A Writing Teacher’s Favorite Writing Exercises
Question: What are the\r\nbest writing exercises you know?\r\n\r\n
Anne Lamott: When\r\nI used to teach writing, I had lots of them, but writing fiction, short\r\nstories, and novels is really about creating—having to create some \r\ncharacters\r\nthat we’re really interested in really quickly because the trick is, \r\nyou’ve got\r\nto get people to turn the page, unfortunately. Maybe\r\n in the books they’re only going to read the first two\r\npages. So you create a couple of\r\ncharacters that right away are interesting. You \r\nput them in a situation where there’s tension and where\r\nthe poor reader feels, “Oh God, I wonder what happens now?” So I used to have people getting—people\r\nwho couldn’t stand each other getting stuck in elevators, or \r\nmetaphorically\r\ngetting stuck in elevators. \r\nGetting stuck in a situation where they really don’t want to be\r\ntogether. Or, something is found,\r\nlike in “Blue Shoe,” the novel from a number of years ago; something \r\nthat is\r\nfound as meaningless. It’s a\r\nlittle tiny rubber blue shoe. A\r\nhigh top, a Converse, I think, that with a perfectly delineated shoe \r\nlace, it’s\r\nalmost microscopic in size in that little round label that doesn’t say \r\nConverse\r\nbecause it would be a copyright violation. Those \r\nlittle things somebody got in a gumball machine, and\r\nyet to try to figure out why the father held onto it all those years, \r\nopens up...\r\nlike in “The Wizard of Oz” when the movie goes from black and white to\r\ncolor. It throws the family’s\r\nhistory into color. And that’s not\r\nalways a good thing. It’s always a\r\ngood thing, but it’s often very painful and disturbing and distressing. And it’s often like the house of cards\r\ncoming down, however, in color.\r\n\r\n
And so that’s a situation I would often ask my \r\nstudents to\r\nwrite about, finding something that you instantly know is like—can’t \r\nthink of\r\nthe word. What’s that thing—a\r\ntalisman. Or either something that\r\nis protective, or that’s something that sets the hero’s journey into\r\nmotion.\r\n\r\n
My experience of exercises is that they’re great \r\nwhen you’re\r\nin class or workshops, but for me, I kind of work daily on exercises, \r\nbut that’s\r\nshort assignments again. I’m going\r\nto say to myself... like the other day I was actually writing and I\r\nhad gone to a bilingual Good Friday service in San Francisco at one of \r\nthe old\r\nmission churches from the days when Spain ruled over Mexico and then \r\nthey\r\nestablished the mission system in California. It’s\r\n a magnificent church and it is truly the people’s\r\nchurch. And it is very bilingual\r\nand it’s very middle-class and poor. \r\nAnd half of the mass is in Spanish, which I don’t speak, and half\r\n is in\r\nEnglish. And it’s so much richer\r\nwhen you can’t understand the words because it takes you to places \r\ninside\r\nyourself and inside the community expression of grief and hope and the \r\ngreat shalom that you are welcome both by God and by this one \r\ncommunity. And I was trying to write about it and\r\nit’s about huge themes. But it was\r\nabout a one-hour service. And so I\r\nmade that the title, "Bilingual Good\r\nFriday," just for now and I started writing about it. But\r\n what it did was it made it possible\r\nfor me to tell the story of a mother with a 8-month old grandson asleep \r\nin her\r\narms when he wasn’t spluttering and making loud farting noises, usually \r\nat times\r\nof silence. And with a best friend\r\nwith a 40-year standing, in a community of almost entirely Hispanic \r\npeople. It had a beginning, it had a middle,\r\nand it had an end, and half of it was in a language I don’t speak.\r\n\r\n
And so the exercise was just that, to capture it. Now, I could have written 25 pages, but\r\nyou personally, I know are not going to want to read it. \r\n And I don’t know that you’re a\r\nChristian, I don’t know if you want to read about my family, and why I \r\nhave\r\nsuch a woman as young as myself has such a young son has an 8-month old\r\ngrandson with her. But, so I wrote\r\nit and I wrote a really terrible first draft of it, which is always a \r\nfirst\r\nassignment. And then I went back\r\nand I took out the stuff that wasn’t any good, or was kind of \r\noverwrought, or\r\nthat was preachy, or that was lies. \r\nAnd so what I was left with was about five pages. \r\n And it was, I can say, it’s not\r\nwell-written and I wrote it right before I left for tour, but it’s \r\nexactly what\r\nI had hoped to create.
Recorded April 6, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen\r\n
The author of the classic writing guide "Bird by Bird" shares some of her favorite ways to get the creative juices flowing.
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- The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
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The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
Credit: asiandelight/Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/msu-tsn093020.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 Michigan State University study</a> examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.</p><p>This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms. </p><p>MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September. </p><p><strong>Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</strong> </p><p>For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life. "Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences," Copeland wrote, adding that "compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."</p><p>Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys. </p><p>While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.</p><p>The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life. </p><p><strong>Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.</strong></p><p>The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s. </p>
How to stay social while battling depression<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMyNDY1N30.e1ULIJ5QYXh4H1SGUPUTJqYBCnX2XWp6InjPRr-2Bdw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C22%2C0%2C22&height=700" id="832fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b360bb24fb8d6025680bfffb52fd5982" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="depression support group illustration" />
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Credit: Mascha Tace/Shutterstock<p>Although maintaining relationships can help you cope, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.</p><p>As Dr. Jennifer L. Payne (an assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tells Everyday Health</a>: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation." </p><p>Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, and staying active.</p><p><strong>Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action. </strong></p><p>While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day. </p><p><strong>Support groups and social networking with people who understand. </strong></p><p>While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits. </p><p><strong>Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished. </strong></p><p>Keep a thought journal and detail certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete. </p><p><strong>Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good. </strong></p><p><a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/kindness-benefits-james-doty?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1596517476" target="_self">Being kind is good for your health</a> in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a <a href="https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/#:~:text=Kindness%20releases%20feel%2Dgood%20hormones&text=Doing%20nice%20things%20for%20others,as%20a%20%E2%80%9Chelper's%20high.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">temporary sense of euphoria</a> that can help combat depressive symptoms. </p>
Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.
90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.
Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.