We’ve probably all heard how we need to log 10,000 hours before we can expect to master anything. The news from UCLA’s Robert Bjork and Florida State’s Anders Ericsson is that if we want to learn faster and retain more we need to vary our practice. These scientists call it interleaving and they claim it triggers the release of hormone CRF in the brain area central to learning and memory.
And I’ve got the very thing to mix things up with my writing practice: free writing. And as of this weekend I got some inspired exercises from writer Lidia Yuknavitch (Dora: A Headcase) at the Oregon Writer’s Colony Spring Conference.
One exercise is to describe a simple object from different characters’ point of view. In the free write exercise we did this weekend the object was an apple. The point of view characters were highly contrasted from one another: a seven-year old country girl; an eighty-year old deaf quadriplegic; a retired marine officer who’d done ten tours of duty in Afghanistan; and a psycho-killer. I’m going to try this with different characters in my new novel, Betting Blind, and see if I can make the descriptions particular enough to tell the difference between the points of view.
Another exercise Lidia suggested was to find a metaphor that continues to surface in our writing. Set the task of writing 100 fragments using that metaphor. Lidia used this very practice to write her memoir, The Chronology of Water.