Samuel Webster

November 25, 2009 Rule #57: Writer’s Block Does Not Exist Posted In: Writing

I’m giving a writing seminar tomorrow, entitled Poetree and dealing mostly with Performance Poetry, but also some exercises in finding inspiration.

I had three writing exercises prepared but due to time constraints, I’m not able to show this one, so I thought I would post it for you all to see here. I will direct the students here to check it out too, so feel free to leave some encouragement for some of our younger writers below as they begin their HSC English Majorworks

Rule #57

Rule #57 is the latest writing exercise I have devised, inspired by a presentation Rives gave at TED.

It is devised for moments of writer’s block, specifically when creating creative pieces (though it could have applications elsewhere.)

Through a series of arbitrary connections, your brain is opened up to a collection of new images that you ordinarily wouldn’t consider. Watch the video, and then read the bit afterwards.

Video: (best watched in HD at full screen for all the details)

I am in no way claiming that this is a direct path to becoming a writer. A series of quantitative connections will not build you a story. But there is a distinct possibility that the process has sparked new mental pathways. For example, the number 57, Japan and Autumn Leaves are quite seperate images, which would have been hard to come by in any other context.

Some examples of situations you could use for an exercise:

1) A man lives by the Hoheikyo. It is Autumn, he is a writer and he has an intense fixation with the number 57.

2) It is the premiere of Autumn Leaves, in 1956. The director and production company are debating about a Swedish release, over a japanese one.

3) A man leaves his German county to go to Japan and study ancient writing.

These may seem like simple situations, but they are pathways I can almost guarantee you haven’t considered, thrown up by completely arbitrary connections. While we may rile against the computer, claiming longhand is better, or compare the attention spans pre and post-facebook, there ARE ways in which technology can be used (against its intentions) to inspire.

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  1. Charmaine Clancy • November 26, 2009

    Another great post Sam,
    I will be using this in my English (Lit) classes for student exercises, I like the idea of applying it to poetry.
    In any high school class, I will have about a quarter of my class jump in and start writing before I've even finished asking them to, about half will ponder for a while and come up with some kind of structure and another quarter will sit there feeling blank. Those student's thrive when given a plan or map to direct them through the writing process. Rule #57 is perfect for them.

  2. Brooklyn Evans • June 11, 2010

    I also like to make poems and read lots of books that is related to Poetry.;'-

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