5/11/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #131: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 3

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.

#131
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 3
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: 2020 Writing Exercise Series #194 Inspired by the Public Domain 2 (Published on Notebooking Daily on 7/15/2020, this prompt has 7 prompts inspired by the Carl Sandburg public domain poem "Hazardous Occupations".)

Something New: Three things (include these things in a piece): A Bath Toy, A Toothbrush, and A Skateboard

Something Borrowed: 3Elements Review ISSUE NO. 20 FALL 2018 (use the following three things in your piece: Bus Stop, Stained Glass, Canopy). 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 that includes someone picking blueberries and falling, spraining their ankle very badly (or worse). 

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Alone with myself" Lofi mix 

5/10/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #130: Three Things, Five Words 13

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.

#130
Three Things, Five Words 13
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 Cricket
  2. Sushi
  3. A Bank
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Foil, Soggy, Soiled, Molting, Erroneous.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Ghibli Cafe" mic of bossa nova interpretations of Studio Ghibli classic songs.

5/9/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #129: Dueling Six Word Shootout 12

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.

#129
Dueling Six Word Shootout 12
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) Eagle 
2) Weevil
3) Heel 
4) Ply 
5) Defile 
6) Fly 

Set 2:
7) Pile 
8) Guile 
9) Eel 
10) Congeal
11) Beagle
12) Bile

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: Veal, An airport (or airstrip) and A Birch Tree.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Night lullaby" lofi playlist.

5/8/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #128: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 9

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. 

#128
Between a Fact and an Exact Place 9

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 "Louisiana" "Troopers" "Galivant" "Foot" and "Buck".

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Waiting for dawn" lofi playlist.

5/7/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #127 Micro 101 Episode 10

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.

#127
Micro 101 Episode 10

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.

Micro Exercise 1: Rising Stream. Tell the story of a stream or river flooding and causing damage to the surrounding area. Include an image of a child playing with toy cars.
Micro Exercise 2: Meat on a Stick. Write a short piece which is set while two people sit around a fire cooking meat on sticks (whether this is hot dogs, skewers, or something much more 'rustic' is up to you).
Micro Exercise 3: Building a Dam. Write a micro in which a child attempts to dam a small stream or creak with small rocks. 
Micro Exercise 4: Literal Idiom. Write a slipstream or surreal micro which takes an idiom from this list and presents it in a way in which the figurative example literally happens, don't be afraid to get weird or silly, but bring it back in the end to offer some observation or takeaway for the piece.
Micro Exercise 5: The Jam Session 2. Write a piece in which a family of at least four individuals, play musical instruments and 'jam' together one evening when something has or is about to go terribly wrong (or some tragedy or accident is about to happen).

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Nintendo Lofi Beats" lofi mix.

5/6/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #126: Beginning, Middle & End 12

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.

#126
Beginning, Middle & End 12

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 WithA kinked garden hose.

Somewhere in the middle: The Salton Sea.

End WithA black hole.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title must begin with the word (or at least the letter) "A", and you should include these five words: "Dropped", "Elegant", "Swoop", "Helmet" and "Cloned".

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "Autumn Chill" lofi playlist.

5/5/21

Hump Day Submission Carousel 15

#15: 5/5/21

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means! HUMP DAY SUBMISSIONS! Because it's easy to fall off the submission train during the week I'm presenting you with 3 cool and very different small journals currently open for submissions to save you research time! Pick one of the three journals presented and read some of the pieces in your genre. If you're not digging them, check the next journal. Don't agonize over it, if you're not enjoying the writing or you don't feel your writing would fit in there move along to the next journal. If none of them seem to fit... maybe next week? 

Journal 1Gris-GrisGris-Gris, a journal of literature, culture, and the arts located at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. We seek original literary poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from emerging and established writers. We are open to all styles and subjects. Our main criterion is excellence in any form it takes.. Click here for their submission guidelines. They read $2 submissions via Submittable all year (I think). As always I recommend reading the newest issue in at least your own genre before submitting to them.


From Duotrope: "Gris-Gris, a journal of literature, culture, and the arts located at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. We seek original literary poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from emerging and established writers. We are open to all styles and subjects. Our main criterion is excellence in any form it takes."

2021 Writing Exercise Series #125: How to... 8

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.

#125
How to... 8

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 toRuin a Friendship in Three Easy Steps.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a desert setting (or reference) and the words "Tumbled" "England" "Eel" "Series" and "Lifted".

