10/15/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #288: Title Mania "Taliesin" 26

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#288
Title Mania "Taliesin" 26

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose that utilizes one of the following titles, and if you want extra 'bonus points' also include the three items from below the title list. These titles all come from the awesome Matt MacFarland poem "Taliesin" which was published the current issue of The Rupture (113).

Titles:
  1. With Broken Light
  2. The Fabric of Tree Limbs
  3. Jut
  4. Break the Spine 
  5. This Doomful Sort
  6. Full of Slurry
  7. Curtains of Icicles
  8. Giant Bougainvillea
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. A Van
  2.  The Marianas Trench
  3. Spiced Rum
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music try: Chillhop Yearmix 2020.

10/14/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #287: Beginning, Middle & End 26

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#287
Beginning, Middle & End 26

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, includes another thing or event somewhere beyond the first and before the last stanza/paragraph, and ends with another required 'thing'.

Begin WithChildren sledding.

Somewhere in the middle: Someone is scared (but not stung) by a bee.

End WithThe smell of fresh paint.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Lush", and you should include the following five words: Foreign, Volume, Rhetoric, Clown, Wallpaper.

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

If you'd like some background writing music try this "Peaceful Piano and Soft Rain" mix.

10/13/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #286: First Line Bonanza 23

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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. 

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#286
First Line Bonanza 23

For today's writing exercise write a piece that begins with one of the following first lines.

1) "Do you want to live?" was such an unusual question that he momentarily took his mind off the suddenly petty issue in his hands.
2) Helmets should not have been optional.
3) This shouldn't be so difficult, she thought.
4) There was no birdsong in the city.
5) At the center of the writhing mass of bodies stood the team's captain, holding a large golden figurine.
6) We were used to rolling green hills and clouds and air not constantly peppered with hard-blown sand.

-----

Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which the all sentences or lines begin with the letter "M".
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Special Autumn Mix" lofi mix from that prolific lofi DJ, Dreamy.

10/12/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #285: Three Things, Five Words 26

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#285
Three Things, Five Words 26
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, and these five individual words. The three things should be important to the piece, not just a throwaway reference used because it has to be. This is prompt time, baby! 

If you're not sure where to start, begin by finding a connection between two of the 'things'—whether that is a shared appearance, locale, one of the things might interact with another (or all three), some way that the two are likened or could be physically together. Use one of the things with two of the 'words' in the beginning of the piece and explore for a bit, knowing that you're aiming at the second ''thing' (where the two 'things' have their connection) about 1/3-1/2 of the way through what you imagine the length of the piece (which may be totally off). By then you should have a direction and it's off to the races, with that third 'thing' in your pathway to the finishing line.

'Three Things'
  1. A Camel
  2. A Muffin
  3. Back to the Future (the movie)
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Automatic, University, Hut, Bunt, Shun.

-----

If you'd like some background music to write to, try Takashi Kokubo (小久保隆) - Oasis Of The Wind ~ Forest Of Ion ~ (風のオアシス~イオンの森~) (1992).

10/11/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #284: Ekphrastic Fantastic 24

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#284
Ekphrastic Fantastic 24

For today, we're pairing images for you to respond to. The two images will be contrasting and it will be up to you how they can interact, how your writing can make the two pieces of art meet. 

Or, just pick one of the images and run with it if you'd rather. I'm not here to tell you exactly what to do, just to help you get the ball rolling. But if it was me, I would look for commonalities or how one image could be an imagination or memory or media within the other image, or if they exist in the same 'world', how you can get from one point in space and time to the other. But you do you boo-boo.


Image 1:This photo "Birds-eye View Photo of Freight Containers" by Tom Fisk.


Image 2:  This photo: "Cars on Road" by KEHN HERMANO.


