I thought I would share another round of writing exercises that I’ve done for my creative writing course this summer. I’m really excited to be working creatively on things like this again; it’s been a while for me. I’m an English Literature major with a minor in creative writing, but due to the fact that I transferred universities, a lot of my creative writing studies have had to be put on hold until now, so I’m loving this!
This exercise is called “Senses Other Than Sight” (credit due to my professor as far as I know; I’m not sure where she got this from). You can pick a person, a feeling, a situation, etc. and then write about it without using any visual descriptions. It all must be done using one or more of the other four primary senses. Remember (and this is something that I am still working on myself) that you want to be as specific and concrete as possible in your writing. Instead of saying “the restaurant” name the restaurant. Instead of “her shoe” name the brand. Obviously you will need to find a balance in your own writing of when to be concrete and when to be abstract–there definitely needs to be a balance of both–but the more specific you can be, the more relatable your writing will be to your reader.
I’ve included only the first five of the ten I have written because I didn’t want to make this a monster post, so I will post part II at another time in the near future.
1. Cleaning the bathroom: The soapsuds taste like lemon bleach and ammonium chloride. I spit, letting the running water wash away the saliva and essence of drain cleaner. My breath hitches, forcing a cough as I attempt to extract the chemical citrus from the back of my tongue, and my taste buds wince from the sharpness of it. The sponge in my right hand scrapes against the textured surface of the bathtub, squealing lightly as it works stale shampoo from the creases.
2. Classroom: The thoughtless protests of unoiled hinges and closing doors infiltrate the room. There is a soft thrumming of vibrating machinery as cool air is forced through the vents and between the projector fans. Pens etching into college-ruled notebooks is loudest here, utensils jostled from their usual resting place in the lightless depths of backpacks to fill empty space with half-hearted analysis of Moby Dick. No one speaks, only hands move until someone sighs—of boredom, no doubt—the silence is aching of it.
3. Climbing a tree: The flesh of his palm scrapes against bark and flakes of ash wood chip away under his prodding fingers. They splinter, jamming into the sensitive skin beneath his nails and he aches to remove them, to brush them away, but then his fingers curl around another branch and he pulls himself forward. There is a warning screech from above; a shrill sound that embeds itself into his muscles and he goes still, limbs taut. He cannot see the enraged fowl but can hear the rustled clapping of her wings, the incessant chattering of her beak. “Move forward at your own risk,” she seems to say.
4. Anger: The words that spring to his mouth taste like hot cinnamon and burning cloves. He swallows, feeling them stick to the lining of his esophagus and attempting to crawl their way back up. They taste like tequila, red wine, and fistfuls of bar nuts. They crunch between his teeth, scald the back of his tongue, and he whimpers. He pours amber liquid into his mouth. This, too, burns, but not so much as the scorching heat the words had left behind. Unlike those, the whiskey numbs his pallet and he can feel the warm breath of it against his stomach.
5. Barn: The smell of manure and fresh hay is sweet with a hint of musk, weaving its way into the cedar wood barn doors. The cattle shift blandly, grinding cud mindlessly between their molars. The sheep, croaking in distaste whenever a piglet draws too close to their hoard of corn shucks, jump atop the hay bales and the stall door thuds as they scrape against it. Small clumps of raw wool drift through the stale air and Marie feels them, wiry and unclean, on her tongue.
Be kind, I’m a little rusty! Like I said, I will be posting the rest later as well as a few other exercises I have been working on. Until then I will keep writing and hopefully be able to show you some cool stuff.