collects word lists, word pools, words.

Here’s the basic gist: assemble some actions words, singular present form, concentrating on words that you like the sound of. Next, do the same with object words (nouns). Staying away from abstract concepts can help, but it’s not strictly necessary. Wooldridge has a list of sixteen questions to then ask. I’ll highlight a few: If I were a color, what color would I be? What tree would I be? What car (year, make, model, condition, etc.) would I be? What shape? What am I afraid of? What is the one word hiding behind my eyes?

Once you have collected these words, spend a few minutes (try 10) writing, starting with the words “I am…” Let your pen do the work, don’t think, make unexpected connections. If you get sick of “I am…,” try “I remember…,” “I used to be…,””I became…,” or the like.

This type of exercise is great for dredging up a list of strong images that each might become a poem and a great way to loosen up your creative brain-muscles.