6/17/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #168: Sentence Calisthenics 6

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.

#168
Sentence Calisthenics 6
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 word bank write six (6) or more sentences which include one of the words and some type of food or drink which you might find at a barbeque or cookout. 

Wordbank 1:
  • Edge
  • Charred
  • Frustration
  • Weekend
  • Undercurrent
Set 2: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use two words from that first bank. At least two (2) of the sentences must be fewer than six words. 

Remember to mark 1-2 favorites for each set.

Wordbank 2:
  • Swat
  • Grouped
  • Flush
  • Sunburned
  • Bees
Set 3: In preparation of the next six (6) or more sentences you should first pick two words Wordbank 1 and type/write them out. Each of your sentences for this 5 minutes must include one of those two pre-selected words and one of the words from Wordbank 2.

Set 4:
 Now take a minute to look through this list of 'sensory details' and write down at least 5-8 of them. Write at least six (6) sentences which include two words from Wordbank 2 and one (or two) of those verbs. 

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

Wordbank 3:
  • Hop
  • Tumbled
  • Hem
  • Duck
  • Nose
Set 5: Take just 3 minutes now to write as many sentences that use at least two of the words from Wordbank 3 as you can.

Set 6Now write six (6) sentences that include 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..

Step 2) Now write a piece which is broken roughly into 1/3s with the first 1/3 including one of your sentences and an instance which takes place during either a family or neighborhood barbeque or cookout—be sure to use lots of concrete details, and don't describe things with the first way that comes to mind—"Tell it slant". 

Step 3) The second 1/3 should include 1-2 of your sentences and bring up at least three potential conflicts—whether about some type of food running out, something said, something previously done (cheating, borrowing a lawn mower and not returning it etc) or whatever you like. One of the three potential conflicts should actually happen. This will either 'blow up' the party or be not really a big deal. Determining this will drive how the final 1/3 goes and the final sentence of this second 1/3 should include one sensory detail and be very strong. Take a little time on the wording of this sentence specifically and look to both its density and concreteness. You want a vivid transition.

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 third 1/3 should include your remaining sentences and both conclude your conflict at the cookout, and it should provide some perspective to it. You want the narrator to 'zoom out' and look at the pettiness (or how monumental it was), and look at either a larger 'area' as in, going from a neighborhood to the whole country (and its troubles/conflicts which are of more/less import), or in time from that single afternoon to looking at the course of a decade or lifetime or even generations. This 'zooming out' technique should allow you to be wistful and sagely while keeping it in the same voice that has led up to this ending. 

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 (food, a loaned item, someone being punched in the jaw etc), mention that thing in that first 1/3 in an innocuous or 'fun' way.

And that's it. You have your piece. This will definitely take longer than ten minutes but may just be worth it.

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Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try this "Sunset Beach" lofi mix.

6/16/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #167: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 6

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.

#167
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 6
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: Narrative prompt: This smoke, however (Published on Notebooking Daily on 7/15/16 this prompt is to write a piece that begins: "This smoke, however, was acrid, like a burning Bic pen.")

Something New: Three things (include these things in a piece): A Baseball Cap, Maroon, and An Escalator

Something Borrowed: 3Elements Review ISSUE NO. 2 WINTER 2014 (use the following three things in your piece: Helix, Cower, Hammock). 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 two people bounce a racquetball off a wall or garage door and while having a conversation at either the beginning or the end. 

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Last breeze of the evening" Lofi mix again from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

6/15/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #166: How to... 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.

#166
How to... 11

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 toCrash a Bike.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a desert setting (or reference) and the words "Textiles" "Leaf" "Flaccid" "Silty" and "Carapace".

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If you'd like some background music try this atmospheric "Its 2 am. I need you here" lofi mix from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

6/14/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #165: Beginning, Middle & End 16

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.

#165
Beginning, Middle & End 16

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 Lawn Mower.

Somewhere in the middle: A Watermelon.

End WithA Waterslide.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Oiled", and an actual city should be named in the piece with its actual name, and a nickname (whether positive or negative).

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "Rain | Sadness" lofi mix from our lofi buddy Dreamy. Where does he find the time?

6/13/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #164: Dueling Six Word Shootout 15

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.

#164
Dueling Six Word Shootout 15
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) Frail 
2) Hail
3) Merge 
4) Surgeon 
5) Kale 
6) Whale 

Set 2:
7) Ankle 
8) Purge 
9) Urgent 
10) Lurch
11) Pale
12) Scale

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: Florida, Clam Chowder, and A Jump Rope.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Studio Ghibli" lofi jazz mix.

