1/25/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #25: Title Mania Plus Old Clouds 4


The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is here! These are daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#25
Title Mania Plus Old Clouds 4

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.


Titles:
  1. Turned Away
  2. 15, 16, 17 and Other Such Ages
  3. The System Breaks Down
  4. Three Years
  5. Morality, Altruism and Alvin and the Chipmunks

Bonus Exercise: 5 Random Constraints
(I recommend picking any required words or lines before writing with a little surplus for options, but with your chosen title in mind)
  1. The first or second word of your piece must be "Within".
  2. You must include at least five words which rhyme with "Flute".
  3. You must include something dropping into water (or liquid) from at least a foot above it.
  4. You must include the words "Ninety" "Left" "Tip" "Max" and "Trunk".
  5. Your must include a green vegetable.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try prolific lofi artist Knxledge's album Old Klouds.



1/24/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #24: Three Things Together 4


The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.


These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#24
Three Things Together 4
Photo by Steven Wright on Unsplash
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, Nice and simple.

But before you do that, read this section about Edith Wharton's travels abroad and write five (5) sentences describing or referencing interesting things you read there. You don't need to use any of these sentences, but take them seriously as a warm up, and maybe you can use one.

  1. A banana
  2. A magnifying glass
  3. Bambi (the character)

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Chet Baker and Paul Bley's 1985 jazz album Diane.



1/23/20

Be Wary Citizens! Hunger Mountain's (No-Fee) International Young Writers Prize (for High School Aged Writers) Deadline March 1, 2020

sponsors a contest called the
with a March 1, 2020 deadline

The Details(in their words):

This contest is open to only high school student writers (ages 14-18) from around the world, in all genres of creative writing: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for young adults & children, & hybrid work. Students in Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Program in Writing & Publishing will judge submissions and choose an overall winner, as well as a finalist in each genre. The winner will receive $100 and online publication, and the finalists' names will be listed online.

Our goal with this prize is to foster the next generation of creative writers, and to encourage young people to make their voices heard. We look forward to reading your best work.

We accept, per entry:

  • One short story of up to 5,000 words
  • One essay of up to 5,000 words
  • One document with up to 3 poems included
  • One piece of writing for children of up to 5,000 words
You may enter multiple submissions, but please limit to one entry per genre category.

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Hunger Mountain is the print literary journal based out of Vermont's College of Fine Arts. They describe themselves as such:

Past contributors to Hunger Mountain include Elizabeth Acevedo, Dilruba Ahmed, Pinckney Benedict, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Destiny O. Birdsong, Robin Black, Ron Carlson, Hayden Carruth, Lucy Corin, Kwame Dawes, Matthew Dickman, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Santee Frazier, Terrance Hayes, Robin Hemley, Bob Hicok, Tony Hoagland, Lily Hoang, Pam Houston, Major Jackson, W. Todd Kaneko, Maxine Kumin, Dorianne Laux, Kelly Link, Robert Lopez, Sidney Lea, Michael Martone, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gregory Orr, Ann Pancake, Carl Phillips, Jordy Rosenberg, Tomaž Šalamun, Charles Simic, Jake Skeets, Patricia Smith, James Tate, Paul Tran, Jean Valentine, L. Lamar Wilson, Tiphanie Yanique, and many others.

Hunger Mountain was started in 2002 by founding editor Caroline Mercurio through a generous donation from a Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing alumnus. The journal has since thrived with the assistance of MFA in Writing faculty & ongoing support from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, VCFA alums, subscribers, & friends. Miciah Bay Gault served as Editor from 2009-2018, & the journal is now run by students in VCFA’s MFA in Writing & Publishing Program & Editor Erin Stalcup.
For the Adults, the same deadline: 
They also hold contests in multiple genres with a March 1st deadline which do have fees, they all have a grand prize of $1000, except the chapbook contest which is $100 and 50 copies of really finely made chapbooks.

  • Poetry (Ruth Stone Poetry Prize 3 poems, $20 entry)
  • Fiction (Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize, up to 8000 words, $20 entry) 
  • Non Fiction (unnamed, up to 8k words, $20 entry)
  • Chapbook (May Day Mountain Chapbook Series, any genre, 30-50 page, $10 entry)
  • YA/Children's lit (Katherine Paterson Prize, up to 8000 words, $20 entry)


--

Do something good with your spring

So if you know a teenager that's interested in writing, maybe take them under your wing briefly and guide them through some writing exercises or workshop their pieces once you make it very clear that you're not telling them their words are bad, but just that for this venue, you know how they would like the piece to read... Really you're just doing a workshop with kid-gloves, but one which will help them progress. Or just encourage them to submit if they have solid pieces. They can submit once to each genre as well, so remember that if they write in multiple genres. Get a kid on the right literary path this spring and put a little "I did a good thing" pep in your step.