-----
How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? both photos involve containers, vessels, things that move... is the port the destination of some of those cars? Are we seeing the port city in the distance there? Are we musing on consumerism and how we rush towards it, towards conspicuous consumption and perhaps our own doom? Just going to work at the docks? Smuggling? Something totally different? How might they be connected? Are they completely unrelated? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen! And always remember that if you're onto gold—run with it.

You got this!
-----

If you'd like background writing music, try this: David Parsons ‎– Tibetan Plateau [Full Album Electronic / Ambient / New Age Music Cassette] from somewhat new background music friends of the blog, Sounds of the Dawn. Lots of good ambient stuff when you're looking for a break from lofi or classical or jazz. Slightly spacey, very 80s (this is a 1982 cassette release), I can dig it.

10/10/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #283: How to... 21

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#283
How to... 21

For today's prompt we are focusing on imperative directional pieces. What does that mean? A "How to"! You don't have to title your piece "How to ..." (though you certainly can if you'd like to), you could write a prose piece that merely includes someone giving another directions or you could make it a step by step process like a recipe, however you want to interpret the prompt, the process that is the 'how to' should merely be described at some length during your piece, in some fashion. 

For a couple examples of "How to" pieces. "How to Get There" by Philip Levine, "How to tie a knot" by James Kimbrell, the villanelle "The Grammar Lesson" by Steve Kowit, Mónica de la Torre's wonderful "How to Look at Mexican Highways". and the awesome short story "How to Write a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien.

How toFake it for years.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a Microphone, and the words "Branded" "Hunt" "Lunging" "Flung" and "Decanted".

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

If you'd like some background music try this "Summer rain" lofi mix from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

10/9/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #282: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 18

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

#282
Between a Fact and an Exact Place 18

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 "Panic" "Underneath" "Optimism" "Grime" and "Unemployed".

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

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 'Summer breeze' lofi playlist

10/8/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #281: First Line Bonanza 23

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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. 

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#281
First Line Bonanza 23

For today's writing exercise write a piece that begins with one of the following first lines.

1) P.T. Barnum wasn't the best role model, perhaps, but he took on that role for millions of young people.
2) "Why are so many people dying?" was the question everyone was asking that summer.
3) Winter came in with a bang.
4) Someone in the apartments was making cinnamon rolls—a cruel prank on Demetri's churning stomach and unconscious.
5) Tornado sirens were nothing new.
6) Like many other backstory retellings, he focused on the negatives.

-----

Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which the all sentences or lines begin with the letter "W" (hint: who, what, where, when, why).
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try the Miles Davis Quintet album "Côte Blues".

10/7/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #280: Dueling Six Word Shootout 25

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#280
Dueling Six Word Shootout 25
For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes one or both of the following sets of 6 words. Don't front-load them all into the beginning of your piece, save at least one or two for somewhere to 'aim' your piece. Remember sestinas have 6 different end-words, but don't let me tell you what to write. Just use all 6 (or twelve) words in a fashion that isn't throw-away. Don't put them in in a way that you'll definitely later edit them out because they don't add to the piece. Make them important. This might require a little brainstorming at first. Don't be afraid, you can do it!

Set 1: 
1) Polite 
2) Flight
3) Kite 
4) Glare 
5)  Pear
6) Square 

Set 2:
7) Flair
8) Heir 
9) Nightmare 
10) Height
11) Blight

---
Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: A Cul-de-Sac, The Statue of Liberty, and Shoelaces.
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try 1962's Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album "Caravan".

10/6/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #279 Before Prison Anaphora—Repetition Files 18

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#279
Before Prison Anaphora—Repetition Files 18

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 above-linked Poetry Foundation article, even if you know the term. For even more fun check out this longer article called Adventures in Anaphora.

Your mission is to use the following phrase to begin at least 5 sentences. 

The word or phrase we'll use for our exercise today is:

"Before prison" 


Bonus Exercise:
 Include these five words into your piece "Bloody" "Bongos" "Keepsake" "Nod" and "School".
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Jake Hanna ‎– Arrival.

