10/21/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #292: Three Things Together 47

    


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.

#292
Three Things Together 47

F
or today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, Nice and simple.
  1. Cattails
  2. A Skate Park
  3. A Bottle Rocket
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Bonus 'Five Words': Include these five words in your piece: Toothless, Fringe, Molten, Brain, Creation.

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "close your eyes" lofi playlist.

10/20/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #291: 3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 40

   


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.
#291
3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 40
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:
  • Filet
  • Durable
  • Onion
  • Bitter
  • Hedgehog
Wordbank 2:
  • Jaguar
  • Wiley
  • Reaches
  • Polled
  • Bike

Wordbank 3
:
  • Magic
  • Shadow
  • Lark
  • Pirated
  • Swarthy

Bonus writing exercise: Include the word "Exit" in your opening sentence, and in the piece you must include someone burning food.

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Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try this Kingdom Hearts lofi mix. 



10/19/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #290: Six Word Shootout 31

  


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.

#290
Six Word Shootout 31

For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes the following six words. While it perfectly sets you up for a sestina, and while I am a sucker for homonyms(—NOT TODAY!), feel free to write whatever you'd like (but ya know, maybe 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: 

1) Break
2) Ail
3) Cup
4) Slide
5) Peel
6) Palm

-
Bonus Exercise: Include the following six words additionally: Renew, Fix, Relish, Slippery, Oil, Obnoxious.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Cuba CafĂ© - The Very Best Of Cuban Music 



10/18/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #289: Title Mania Plus 44

  


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.
#289
Title Mania Plus 44

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. Before you write, first read the poem from which the titles are selected. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.

Today's titles have no theme. I swear.

Titles:
  1. Whipped into a Frenzy
  2. Whipped into Stiff Peaks
  3. Whipped Cream Pie to the Face
  4. Whipped, Bound
  5. Whipped 
  6. Dole Whip

Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things')
  1. A Cartoon Character
  2. A Necktie
  3. A Parrot
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try jazz pianist Hank Jones' Greatest Hits Volume 1.

10/17/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #288: Three Things Together 46

   


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.

#288
Three Things Together 46

F
or today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, Nice and simple.
  1. A Pizza Box
  2. A Screwdriver
  3. A Church Pew
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Bonus 'Beginning & Ending': Begin your piece with a choir singing, and end your piece with people eating outside.

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this upbeat "Square Enix and Chill" lo-fi playlist with video game samples from Square Enix games like Final Fantasies and Chronotrigger.



10/16/20

Spy in the Slushpile #2: SCAB MAG

 

Spy in the Slushpile #2 SCAB MAG

Psssst! Over here! 
Notebooking Daily snuck agents into the offices of your favorite literary magazines to bring you—the potential submitter—the sweet low down, the inside track, the full two scoops of raisins. Everything you need to know to make as successful of a submission as possible will be here, but remember that the number one rule to putting your best foot forward is to take the time to read the journal you're submitting to and FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This is vital to show the editors that you respect their time and effort, and because some journals will reject submissions that don't extend the simple courtesy of following guidelines, without even reading it—and no one wants that.

Today we check in with our spy who was sent to the offices of the literary magazine SCAB MAG.


Our spy's dossier: 
SCAB MAG is a transgressive online literary journal that publishes art and "words" (up to 2000 words per submission regardless of genre). They read no-fee submissions all year round via Email
  • This journal is unabashedly not for the faint of heart. 
  • You have been warned.


Their editorial statement is as follows "Nick Zedd wrote in the manifesto of the Cinema of Transgression that “any film which doesn’t shock isn’t worth looking at”. He also proposed to “go beyond all limits set or prescribed by taste, morality or any other traditional value system shackling the minds of men” and that “there will be blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed.” SCAB is a transgressive online (mostly but not exclusively fag)mag aiming to represent these very principles in the realm of visual arts and words alike. The motto might be something like this: the worse the better. If you’re a writer/artist, send your filth SCAB’s way. If you’re not but have something to share, don’t hesitate to do so too."



