What do you do to practice your craft? Hockey players may take 100 shots at a net in a day. Basketball players shoot free-throws until their arms are sore. What should writers do? Some of the exercises that we employ in class are valuable tools for practicing writing when you are young. It stands to reason that they are also good tools for writers.
This one is simple. You give yourself a setting, or have someone else give you one. Then you write. The writing must be descriptive of the setting. What happens inside that setting is completely up to your brain.
Here’s mine for “a pool in the middle of summer” (thanks, kids).
There are approximately twenty people, besides me, hanging at the community pool when I arrive. There is a small group of teens with their feet in the shallow end of the pool, too cool to care that they are baking in the oppressive Phoenix sun. Three mothers gossip from the advertised ‘best lawn chairs’ as six children splash and thrash about in the middle of the pool. The lifeguard perched near the deep end and diving board, tanned and yummy, draws my attention for a minute. Just one minute. Then I remember that I’m thirty and he’s probably young enough to have been in my first fifth grade class ten years ago. Ick.
I drop myself into the deep end, self conscious about the decision to wear a two piece to the pool. I land in the path of the take-himself-too-seriously guy who looks like he’s practicing laps for the Olympics. “Oh, excuse me,” I mumble. At least I think that’s what I mumbled. He doesn’t notice, just expertly maneuvers around me. Invisibility level one reached.
I go under the lukewarm water enough to make my skin feel enlivened again. It’s like rehydrating beans, something I once read about for a recipe. Being in Phoenix, even for 24 hours, dries out your skin completely. You have to allow your epidermis to soak up the water for at least ten minutes, it must return to its previous level of hydration. I didn’t make that recipe, in case you’re wondering.
I’m lounging in a chair, thinking ‘damn they were right, these are great’, with my sunglasses down ten minutes later. I’ve firmly attached my bitch face to ensure the teenagers will not mess with me. I’m contemplating napping underneath my shades and I’m feeling my skin sizzle under the sun. Hopefully sizzle equals bronze goddess glow. I guess we’ll find out.