The Writing Gym: Use It or Lose It

Summer’s coming, is your bikini body ready?

It seems spring has sprung and that means the check-out stand at the grocery store is filled with magazine headlines endorsing ten minute work-outs and crash diets. And while I’m anti-gym and pro-cupcake, I found myself wondering if my philosophy of physical fitness might have some layover in my writing. It’s true, I don’t write every day. Don’t get me wrong, I do write, but I’m more of a crash-marathon-weekend kinda gal. And this got me thinking…

Should I be exercising the literary muscle a little bit more? Am I going to wake up one day middle aged and with flabby sentences?

Coincidentally, I just started reading Gail Carson Levine’s book Writing Magic. It seems Levine’s decided to become my literary personal trainer, because each chapter is filled with writing prompts and exercises to get the heart pumpin’ and the creative juices ready for swimsuit season! So what the heck, an exercise here or there can only help! So I’m going to attempt to post one writing exercise a week here on the blog, and I encourage everyone else to get back into shape with me!


Write for at least twenty minutes starting with the following sentence: I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more.

What I wrote:

I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more. When my baby sister Madeline ran up to me with her legs covered in mud, and tears coating her cheeks, I thought it was just another Sunday morning.  I’d clean her up, tell her to leave the Bora twins alone, and wipe away her tears with a cookie.

What I didn’t expect was the light.

Like a firecracker exploding, a ribbon of sunlight carved its way out of Madeline’s forehead. My whole body seized because I thought she’d been shot. But when she held her dirty palms up to me the light shot out of her fingertips as well, and I knew something was amiss. The light was coming from everywhere, emanating out of her like a burst of starlight. And yet, she didn’t seem to notice at all. She complained that the Bora twins had deliberately tripped her and ruined her good-day shoes. She didn’t see the sparkles that dripped from her lips as she spoke. She didn’t see the silver glow that haloed her hair. I closed my green eye, the one that sees the truth, and she grew even brighter. I closed the brown eye and the light disappeared, like a shut window. That’s when I knew.

My father had warned me about the sight. He’d warned me that if I ever saw the signs that I should tell him right away. But I didn’t want to tell him. I looked to the end of the porch where my older sister Emily sat hunched in a rocking chair, knitting. She was not the first in our family to have the sight, but she was the most recent to tell father about it. She looked up and smiled weakly at me and Madeline. Emily used to be beautiful, but now her face is half-hidden behind a patch of black cloth. She had been an obedient daughter. She’d told father about the sight, at first sign, just as he had asked her to do. And the next day the doctors came to our hut with their knives and bottles of gin.

Father had the doctors remove the eye. He had them cut it right out.

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4 responses to “The Writing Gym: Use It or Lose It”

  1. Julie says:

    Wow! Just, wow!

  2. Sherry says:

    Great Writing!!!

  3. Thanks guys! You’re so sweet!

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