Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writer's block does not exist (Part 1)

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Or it does. But for the sake of this blog it does not. What is writer's block? I don't know, because it does not exist. Here's the thing, whether you are a professional creative writer, a skilled hobbyist, or a kid stuck with too much homework; with the right tools you should always have the ability to write something – or plan what you are going to write.

How? Here are some tools (with a story, because I feel like telling a story).

One of my two best friends (Anna Saini the other) Dan D'Onorio (for the record, number three is probably peoples' poet Pat Connors – sorry Tomy) and I constantly discuss teaching methodology. Dan is a talented poet, and educator so naturally he teaches music to kids. I am a creative writer interested in running workshops and starting a press so naturally I'm constantly under employed (what!?). The following is the methodology that Dan and I created over beers to break this none existent situation. None of these concepts were invented by us. Our goal was to build the framework for a workshop, not to invent.

Step one: Structured Brainstorming/Mind mapping

Dan used to use this when supply teaching. We've all been told, “Go brainstorm!” But what do you do after a good brainstorm! Seriously, dumbest idea ever. Go write random things on a paper until what? Bubblegum, Nintendo, Ninjas -- you can't have a good brainstorm without ninjas! If you are old enough to know what a ninja is you know this is true. So let's try to avoid random thoughts, and keep the ninjas in Sengoku Period Japan.

First, always have a direction. An idea that centres your argument. For the sake of this post let's go with the idea of writing a poem about fruit.

Fruit: Apples, oranges, pineapple, passion fruit, grapes

Digging a bit deeper: seeds, vine, trees, climate

I've decided that oranges have inspired me to go further: citrus, citric acid, organic, aroma, lemon, lime, kiwi? (do kiwis have citric acid – do pineapples), tropics, orange plantation,

Don't be afraid to write notes. Remember to include as many of the five senses in your notes as possible. The final mind map should look something like the attached image.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Dane Swan

Dane Swan is a Bermuda-raised, Toronto-based internationally published poet, writer and musician. His first collection, Bending the Continuum was launched by Guernica Editions in the Spring of 2011.

Go to Dane Swan’s Author Page