2020 Writing Exercise Series #23: Beginning & Ending with Green 3


The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#23
Beginning & Ending with Green 3
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place and ends with another, and an optional additional requirement.


Begin WithThe smell of freshly cut grass.

End WithEating something with the taste of peppermint.


Extra Credit RequirementsInclude a large bell or chime's sound causing a distraction; and the words: "Hysterics" "Forty" "Campaign" "Scoot" and "Flung".


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If you'd like some background music, try Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 conducted by Manfred Honeck.




1/22/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #22: Ekphrastic Cabin 3


The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#22
Ekphrastic Cabin 3


For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art, or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is this render called "The Secret Cabin" by the amazing French digital artist Christophe Tritz.


If nothing right off strikes you try the following exercises along with the image.
  1. You are the builder and owner of this cabin. Why did you build it this way? The tiny cabin up top looks like only enough room for a staircase down to the actual house—do others know about your secret underground lair, or does it remain your secret? Tell us about someone coming for a visit.
  2. You are a magistrate/sheriff coming to investigate a missing old man/woman. You arrive at the cabin and find it well up-kept, but no one seems to be in the little cabin, entering, you discover this much larger abode and explore it. Does the owner come home while you're searching? Do you find something awful? Amazing? Magical?
  3. This is the home of a magician/wizard of some sort. From the perspective of the sunflower at the middle of the garden, describe the odd comings and goings to this magical home. Has the magician enchanted you so you can interact with the guests, or are you merely a sentient plant? Can he communicate with the other plants in the garden, what smells come from the cabin/vents from those cauldrons?
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If you'd like background writing music try Nepalese musician Manose Singh's bamboo flute album Suskera.



1/21/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #21 One Word Exercise 1


The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.



These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#21
One Word Exercise 1

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which focuses on one word. If the word itself doesn't spark a piece, do the generative exercises below.

    1: Shut off from the light; as in "Dark" or "Murky"
    2: Hard to understand; as in "Obscure"
    3: Causing gloom

    1. Think of things that are shadowy, dark, sketchy, unsafe etc. Places, situations, things in the look of someone that just say "Not safe, run." Write down as many as you can for five minutes. If you're stuck google some of those terms. Get at least ten things but you should be able to get much more than that in five minutes.
    2. Now think of things that are confusing, unclear, nebulous, non-distinct etc. Places or things that melt together, things that are screened, veiled, shielded, concealed, occluded etc. Again, write down as many things as you can for five minutes and google image search those words looking for interesting things, places or words you can describe or use. You're building a bank to harvest from. Don't overthink things, write them and move on to the next go for volume and diversity of 'things'.
    3. Pair up interesting combinations of things from exercise #1 and #2, at least one from each. Get at least three combinations. Write a paragraph for each combination, using the extra sentences as connective tissue to allow the paragraph make sense. Make sure there's at least one very unexpected event in each of the paragraphs (magic realism, surrealism, extremely unlikely event)
    4. Pick your favorite paragraph to expand. Use at least 2 unused items from either list #1 or #2. If the word Tenebrous doesn't appear in the piece, consider including it in the title.
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try the ÆkaSora - Naruto "Rainy day" lofi hip hop remix.


    1/20/20

    2020 Writing Exercise Series #20: Rhymebank Rounds-Rhyming Poem 1


    The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.


    These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 
    This may be pushing 45 unless you're really writing fast.

    #20
    Rhymebank Rounds-Rhyming Poem 1

    Rhymbank Rounds are a new type of exercise. Kind of like the Wordbank sprints, but there will be more focus on editing and re-writing, and you'll complete a piece, with the main focus of the exercises being on Like Sounds. If you're typing I suggest copy/pasting the lines you're editing to save time, save the originals in their own exercise space.