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If you'd like some background music try this "you once had a dream of sleeping peacefully in a forest" lofi mix.

5/4/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #124: Erasing Roger Ebert 27 "The Brady Bunch Movie"

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.

#124
Erasing Roger Ebert 27 "The Brady Bunch Movie"

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 1995 film "The Brady Bunch Movie" (two 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. Caught in a Time Warp
  2. Polka Dot Ties 
  3. Inside Their Bubble
  4. Refugees from Ancient Reruns of "American Bandstand"
  5. Plain Vanilla Cocoon
  6. A Bleaker Contrast From Outside


Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "The Brady Bunch"

The Bradys at 4222 Clinton Way are caught in a time warp. For them, it's always the early 1970s, and dad Mike in his polka dot ties and mom Carol in her orange Formica kitchen (well-stocked with salt, sugar and white flour) like it just that way. They're raising their bunch in happy harmony, and hardly a day goes by without dad sharing one of his optimistic little homilies about life: "Alone, we can only move buckets. But together, we can drain rivers!" It is the nature of sitcoms to seem trapped in time. We channel surf, and Lucy and Desi and Ralph and Alice are still firmly at home in the 1950s, in those apartments we have come to know like our own homes. And the Bunkers are still at it, in their living room, and so is the Cosby family; the topical jokes don't seem dated for them, and their fashions never seem out of style, and it is forever 1954, or 1981.

The joke in "The Brady Bunch Movie" is that time has marched on for the rest of the Bradys' neighborhood. While the Bradys blissfully exist inside their bubble of the 1970s, the neighbors eye them suspiciously - and sometimes with outright hostility. For the first time in the movie we finally meet the Ditmeyers, their neighbors.

Mrs. Ditmeyer has a drinking problem and lusts after the older Brady boys, and Mr. Ditmeyer (Michael McKean) has erected a spite fence to block out their annoying activities. When little sister Jan (Jennifer Elise Cox) ventures next door, he snarls: "Hey, kid - go yodel in your own backyard! Hop back on the Swiss Miss package where you belong!") Of course, she's only there to warn him about the live electric wire that has fallen in his driveway, so is it her fault if he picks it up? Certainly not! And one of the running jokes in the movie is the unconscious passive hostility the Bradys unleash all around them: They're so wholesome, so darn nice, they don't even realize they are driving people mad. (And they're so plastic, do they even have human bodily functions? One neighbor who has actually seen the inside of their house suspiciously tells a friend, "I didn't even see a toilet.") The plot is made-up of the bits and pieces of what might have been sitcom storylines. The Bradys overlooked paying their real estate taxes, and now they stand to lose their idyllic home on Clinton Way. For the neighbors, that's just fine; Mr. Ditmeyer has plans to raze the neighborhood, and all of the other homeowners are blissful about the prospect of selling out and making big profits on their homes. But not Carol and Mike Brady (Shelley Long and Gary Cole). They want to stay right where they are.

Innocent of the forces amassed against them, the Bradys wonder how they can raise $20,000 in a week, and the kids pool their lunch money and discuss fund-raising schemes. Nothing seems to work until they learn of a talent contest with a $20,000 first prize and enter it, as a sort of 1970s Partridge Family singing group, dressed like refugees from ancient reruns of "American Bandstand." A lot of the humor in the movie comes from the burning jealousy Jan feels for her popular older sister, Marcia (Christine Taylor), with her long blond hair that must be brushed 5,000 times every morning. In her restless dreams, she whacks off Marcia's flowing locks with kitchen shears, but even then Marcia is the winner, as her parents compliment her on how great she looks with her new shorter style. ("It was MY idea!" Jan screams her nightmare. "MINE!") Meanwhile, Marcia's so innocent she invites her best friend for a sleep-over, and doesn't recognize a lesbian pass ("Sorry . . . I thought that was my leg!").

There are also lots of jokes about how the parents are slightly adrift from the grim mainstream of modern life, with their sunny values, blind optimism and blinkered view of the harsh 1990s realities all around them. The director, Betty Thomas, is best when she is establishing the bland, seamless, plain vanilla cocoon that protects the Bradys from bad news and evil influences.

Unfortunately, the movie itself seems to lean too far toward the Brady vision. Even its "modern" side is too innocent. The film establishes a bland, reassuring, comforting Brady reality - a certain muted tone that works just fine but needs, I think, a bleaker contrast from outside to fully exploit the humor. "The Brady Bunch Movie" is rated PG-13, which is a compromise: The Bradys themselves live in a PG universe, and the movie would have been funnier if when they ventured outside it was obviously Wayne's World.

