Weekend Workout: Calling Out

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit because I’m renovating an old poetry writing exercise. But, down below I suggest a way to use the exercise for character development. It’s not recycling . . . it’s renovation!

On a professional note: about THREE months until the new book is released, so lots of tour stuff and events going on. I’ll post those on Brigitta’s FaceBook page as soon as I can. Whee!


“Calling” is a form of wishing. We call for help. We call for something larger than ourselves, to connect with something larger for ourselves. Sometimes our calls are simply pleas to something truthful, something simple and pure, because we know we are flawed.

I think this exercise is best done outside. A quiet spot is better, but I did this one on my back porch with the traffic outside and all the telephone wires hanging like laundry lines.

In this exercise, you just get quiet for a few minutes, and then look around you and find something in nature to be “in awe” with.

After having a few moments of “awe,” call out to this thing. When you call, speak on behalf of yourself as a human existing on the planet. Think about your time on the earth compared to its. Think that you can learn something from it. Listen to what it teaches you.

You literally start this poem with “I call to…” and then ride the call and see where it takes you. This is a very “stream of consciousness” kind of poem (or prose).

Lost Flock

I call to the snowcapped blue
mountains Tuesday morning the
river of cars buoys ex-pedestrians
to the city
my muse
of politics
each vying for some heart
as if there weren’t enough
to go around

Black crows on the wire
identify each other by instinct
while we do by hairstyles and
familiar arguments

I call to my people
follow through on your dreams
head forth
look the squeegee kids
in the eyes say
hello and thank you
like the magic you do
without fear
of losing your flock


For those writing novels, I took the idea of this cosmic “call” to create a fun character-developing exercise. It’s a bit more philosophical than the usual weekend workouts. I use the protag for this one, but you can use it with any character, really.

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Start at the top of the page with the following startline: My protagonist is disappointed in herself/himself because . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 7 more minutes. Start with the following line: My protagonist is disappointed in humanity because . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

When the timer stops, Set your timer for 10 more minutes. Start with the following line: When my protagonist “calls” out to the universe, it sounds like . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

Read your exercises, make notes, highlight what makes sense.

Have a Great Weekend!


  1. Deb Marshall
    Feb 4, 2012

    Enjoy your weekend too! As always…fantastic exercise!

  2. Thanks, Deb… one of these days I’ll get it together on Thursday nights so the post comes out first thing Friday morning. 🙂

  3. souldipper
    Feb 4, 2012

    I like this. I like it a lot! The change in focus is subtle, but deep. Many thanks.

    • Thanks! I’m happy with the way the exercise turned out, and it was actually exactly the exercise I needed right now.

  4. Brett Minor
    Feb 4, 2012

    I used to live in Puerto Rico and my escape was to drive inland to the mountains. I didn’t call out to nature, but just loved to sit at the top of a peak and gaze at the rainforest and waterfalls. Incredibly inspiring.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Brett. I’m a gazer myself, especially at oceans. I always feel some kind of heart tug there – I think that’s what I mean by “calling.” I’m still figuring this one out. Maybe I should have said “called”?

  5. Latitudes of a Day
    Feb 4, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this exercise. I’m going to use this with my eight-year-old daughter who likes to write poetry.

    • Oh, if you do can you share the poem with me? Tell her I’d love to hear it. Children write the most magical poetry.

  6. Pish Posh
    Feb 5, 2012

    Ooh I’m glad you found me and now I found you. I can’t wait to look through all your posts and suggestions and books recommendations and such. I wish I didn’t have to work for a year so I could just catch up on reading and thinking and writing and wonder.

    I will have to try the Calling exercise next weekend. Although, I have lived many places in my life where there was at least some avenue towards awe. Here, both literally and metaphorically, the place I live is not awe-inspiring in the least, in fact it is quite dismal and gray. I’ll work on it though.

    • Hi Pish (I feel I can call you by your first name). I loved your foot-in-mouth post. And the fact that you have a bonobo on your site. And although I do know the difference, I am totally guilty of calling all primates monkeys. I will attempt to mend my ways.

      wouldn’t the best vacation be off in a remote cabin with a year’s worth of books? and then after a year you return and the rest of the world was just on hold, waiting for you.

  7. 4amWriter
    Feb 6, 2012

    Great idea, calling out to nature. I do this on windy days especially. For some reason I feel like nature is communicating right back through the wind.

    I like the exercise idea, also. I’m putting it on my list of must-dos for the week. Thanks for sharing!

  8. thanks for stopping by, 4AM. have you heard of the 3:15 Experiment?

    I try (and most often do) post a weekend writing exercise. Feel free to come back and share what you came up with.

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