10/5/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #278: Title Mania "Owls" 25

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#278
Title Mania "Owls" 25

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose that utilizes one of the following titles, and if you want extra 'bonus points' also include the three items from below the title list. These titles all come from the awesome Chad Foret poem "The Owls Won’t See Us in Here: Two Elegies" which was published this May at The Collidescope.

Titles:
  1. A Trophy of an Emu
  2. From a Nightmare
  3. How Do You Heal?
  4. The Vultures Seem Distracted 
  5. On a Horse with a Pseudonym
  6. A Shipment of Affirmative Words
  7. "Ghost Hunters Stay Lonely for a Living"
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. A Church
  2.  A Lily Pad
  3. Duct Tape
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music try: Takashi Kokubo (小久保隆) - Barcelona ~ Gaudi’s Dream ~ (バルセロナ~ガウディの夢~) (1992) .

10/4/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #277: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 14

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#277
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 14
For today's writing exercise you actually have 4 choices! In the spirit of a wedding needing "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue." The first offered prompt is one from Notebooking Daily's past, the second is a brand new prompt for the day of one prompt theme or another, the third prompt is a 'borrowed' prompt from one of Sparked's 'Prompting Partners', and the fourth prompt is a wildcard riffing on the idea of 'Something Blue'. Take a look and dive in! First thought, best thought for these prompts.

Something Old: Title exercise: Faster-Than-Light Travel and the Blues (Published on Notebooking Daily on 5/20/2016, this prompt has you write a piece with the title "Faster-Than-Light Travel and the Blues", very straightforward.

Something New: Three Things (include these three things in a piece): Ancient Greece, Sonic the Hedgehog, A Plastic Lawn Chair

Something Borrowed: Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge July 2015, Aparna Pathak’s “Goats” (Requirements: write a piece inspired by the image "Goats" by Aparna Pathak, which is included in the winning broadside I linked).

Reminder, this piece can be sent to Sparked Lit Mag! It doesn't have to have been written when the issue was currently reading.
Something Blue: Write a piece in which your narrator awakens to see nothing but blue sky, disoriented. Your piece takes it from there.

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

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this: Klaus Wiese - Kalengra [Full Album New Age / Ambient / Drone Music Cassette 1987]

10/3/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #276: Erasing Roger Ebert 41 "Tootsie"

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#276
Erasing Roger Ebert 41 "Tootsie"

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!

Poetry: For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1982 film "Tootsie" (Four Stars).

Roger Ebert has been the archetypal 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.

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

  1. Talented and Unemployable
  2. Throwing Tantrums
  3. Actually Fairly Plausible
  4. Funny at First
  5. The Manhattan Social Pecking Order
  6. Surveying Dorothy
  7. Almost Every Possible Variation

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Tootsie" 

One of the most endearing things about "Tootsie," a movie in which Dustin Hoffman plays a middle-aged actress, is that the actress is able to carry most of her own scenes as herself - even if she weren't being played by Hoffman. "Tootsie" works as a story, not as a gimmick.

It also works as a lot of other things. "Tootsie" is the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren't afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs. This movie gets you coming and going.

Hoffman stars as Michael Dorsey, a character maybe not unlike Hoffman himself in his younger days. Michael is a New York actor, bright, aggressive, talented - and unemployable. "You mean nobody in New York wants to hire me?" he asks his agent, incredulously. "I'd go farther than that, Michael," his agent says. "Nobody in Hollywood wants to hire you, either."

Michael has a bad reputation for taking stands, throwing tantrums, and interpreting roles differently than the director. How to get work? He goes with a friend (Teri Garr) to an audition for a soap opera. The character is a middle-age woman hospital administrator. When his friend doesn't get the job, Michael goes home, thinks, decides to dare, and dresses up in drag and goes to an audition himself. And, improvising brilliantly, he gets the role.