    1. Take three minutes and jot down/type all rhymes and slant rhymes (include phrases for multi-syllabic words/feminine rhymes) you can think of just off the top of your head for the word: Pat. If you have trouble getting more than ten or so remember to rhyme with packtap, and even pant. You want to have close to thirty (30) words even if they're only kind of rhyming.
    2. Pick four of those words you wrote down and underline/bold them. Write three sentences for each of those words which include at least two other words from the rhymebank you generated from #1. Try to use even more words without making the sentence awkward or too weird—a little weird can be good though.
    3. Fragment time! Write down ten (10) sentence fragments which end with words from your rhymebank—they should end in either a comma or a period. You don't need to know the rest of the sentence or the context so something like "with a quick pat" or "pledging the worst frat".
    4. Fragment time 2! Write at least ten (10) 5-word partial sentences that use at least two (2) words from your list. Don't worry about context or what might be being said, just make sure you can make some logic of the phrasing.
    5. Short fragment time! Write five (5) three-word partial sentences which use two (2) words from your rhymebank back to back. No dawdling, but try to switch it up and use words you hadn't yet if you can. An example would be "the fat rat" or "in fact rap".
      -
    Poem or story time!
    1. Rhymed Poem: Write a poem that is 12 lines in three quatrains (4-lined stanzas) with the rhyme scheme ABCB BABC CBAB with B being words from your rhymebank. Try to use fragments from the previous exercises and even the rhymebank itself to fill out your poem with as many 'like' sounds as you can within the lines. Lots of 'at/ack/ap/ant/ast/act' etc. Lots of plosives. If you want more guidance, pick your favorite 3 fragments that ends in the rhymebank sound that can be an ending. Your favorite is your ending. The other two will be the end of the Fourth and fifth lines, so ending the first stanza and starting off the second.
    2. Free form narrative: Pick your ten favorite fragments and find a way to fit those pieces together. What do I mean by fit them together? I mean that you're required to use ten of the fragments you'd written in a coherent piece by adding connective tissue and exposition/whatever needs to get you narratively from one line to the next. Whether you write this as a story or a poem is up to you. 
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    If you'd like some background music, folk musician Mike Cooper's 1970 album Do I Know You?.



    1/19/20

    2020 Writing Exercise Series #19 We Mean Anaphora—Repetition Files 2


    The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.



    These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #19
    We Mean Anaphora—Repetition Files 2

    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which focuses on repetition. In this instance we will work with anaphora. It's a handy little bit of poetic craft that goes a little something like this:

    the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.
    Take a moment and read the Poetry Foundation article, even if you know the term. For even more fun check out this longer article called Adventures in Anaphora.


    "By ____ we mean..."

      There are a number of ways you could approach this bit of anaphora. You can explain specialized jargon from a profession or a hobby and
      . Or do something completely different. Just be sure that the repeated phrase earns its worth in your piece. It should be necessary.

      Bonus Writing Sprint Exercise: For the following exercise don't be afraid to write from narrators that are not yourself. Each sentence can be a new person if you'd like. Follow the following steps.

      1. Write 5 sentences which are eight words or fewer where the ____ is "Family". Write another 5 (same length) where the ____ is "Loyalty". Now write another 5 sentences (same length) where the ____ is "Home". 
      2. Write 2 new sentences each "Family" "Loyalty" and "Home" which are at least 15 words.
      3. Pick your favorite sentence. Whichever word that one uses, write ten more sentences using that word.
      4. Now use that sentence bank to put together your piece, filling in the connective tissue where it needs it, using only parts of sentences sometimes (use two or more of the shorter sentences paratactically in the same section by removing the anaphoric phrase (as in, "By home we mean where the bunk bed is, the frayed blankie, both the painful and the best memories.")

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      If you'd like some background music to write to, try Mozart: Great Mass in C minor, K. 427




      1/18/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #18: Title Mania Plus Metamorphosis 3

      HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!

      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is here! These are daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
      #18
      Title Mania Plus Metamorphosis 3

      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.


      Titles:
      1. In Thin, Elegant Lines
      2. Whetstone, Knife
      3. Followed Over the Edge
      4. "I'm Freaking Out, Man"
      5. Free Show

      Bonus Exercise: 5 Random Constraints
      (I recommend picking any required words or lines before writing with a little surplus for options, but with your chosen title in mind)
      1. The first or second word of your piece must be "Hopefully".
      2. You must include at least four words which rhyme with "Fling".
      3. You must include some sort of chocolate or something that contains chocolate.
      4. You must include the words "Egg" "Tender" "Gate" "Nut" and "Hang".
      5. Your must include the image of snow melting.

