Nobody wants to write like a loser – not even me, Dr. Loser! We all hope to write quickly, precisely, powerfully, prolifically and profound, not this wimpy, patient, confusing, mundane drivel that brings us nothing but headaches and heartbreak.
I’ve arrogantly made it my goal to blow out the back of common writing process problems and impregnate the womb of society with new techniques for overcoming the weaknesses of the writerly world.
Last week I introduced a new writing exercise technique made for those who find themselves not writing enough words when they sit down to transcribe their thoughts. Maybe they get caught up in editing or they write slowly, but my Holding Your Breath and Writing to the Death drills would literally force you to write more words or risk passing out in a aneurismic fit. I noticed that some of my old friends/readers (troll-extraordinaire phatdog, the lovely Jee Young, and fan-boy Eric) contributed their own attempts in the comments section last week. Bravo, I hope they will continue on this week and that the rest of your will join in too!
And just what is the problem this week?
Everyone hates rules! Wouldn’t we all just love to live in an anarchist activist society where we could police ourselves and share the spoils of life caring-ly with our friends and neighbours? Yet even if that was possible we’d still be restrained by the more universal rules of language grammar that allow us to communicate without falling into total gibberish.
What are those rules exactly? We all know them instinctively, but try listing them out or even teaching them to someone else and you’ll realise quickly that they are complex, annoying and you’ve probably been using them slightly wrong this whole time.
As a writer, if you don’t get these rules right then you’ll be judged almost instantly as a moron. So let’s jump on the language rules bandwagon and ride it off a cliff the best way possible – by making our own rules, with a badass writing task I call:
The Only Rule is There Are No Rules!
For each step in this exercise, you should make your own grammatical and syntactical rules related to the parameter given. As you move on to each new step, retain the elements of all the previous rules.
Step 1 – Letter Level = Make an arbitrary rule about the use of letters in a word.
My Rule: Every time you use the letter ‘y’ in a word it must be followed by the letters ‘or’
I went to see Antemasque live last Fridayor, the new band from the founding members of The Mars Volta, and holyor fuck was it ever amazing! Omar’s 20-minute solo in the second last song of the night was like watching the cosmic birth of a new universe. Myor mouth hung agape and myor head shook back and forth in disbelief as he brought it up, brought it down, and then just slammed it into myor face as if his guitar was the mightyor Mjolnir.
Step 2 – Word Level = Make an arbitrary rule about the use of words in a sentence.
My Rule: Every 5-letter word must be spelled backwards.
On the rehto hand, the cosmic eivom ‘Interstellar’ was basicallyor just watching a man cryor and repeatedlyor sayoring the name ‘Murph’ over and over niaga. No one is gniog to confuse this eivom with ‘2001 – A ecapS Odyorsseyor’ despite the repetition of the name ‘Dave’ in that one. And certainlyor yorour IMAX moneyor is better spent on a Transformers eivom erehw at tsael all that high-tech photographyor is used for showing insane once-in-a-lifetime action rather than just dustyor fields and weepyor secaf.
Step 3 – Sentence Level = Make an arbitrary rule about the use of sentences in a paragraph.
My Rule: Every sentence must contain at least one colour word, animal name and food reference.
Last Sundayor, like a jaguar I slinked over to the Toronto Book Fair and got repus blue byor the largelyor emptyor aisles full of oatmeal writers hawking their shit. erehT is just something so sad tuoba watching eseht lonelyor hang-dog writers and lilyor etihw publishers tryoring to llihs products to a few straggling wannabes who are just ereht in sepoh of one royad working their royaw over to the rehto side of esoht pathetic popcorn booths. Does elephanting for a book automaticallyor make yorour writing esrow no matter how gold it thgim be, or is it just tryoring so hard to onlyor sell one book that sekam the act look so bad? Even remal are all eseht businesspeople hanging around hoping to commodifyor the elohw creative process with dopeyor gadgets or discount slaed, and devour the poor wannabe peehs like raw lamb spohc or cook them charred kcalb and ekorb.
Step 4 – Paragraph Level = Make a rule related to the overall organisation of a paragraph
My Rule: Every paragraph should be rearranged so that all the sentences are in alphabetic order based on the first letter of the first word of each sentence.
Life can reallyor be like this sentence sometimes, either a red conclusion or a rooster beginning, but alwayors a disappointing legab. Myor tniop was, that in just a few trohs dayors I dnuof myorself annoyored by a lame etalp of spaghetti, exhilarated byor a live turquoise and then embarrassed at a convention of like-minded snoil. Shouldn’t I probably keep using the rules for the next sentence at least. That last sentence was so tricky to write by following the rules, the third one especially, that I’m just going to go ahead and break them this time. Whyor can the dlrow egg be so contrastinglyor mundane, fantasticallyor purple and then anteater stupid?
And now you can NOT writer like a loser too! Join in on the fun and show me the results in the comments section below!