That leads to "Tootsie's" central question: Can a 40-ish New York actor find health, happiness and romance as a 40-ish New York actress? Dustin Hoffman is actually fairly plausible as "Dorothy," the actress. If his voice isn't quite right, a Southern accent allows it to squeak by. The wig and the glasses are a little too much, true, but in an uncanny way the woman played by Hoffman looks like certain actual women who look like drag queens. Dorothy might have trouble passing in Evanston, but in Manhattan, nobody gives her a second look.

"Tootsie" might have been content to limit itself to the complications of New York life in drag; it could have been "Victor/Victoria Visits Elaine's." But the movie's a little more ambitious than that. Michael Dorsey finds to his interest and amusement that Dorothy begins to take on a life of her own. She's a liberated eccentric, a woman who seems sort of odd and funny at first, but grows on you and wins your admiration by standing up for what's right.

One of the things that bothers Dorothy is the way the soap opera's chauvinist director (Dabney Coleman) mistreats and insults the attractive young actress (Jessica Lange) who plays Julie, a nurse on the show. Dorothy and Julie become friends and finally close confidants. Dorothy's problem, however, is that the man inside her is gradually growing uncontrollably in love with Julie.

There are other complications. Julie's father (Charles Durning), a gruff, friendly, no-nonsense sort, lonely but sweet, falls in love with Dorothy. Michael hardly knows how to deal with all of this, and his roommate (Bill Murray) isn't much help. Surveying Dorothy in one of her new outfits, he observes drily, "Don't play hard to get."

"Tootsie" has a lot of fun with its plot complications; we get almost every possible variation on the theme of mistaken sexual identities. The movie also manages to make some lighthearted but well-aimed observations about sexism. It also pokes satirical fun at soap operas, New York show business agents and the Manhattan social pecking order. And it turns out to be a touching love story, after all - so touching that you may be surprised how moved you are at the conclusion of this comedy.

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

If you'd like some background music, try this "Shogun ☯ | Japanese Lofi HipHop Mix" lofi mix.
 

10/2/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #275: Three Things, Five Words 25

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#275
Three Things, Five Words 25
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, and these five individual words. The three things should be important to the piece, not just a throwaway reference used because it has to be. This is prompt time, baby! 

If you're not sure where to start, begin by finding a connection between two of the 'things'—whether that is a shared appearance, locale, one of the things might interact with another (or all three), some way that the two are likened or could be physically together. Use one of the things with two of the 'words' in the beginning of the piece and explore for a bit, knowing that you're aiming at the second ''thing' (where the two 'things' have their connection) about 1/3-1/2 of the way through what you imagine the length of the piece (which may be totally off). By then you should have a direction and it's off to the races, with that third 'thing' in your pathway to the finishing line.

'Three Things'
  1. Stonehenge
  2. A Garden Hose
  3. A Revolver
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Plush, Tweak, Tea, Emergent, Triangular.

-----

If you'd like some background music to write to, try Takashi Kokubo (小久保隆) - Oasis Of The Wind II ~ A Story Of Forest And Water ~ (1993).

10/1/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #274: Ekphrastic Fantastic 23

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#274
Ekphrastic Fantastic 23

For today, we're pairing images for you to respond to. The two images will be contrasting and it will be up to you how they can interact, how your writing can make the two pieces of art meet. 

Or, just pick one of the images and run with it if you'd rather. I'm not here to tell you exactly what to do, just to help you get the ball rolling. But if it was me, I would look for commonalities or how one image could be an imagination or memory or media within the other image, or if they exist in the same 'world', how you can get from one point in space and time to the other. But you do you boo-boo.


Image 1:This image "Photograph of Factory" by photographer Chris LeBoutillier.


Image 2:  This image "Shallow Focus Photography of Railway during Sunset" by Albin Berlin.


-----
How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Are the tracks leading to or away from those factories? Are they from entirely different time periods? Perhaps both memories from the same narrator, or the same couple or friend group? Something totally different? How might they be connected? Are they completely unrelated? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen! And always remember that if you're onto gold—run with it.