--

When our spy saw their chance, they pounced on Editor-in-Chief Kim Magowan and were able to secure the answers to their assigned six questions. The transcript follows.


1) I always recommend that potential submitters read the most recent issue of a journal before submitting there (at least the genre which they're submitting), but if you could recommend, say three or so pieces (or however many) that you feel especially exemplify for one reason or another, what you're looking for, or that you are especially proud to have published and think everyone, whether they plan on submitting or not, should read? 
TL;DR Pieces that exemplify the journal. 

ISSUE #1: 'An Excerpt From a Zine on My Electro-Convulsive Treatment' by fishspit 

ISSUE #2: 'Puke Porn' by Justin Holliday 

ISSUE #3: art piece without a title by Alex Rose 

ISSUE #4: 'Photo 1' by David V. Glass 

ISSUE #5: 'Faggot Child' by Anonymous 

ISSUE #6: 'Remembered Men' by Shane Allison 


2) Is there any genre, topic, theme or stylistic that you are surprised you don't see more of, or that you would like to see more of? For instance prose poems, stories about organized sports (or one in particular), non-conventional family narratives, non-standard typography, alternate history, high sci-fi, hybrid pieces utilizing white space... 
TL;DR I wouldn't kick these submissions out of bed for eating crackers. (updateable, if the interview results in an unwanted flux of submissions)

Even though SCAB is a magazine for literature AND art, the vast majority of the submissions are written pieces. I would definitely welcome more visual material: photos, drawings, collages, and all kinds of weird, hybrid pieces. 

3) Hard sells—and not just the standard (though very important) "don't send hateful, misogynist, racist etc" work. Is there a plot, trope, character, motif, idiom or even phrase you would like people to think twice about before using? One that you see a ton, or that stick out when you're reading, in a negative way for whatever reason.
TL;DR Hard sells.
SCAB aims to be a vulgar, dirty, and pretty much no-limits publication. It's constantly looking for work that shocks and hurts. And that's pretty much it: if the piece doesn't do these in some way or form, it's generally a hard sell. (That said, pieces with the sole purpose of being hateful or discriminative are not welcome.)  

4) If you could pick 2-3 pieces of writing that you just love that are already out in the world and somehow have the ability to have discovered it in your slushpile, itching for you to publish them, what would they be? 
TL;DR Wish I could've published that!

1. An excerpt from The Sluts by Dennis Cooper
2. An excerpt from Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
3. An excerpt from Tick by Peter Sotos 

5) To your tastes, how would you describe the sort of "experimental" writing you seek? The idea of categorizing experimental or avant-garde writing is very slippery, as it means different things to different people, and it can even change over time from the same person's perspective. So in this moment, allowing that tomorrow you may feel differently and we won't hold you to it, what are you looking for in experimental writing? Is there a 'soft line' where it begins to lose meaning or goes too far (say, where you think the author/artist's intentions are subverted or hurt by the radical level of experimentation—of course allowing exceptions, we're not issuing challenges here) 
TL;DR The journal's place on the spectrum of 'experimental'.

This is a tough one. Generally, I consider "experimental literature", for example, to be concerned, first and foremost, with technique. However, SCAB is not so much about form or style but about a certain mood, and how the writer/artist/whoever finds a way to best convey it. Often, this means that they employ "experimental" techniques. But sometimes more traditional ones apply better. Where all this puts the magazine on the spectrum of "experimental", I'm really not sure. Not strictly experimental, I'd say. 

6) If you could speak directly to a potential submitter as a voice in their head, like their 'submission conscience', neither angel nor devil but bookish nerd that wants the person to have the best chance with their submission as possible, what would you want them to be sure to do or consider when submitting? 
TL;DR Please consider this when submitting.