6/12/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #163: Ekphrastic Fantastic 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.

#163
Ekphrastic Fantastic 14

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 1882 painting titled "Woman and Child at the Well" by the artist Camille Pissarro.


Image 2:  This 1770 painting titled "Old Man with a Boy Reading" by French painter Jean Jacques de Boissieu


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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 man reading to one of the children standing by the well, or is that their brother? What are they reading, talking about? 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!

You got this!
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If you'd like background writing music, try The Oscar Peterson Trio's album "Affinity".

6/11/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #162: Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 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. 

#162
Erasing EAP "The Oblong Box" 3

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

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of Edgar Allen Poe's 1844 short story "The Oblong Box".

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

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

If you insist on fiction (or if one of these strikes you), write a piece with one of these titles taken from this section:

  1. The Artist's Wife's Mother
  2. Mystification
  3. My Misanthropic Friend
  4. Losing Sight of the Coast
  5. Far Oftener Laughed At Than With
  6. In the Public Society of the Main Cabin
  7. A Series of Covert Insinuations 


Erasure Selection:

from "The Oblong Box"

    Now, I was aware that Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, of Albany, was the artist's wife's mother,—but then I looked upon the whole address as a mystification, intended especially for myself. I made up my mind, of course, that the box and contents would never get farther north than the studio of my misanthropic friend, in Chambers Street, New York.

    For the first three or four days we had fine weather, although the wind was dead ahead; having chopped round to the northward, immediately upon our losing sight of the coast. The passengers were, consequently, in high spirits and disposed to be social. I MUST except, however, Wyatt and his sisters, who behaved stiffly, and, I could not help thinking, uncourteously to the rest of the party. Wyatt's conduct I did not so much regard. He was gloomy, even beyond his usual habit—in fact he was MOROSE—but in him I was prepared for eccentricity. For the sisters, however, I could make no excuse. They secluded themselves in their staterooms during the greater part of the passage, and absolutely refused, although I repeatedly urged them, to hold communication with any person on board.

    Mrs. Wyatt herself was far more agreeable. That is to say, she was CHATTY; and to be chatty is no slight recommendation at sea. She became EXCESSIVELY intimate with most of the ladies; and, to my profound astonishment, evinced no equivocal disposition to coquet with the men. She amused us all very much. I say "amused"—and scarcely know how to explain myself. The truth is, I soon found that Mrs. W. was far oftener laughed AT than WITH. The gentlemen said little about her; but the ladies, in a little while, pronounced her "a good-hearted thing, rather indifferent looking, totally uneducated, and decidedly vulgar." The great wonder was, how Wyatt had been entrapped into such a match. Wealth was the general solution—but this I knew to be no solution at all; for Wyatt had told me that she neither brought him a dollar nor had any expectations from any source whatever. "He had married," he said, "for love, and for love only; and his bride was far more than worthy of his love." When I thought of these expressions, on the part of my friend, I confess that I felt indescribably puzzled. Could it be possible that he was taking leave of his senses? What else could I think? HE, so refined, so intellectual, so fastidious, with so exquisite a perception of the faulty, and so keen an appreciation of the beautiful! To be sure, the lady seemed especially fond of HIM—particularly so in his absence—when she made herself ridiculous by frequent quotations of what had been said by her "beloved husband, Mr. Wyatt." The word "husband" seemed forever—to use one of her own delicate expressions—forever "on the tip of her tongue." In the meantime, it was observed by all on board, that he avoided HER in the most pointed manner, and, for the most part, shut himself up alone in his state-room, where, in fact, he might have been said to live altogether, leaving his wife at full liberty to amuse herself as she thought best, in the public society of the main cabin.

    My conclusion, from what I saw and heard, was, that, the artist, by some unaccountable freak of fate, or perhaps in some fit of enthusiastic and fanciful passion, had been induced to unite himself with a person altogether beneath him, and that the natural result, entire and speedy disgust, had ensued. I pitied him from the bottom of my heart—but could not, for that reason, quite forgive his incommunicativeness in the matter of the "Last Supper." For this I resolved to have my revenge.

    One day he came upon deck, and, taking his arm as had been my wont, I sauntered with him backward and forward. His gloom, however (which I considered quite natural under the circumstances), seemed entirely unabated. He said little, and that moodily, and with evident effort. I ventured a jest or two, and he made a sickening attempt at a smile. Poor fellow!—as I thought of HIS WIFE, I wondered that he could have heart to put on even the semblance of mirth. At last I ventured a home thrust. I determined to commence a series of covert insinuations, or innuendoes, about the oblong box—just to let him perceive, gradually, that I was NOT altogether the butt, or victim, of his little bit of pleasant mystification. My first observation was by way of opening a masked battery. I said something about the "peculiar shape of THAT box—,"and, as I spoke the words, I smiled knowingly, winked, and touched him gently with my forefinger in the ribs.