You got this!
-----

If you'd like background writing music, try this: Al Gromer Khan ‎– In High Places [Full Album New Age / Ambient / Drone Music Cassette].

9/30/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #273: Sentence Calisthenics 11

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 45 minutes.

#273
Sentence Calisthenics 11
For today's writing exercise complete the following steps for a specific period of time, using the timer on your phone or computer and setting it for 5 minutes for each 'set'. The point here is to produce at very least 6 sentences in each set, but you're looking for both quality and quantity. Don't write a bunch of sentences with the same construction or that are boring—it's better if you have no idea how in the heck you might use the sentence. Something funky, interesting.  Normal, well-phrased sentences are of course good to have in the mix too, but include some quirky ones in each set.

At the end of every set mark your favorite 1-2 sentences.

In order to complete the large number of sentences demanded of this exercise it is imperative that you write fast. Don't stop to 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 30 individual, unlinked sentences in 25 minutes so you have ten minutes to organize and write that actual piece using the 'round up' prompt. This means you're going to be writing more than a sentence a minute. You can't do that if you're dawdling or trying to figure out the 'perfect' phrasing. The first couple times writing to these sprint-style prompts you may barely squeak the lines out in time, but as you get more used to it you'll get more both in quantity and in quality of your sentences. 

Save all of your sentences to a "Sentence Calisthenics" document, if you participate for awhile we'll have some bonus exercises that will refer back to these sentences, because sometimes you can't see the gold hiding in plain sight when you've just written something. Having fresh eyes might result in a quick, awesome piece. So, save those sentences!

WRITE FAST, DON'T OVERTHINK

Getting into the mindset: Before you start your timer, take a moment and breathe and think about keeping cool during a very hot day (and also during hot nights). Think about the feeling of a hot night, trying to sleep when sweating/covered in sweat or however else you experience a hot night or day. Think both humid and dry heat. Keep thinking of these things in the back of your mind as you're writing and in between sets. By no means should all of your sentences revolve around these things, we just want your mind centered with a few anchors in place before we charge into our piece, DON'T LET THIS DISTRACT YOU FROM YOUR SENTENCES. When you feel set, read the set instructions, appropriate Wordbank, and start that timer. 

When the timer goes off move on to the next set regardless of if you met the 6 sentence goal, you wrote only 3, or 12—when the timer rings, move along and if you don't hit 6 for one set, do your dangedest to knock out 6 in the next set even if some of them are short or silly or straightforward or even a fragment.

Set 1: Using the first wordbank you will write six (6) or more sentences which include one of those words and an item from this great list of fruits (British spellings warning). Take a few moments before you start your timer and jot down 4-5 interesting fruits beforehand so you have them handy for quick use. 

Wordbank 1:
  • Zephyr
  • Ochre
  • Stress
  • Firm
  • Bumpy
Set 2: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use two words from that first wordbank. At least two (2) of the sentences must be fewer than six words. 

Remember to mark 1-2 favorites for each set.

Wordbank 2:
  • Panic
  • Notched
  • Destined
  • Peripheral
  • Woes
Set 3: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use one word from Wordbank 1 and one from Wordbank 2.

Set 4:
 Now write at least six (6) sentences which include a word from Wordbank 2 and one of these synonyms for "Vacation"

You're marking 1-2 favorites, right? Keep doing it.

Wordbank 3:
  • Pinched
  • Flurry
  • Fire
  • Lull
  • Grind
Set 5: Take just 5 minutes now to write as many sentences or fragments that use at least two of the words from Wordbank 3 as you can. Try to get ten! If ten is easy, go for fifteen! We're sprinting here, first thought best thought, get your numbers up.

Set 6Now write at least five (5) sentences that include at least one word from each of the three wordbanks.