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      If you'd like some background music to write to, try Slovak composer Eugen Suchon's Metamorphosis for Orchestra 1953 performed by the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra with Zdenek Kosler as conductor. Give it a click, guys. The music is really peaceful and the video has under 275 videos when posting this.



      1/17/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #17: Three Things Together 3


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.


      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
      #17
      Three Things Together 3
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, Nice and simple.

      But before you do that, watch this 3 minute clip from BBC's Wild Alaska following an arctic fox pup. Pause at every 30 second mark and write a sentence describing something you saw (this will be 6 sentences). Try writing from the perspective of someone or something that might be seeing it, try being very concise and descriptive. You don't need to use any of these sentences, but take them seriously as a warm up, and maybe you can use one.

      1. An Icicle
      2. Corn on the cob
      3. A paper grocery bag

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      If you'd like some background music to write to, try Dmitri Shostakovich - Viola Sonata 147 written in 1975 and performed by Yuri Bashmet (viola), Sviatoslav Richter (piano) in 1985.


      1/16/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #16: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 2


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.


      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
      #16
      Between a Fact and an Exact Place 2
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following place (either as the setting, referenced or some aspect of it described) and the following fact in some way (its discovery, used as a metaphor, witnessed etc).


      ------------------------------------


      If you'd like some background music to write to, try Schumann: Piano Concerto / Đặng Thái Sơn & Paavo Järvi (with bonus Chopin: Mazurka Op.17-4 at around the 35 minute mark).





      1/15/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #15: Six Word Shootout with Magnets 1


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

      #15
      Six Word Shootout with Magnets 1

      For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes the following six words. While it perfectly sets you up for a sestina, feel free to write whatever you'd like (but ya know, give that sestina a shot!). Also feel free to make slight alterations to the required words if you want to avoid that eye-pokey repetition you can find in sestinas sometimes.

      Required Words: Magnet, Protest, Task, Plate, Shoplift, Upend

      -

      Bonus Exercise: Also include these words which are found within your required word: Net, Test, Ask, Late, Lift, End. 
      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try this album of Guzheng covers of popular songs.



      1/14/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #14: Ekphrastic Mountain Road 2


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

      #14
      Ekphrastic Mountain Road 2




      For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art, or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is this gif of a motorbike riding along the Manali-Leh Highway in the Himalayas.


      If nothing right off strikes you try the following exercises along with the image.
      1. Write a vignette in which you're following your friend on the motorbike intending to drive quite a bit farther then camp, but one of the vehicles (the bike or whatever you're in) breaks down and you end up camping right along the road with this view.
      2. You'll be writing a fantasy story where there is magic and everyone rides motorcycles everywhere. You're on a very important mission which involves getting to the top of one of those mountains. How do you do it? Why? What's intentionally standing in your way, and what gets in your way inadvertently, spoiling at least one of your plans? Is magic a learned thing or in your bloodline, or what's the system? Now that you've figured that out (don't overthink it! Just get something that makes sense and run with it) write your story.
      3. You make your living here salvaging from vehicles that tumble over the cliffs of this road and farming your small garden for your meals. Write either A) a poem in which you are seeking a new wreck you heard of, passing by two others you'd scavenged previously and describing them briefly. Or B) A story in which you're scavenging a week-old wreck when a car tumbles over the edge right in front of you. Do you spring into action to help the people, steal what you can before it burns, hide and investigate carefully etc?
      ---

      If you'd like background writing music try Bach's Concertos for Oboe.


      1/13/20

      The Publishing Life Journal Spotlight: The Merrimack Review (Limited Demographic: College students)

      The Merrimack Review

      The Merrimack Review is a journal that is a "limited demographic" magazine, meaning they only accept submissions from a select group of people. In their case they only take submissions from college students (undergrad or graduate).

      The Details: There is no submission fee. Submit up to 5 poems or for prose up to 2500 words. They accept art as well. This is what they say they want:
      Submissions should display a strong understanding of craft and cause readers to react, both emotionally and intellectually.
      Soooo, pretty standard. Only send good stuff. Check out the following links to find out more about the journal.

      Here is a link to their Duotrope page.

      Here is a link to their Submittable page.


      2020 Writing Exercise Series #13: Beginning & Ending with the Unwanted 2


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
      #13
      Beginning & Ending with the Unwanted 2
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place and ends with another, and an optional additional requirement.


      Begin WithSomeone scraping mud or animal poop from their shoe/boot.