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If you'd like some background music, try this "Life is sweet" lofi playlist.
 

5/3/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #123 Above Anaphora—Repetition Files 5

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.

#123
Above Anaphora—Repetition Files 5

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 4 sentences.

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

"Above..." 

    There are a number of ways you could approach this bit of anaphora—is the running meaning working, retreating from something, advancing on something, is it giving the finer points of running track as opposed to just 'running'? Whatever you do, just be sure that the repeated phrase earns its worth in your piece, and it should in some way build upon what came before it. The repetition should be necessary and not merely redundant.


    Bonus Exercise:
     Include these five words into your piece "Juicy" "Cork" "Tributary" "Goat" and "Bland".
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Lord of the Rings" music and ambiance playlist. 
     

    5/2/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #122: Ekphrastic Fantastic 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 30 minutes.

    #122
    Ekphrastic Fantastic 11

    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 digital piece titled "Alright, I'm outta here" by digital artist Gabor Hoth.



    Image 2:  This pastel titled "Appeasement" by artist Anna Dawson.


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    How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Are you going from one to the other or do they intermingle in your piece? Is the first in the past or the future of the second image? Is the first image a fear of someone that is scared of the ocean (r/Thalassaphobia shout out) Are they completely unrelated? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen!

    You got this!
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    If you'd like background writing music, this combo really made me think of an old favorite, Joe Hisaishi's "Hatsukoi" or First Love.

    5/1/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #121: Title Mania "Bubbling" 12

    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.

    #121
    Title Mania "Bubbling" 12

    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. There is absolutely nothing that these potential titles have in common, I swear.

    Titles:
    1. Bubble Tea at Sunset
    2. Bubbling at the Edges
    3. Mr. Bubble
    4. Blowing Bubbles
    5. Soap Bubbles
    6. How to Properly Ruin a Bubble Bath
    Bonus Exercise: Three Things
    (Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
    1. A Pick Up Truck
    2.  Spitting
    3. A Clarinet
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    If you'd like some background music try Japanese pianist Masaru Imada's album "Tropical Sunset" (1981).

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #120: Inspired By 9... "Violent Epidemic"

    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.

    #120
    Inspired By 9... "Violent Epidemic"

    For today's writing exercise you will first read a short piece of writing, and then respond using one of the following prompts. 

    Today's inspiring piece of writing is the powerful poem "Violent Epidemic" by the poet Sarah Degner Riveros. This poem was published on December 4, 2020 on Barnstorm Journal's blog.

    Seriously. Go read it. It's short. I'll wait.

    I mean it, jumping right to the prompts will be borderline pointless as they won't have context. It's a 2 minute read, you got this.

    This is touching poem about the childhood trauma and community, encapsulated in a short narrative where a neighbor boy seeks refuge when his caretaking sisters got into a fight. The neighbor reacts motherly and immediately takes him in and begins cooking the boy some breakfast food and gives him tea even though his friend (or even perhaps just the friendly adult neighbor that the boy is familiar with) is not there at that time. This poem presents a simple narrative in short lines but through carefully chosen details and moves it covers a great deal of ground. Okay, now that you've ACTUALLY READ the poem, let's write something.

    1. Object: Write a piece in which a pillow is vital to the piece.
    2. Titles: Write a piece using one of the following titles selected from the piece:
    1) Flannel Pillow 2) Sweat Pants and a T-Shirt 3) Chamomile Tea, No Sugar 4) On A Bike Ride 5) Hash Browns in Butter, Eggs Over Easy 
    3. FormPoetry—Write a poem that uses short lines (similar to this piece, no more than five words) which tells a short narrative with two characters where only one character does almost all of the speaking. Fiction—write a flash or micro prose piece in which a neighbor seeks refuge with another neighbor—whether or not that works out as well for your characters as this does for the boy is up to you.
    4. Wordbank: A cross between a cento and an erasure, you can think of this as being like magnetic poetry on a refrigerator. Copy the text from the poem and paste it into a word document. Create a new piece using only words from that 'bank', when you use a word, highlight it in the bank and either 'strikethrough' or add a black background so you don't use a word twice. You'll likely have some words left over but that's ok. It's rare that you'll be able to use all of the words in a new order without some superflousness or awkward phrasing.
    5. Beginning Middle & End: Using the same 'things' from the piece's beginning/middle/end. For today begin your piece with a Pillow, in the middle there must be the appearance of A Sink, and in the end we must get Eggs. However you get from one to the other, make it your own.