The Prompting Round-up
Step 1) Gather up all of your marked favorite lines and pick from those favorites at least three sentences to build your piece around. 
Step 2) Now that you know the core of your piece, go back up to the un-favorite lines and pick three additional sentences that you must use (even if you 'spruce' them up by tightening or 'quirking' up the language). 
Step 3) Now you have 6 sentences that are unconnected. You have a large chunk of a jigsaw puzzle but you've lost all the rest of the pieces. So it's time to make those pieces yourself. Make sure your piece has a 'point' or some sort of larger meaning above just the literal narrative/descriptions. Make an observation for better or worse, large, small or teensy tiny even. But, something new, and unique to your brain.

COMPLETE-A-PIECE 

If your piece hasn't jumped right out at you, use this 'formula' today using those six sentences. 

Step 1) First, throw out three of those six sentences that you don't care for as much. Look back at your original full list of sentences and see if any stick out. Sometimes in the rush of things you actually choke out something inadvertently kinda brilliant/interesting. That's the point of rush-rush-rushing. Pushing your brain. Ideally you'll have 4 sentences before you move onto step 2, so if none of those other sentences stick out (tweaks are acceptable of course), grab back one of the sentences you threw out at the beginning of this step, you want at least 3.

Today you will write a piece which follows someone that is on vacation. While in a local market (place for fresh food) they either witnesses a kidnapping, or think they are about to be kidnapped but ultimately the 'kidnappers' had nothing of the sort in mind and had no interest in the narrator. Pick now. Choose your adventure.

Step 2) Now we're going to write a piece which is broken roughly into 1/3s with the first 1/3 including one or two of your sentences and begin with a comparison between the narrator's 'typical' workday compared to their day on vacation, which they have planned in their head. Tell us their plans in a voice-heavy manner, one of the first items on their 'to do' list is to go to the market to get some food, including some sort of 'exotic' fresh fruit (utilize that list again!).

Step 3) The second 1/3 should include 1-2 of your sentences and dedicate at least half of its space (so... 1/6th of the whole piece? At least...) to setting up the 'kidnapping' scene. Really make the market pop, give us good details and don't just go with the easiest, most stereotype images, do a little research if you need to, but give us at least two smells and lots of color. You know if it's a real kidnapping or a misunderstanding, so keep that in mind, you want there to be an arc to the narrative.

Step 4) Before moving onto the last section of the piece take a quick look back at your starred list of sentences and see if there's any that would fit in your piece. You want to use this as a little scaffolding for the final chunk, but if you don't find one or two that fit that is fine too. 

Step 5) The final 1/3 should include your remaining sentences and bring us the culmination of the 'kidnapping', and the aftermath/reflection on it. Don't just give us the sequence of events, analyze what can be learned from it, what insight gleaned, and don't just say "I learned something today". Be poetic and don't go entirely into abstraction or 'telling'. Remember that details rule. As in, they RULE! And, they're the monarch of narrative. The success of your piece depends on many things, but good details are a must.

Step 6) When you're satisfied with the ending, take that knowledge back to the first 1/3 and add in a couple small details, especially imagery, which are in line with that ending. If some specific details are prominent in the end (a quirk or piece of equipment, a description or whatever), mention that thing in that first 1/3 in an innocuous or 'fun' way.

And that's it. You have your piece. A quiet piece but you can make the ride as awesome as you want with how you tell the little tale, what you choose to include. This will definitely take longer than ten minutes but may just be worth it.

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

Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try this "🌱 Chillhop Essentials · Spring 2021" lofi mix.

9/29/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #272 Micro 101 Episode 18—DOUBLE DUTY

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#272
Micro 101 Episode 18—DOUBLE DUTY

For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 20 lines or stories under 200 words.

For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction MondayAlbaMolecule50 Word Stories and Nanoism. Or also this Barnstorm blog post "How Microfiction Could Transform Social Media".

Read the full prompt twice before you start writing, because you're looking to keep it minimal, so have ideas. If your first draft is longer don't fret. Hone it down. And the piece will be what it is. I've started out with a goal of 100 words but hit on something and had to cull the end result from 1350 to 1200 for a contest because I loved the result. So each story will be its own beast, but we're ideally aiming for 20 lines or 100-200 words with these. 

