Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Exercise Is Good for You with Leslie Pietrzyk

Everyone knows that exercise is good for our health…whether we follow through on this good advice or not is another issue. Regular exercise burns calories and builds muscles.

I can’t say that writing exercises will burn calories (if only!), but writing exercises definitely will develop and stretch and build your writing muscles. That’s why I put together a one-day class composed entirely of guided writing exercises: Flex Your Creative Muscles.

The idea is that these exercises will challenge your mind in a new and exciting way, pushing you to come up with a forgotten memory, perhaps, or an insight into the characters in the novel you’ve been working on, or the opening of a story that you can’t wait to finish at home, or a new way of viewing the familiar. Many of these exercises are easily replicated at home, so you can keep going on your own long after our day together is done.

Writing exercises are all about taking chances and trying new things, so it’s important that the class environment is one of acceptance and support. To that end, while all are encouraged to share their work, we will not be critiquing our writing during this session. Instead, we’ll applaud our bravery and admire our results…after all, getting words on the blank page means that there’s something to revise and improve later. So don’t be afraid if you’re a beginner—and if you’re an experienced writer, I promise you’ll uncover some muscles you didn’t know you had.

While I’m always excited about every class I teach at The Writer’s Center, this one is secretly my favorite because I participate along with everyone as much as I can, working on the exercises along with everyone else. There’s something magical about sitting in a room filled with creative people avidly writing, lost in their imaginations. Exercise is more fun with a buddy next to you, inspiring you to push yourself, and so is writing. I can specifically point to a big discovery about a character that I unearthed while taking—er, I mean teaching—this class. Trust me, writing exercises pay off: and we don’t even have to build up a sweat.

Leslie Pietrzyk is the workshop leader for Flex Your Creative Muscles: A 1-Day Workshop, which takes place at TWC on Saturday 10/22. You can sign up for her workshop here.

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels, Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in many journals, including Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Shenandoah, The Sun, and The Washington Post Magazine. She teaches at The Writer’s Center, in the graduate writing program at Johns Hopkins, and in the low-residency M.F.A. program at Converse College. She is the editor of Redux, an internet literary journal that features previously published work not available elsewhere online, and she blogs regularly at Work in Progress.

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