      End WithSomeone crumpling up an important piece of paper and throwing it in a garbage can (could even be money, lottery ticket, deed, patent application etc).


      Extra Credit RequirementsInclude as a setting or a reference the city Pripyat; and the words: "Knapsack" "Excise" "Jubilee" "Schadenfreude" and "Whippet".


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      If you'd like some background music, try Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Lute.



      1/12/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #12: 3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 2


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

      #12
      3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 2
      For today's writing exercise complete the following steps. The wordbank exercise has changed so be sure to take a peek at the new 'rules'. I recommend using the timer on your phone or computer and setting it for 1 minute. Each time you write a sentence, quickly reset the timer. If it goes off before you're finished with the sentence—wrap it up ASAP!

      In order to complete the large number of sentences demanded of this exercise it is imperative that you write fast. Don't think too much at all until you've reached the final exercise. The process of this quick production is to thrust past second guesses or other stumbling blocks that sometimes impede your writing. You're aiming to write 23 sentences in at most 20 minutes so you have ten minutes to organize and write that actual piece, so you're going to be writing more than a sentence a minute.

      WRITE FAST, DON'T OVERTHINK


      1. Pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize, gerund etc. Repeat the process five (5) times using different combinations. No dawdling! 
      2. Now write three (3) sentences that are six (6) words or fewer in length that use any two (2) words from the wordbanks.
      3. Now write three (3) sentences that use four (4) or more of the words.
      4. Now write five (5) sentences which begin with one (1) of the words and contain a second one (1) of the words.
      5. Now write five (5) sentences which are fewer than ten (10) words in length and conclude with one (1) of the words from the wordbanks. Remember, keep up the pace! Don't overthink!
      6. Now rephrase two (2) of your sentences from exercise #1 in either a more efficient or more descriptive manner.
      7. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least three (3) of the sentences you've written throughout this process of exercises. Try to use as many of the (good) sentences as you can, or parts of the sentences if the whole thing doesn't fit or works better altered.


      Word Bank 1:
      • Flatten
      • Entropic
      • Cupped
      • Butte
      • Hurricane
      Wordbank 2:
      • Omen
      • Comma
      • Bronco
      • Blush
      • Spume

      Wordbank 3
      :
      • Broom
      • Yawn
      • Swept
      • Crag
      • Square

      Bonus writing exerciseTitle your piece "The Flaming Honda Civic" or at very least that include the word "Flaming" in the title.

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      Want some mellow background writing music? Try lo fi hip hop producer Tomppabeats' album "harbor LP"

      1/11/20

      2020 Writing Exercise Series #11: Title Mania Plus Alfajores 2


      The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is here! These are daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

      These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
      #11
      Title Mania Plus Alfajores 2

      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.


      Titles:
      1. It's Not So Hard When You Actually Try It
      2. Limited By Time
      3. The Crispier Apple
      4. Yew Bough
      5. Quizzical

      Bonus Exercise: 5 Random Constraints
      (I recommend picking any required words or lines before writing with a little surplus for options, but with your chosen title in mind)
      1. The first word of your piece must be "Drawn".
      2. You must include at least five words which rhyme with "Fame".
      3. You must include an animal that can fly.
      4. You must include the words "Yammer" "Lilt" "Plank" "Glimmer" and "Polymer".
      5. Your must include one of these Argentinian foods.

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      If you'd like some background music to write to, try pianist Krystian Zimerman with Leonard Bernstein conducting - Beethoven - Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor, Op 37.


      1/10/20

      For Your Poetic Enjoyment: A contemporary poem dealing with PTSD by an Iraq vet "At Lowe's Home Improvement Center" by Brian Turner with 7 "Inspired by" writing prompts


      I don't know if "enjoyment" is exactly the right term, given the subject, but "poetic enjoyment" sounds better, because it's a wonderful poem about a terribly sad situation. So, don't want to talk it up or lead your reading in any way. The poem is in Brian Turner's amazing collection Phantom Noise. If you like this poem 100% you should buy the book. It is a must-have for any modern poetry reader's collection.

      Brian Turner is a veteran of Iraq and he also served in Bosnia, his two poetry collections Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise both deal largely with his military and post-military experiences, but not exclusively.