Just because, I've included double the normal Micro-prompts here to choose from or to write. Do all ten for bonus points. Save up enough bonus points for a scratch and sniff sticker!

Micro Exercise 1: Jerry 1. In a very short piece show us a character named Jerry who is hapless, yet positive as things literally burn all around him.
Micro Exercise 2: Jerry 2. Write a very short piece in which male Jerry and a female or non-binary Jerri meet at a coffeeshop when the barista calls their name. They have strong impressions of the other which aren't exactly aligned.
Micro Exercise 3: The Laugh Track. Write a micro piece in which the sentence "Cue laughter." happens twice, once early and once at the end.
Micro Exercise 4:  EmpathyWrite a micro piece in which a character tries to explain the concept of empathy to an animal which magically received the ability to speak and understand language for one day.
Micro Exercise 5: Friendship. Write a very short piece in which someone tries to explain the idea of 'friendship' to an alien.
Micro Exercise 6: Jerry 3. Write a very short piece in which a character named Jerry discovers after an accident, whenever he doubts himself he begins to float.
Micro Exercise 7: Jerry 4. Write a very short piece in which your narrator sees a very old picture of someone named Jerry and is very intrigued by their 'look'. End with the narrator considering how they are a product of their time
Micro Exercise 8: Jerry 5. Write a piece which is fewer than (or better yet, exactly) 50 words that riffs on the term 'Jerry Rig' (to organized or constructed in a crude or improvised manner) .
Micro Exercise 9: Addiction. Write a very short piece in which a character explains the idea of addiction to what they think is a child's ghost (think Casper).
Micro Exercise 10: Jerry 6. Write a very short piece in which a narrator has a day in where everyone they meet/see (with a name tag or whatever) is named some variation of Jerry.

----

If you'd like some background music to write to, try The Joe Pass Trio album "Eximious".

9/28/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #271: How to... 20

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#271
How to... 20

For today's prompt we are focusing on imperative directional pieces. What does that mean? A "How to"! You don't have to title your piece "How to ..." (though you certainly can if you'd like to), you could write a prose piece that merely includes someone giving another directions or you could make it a step by step process like a recipe, however you want to interpret the prompt, the process that is the 'how to' should merely be described at some length during your piece, in some fashion. 

For a couple examples of "How to" pieces. "How to Get There" by Philip Levine, "How to tie a knot" by James Kimbrell, the villanelle "The Grammar Lesson" by Steve Kowit, Mónica de la Torre's wonderful "How to Look at Mexican Highways". and the awesome short story "How to Write a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien.

How toCross a River.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a Microphone, and the words "Biography" "Gloves" "Famished" "Grit" and "Ushering".

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

If you'd like some background music try this The Dexter Gordon Quartet's 1976 album "Bite the Apple"

9/27/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #270: Dueling Six Word Shootout 24

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their 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.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—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 it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#270
Dueling Six Word Shootout 24
For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes one or both of the following sets of 6 words. Don't front-load them all into the beginning of your piece, save at least one or two for somewhere to 'aim' your piece. Remember sestinas have 6 different end-words, but don't let me tell you what to write. Just use all 6 (or twelve) words in a fashion that isn't throw-away. Don't put them in in a way that you'll definitely later edit them out because they don't add to the piece. Make them important. This might require a little brainstorming at first. Don't be afraid, you can do it!

Set 1: 
1) Flip 
2) Gimmick
3) Brick 
4) Snippet 
5)  Wicket
6) Spigot 

Set 2:
7) Kit
8) Wick 
9) Click 
10) Politics
11) Drip
12) Picnic

---
Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: A Plaid Blanket, An Eight Ball (Billiards), and A Bookshelf.
------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try Bill Evan's 1969 live performance of "Waltz for Debby: The Complete Pescara Festival (1969)".