Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Best News & Other Writing Prompts

What's the best news you ever received? Or, perhaps, the best news that a character in one of your stories received? Take ten minutes to freewrite on that prompt or another prompt. Write without stopping and minimize crossing out words. Let the story have its way with you. Just write!

-- The best news I ever received....
-- The vet told Martha, "The good news is that Fluffy is very healthy. The bad news...."
-- Tim heard glass breaking....
-- Combine a roll of paper towels, reading glasses, and a telephone in a story or poem.
-- In the distance....
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Writers and Mistakes

Writers are human, so we make mistakes. But with so many writers out there pitching ideas and looking for work, all it takes is one little mistake for your work to be deleted from an editor's e-mail (or tossed into her File 13, if it's snail mail). Today I had a cringe-inducing moment that reminded me of the old carpenter's adage: Measure twice, cut once. For writers, I'd alter it to read: Proofread ten times, hit send once.

I'd spent the better part of an hour carefully crafting a letter, re-working my resume, and selecting the best clip for the job. I was so involved in polishing my e-mail that until the moment I pressed send, I didn't notice that I'd somehow left the subject line blank. Now, in most cases that's just an annoyance, but in this case the text of the subject line was a part of specific directions for this job. Yelling at my computer did nothing. I did not have an "unsend" option. Worst of all, I had described myself--in my much-labored-over e-mail--as "detail oriented." Gasp.

I had two options. First, I could simply ignore the error and hope my e-mail got to the right person, but the subject line was essential because it contained her name. Second, I could re-send with a corrected subject line and an apology for any confusion my first e-mail might have caused. I went with Option Two. I decided that acknowledging and correcting my mistake at least indicated I'd been paying attention--if a bit too late.

Someone should invent an add-on to e-mail for writers, another step that pops up after you hit send that says, "Are you sure? Proofread it again."
Picture by Zsuzsanna Kilian at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing Obstacles and Motivators

"The Death of the Slush Pile" was a title that caught my eye; Katherine Rosman wrote the article in The Wall Street Journal. Rosman tells us: "Now, slush is dead, or close to extinction." Agents have become necessary to get a book published. Producers are afraid they'll be accused of stealing movie ideas. Even magazines, many of which still accept unagented material, struggle to sort through large numbers of submissions.

Writing has never been an easy career choice. As one of my writing group members pointed out, people have bills to pay. Even writers who don't want to quit their day jobs often want to be published. How do you think these obstacles to publication affect a writer's goal/desire to be published, or just to write? Writers are a stubborn bunch. We tend to persevere in the face of repeated rejections and obstacles. Do you find the obstacles to publication discouraging, or do they inspire you with an "I'll show them" attitude?
Photo courtesy of Adrian van Leen at

Rainy Days & Other Writing Prompts

Ready for some freewriting? Las Vegas is getting a lot of rain this week, so that was the inspiration for prompt number one. If the rain doesn't inspire you, find another prompt and freewrite for ten minutes without stopping. No dictionaries allowed. Do your best not to cross out words. Enjoy the process, without worrying about how your piece will turn out. Just write!

--Rainy days....

--"Of course I miss her. I never expected...."

--If all your writing work was destroyed, what piece would you miss the most?

--With the knife in her hand....

--Beach, mountains, or desert--which is your favorite?

--Combine a calculator, a piece of wire, and an egg in a story or poem.
Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Comisarenco at

Friday, January 15, 2010

How Does Success Change a Writer?

Do you think success as a writer--however you define it--changes your work? Does having a wider audience and/or wider acceptance of your work improve or deteriorate the quality of your writing?

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Love, Pray, has received mixed reviews on her latest book, Committed. One of the reviewers I read stated:

The only event more hazardous to a writer’s career than a book’s catastrophic failure is its meteoric success.

What do you think? If you published a best-seller, how would it change your writing? How would it change you?
Article Quoted From:

Photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian at

The Stairs & Other Writing Prompts

If you've been here before, you know the drill. Find a prompt that grabs your attention. Freewrite for ten minutes. When you're done, you might have the start of something... or you might not. Don't worry about the end product. Just write!

At the top of the stairs....

"I'll say this slowly. You can threaten me all you want, but you'll never...."

Have you ever had a murder in your neighborhood?

Combine a paperclip, white paint, and a bookmark in a story or poem.

Linda fell on the....

How many pets currently reside in your home?
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Friday, January 08, 2010

Ellen in the Car & Other Writing Prompts

Why is Ellen sitting in her car? What’s inside John’s house that she doesn’t want to face? You can use writing prompt number one to freewrite for ten minutes, but if Ellen and John don’t inspire you, pick another. Grab that pen and paper, or fire up Word, and just write!

--Ellen sat in the car. She knew she had to go into John’s house, but she didn’t want to go inside because….

--At the fork in the road, Jake hesitated. Should he take the faster route, or the scenic route? He finally decided….

--Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

--Susan was firm. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. No matter what you say, I’m going to….”

--Do you collect anything? How did your collection get started?

--When Daniel sorted through the mail, he was thrilled to find….

--Beyond the rusty gate….

--Combine a tree, a sweater, and a stove in a story or poem.
Photo courtesy of Troy Stoi at