Writing has tremendous energy. If you find a reason for it, any reason, it seems that rather than negate the act of writing, it makes you burn deeper and glow clearer on the page. Ask yourself, “Why do I write?” or “Why do I want to write?” but don’t think about it. Take pen and paper and answer it with clear, assertive statements. Every statement doesn’t have to be one hundred percent true and each line can contradict the others. Even lie if you need to, to get going. If you don’t know why you write, answer it as though you do know why.
— Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
When I am running writing classes I like to offer speed stream of consciousness writing activities to ‘warm the hand’.
This spread by @radiantunknown is the perfect spread to generate some writing, preferably on scrap paper. I encourage people to begin by sketching, posing some questions and making lists of things that come to mind.
Natalie Goldberg provides this idea which I have seen used by teachers training actors
I suggest that you place your primary character on a page and then make use of the following format to create your own character.
No cheating. Do not simply fill in the blanks by describing yourself or someone you know. Instead, fill in the blanks describing someone you’d find it interesting to know. Then, remembering that conflict is the essence of all dramatic writing, repeat the process by imagining a character whose value, attitudes, etc. would likely put them in opposition to the first character you invented.
Favorite subject in school:
Favorite game as child:
Favorite section of newspaper:
Favorite type of music:
Last book read:
Last movie seen:
Morning or night person:
Indoor or outdoor person:
Then we set a timer and write for twenty minutes without thinking or worrying about grammar.
As a follow on you can put your character in the centre of this spread and begin building on their story using the cards that emerge.