Please familiarize yourself with SCAB's general content before you submit your work. There are certain themes and subjects (homosexuality, drugs, wasted/crazy rants, etc.) which seem to appear a lot, however, what really connects the published pieces is a certain aesthetic, a specific "SCAB mood". If you get the feeling of "hell, this piece could've been something coming from my mind" while reading the issues, you might just be part of the family. 

(at this point the editor hadn't yet called for security but was in the process of kicking the spy's teeth in themselves, so our spy wrote down one last question and received the answer on the way out the door)

7) What other journals do you really enjoy reading, or do you feel especially akin to?

Misery Tourism

--

Dominik was actually a delightful host, so perhaps the subterfuge and breaking and entering and crafting a Tyler Durden-esque persona to beat himself up was unnecessary of our spy, but not every journal will be quite so accommodating—because of that we'll keep reporting back from the various assignments of our Spy in the Slushpile.

2020 Writing Exercise Series #287: Ekphrastic Wanderer 17

 


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.


#287
Ekphrastic Fun 17
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 ink art piece titled "That Was the Most Fun I've Ever Had" by artist Michael MacCrae.




No handholding today. You have the image, the title if you want to use that to influence the piece, what is important about or behind this photo? What's their story? How'd they get to where they are? You tell us, in the world of your piece, you're the one in charge. 
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If you'd like background writing music, try this "last breeze of the evening." lofi playlist from our friend Dreamy

10/15/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #286: Erasing Roger Ebert 11 "Easy Come, Easy Go"


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.

#286
Erasing Roger Ebert 11 "Easy Come, Easy Go"

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1967 Elvis film "Easy Come, Easy Go" (1 star).

Roger Ebert has been the stereotypical film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these six titles taken from this section:

  1. A Movie by Elvis Presley
  2. Sexier Album Covers
  3. An Elaborate Buildup
  4. A Good Low-Budget Film
  5. The Same Old Slur
  6. Chubby Face, Petulant Smile

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Easy Come, Easy Go"

Let me confess at once that I have no credentials for reviewing a movie by Elvis Presley. Although I belong to the correct generation, having arrived at age 13 simultaneously with the release of "Heartbreak Hotel," I never went to a single Presley movie and I never, not even once, not even for "Hound Dog," bought a single Presley record. Even then I knew Julie London had a better voice (and she certainly had sexier album covers).

So it was that I went, this weekend, to "Easy Come, Easy Go" with heavy heart and faltering step. What was the use of having avoided Elvis so long if it finally came to this? Why did I stay home when the gang went to "G. I. Blues," only to see a latter-day Elvis in a latter-day version of the same bloody thing?

But I went. It was my duty, and I did it. I went to my neighborhood theater, and I went inside for the Saturday matinee, and I sat down with the kids and the teenage couples, and I saw the movie. And if you think this has all been an elaborate buildup for some unexpected surprise like I liked it, you're wrong. I was miserable from beginning to end.

There is such a thing as a good movie musical. "Singin' in the Rain," maybe, or "West Side Story." And there is such a thing as a good low-budget film exploiting currently popular singers. "A Hard Day's Night," for example, which slipped up and became great instead of merely good.

And then, I suppose, there must be such a thing as Presley movies like this one, obviously produced with a minimum of care and with the sole purpose of contriving a plot, any plot, to fill in between when Elvis sings.

The plot this time is that Elvis is a Navy diver who discovers buried treasure. After his discharge, he teams up with his old buddy, who runs a go-go joint, in order to get the treasure. They form an alliance with a Zen chick (Dodie Marshall) who unwinds from the Lotus position long enough to supply her grandfather's map (He owned the ship.) Then they go out after the treasure and after an underwater struggle with another broad's muscular boyfriend, Elvis wins it. And then -- but I don't want to spoil the suspense.

Elvis looks about the same as he always has, with his chubby face, petulant scowl and absolutely characterless features. Here is one guy the wax museums will have no trouble getting right. He sings a lot, but I won't go into that. What I will say, however is that after two dozen movies he should have learned to talk by now. But it's still the same old slur we heard so many years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this Midnight lofi Fall Vibes mix.