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As your background music sommelier, I've chosen to again pair Vangelis with your "Erasing Edgar Allen Poe", "The Obling Box" series. For this sampling I've selected Vangelis' album "Themes III".

6/10/21

Hump Day Submission Carousel 20

#20: 6/9/21

It's Wednesday (wellllll.... let's fudge it just a handful of hours), 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 1: The Adroit Journal. The Adroit Journal is on Duotrope's 25 most challenging listings, but they put out a wonderful journal. "We’re looking for work that’s bizarre, authentic, subtle, outrageous, indefinable, raw, paradoxical. We’ve got our eyes on the horizon. Send us writing that lives just between the land and the sky." They read no fee submissions via Submittable on a rolling basis. As always I recommend reading the most recent issue in your genre before submitting to them. And absolutely, definitely check out the submission guidelines.


"At its foundation, the journal has its eyes focused ahead, seeking to showcase what its global staff of emerging writers sees as the future of poetry, prose, and art.

Featured in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prizes: Best of the Small Presses, Poetry Daily, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, and by the New York Times, the Paris Review, Teen Vogue, PBS, and NPR, the journal has featured the voices of Terrance Hayes, Franny Choi, D. A. Powell, Alex Dimitrov, Lydia Millet, NoViolet Bulawayo, Ocean Vuong, Ned Vizzini, Fatimah Asghar, Danez Smith, and beyond.."

2021 Writing Exercise Series #161 Micro 101 Episode 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.

#161
Micro 101 Episode 13

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: Promotion 1. Tell the story of a young person on a single-minded mission to move up from dishwasher to chef.
Micro Exercise 2: Promotion 2. Write a short piece in which two friends work together at a summer job and one of them becomes the boss's favorite. They should share a hobby/activity outside of work in which they talk about the job and life in very terse, telling detail.
Micro Exercise 3: Promotion 3. Write a micro piece in which a hiring manager contemplates the positive and negatives of hiring one person over another. Get extreme/surreal, if you want.
Micro Exercise 4: Fruit Fight. Write a micro piece in which rival neighborhood gangs of kids have a fight throwing crab apples at each other. This can either start out somewhat lighthearted and get serious, be entirely lighthearted, be miniature warfare—whatever you'd like.
Micro Exercise 5: Land Mine. Write a piece in which a small town sheriff with no training is trying to find a landmine that someone he just arrested told him he buried somewhere dangerous.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Rooftop Dreams" lofi mix.

6/9/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #160: First Line Bonanza 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.

#160
First Line Bonanza 14

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

1) Hot air balloons blotted out the sky like locusts.
2) The escalator churned, waited for me, hungry.
3) Up—up from the mud and the filth.
4) A coiffed coterie of kids queued quietly for Sunday School. 
5) There would be no need to read the transcript

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Bonus 'constraint': You must include the words "Haunt", "Hands", "Ant" "Hunt" and "Chant".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "You left me alone" lofi mix.

6/8/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #159 But First—Repetition Files 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.

#159
But First Anaphora—Repetition Files 8

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:

"But First..." 

    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 "Essence" "Bowl" "Molded" "Waffle" and "Muffled".
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

    6/7/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #158: Title Mania "Brew" 15

    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.

    #158
    Title Mania "Brew" 15

    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. A Stronger Brew
    2. The Brewer's in the 80's
    3. A Stranger Brew
    4. More Than Just Trouble Brewing
    5. A Stronger, Stranger Brew
    6. Brewed Overnight
    7. Unbrew
    8. Homebrews and Smoked Meats
    Bonus Exercise: Three Things
    (Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
    1. A Shovel
    2.  A Snake
    3. Electrical Tape
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    If you'd like some background music try Canadian jazz pianist virtuoso Oscar Peterson's 1983 album "If you could see me now"

    6/6/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #157: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 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. 

    #157
    Between a Fact and an Exact Place 11

    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 "Explicit" "Routed" "Shimmy" "Ghostly" and "Pluck".

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Little astronaut, big dreams" lofi playlist once more from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

    6/5/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #156: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 6

    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.

