Here are some of the most useful tips I picked up from Crescent Dragonwagon’s IACP writing session:
1) Don’t overstylize your writing – if you force a voice or style on your writing, “it’s like breast augmentation. You might get a lot of attention briefly and then it’s gone.”
3) Practice writing every day without a goal. “Let go of the reins long enough to let the story take you.”
4) If you’re having a hard time focusing an idea you have for a story, try a writing exercise called dialoging, which Dragonwagon borrowed from American psychotherapist Ira Progoff. When we tried this in class, it shook loose a lot of ideas and the topic revealed its own character.
-Think of a topic, say, pizza. Then pick 8 defining moments in the life of that pizza and write them down from the point of view of the pizza. e.g. Regional iterations of me started popping up all over Italy, with a crispy thin crust in some areas, and a thicker one in others.
-Then write down 8 defining moments of you in relation to that pizza. e.g. Other kids with busy parents at my school used to order in pizza. I was always jealous because my mother categorically refused to allow takeout in the house.
-Then try a dialog between yourself and the pizza
Pizza: Why do you always order me with mushrooms, you weirdo? There are so many other toppings you could put on me.
Me: What can I say, I’m a creature of habit.
5) A great way to expand your writing vocabulary is by listening. For example, you could try writing down 4 things every day that you overhear.