Apr 02 2016

#atozchallenge B is for Bruce Ballenger – Discovering the Writer Within #freewrite @curiouswriting @barryLane

The craft of fiction writing is the Theme for the #atozchallenge 2016 on the blog of @JLenniDorner
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26 writing reference books containing 26 lessons leads to a month of #WriteTips and writing samples

Dead Like Me tv show #quote

B is for “Bruce Ballenger” and “Barry”
Book: Discovering the Writer Within: 40 Days to More Imaginative Writing by Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane
@curiouswriting @barryLane
My dice roll: 158
Lesson: Freewriting for 35 minutes with five steps.

This is the “day thirty-six” exercise in this book. The object is to work the writer’s inner child and inner critic together. In about 35 minutes, a composition about death will be written. The steps:

  • A word cluster for death, worked on for 7 minutes.
  • A 2-minute review of the cluster followed by a 5-minute freewrite.
  • Read the freewrite. Underline what sticks out. Summary of freewrite.
  • Freewrite for another 5 minutes. Summarize.
  • Freewrite one last time for 5 minutes. Summarize.

Word Cluster Image @JLenniDorner

In Review, my cluster had four branches— Ending, End of Pain, Archeology, and Cemetery. The Ending branch was about the possible outcomes after death. The End of Pain branch was part morbid, and part distracted by a movie quote and some philosophy. The Archeology branch was the last one I wrote, and it’s because I was running out of ideas after five minutes. The Cemetery branch is probably the most common thoughts that go with this topic. As for words that will “ignite my freewrite”… I’m going to try for the “other” and the “stars, space, what’s out there” because I don’t feel like writing something sad.


Here I am in the beyond. The next phase. I died. I know this because my head was severed from my body. I watched it die before my mind shut off. So this is the place that is next. I’m out here in space. I guess, since I don’t have a body, I no longer need to breathe. And the bright stars can no longer damage my eyes, since I don’t have any. I wonder how I’m experiencing anything, since I no longer have senses. I also have no mind to interpret the senses that I don’t have. That’s really quite complicated, isn’t it? What a strange concept the soul is. To be, and not to be. To exist, but have no way to interact. Yet ghosts are able to produce a form of a body they were last in. So a soul must have a memory onto itself. Can a soul travel faster than the speed of light? Is it travel, or is it just being somewhere else?

In summary, I’m not sure why I decided to write this in first person. This barely even feels like a writing about death.


Somewhere beyond the visible stars is the place where souls go to rest. I suppose some are reincarnated, and some are just trapped where they were. But somewhere else, on some other plane and in some other place, is where souls end up when they are done. It isn’t a place the living can see, touch, taste, hear, or smell. Those are words for living beings with bodies and brains. This is just a place for souls. Either you’re here or you’re not. There’s no travel, no distance. All who are here simply are here. Everywhere, nowhere, at the intersection and crossing it. That’s how it is. Existing in a place that exists only for those who no longer exist. Freedom from all of life’s worries, but also removed from all of life’s joys. But no one here is sad, angry, rushed, lonely, or frustrated. No one here is only just a one.

In summary, that’s a bit more philosophical. An idea of being united into one big soul or something seemed to be how it ended.


It was supposed to be my end. I was supposed to go to wherever souls go after they’ve finished living. But I came back. Again. I’ve come back too many times. I can’t seem to figure out how not to. I’ve seen others go on. Not me. I’ve always been here. I was a soul when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I was a soul when the Ice Age came. I was a soul when man mastered fire. And now I will be a soul when man says his last good-bye to Earth. They’re leaving today. I was on the ship that didn’t make it. The one that just exploded as it left Earth’s atmosphere. And now I’m here, on a ship about to depart, ready to be born to the daughter of the Captain. One day I might be the leader. One day my children’s children might land on a new world. Perhaps then my soul will rest. Or maybe I’ll end up as one of them. I’ve been my own great-grandchild before. My soul has a strong memory. It’s easier for those who don’t have that. Death is simpler for those who actually get to die.

In summary, that was much more fun to write. It feels more like a story.

I thought when I saw the subject of this exercise that it would turn out sad. I like that my mind twisted it into a speculative fiction piece.

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Do you like to freewrite? Have you ever tried doing writing exercises like this every day for a month or more?

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    • aneeta on April 2, 2016 at 12:59 AM


    To answer your questions: Do you like to freewrite? Have you ever tried doing writing exercises like this every day for a month or more?

    Well, I try freewriting when I face writers’ block. Often, when I’m stuck, I feel that I’m wasting time if I just stare at a blank screen. So, I just write what comes to mind – which is mostly gibberish. But, if less than 10 minutes, I get into the flow and everything works perfectly after that. I don’t think I can do freewriting for a month, though. It seems too much. But I should try….

    Aneeta from
    How to Tell a Great Story
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  1. I really liked your third piece! It’s fascinating how minds choose to interpret stimuli/prompts and the responses they come up with. Thanks for a glimpse into yours.

    I have never tried freewriting for a month. My mind mostly has a mind of its own, and we are rarely in agreement 🙂

    Nilanjana Bose has this post to share B is for BuddhaMy Profile

  2. I’ve never tried free writing either. The clustering seems confusing. And I already have so many story ideas and no time to write.
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  3. Cool piece 🙂

    I do like to free write from time to time, but I’ve never tried exercises everyday – I really should, it would be good for me. The drabbles I did for FB3X this year were a kind of free writing with just the animal as inspiration I tried to write each drabble in one go.
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  4. An interesting way to delve into writing projects. I look forward to seeing more of your exercises.
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

  5. I like what you came up with for your exercises. The last one definitely feels more story oriented, more hints about a world beyond the character and the possibility that something big is happening. I love to free-write. It’s often what jars me from writer’s block. I use word maps sometimes, but just as often, it’s just my computer, a timer and a vague idea of what I want to write about.
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    • Caz on April 2, 2016 at 12:21 PM

    Dropped by from @CazsBooks http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com Welcome aboard Greenham’s yacht #A-Zchat
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  6. Interesting technique and thank you for the visuals. I’ve never tried free writing, maybe it’s time! Good luck with the A to Z Challenge.
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  7. I have a book that has all sorts of exercises similar to this, but I’ve yet to open it. What time I have for writing related endeavors, has been filled with writing and editing. I suppose if it comes to a point where I’m between or out of things to work on, I may have to give this sort of thing a try. Discarded Darlings

  8. I’ve never done a free-writing timed exercise, but I often do a sort of “free write” during boring meetings, waiting in the doctor’s office, etc.
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  9. Sounds like an interesting exercise.

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  10. Hi there!

    I’m stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge. I’m not a huge fan of free writing but I commend you for your efforts!

    I have two blogs in this challenge…my author blog at THE STORY CATCHER (www.donnalmartin.com) and my KICKS Kids Club blog (www.kickskidsclub.blogspot.com.

    If you get a chance, check them out and good luck with the challenge!
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  11. I loved your theme and your blog too… Very impressive

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  12. My freewriting often turn into rants, though once in a while they end up as pretty cool flash fiction. I should probably do it more often. 🙂
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    • Tasha on April 3, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    I haven’t really tried writing exercises like this, but I have tried just writing to see what happens. It can be most interesting.
    Tasha’s Thinkings (72) | Wittegen Press (74) | FB3X (AC) (75)
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  13. Great to see writing being celebrated, J. I haven’t tried such writing exercises for, what seems like, ages now. Time to start over, I think…

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    • Ella on April 4, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    I love this post and will check out the book~ I love exercises to jump start the process! I, too love the third exercise. A great theme for the challenge-love it~
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