10/14/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #285: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 24

 


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.
#285
Between a Fact and an Exact Place 24

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).




As an additional assignment, should you choose to incorporate it, is as follows: Also include the words "Ticklish" "Interacting" "Wormhole" "Dialed" and "Slit".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Dreaming of You Tonight Pt.2" lofi mix from Feardog Music.

10/13/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #284: 3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 39

  


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.
#284
3x5x7 Wordbank Sprints 39
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:
  • Drought
  • Willowy
  • Slack
  • Sleight
  • Holiday
Wordbank 2:
  • Jagged
  • Fragmented
  • Dolphin
  • Dragon
  • Stringy

Wordbank 3
:
  • Finest
  • Finesse
  • Violet
  • Manatee
  • Plum

Bonus writing exercise: Include the word "Clipped" in your opening sentence, and in the piece you must include someone being slapped.

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Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try "Zelda lofi radio". 

10/12/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #283: Three Things Together 45

  


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.

#283
Three Things Together 45


F
or today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, Nice and simple.
  1. Sardines
  2. A Desk
  3. Guano
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Bonus 'Beginning & Ending': Begin your piece with someone fishing, and end your piece on a basketball or tennis court (or a combination court).

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this upbeat "Sunday Joyride" lo-fi playlist.



10/11/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #282: Title Mania Plus 43

 


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.
#282
Title Mania Plus 43

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. Before you write, first read the poem from which the titles are selected. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.

Today's titles come from the awesome prose poem "When You Saw the Lightning" by Frank X Gaspar. Go read it!

Titles:
  1. The Long Tangled Banks
  2. The Buzz of the Dragonflies
  3. In the Black Water
  4. I Don't Know Why You Would Even Listen
  5. When the World isn't Quite Enough
  6. Gloss of Water

Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things')
  1. An Ice Cream Sandwich
  2. A County Fair (or Local Carnival)
  3. A Bicycle
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this Donkey Kong lofi playlist.

10/10/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #281: Six Word Shootout 30

 


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.

#281
Six Word Shootout 30

For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes the following six words. While it perfectly sets you up for a sestina, and while I am a sucker for homonyms(—NOT TODAY!), feel free to write whatever you'd like (but ya know, maybe 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: 

1) Hexagon
2) Garlic
3) Trombone
4) Sunshine
5) Ladle
6) Execute

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Bonus Exercise: Include the following six words additionally: Gone, Lick, Bone, Shine, Dell, Cute.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "midnight aura" lofi playlist from our friends at The Jazz Hop Cafe. I definitely think they are among the best curators of lofi today. 


10/9/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #280: Beginning & Ending with Green 29


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.

#280
Beginning & Ending with Green 29


F
or 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 climbing a tree (with at least one mention of the leaves or needles).

End WithA neon sign glowing green against a brick wall.

Extra Credit RequirementsInclude, somewhere in the first two paragraphs/stanzas, the phrase "a thin slice"; and somewhere in your piece include the words: "Heated" "Spider" "Falcon" "Slated" and "Olive".

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If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try this "Studio Ghibli Jazz Beats" mix from Cafe Music BGM.

10/8/20

2020 Writing Exercise Series #279: Erasing "The Island of the Fay" 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.

#279
Erasing "The Island of the Fay" 4
(Wrapping it up!)

F
or today's exercise (in which we finish off "The Island of the Fay") we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Island of the Fay".

Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the writer that solidified the short story genre as, well, a genre. Not the first writer of short stories, or even popular short stories, but he wrote enough of them that with the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Irving Washington and others, critics were finally like—fine. Short stories can be a thing.

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, or themes.

In this example there are multiple 'sound' words, and mentions of being alone or in solitude, these could be a good touchstone for your piece. This is a relatively short section, so it will likely be a pretty short poem/section, so keep that in mind while composing.

