Fall Writing Exercise Series #7: Delayed Gratification 01: A Trip Interrupted

The Notebooking Daily Fall 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.

Delayed Gratification 01: A Trip Interrupted 

For today's writing exercise you will be intentionally interrupting your writing session with a simple chore or errand that should take 10-15 minutes so think of something that you can do without too much concentration: walk your dog, clean your car, scrub the tub, organize your junkmail, whatever. Once you have that figured out, proceed.

  1. Imagine a good-tasting fruit. List words that describe its flavor or smell. Make sure you have at least ten words.
  2. Pick the word from #1 that sounds the most like a person's last name. That's your main character's last name. Give them a first name.
  3. For each of your other descriptors from #1, write down a word that rhymes with it. You must use at least three of these pairs in your final piece in the same sentence, so rhyme wisely (but also, no dawdling).
  4. Write two different sentences for each of the pairs chosen for #3 that include your main character.
  5. Imagine two cities you know at least a little something about that are at least 500 miles apart. Spend just a couple minutes perusing those cities wikipedia pages. Write a sentence including at least two geographic feature in the area (lake, mountain, river, desert etc) for each city.
  6. Your character will be travelling between the cities, or intending to, when something interrupts their plans. While you think about this, go do your chore. Come up with a good interruption, or multiple ways the trip could be waylaid, stopped short or diverted. Also think about those rhyming pairs from #3 and other sentences that can use both words.
  7. Get to chorin' while you think on your issue. Whenever you finish your errand/chore/whatever return to #8.
  8. Pick your favorite sentence from #5. The city that has that feature was the main character's destination. Work the sentence into a paragraph about not being able to see the feature because the main character never made it to that city. Include at least one pair of rhyming words from #3 (either the sentence you're written, or a new sentence). This is your piece's opening stanza or paragraph.
  9. Write the reason that you figured out stopped the trip during your chore as the second paragraph or stanza. Include another rhyming pair from #3.
  10. Your third paragraph or stanza will lament returning to the features from the home city (the city not described in #8). Write about those features in a negative or pessimistic manner. Include another rhyming pair from #3.
  11. Find a place to include at least one exchange of dialog that is at least four words from your main character and as many from another character. Expand any places that you'd like to.
  12. Finally, if you haven't touched on the why of the trip (why the character is going from one city to the other), here is where you'll find a place to include two sentences about the cause. Name the person or thing which had drawn the main character, and underplay the reasons for making the trip. The point being that the trip is a long one which obviously means it was important to the main character, and not fulfilling their intentions has to be a pretty serious bummer for them. Or does it? 


If you'd like some background music to write to, try the 1970 album Pharoah buy jazz musician Pharoah Sanders.