2 min read

The moon is a simmering tea cup

The moon is a simmering tea cup
Photo by Patrick Schaudel / Unsplash

I'm a little obsessed with the moon at the moment. I'd say it's because I'm working on a project with a lunar theme, but honestly sometimes I just remember the moon and can't stop thinking about it for a while.

Then at some point I guess I just forget about the huge luminous rock hanging in the sky, controlling the sea, covered in mysterious lights, and gradually moving away from us at roughly the same speed that our fingernails grow. And so the cycle begins again.

But I'm in a holy crap the moon phase at the moment, so it seems like a good time to share my favourite, vaguely moon-themed exercise from author and poet Tim Clare's excellent Couch to 80K Writing Bootcamp, a writing course by podcast.

Each day over eight weeks (with one day off every week) there's a 20 minute episode, starting with some writing insights, jokes, and a pep talk, followed by a 10 minute writing exercise. Each week has a different theme and they build as they go from a nice, low key start (making lists! yay!) to more challenging exercises, and finally just showing up to write, the most difficult thing of all.

The course was a huge help to me getting started with writing, not least because Clare is an entertaining and compassionate guide. He's also very open about the mental health challenges he's experienced (and in fact has a book about anxiety coming out soon) which was enormously reassuring for me at a point where I was struggling, and asking myself not just "can I do this?" but "is it safe for me to do this?"

I find I come back to certain exercises from the course now and then, partly to shake up my writing, and also because they're fun.

This one is from Week 6: Mutate The Moon, which is all about metaphor and simile. It's a neat way of "loosening up our overly-literal minds, defamiliarising the mundane, and clawing back a bit of territory from the dark armies of cliché", as Clare puts it. And it involves lists. Yay!  

The title of this post is the product of a previous go round with this exercise and it always makes me smile. This time my favourite was "love is a sleepy biscuit." Isn't it just? I also got "death is a chalky apple," which is certainly evocative of... something.

Occasionally I've tweaked the last part of the exercise and thrown some new words in, which is how I arrived at a fabulous story prompt: "the spaceship is an iridescent tuber". I'll write that story one day, I swear.

Photo of a page from a lined journal with a list of adjectives on the left and a list of nouns on the right.
My lists. Now what needs to be a rakish iceberg? Or a sore orchid?