Thursday, January 24, 2013

Message in a Bottle & Other Writing Prompts

Here’s a twist on my usual writing prompts: actual headlines, linked to their respective articles. I’d bet that if the headline itself doesn’t spark a story (any kind of story, in any form, by the way), then something in the article will. Pick one and dig in for ten minutes to see what you can create (remember, no backspacing, no crossing out… just write).

Photo info: Copyright by Moyan Brenn

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Writing Prompts: The How of Writing

Many writers have a routine that eases them into the waters of creativity. I recently changed my routine, which got me to thinking about how we write; our writing spaces and the things we do to call the muse.

With that idea in mind, here are four writing prompts:

1. Describe your perfect writing space.
2. The one thing I have to have when I write is…
3. First drafts: Longhand or computer? 
4. Have you had an interesting experience while writing in a public place (Starbucks, the library, etc.)?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Have You Put in Your 10,000 Hours?

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell wrote about super-achievers. One of the things he examined was the role of sustained practice—the often cited 10,000 hours—in attaining world-class success.

How many hours a week do you spend writing?

If you wrote for 20 hours each week and kept that up for ten years, you’d have 10,000 hours of writing practice. If that sounds like a lot of time, consider that the average American spends more than 20 hours a week watching television.

How many hours of writing practice do you think you’ve accumulated over the past year?
Photo courtesy of Indi Samarajiva

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Return of Writing Prompts

When my writing group was meeting on Wednesdays (I miss you all, by the way, wherever you are), I created writing prompts each week to give everyone a warm-up exercise.

~What’s your favorite food?
~At the top of the stairs…

The goal was to spark an idea that could be used in any way: poetry, fiction, memoir, or essay, and it didn't matter how tangential the piece might be to the actual subject or question in the prompt. Crossing out was strongly discouraged and no dictionaries were allowed. We took ten or fifteen minutes to craft our impromptu pieces. Sometimes we came up with gems, and sometimes we wrote clunkers.

~Describe your first car.
~Combine a bowl, a lamp, and a dog toy in a story/poem.

Writers are often dismissive about prompts since no writer has a shortage of ideas. I think of prompts as an exercise, or something akin to Suduko for people who like to write.

What do you think you could do with one of the prompts above? All were popular with my group.

My first car was a Ford Granada that looked a lot like the one in the picture above. Photo courtesy of Dave_7.