Writing exercise #18 – Filling pages

On the dangers of telling someone to write what they know….


I do it dutifully, every night, and in the morning. I fill my pages as I’ve been told.

“It’s very useful. It’ll loosen you up, help you flex your writer’s muscles”, says Ken, my writing tutor, and everyone else in the class always seems to be fine with this. One of them has already had a story published, for God’s sake, that she first wrote during her daily pages. “It only took me an hour to write it. I just couldn’t stop once I’d got into the flow”, she simpered. I hate people like her, Sylvia, with her exotic looks (half Chinese, half Spanish or something), and her cute little pink notebooks with cartoon animals on them and her always perfect hair.

In class, when she announced her publication news (in a magazine I’d even heard of too – she didn’t even have the decency to be published in the Wisconsin Monthly Advertiser or something equally obscure) I’d sighed and looked down at my latest attempt to fill pages – three half sheets from one notebook and a piece of kid’s stationery found marking a recipe for meatballs in a second-hand cookery book, all framed by my equally scruffy hands; chewed nails, torn cuticles, scratched from trying to tame the feral cat that lives in the empty house down the street.

My sigh had been so loud that everyone around the table had turned to look at me and I’d had to explain that I was thinking about something else.

“Yes, remember that too folks; inspiration can strike a true writer anywhere, anytime”, trilled our tutor, and everyone laughed at me. I think it was about then I decided to kill him.

Since then I’ve actually had no problem filling my pages. I bought a tidy notebook with elastic to keep it shut when I’m not plotting his demise. Actually I’ve bought two – the ideas just come thick and fast, just like he always said they would. And I’m struck by plot ideas all the time – on the subway, hanging upside down during my pole dancing class, under water in the swimming pool (injection of air into a vein, strangulation, drowning). So I suppose just because a lot of his trite ideas did finally come true I should let him off. But I’m not going to. “Write what you know”, he says, over and over again. Well I want to write a book about a murderer and I don’t know how my character feels as she kills her victim. So he’ll just have to die for his craft.

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