If you insist on fiction, write a piece with one of these six titles taken from this section:

  1. Eastern End of the Isle
  2. Peaceful Gloom
  3. Small, Unsightly Hillocks
  4. Low and Narrow
  5. The Wreck of the Race
  6. In Dying

Erasure Selection:

from "The Island of the Fay"

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom here pervaded all things. The trees were dark in color, and mournful in form and attitude, wreathing themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes that conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung droopingly, and hither and thither among it were many small unsightly hillocks, low and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of graves, but were not; although over and all about them the rue and the rosemary clambered. The shade of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed by the stream; while other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed.

This idea, having once seized upon my fancy, greatly excited it, and I lost myself forthwith in revery. "If ever island were enchanted," said I to myself, "this is it. This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs theirs? -- or do they yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In dying, do they not rather waste away mournfully, rendering unto God, little by little, their existence, as these trees render up shadow after shadow, exhausting their substance unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to the water that imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it?"

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank rapidly to rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island, bearing upon their bosom large, dazzling, white flakes of the bark of the sycamore-flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the water, a quick imagination might have converted into any thing it pleased, while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering made its way slowly into the darkness from out the light at the western end of the island. She stood erect in a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an oar. While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her attitude seemed indicative of joy -- but sorrow deformed it as she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of light. "The revolution which has just been made by the Fay," continued I, musingly, "is the cycle of the brief year of her life. She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She is a year nearer unto Death; for I did not fail to see that, as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its blackness more black."

And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the attitude of the latter there was more of care and uncertainty and less of elastic joy. She floated again from out the light and into the gloom (which deepened momently) and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she made the circuit of the island, (while the sun rushed down to his slumbers), and at each issuing into the light there was more sorrow about her person, while it grew feebler and far fainter and more indistinct, and at each passage into the gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length when the sun had utterly departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her former self, went disconsolately with her boat into the region of the ebony flood, and that she issued thence at all I cannot say, for darkness fell over an things and I beheld her magical figure no more.
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THAT'S IT! We've finished making erasure poems of another Poe story!

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Violin Jazz Cafe Music" album intended as background music for coffeeshops and restaurants that want something a little nicer than top 40s or muzak.

10/7/20

Spy in the Slushpile #1: Pithead Chapel



Psssst! Over here! 
Notebooking Daily snuck agents into the offices of your favorite literary magazines to bring you—the potential submitter—the sweet low down, the inside track, the full two scoops of raisins. Everything you need to know to make as successful of a submission as possible will be here, but remember that the number one rule to putting your best foot forward is to take the time to read the journal you're submitting to and FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This is vital to show the editors that you respect their time and effort, and because some journals will reject submissions that don't extend the simple courtesy of following guidelines, without even reading it—and no one wants that.

Today we check in with our spy who was sent to the offices of the literary magazine Pithead Chapel.



Our spy's dossier: 
Pithead Chapel (pronounced pit-head) is a monthly online literary journal that publishes art, fiction, nonfiction, and prose poetry (under 4000 words for prose, 1-3 pieces for prose poetry). They read no-fee submissions all year round on Submittable. They also hold The Larry Brown Short Story Award (for prose under 4000 words) which has a $10 entry fee, $500 First Prize and October 31st deadline.


Their editorial statement is as follows "At Pithead Chapel, we’re looking for engaging art, fiction, nonfiction, and prose poetry. Most of all, we want your work to make us feel something. We want to reach the last word and immediately crave more. We want your work to leave a brilliant bruise. Send us your polished work and we’ll do our best to help your voice get heard."

Although it's from 2013, their interview at the wonderful blog Six Questions For is insightful as well.


Current issue of Pithead Chapel, October 2020
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When our spy saw their chance, they pounced on Editor-in-Chief Kim Magowan and were able to secure the answers to their assigned six questions. The transcript follows.