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    If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try this "Coffee Rain" mix from Cafe Music.

    4/29/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #119: Three Things, Five Words 12

    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.

    #119
    Three Things, Five Words 12
    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 Snorkel
    2. Maple Syrup
    3. A Flower Tattoo
    'Five Words' 
    Include these five words in your piece: 
    Ford, Rooted, Bolivia, Beg, Vigor.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Lounge Piano Jazz for Working" mix.

    4/28/21

    Hump Day Submission Carousel 14

    #14: 4/28/21

    It's Wednesday, so you know what that means! HUMP DAY SUBMISSIONS! Because it's easy to fall off the submission train during the week I'm presenting you with 3 cool and very different small journals currently open for submissions to save you research time! Pick one of the three journals presented and read some of the pieces in your genre. If you're not digging them, check the next journal. Don't agonize over it, if you're not enjoying the writing or you don't feel your writing would fit in there move along to the next journal. If none of them seem to fit... maybe next week? 

    All journals this week also have deadlines this week, so get on them today! No bookmarking for later, you can do it!

    Journal 1Phantom DriftPhantom Drift is a journal of 'new fabulist' writing in all genres. Click here for their submission guidelines. They read $3 submissions via Submittable  with an APRIL 30th DEADLINE! That's soon so get on it! 


    Fiction: We are looking for fabulist flash fiction and short stories. We like stories that favor the unusual over the usual; we like stories that create a milieu where anything can happen. Stories can take the form of myth or fable. They can invent or suggest an unreal ambience or describe a realistic landscape gripped by a surreal or unexplained event... Poetry: I must warn poets ready to submit beforehand, however, that I have forsworn a promise to favor poetry of a sinister bent. Phantom Drift prefers poetry composed in the new fabulist tradition. As editor, I will welcome work readers might label new weird, slipstream, and/or fantastic. Poetry that demonstrates what Roger Caillois has referred to as “the impression of irreducible strangeness,” and that inspires what Franco-Bulgarian structuralist critic Tzevetan Todorov characterized as a “duration of uncertainty’’ between strange and marvelous explanations in the mind of the reader will be especially prized here. In part, Phantom Drift exists because its editors wish to found a journal devoted to work that shatters or valuably distorts reality, whether this means surrealism, magical realism, fantastique, or bizarrerie. We value writing whose imagination is unafraid to shift shape, writing that generates unique alternatives to and uncharted voyages away from conventional realism.

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #118: Beginning, Middle & End 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 30 minutes.

    #118
    Beginning, Middle & End 11

    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 WithSomeone running a (red) traffic light.

    Somewhere in the middle: A banana is eaten.

    End WithA scarf blowing in the wind.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour title must be at least five words long, and you should include these five words: "Height", "Dubious", "Melodic", "Gullible" and "Dinosaur".

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    If you'd like some background writing music try "Calm your stress" lofi playlist.

    4/27/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #117: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 2

    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.

    #117
    'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 2
    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: 2020 Writing Exercise Series #202: Erasing Roger Ebert 3 "The Goonies" (Published on Notebooking Daily on 7/21/2020, this prompt has 6 titles to choose from which were selected from the Ebert review, as well as presenting the review for the erasure exercise).

    Something New: Three things (include these things in a piece): A Grapefruit, A White Oak Tree, and A Dam

    Something Borrowed: Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge May 2017 (use the image "The Pink Bird Corridor” by Soren James).

    Something Blue: Write a piece that includes someone diving into a pool with a blue painted (or lined) bottom, and a blue-colored popsicle, ice pop or other frozen dessert. 

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Nintendo lofi Study Beats" Lofi HipHop Mix 

    4/26/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #116: Dueling Six Word Shootout 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 30 minutes.

    #116
    Dueling Six Word Shootout 11
    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) Coat 
    2) Float
    3) Denote 
    4) Complied 
    5) Slide 
    6) Vote 

    Set 2:
    7) Plied 
    8) Denied 
    9) Jellied 
    10) Quote
    11) Tugboat
    12) Collide

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    Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: A Garbage Can, A Pianist and A Grocery Shopping List.
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Endless Sunday" lofi playlist from our friends Chillhop Music.

    4/25/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #115: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 8

    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. 