      Here is a video of Brian Turner reading the poem


      Here is the text of the poem"At Lowe's Home Improvement Center" by Brian Turner:

      At Lowe's Home Improvement Center 

      -----< O >-----

      Standing in aisle 16, the hammer and anchor aisle,
      I bust a 50 pound box of double-headed nails
      open by accident, their oily bright shanks
      and diamond points like firing pins
      from M-4s and M-16s.
                                          In a steady stream
      they pour onto the tile floor, constant as shells
      falling south of Baghdad last night, where Bosch
      kneeled under the chain guns of helicopters
      stationed above, their tracer-fire a synaptic geometry
      of light.
      Photo by Brooke Winters 
                   At dawn, when the shelling stops,
      hundreds of bandages will not be enough.

      -----< O >-----

      Bosch walks down aisle 16 now, in full combat gear,
      improbable, worn out from fatigue, a rifle
      slung at his side, his left hand guiding
      a ten-year-old boy who sees what war is
      and will never clear it from his head.

      Here, Bosch says, Take care of him.
      I'm going back in for more.

      -----< O >-----

      Sheets of plywood drop with the airy breath
      of mortars the moment they crack open
      in shrapnel. Mower blades are just mower blades
      and the Troy-Bilt-Self-Propelled Mower doesn't resemble
      a Blackhawk or an Apache. In fact, no one seems to notice
      the casualty collection center Doc High marks out
      in ceiling fans, aisle 15. Wounded Iraqis with IVs
      sit propped against boxes as 92 sample Paradiso fans
      hover in a slow revolution of blades.

      The forklift driver over-adjusts, swinging the tines
      until they slice open gallons of paint,
      Sienna Dust and Lemon Sorbet and Ship's Harbor Blue
      pooling in the aisle where Sgt. Rampley walks through—
      carrying someone's blown-off arm cradled like an infant,
      handing it to me, saying, Hold this, Turner,
      we might find who it belongs to.

      -----< O >-----

      Cash registers open and slide shut
      with a sound of machine guns being charged.
      Dead soldiers are laid out at the registers,
      on the black conveyor belts,
      and people in line still reach
      for their wallets. Should I stand
      at the magazine rack, reading
      Landscaping with Stone or The Complete
      Home Improvement Repair Book?
      Photo by jan abellan
      What difference does it make if I choose
      tumbled travertine tile, Botticino marble,
      of Black Absolute granite. Outside,
      palm trees line the asphalt boulevards,
      restaurants cool their patrons who will enjoy
      fireworks exploding over Bass Lake in July.

      -----< O >-----

      Aisle number 7 is a corridor of lights.
      Each dead Iraqi walks amazed
      by Tiffany posts and Bavarian pole lights.
      Motion-activated incandescents switch on
      as they pass by, reverent sentinels of light,
      Fleur De Lis and Luminaire Mural Extérieur
      welcoming them to Lowe's Home Improvement Center,
      aisle number 7, where I stand in mute shock,
      someone's arm cradled in my own.
                                                             The Iraqi boy beside me
      reaches down to slide his fingertip in Retro Colonial Blue,
      an interior latex, before writing
      T, for Tourniquet, on my forehead.

      -                            -                            -                            - 

      This is a very sad and lovely poem at the same time. I adore the way the visuals of the two scenes melt together in a surreal way like something from a Charlie Kaufman movie. I'll write a fuller breakdown of this later because I do love it, but don't quite have the time today.

      Recommendations:

      If you'd like to read some more poems about the effect of war, check out Poetry Foundation's wonderful resources. Also I very much recommend Brian Turners books, especially Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise. Also Yusef Komunyakaa's collection of Vietnam poems Dien Cai Dau is tremendous. A couple specific poems would be Komunyakaa's "You and I are Disappearing" and "Facing It".

      I also really like these individual war poems:
      "Grass" by Carl Sandburg
      "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen
      "We Lived Happily During the War" by Ilya Kaminsky
      "Belfast Confetti" by Ciaran Carson
      "On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam" by Hayden Carruth
      And oh man, come and see the blood in the streets. Someday soon I'll do a write up of the great Pablo Neruda's heartbreaking poem "I'm Explaining a Few Things" presented here both in the original Spanish and in English.

      If you're feeling a like reading something less poetic and more... essay, here is an interesting article about Shell Shock in the poetry of WWI poets like Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen.

      And just because I've been listening to the British Folk artist Beans on Toast a lot this week, here's his song "The War on War"... you know, just because it's a fun song that's tangentially related, though being punk rock, it has foul language and illicit topics are discussed. Be warned, it's not for children or those afraid of swear words.


