Three months ago, before I started chronicling my writing trek here, my mind’s eye was tapped-out after a hard work day. I could not concentrate on writing anything, because my mind was too busy going in loops. My imagination was starved, and I desperately needed to feed it.
Luckily, there are a multitude of creative writing exercises out there, and I stumbled on plenty of them in this article from Learning Mind first. The very first exercise, “Set the mood with imagery,” appealed the most to me. I was feeling a lot of wanderlust in anticipation of a trip with my family to San Diego the next week, and kept thinking of castles. One search of castles later, this image of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany caught my eye on Wallpaper Cave. (I tried but failed to find the original owner of the image to give credit.)
Then, the best way I could, I wrote down exactly my imagination of what this setting was like. I imagined myself walking through the forest, hiking the mountains, looking at the castle from this vantage point, feeling the breeze… I imagined everything I possibly could, through all five senses, and wrote it down. And let me tell you, it felt great. My imagination was revived and I could write again!
Now, I’ve decided to show you what I wrote. Here it is, in all its glory:
The Castle in the Forest
The cool mountain breeze courses past me, flowing through the gold and green leaves of an aging maple tree next to me. The tree’s branches slightly sway to the force, but still stay in place. Forward the wind goes through the coarse forest of maples and elms blanketing the lush green mountains ahead. Stray leaves – yellow, orange, and green – go sailing, some catching in my hair and clothes and others passing me by. Some seem to chase each other like young squirrels frolicking in the forest, looping and twisting to the whims of the wind.
I scrunch my feet, feeling twigs and dry leaves crunch and some smooth soil shift underneath. It’s hard to stand on the steep side of the mountain – but at least I have a tree to hold on to, its centenarian, coarse, scratchy bark providing plenty of grip. Each breath I take draws the smell of grass and dirt. Could there be a more pleasant smell?
Looking beyond my spot, I see part of a river. It comes in view from the left, pools into a small lake, goes to the right, and disappears behind the rolling hills. It’s carrying water to…where exactly? I don’t know. Its calm blue-green waters glisten in the sunlight, but there’s no reflection of the sun that I can see. I strain my ears to see if I can hear any water gushing. But no – the river’s too far away. I make a mental note to get up close to it soon.
Far from my spot, the cheerful green mountains, and the glistening river, the stony blue-gray mountains sit with their jagged, snow-covered caps. They are magnificent, and make me think of what it would be like to be a mountaineer climbing them. It’d be bitterly freezing, with snow blowing every which way and clouding your vision. I can imagine the hard, jagged rock and stone, devoid of life from millennia of a subzero climate.
But my mind snaps back to the one thing standing out in the center of all this natural beauty – the white castle.
The bridge leading to its front gate is partly covered with trees, but it’s not too far from me. From this distance, I can see all the castle. The front gate with a dark-colored roof and dark-colored walls, ending with white watchtowers. There seem to be black smudges on the watchtowers. I wonder, Could that be from years of defending the castle from those watchtowers and sustaining gun or even cannon fire?
Inside the gates lies the white stone courtyard, with a single light-green maple tree standing in it. It’s flanked by three main buildings that I can see. To the right, there is a white stone tower, mostly cubic but ending with a cylindrical top some forty feet high and a pointed gray roof.
Left of center and behind the tree, there is a much shorter but no less pretty wing of the castle. One can see the floor divisions and just count them – one, two, three stories high. The wing is mostly square except for a cut corner, where windows look out to the mountains far to my left. There are also a couple of round columns going along the sides. The roof is a darker shade than the one on the first tower. I strain my eyes and squint to see what the roofs are made of – shingles, wood, what? – but it’s too far away to tell.
Finally, in the center back, the biggest and main part of the castle stands taller than the other two. I count the rows of windows, and it’s about six stories. I squint to see what color the roof is, and it looks reddish. On either side of the front face of that building, there are two more white towers, probably attached to it. They, too, have the same pointed gray roofs.
Put together, all these parts make a grand castle that seems to stand proudly, bolder than all the trees and the mountains put together. Now that I’ve digested all this imagery, I step toward the gate.
So I hope you enjoyed reading all that. And if you ever feel like I did before this exercise, you should try this, too! Just pick a good scenic image (or another castle), close your eyes and imagine that you’re actually standing in the environment where the picture was taken. Then go crazy writing down what you imagine, with every detail you possibly can, and see what you can come up with!
I know I’ll definitely do this or another writing exercise again in the near future, especially next month. When I do, you’ll see it here first!
Thanks for reading, everyone! Do you have a writing exercise you want to share? Let us know about it below!
If you want to keep up with my latest posts, just sign up with your name and email under the “Get adventure writing tips in your inbox!” section on the top-right (on desktop) or below (on mobile.) Be sure to share this with every adventure writer and/or reader you know! Thanks for your time!