1) I always recommend that potential submitters read the most recent issue of a journal before submitting there (at least the genre which they're submitting), but if you could recommend, say three or so pieces (or however many) that you feel especially exemplify for one reason or another, what you're looking for, or that you are especially proud to have published and think everyone, whether they plan on submitting or not, should read? 
TL;DR Pieces that exemplify the journal. 
 One story I particularly love that we published is Dan Brotzel’s “Active and Passive Voice” (Volume 8, Issue 9), a brilliant, funny, sad piece which uses the structure of a grammar lesson to tell the story—or really, two stories: a story about a deteriorating relationship in which the narrator has allowed herself to be dominated by a selfish partner; and a story about her reclaiming agency, the agency to kick him out and to become, once again, an active participant in her life. I always tell my students that grammar is political, and one issue with passive voice (one reason teachers typically hate passive voice) is that it denies accountability—there is no subject performing the action. Brotzel shows what is fraught, cowardly, and unsustainable about passive voice in rich and textured ways here. I love experimental forms, but for me, the form needs to be essential to the story, needs to be the best (perhaps only) way this particular story gets told: it’s can’t just be a clever device.

2) Is there any genre, topic, theme or stylistic that you are surprised you don't see more of, or that you would like to see more of? For instance prose poems, stories about organized sports (or one in particular), non-conventional family narratives, non-standard typography, alternate history, high sci-fi, hybrid pieces utilizing white space... 
TL;DR I wouldn't kick these submissions out of bed for eating crackers. (updateable, if the interview results in an unwanted flux of submissions)

We would love to see more underrepresented voices telling their stories. We would also love to see more uncanny, surrealist fiction, more oddball mysteries, along the lines of Kyra Kondis’s “The Day the Birds Came,” where “we,” the first person plural narrators, enviously watch their classmate Patricia get mysteriously stalked by birds. This story is delightful yet menacing, depicting a world that is both familiar and strange. Caroljean Gavin’s “Once a Fisherman” represents a similarly uncanny world, where beached girls slowly transform into fish, and it’s unclear to the reader whether the fisherman who “saves” and cares for them is indeed their savior, or something more menacing and predatory, a captor. I want more bizarre worlds.

3) Hard sells—and not just the standard (though very important) "don't send hateful, misogynist, racist etc" work. Is there a plot, trope, character, motif, idiom or even phrase you would like people to think twice about before using? One that you see a ton, or that stick out when you're reading, in a negative way for whatever reason.
TL;DR Hard sells.
We don't publish standard verse poetry, instead focusing on the prose poem as an individual form. However, it is a blurry line that differentiates the two, and we often receive pieces that make us rethink our expectations. For example, the / is often used as a pretty obvious substitute for the traditional line break, carrying the same rhythmic feel and beat, which is a hard sell for us. But then a piece like “Allowable, Sure, But Potentially Doomed” by Janet Frishberg (February 2019 issue) comes into the queue, and uses the / in a wonderful and unexpected way. 

4) If you could pick 2-3 pieces of writing that you just love that are already out in the world and somehow have the ability to have discovered it in your slushpile, itching for you to publish them, what would they be? 
TL;DR Wish I could've published that!

Three of my all-time favorite flashes are Gwen Kirby’s “Shit CassandraSaw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because At That Point Fuck Them Anyway,” Alex McElroy’s “The Death of Your Son: A Flow Chart,” and K.B. Carle’s“Vagabond Mannequin.” McElroy’s and Carle’s are perfect examples of what I was describing above: the experimental form must not just be a tacked on device. It needs to be the only way to tell this particular story. For instance, McElroy’s flow chart captures the way the father is stymied by grief and struggling for purchase, and also the callous, corporate way his company handles his grief: to them, it’s an obstacle that thwarts a worker’s efficiency. Their sympathy is phony, purely performative; the story ends with their compelling him to move on, as if moving on is even feasible. For CNF, Katherine Gehan particularly loves Monet Thomas' “To the Pharmacist on Phutong WestStreet” in The Off Assignment. It's the perfect marriage of epistolary writing and travelogue. Thomas reveals just enough of herself and the culture to make us want to know much more about both.