    #115
    Between a Fact and an Exact Place 8

    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 "Spate" "Stake" "Gaping "Rough" and "Supernova".

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this Spring 2020 "Chillhop Essentials" from our lofi buddies at Chillhop Music.

    4/24/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #114 Micro 101 Episode 09

    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.

    #114
    Micro 101 Episode 09

    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.

    Micro Exercise 1: Origami. Tell the story of a relationship while describing how to fold a simple piece of origami from this list. Don't give every step, but at least 4 steps to provide your piece structure.
    Micro Exercise 2: Thunder Storm. Write a short piece which is set during a thunderstorm in which the narrator thinks about things which seemed like they would be worse than they turned out ("it wasn't so bad after all"). Bonus points if the piece is for a metaphor for a relationship.
    Micro Exercise 3: A Struck Car. Write a micro in which the narrator hits a parked car doing minor (ish) damage with no one seeing, and they contemplate their next move (and make it perhaps). 
    Micro Exercise 4: Password Protected. Write a micro in which you must 'enter' a password before speaking with any friends (surreal/slipstream), and use this 'protection' as a metaphor.
    Micro Exercise 5: The Jam Session 1. Write a piece in which a family (or at least 2 family members) makes and jars fruit preserves, while they have a conversation that talks around what they really want to be talking about (avoiding talking about a divorce or drug issue or suicide or being single etc).

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Into the Past" futuristic lofi mix.

    4/23/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #113: How to... 7

    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.

    #113
    How to... 7

    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 toEffectively 'Fake It'.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include at least two exclamation points and the words "Waffle" "Toothpaste" and "Lily".

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    If you'd like some background music try this "Most comfortable at home" lofi mix.

    4/22/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #112: Erasing Roger Ebert 27 "Splash"

    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.

    #112
    Erasing Roger Ebert 27 "Splash"

    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 1984 film "Splash" (one and a half 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. Fruit and Vegetable
    2. Metamorphose 
    3. Shell and All
    4. Touchingly Naive
    5. The Mermaid's Lover
    6. A Standard Young Male Lead
    7. A Meaningless and Boring Subplot


    Erasure Selection:

    Roger Ebert's review of "Splash"

    There is a funny movie lurking at the edges of SPLASH, and sometimes it even sneaks on screen and makes us smile. It's too bad the relentlessly conventional minds that made this movie couldn't have made the leap from sitcom to comedy. They must have thought they had such a great idea (Manhattan bachelor falls in love with mermaid) that they couldn't fail. But great ideas are a dime a dozen. SPLASH tells the story of a young man who is twice saved from drowning by a beautiful young mermaid. She falls in love with him and follows him to Manhattan, where he is a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. He falls in love with her. She can, it appears, metamorphose from a mermaid into a human; she has a tail when she's wet, but it turns into legs when she's dry. There are a lot of jokes about her total ignorance about all the ways of civilization. She walks naked onto Ellis Island, for example, and eats lobsters -- shell and all.

    All right. Now that's the situation. But the situation isn't going to be enough. We need some characters here. The mermaid is just fine. As played by the lovely Daryl Hannah, she is young and healthy and touchingly naive. But what about the guy who falls in love with her? It's here that the movie makes its catastrophic casting mistake. You see, they figured they have a comedy as long as the girl has a tail, and a romance whenever she has legs. So they gave her a romantic leading man when they should have given her a lonely guy who could swim. The leading man is Tom Hanks. He is conventionally handsome and passably appealing, and he would do in a secondary role. He'd be great, for example, as the straight-arrow brother. Instead, they make him the mermaid's lover, and they cast John Candy as the brother.

    You remember Candy from SCTV. He is the large, shambling, Charles Laughton-type who has such a natural charisma that he's funny just standing there. They should have made Candy the lover, and Hanks the brother. Then we'd be on the side of this big lunk who suddenly has a mermaid drop into his life and has to explain her to his creepy, swinging-singles brother. Plus, there's the sweet touch that this transcendently sexy mermaid has fallen for the tubby loser with the heart of lust, and not for his slick brother. See what I mean? Instead, they go the other way. John Candy is not used much in the movie, Tom Hanks comes across as a standard young male lead, and they have to concoct a meaningless and boring subplot in order to make the movie long enough. Don't they know in Hollywood that once all the geniuses think they've finished with the screenplay, you just gotta rotate everything 180 degrees and you got a movie?

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    If you'd like some background music, try this "Guitar Vibes" lofi playlist.