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No Time to Write? 5 Places That Will Give You Time

Method Writing

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You’ve heard of method acting, where actors immerse themselves in a character. Sometimes, method writing can be a great way to enrich the scene I’m writing and have a little fun while I’m at it.

I once wrote a story that took place on a movie set. I interviewed a number of local actors but felt the need for more. So I took a couple of acting classes.

It was fun. And uncomfortable. And enlightening.

I began looking for classes that were outside my comfort zone. I took an all-day rock climbing class (where I pitifully clung to the side of the cliff and waited for my instructor to say I could rappel to the ground). I’ve taken cooking classes, language classes, photography classes (where I still feel a steep learning curve), and the list for the future remains long and exciting.

Writing can’t be done in a vacuum. Doing research online and in books is good. Sometimes it’s the only way we can get the experience we need for our stories. But other times? Go for it. Audition for a play. Jump out of an airplane. Music stores often have people looking to earn a little cash by teaching an instrument. I found the rock climbing school through a camping goods store. And sometimes just putting the word out can bring what you need to your doorstep.

Has it made my writing better? I like to think so. My scenes with the actors were written with more confidence—first, because I’d experienced a tiny bit of what they do and second, because I made friends in the class who were happy to answer my questions. Should I ever include a scene with rock climbing, I’ll remember how my arms felt like cooked spaghetti for days and that long climbing pants are better than capris.

A taste is all I need. Just enough to get the feeling right. The vision right. And then it’s mine to play with.

So take a chance! Sign up for a class, go on a trip, volunteer for a project that will enrich your characters. And yourself.

 

* Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

2 Comments
  • Michelle Mueller • July 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I also took an acting class once through my university, and it was one of the most terrifying but memorable experiences of my life (I’m a raging introvert). When I got to the end of the class and wrote the requisite five-page paper, I found myself writing a paper about the similarities between what actors do and what writers do. By the end of it, I realized that the class had made me view my writing in a different way.

    I like the term “method writing.” To follow that train of thought, actors often play characters that are nothing like them at all: doctors, scientists, people from history. And in that sense, writers, too, despite the old adage of writing what you know, often delve into territory of the things we don’t know. We’re trying to convince our audience/readership that we’re the experts — that it’s real. Trying new things — even the basic level of new things — helps us to expand our understanding of possibilities. Good for you for getting out there! Keep tasting the unknown!

    • J. M. Levinton • July 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you! It’s funny that I didn’t learn what I expected to in acting class. One of the exercises was improv. My group had a plot and we could say whatever we wanted as long as it moved the action to where it needed to be. Afterwards, a classmate approached me to say how much my words affected her. And it was a lightning bolt–I didn’t want to say other people’s words, just my own. Useful confirmation for a writer. 🙂 The experience allowed me to see a side of things I hadn’t considered.

      Congrats on stepping outside of your comfort zone!

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