5) To your tastes, how would you describe the sort of "experimental" writing you seek? The idea of categorizing experimental or avant-garde writing is very slippery, as it means different things to different people, and it can even change over time from the same person's perspective. So in this moment, allowing that tomorrow you may feel differently and we won't hold you to it, what are you looking for in experimental writing? Is there a 'soft line' where it begins to lose meaning or goes too far (say, where you think the author/artist's intentions are subverted or hurt by the radical level of experimentation—of course allowing exceptions, we're not issuing challenges here) 
TL;DR The journal's place on the spectrum of 'experimental'.

To invoke the famous Supreme Court ruling about how to identify obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” Again, the experimental form needs, for me, to serve the piece. It needs to be both surprising and inevitable: the only way that particular story can be told. An example of this (and another story I would have killed to publish) is Kathy Fish’s superb, lacerating “Collective Nouns for Humans in theWild,” where what seems initially like a witty and delightful mode of categorization (“a group of short story writers is a Flannery”) veers suddenly into horror and galvanizing protest (“a group of school children is a target”). As the tone shifts and the story’s true subject clicks into place, we as readers consider what is defective, or even violent, about the process of categorization.

6) If you could speak directly to a potential submitter as a voice in their head, like their 'submission conscience', neither angel nor devil but bookish nerd that wants the person to have the best chance with their submission as possible, what would you want them to be sure to do or consider when submitting? 
TL;DR Please consider this when submitting.

This is advice that everyone knows already, but read our journal first; get a sense of what kind of work we love and want to share. Read our guidelines. The only kind of poetry we publish is prose poetry, for instance, yet we get quite a few line poems. We're honored to receive many CNF submissions by authors who share various types of trauma, loss, addiction, and important relationships. For us, stand-out pieces elevate these human experiences to art by offering new perspectives, and playing with form or language. For example, Taylor Kirby bypasses common eulogy or the father/daughter dynamic in “All the Things We Never Found" by focusing on the specific experience of searching for treasures in a lake bed. In “MikeTyson Retrospective,” Matthew Sumpter delves into his boyhood, childhood illness, celebrity, violence, and nostalgia in an incredibly short space with a tight focus. Naturally, CNF is important to the writer--but will it feel as urgent and necessary to the reader?

(at this point the editor hadn't yet called for security, so our spy continued the interrogation)

7) What do you think differentiates prose poetry from flash fiction (or micro fiction), with the caveat that of course there will be exceptions to all 'rules' in writing, so it's something of a soft 'line' by nature.
Ha! As the Fiction Editor, I often read a beautiful piece that seems to be more of a prose poem, and Matthew Smart, our Poetry Editor, has the same experience with his queue, of reading something that seems more like flash. This is of course idiosyncratic and hard to define—my friend Grant Faulkner, EIC of 100Word Story, will insist there is no relevant difference between flash fiction and prose poetry. But for me (Kim), flash fiction needs to have narrative; it needs to tell a story, however compressed. Whereas Matthew notes a great piece of Prose Poetry needs to have a mysteriousness to it, like the movement of a large beast underneath the surface of a smooth lake—something more alluded to than described outright.

8) What other journals do you really enjoy reading, or do you feel especially akin to?

Among my favorites are the Usual Suspects: Smokelong and Wigleaf continue to publish consistently superb flash. I also love JMWW, Okay Donkey, Cleaver, Forge, Atticus Review, Split Lip Magazine, and Jellyfish Review. Those journals feel akin to us, in terms of their sensibility.
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Ms. Magowan was actually a delightful host, so perhaps the subterfuge and breaking and entering was unnecessary, but not every journal will be quite so accommodating—because of that we'll keep reporting back from the various assignments of our Spy in the Slushpile.