    #156
    'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 6
    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: April 5, 2018 National Poetry Month Daily Writing Prompt: Cooking with a Pet (Published on Notebooking Daily on 4/5/18 this prompt includes for 'bonus' prompts which you can either work with or use instead of the main prompt).

    Something New: Three things (include these things in a piece): A Wooden Spoon, A Flashlight, and A Skunk

    Something Borrowed: 3Elements Review ISSUE NO. 13 WINTER 2017 (use the following three things in your piece: Glaze, Thread, Murmur). 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 a group of people throw around a stolen globe. 

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Be alone" Lofi mix again from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

    6/4/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #155: Beginning, Middle & End 15

    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.

    #155
    Beginning, Middle & End 15

    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 frisbee (or baseball) is thrown into a pond.

    Somewhere in the middle: A cake is dropped.

    End With: Someone swears at a mailbox.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the words "Infant", "Liminal" and "Poll", and the word "Before" must begin at least three sentences in your piece.

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    If you'd like some background writing music try this "Find yourself" lofi mix from our lofi friend Dreamy.

    6/3/21

    Hump Day Submission Carousel 19

    #19: 6/2/21

    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 1: Invisible City. Invisible City is an online publication of the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco that publishes in the fall and spring.  They read no fee submissions via Submittable until 6/26/21. As always I recommend reading the most recent issue in your genre before submitting to them. And definitely check out the submission guidelines as always.

    "We seek work that encourages us to see the world from new perspectives and different angles, ones that we may not have previously considered or imagined."

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #154: Three Things, Five Words 15

    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.

    #154
    Three Things, Five Words 15
    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 Convertible
    2. A Mop
    3. A Skunk
    'Five Words' 
    Include these five words in your piece: 
    Benefit, Bullies, Furnish, Fueled, European.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Late Night" lofi mix from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

    6/2/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #153: How to... 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.

    #153
    How to... 10

    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 to: Pickle yourself.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a desert setting (or reference) and the words "Proof" "Shard" "Slick" "Pointed" and "Mix".

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    If you'd like some background music try this "Emotionally Faded" lofi mix.

    6/1/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #152: Erasing Roger Ebert 30 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze"

    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.

    #152
    Erasing Roger Ebert 30 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze"

    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 1991 film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze" (one star).

    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. What I Deserve
    2. The Maddening Turtle
    3. The Product of Radioactive Waste
    4. As if the whole sum of a character's personality is expressed by the way he does violence
    5. A Dim Collective
    6. The Older Superheroes
    7. At Street Level


    Erasure Selection:

    Roger Ebert's review of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze"

    I bent over backwards to be fair to the first movie about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was, I wrote, "probably the best possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie." Now we have the sequel, subtitled "The Secret of the Ooze." I may not get what I want, but I get what I deserve.

    Once again, here are the four superhero turtles, their friends Keno and April, their enemy the Shredder, his buddies the Foot Gang, and the maddening Turtle theme music, which sounds like a berserk merry-go-round. There is also a mad scientist, necessary to explain additional details about how the turtles got that way.

    Kids like the turtles. A recent national survey reported that 95 percent of grade school teachers could trace aggressive, antisocial classroom behavior to the Ninja Turtles - high praise. As someone who was raised on Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman, I think the kids are getting the short end of the stick. What kind of a superhero is a reptile who lives in sewers, is led by a rat, eats cold pizza, and is the product of radioactive waste? Is this some kind of a cosmic joke on the kids, robbing them of their birthright, a sense of wonder? Or is it simply an emblem of our drab and dreary times? One disturbing thing about the turtles is that they look essentially the same. All that differentiates them, in the Nintendo game that gave them birth, is their weapons. It's as if the whole sum of a character's personality is expressed by the way he does violence. The turtles are an example of the hazards of individuality.

    They hang out together, act together, fight together, and have a dim collective IQ that expresses itself in phrases like "Cowabunga, dude." This is the way insecure teenage boys sometimes talk in a group, as a way of creating solidarity, masking fears of inadequacy, and forming a collective personality that is stupider than any individual member of it. The way you attain status in the group is by using violence to defend it against outsiders. People raised on these principles run a risk of starring in videotapes of police brutality.

    I liked the older superheroes better. The ones that stood out from a crowd, had their own opinions, were not afraid of ridicule, and symbolized a future of truth and justice. Spiderman and Superman represented democratic values. Today's kids are learning from the Turtles that the world is a sinkhole of radioactive waste, that it's more reassuring to huddle together in sewers than take your chances competing at street level, and that individuality is dangerous. Cowabunga.

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    If you'd like some background music, try this "Midnight City" lofi playlist.