      -

      Possible Writing Exercises:

      1) Write a piece in which a soldier, returned from war, is going about an errand when he hallucinates or flashes back to a number of things from his past in the war. Decide how much this affects the soldier, how they transition back to their mundane task. Remember the humanity, and avoid stereotypes.
      2) Imagine a place where you'd feel safe. Now imagine weapons everywhere. Write a list of at least five items or things that would be in your happy place. Write 2-3 ways in which that item might be used as a weapon. Now think of ten reasons why you might need to use that weapon in that setting, five of which are simple and as reasonable as you can make them, the other five are either absurd or extremely convoluted or just a 'long story'—make at least two of the second batch long run-on sentences.
      3) Poetry-by-Numbers. This will be 5 steps, so strap in if you pick this option. This is taking the idea of objects sparking a memory of a different place and being mentally transported there.

      • A) Think of a place (Location B) as far away from wherever you are writing this (Location A) as you can that you know of (whether a city, a historical or geological feature). Google it and check out the city's wikipedia page, look up any famous people that have come from there, interesting history, landmarks etc.—making note of anything that strikes your fancy, anything interesting (at least 5 things). 
      • B) Now look around Location A (where you are) and see if you can find any visual parallels with the things you noted from Location B, noting any you see or can think of that might be in your current location. You need five, so wrack your brain. It should be easy to get ten. For instance, if you're in a home office, you may see a pen holder which bears a vague barrel shape of a penguin should your place be Antarctica, or a gigantic barrel of whiskey at the Suntory Distillery in Osaka.
      • C) Now reverse it and try to think of things that might be found in Location B that may look like something from Location A (where you are)—even if they aren't especially indicative of the specific place, they should just be found there. You need at least three, try to get ten or so. 
      • D) Pick three of your favorite combos from list B and C and explore them a little more. Do they have any other similarities or notable differences? 
      • E) Now write a first person piece where 'you' have just entered Location A and you see one of the things from list D (from Location A) which reminds you of its corresponding item from Location B. Imagine yourself holding or interacting with one of the things from List C that you didn't use for List D when you see one of the places or things you noted in List A and use good detail. Then imagine seeing one of the two remaining items from List D, Location B, which transitions you back to Location A (via the corresponding item). State resignedly that you're not in Location B, you're "in [Location A] with" and list at least 3 things from List B (include two adjectives). Then state "There is no" and list a number of things from your List A as you thought were especially interesting. You can use anywhere from 3-8 things here, and choose your adjectives/verbs carefully. Don't over-describe. End your piece with a description of seeing the last item from List D Location A, then describe how it's standing/sitting/laying etc like its corresponding item in the morning sun/sunset/moonlight. If one of your unmentioned features/items from List A fits in with that final descriptions, include it. Boom. Do a quick editing pass looking for boring phrasing and weak adjective/verbs, excessive articles. Try to remove at least five words, even if you need to rephrase a little bit. Every single rough draft can use a little tightening. 

      4) Title Mania: Write a piece titled "At ________" with a specific business listed. Depending on how you handle this it can tell a lot about the piece, or just sell the location.
      5) 5 WordsUse this link and change the max number to 452. Write down that number, repeat the process 5 times. Arrange them in order smallest to largest. Go through this piece and count the words until you get to your numbers, writing the word down with the corresponding number. If you have more than two words which are boring/basic words like "in" "their" "of" "I" etc, pick another five words. You have use all ten words. Now write a piece that uses those five words which is no more than 100 words long in total. Now expand that to a piece at least 500 words.
      6) Poem in a Poem: Make an erasure poem using this poem. Be sure your final piece is no more than 75 words, and you don't use any large chunks of the original—phrases and a little more, but not sentences.
      7) Hyper-focus: Lamps. I like the name/term "Luminaire Mural Extérieur" from the poem when Turner's describing the lamp section. First, take a moment and think about the word illuminate. Think metaphor. Take a minute and read each definition and seriously think about it, don't take short cuts because you know the word, dangit. Don't skip this. This is important for the composition of the poem. Then read through this list of types of lamps, note at least ten types. Fifteen is better. Pick one favorite, and hyperbolically describe why that particular lamp is superior to at least six other types of lamps, at one point outright dismissing a list of 4-6 lamp types.

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      Want some mellow background writing music? Try this mix of lo fi hip hop called Rainy Days in Osaka