10/31/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #305: First Line Bonanza 24

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing. 

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#305
First Line Bonanza 24

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

1) Halloween doesn't end at midnight.
2) The fall's day heat had been sticking around later and later into the evening lately.
3) With the subways flooded, soaked New Yorkers swarmed the streets like rats.
4) The Ganges had once more risen above its banks.
5) They hesitated at the door but couldn't wait forever.
6) Thirty-three rotted pumpkins were tossed from the roof in unison—a time-honored tradition around my hometown.

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Bonus 'constraint': You must include a paragraph/stanza in which the all sentences or lines begin with the letter "M".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Sound of The Ancient Root" lofi mix from one of our favorite lofi channels, Dreamhop Music.

10/30/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #304: Dueling Six Word Shootout 27

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.

#304
Dueling Six Word Shootout 27
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) Pulse 
2) Pulls
3) Folds 
4) Moat 
5) Bold
6) Mold 

Set 2:
7) Dread
8) Fled 
9) Hold 
10) Skulls
11) Bludgeon
12) Dungeon

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: Shackles, A Meat Cleaver, and A Bed Sheet.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Spooktober Megamix" lofi playlist.

10/29/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #303: Three Things, Five Words 27

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.

#303
Three Things, Five Words 27
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 Pumpkin
  2. A Fun-Sized Snickers
  3. Freddy Krueger
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Circulation, Bloodmobile, Eclipse, Bat, Shriek.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Halloween Night" lofi.

10/28/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #302: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 19

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. 

#302
Between a Fact and an Exact Place 19

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 "Lettuce" "Earth" "Boxed" "Mercury" and "Jalapeno".

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 'Wherever you go, follow your heart' lofi playlist from our lofi buddy Dreamy.

2021 Writing Exercise Series #301: Erasing Roger Ebert 43 "Children of the Corn"

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.

#301
Erasing Roger Ebert 43 "Children of the Corn"

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 "Children of the Corn" (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. Behind the Rows of Corn
  2. A Foot Beneath the Surface
  3. One Fateful Sunday
  4. Maybe They Deserved to Die
  5. The Strange Doings of the Cornfield Cult
  6. Evil Interlopers
  7. The Ringleaders Speak

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Children of the Corn" 

“Children of the Corn” is a movie about a thing that lives behind the rows of corn. I am not sure if the thing is a god, a spirit, or John Deere crossed with a mole. All I know is that you can see it coming. It plows along about a foot underneath the surface, racing angrily up and down the cornfields.

When I first saw this thing, whatever it is, I knew it was time to abandon all hope for “Children of the Corn.” If there's anything worse than a movie about a small town filled with evil children who are the victims of mass hysteria and think there's something that “lives behind the rows,” it's a movie about a small town filled with evil children who are right – there is something behind the rows.

The thing has great influence over the children. One fateful Sunday, it made all the kids in town suddenly turn on the adults and slit their throats. Since then, the kids have been running the town on behalf of the thing behind the corn rows.

(If the thought even fleetingly crosses your mind that somebody should have reported all the missing adults, you're in the wrong movie. This was apparently a town where none of the adults made or received long-distance calls, used charge cards, had out-of-town relatives, or knew anybody who would miss them. Maybe they deserved to die.)

Anyway, one day a young couple comes driving down the road on the way to the guy's new teaching job. They run down a zombie who has lurched out of a cornfield. They put the dead body in the trunk of their car and drive into town for help. There they get involved in the strange doings of the cornfield cult.

The kids in the town are led by a shrill-voiced little girl and by a mean little boy (who looks like a miniature adult and talks like he has helium in his mouth). The ringleaders speak in pseudo-biblical English, kind of a King James version of Stephen King, all about the evil interlopers and about how he who lives behind the corn must be appeased. There's a grisly symbolic crucifixion, a nighttime ceremony out in the fields, and then that weird creature plowing around under the ground.

At the end, those of us who are left in the theater cling to one faint hope: That our patience will be rewarded by an explanation, no matter how bizarre, of the thing that moves behind the rows. No luck. Instead, the movie generates into a routine action sequence involving lots of flames and screams and hairbreadth escapes.

By the end of “Children of the Corn,” the only thing moving behind the rows is the audience, fleeing to the exits.

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If you'd like some background music, try this "Halloween Night" lofi mix.
 

10/26/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #300: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 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.

THE BIG THREE-OH-OH!

#300
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 16
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 #250: Erasing Roger Ebert 7 "Spice World: The Movie" (Published on Notebooking Daily on 9/8/2020, this erasure prompt also has a 'title mania' option)

Something New: Three Things (include these three things in a piece): A Charcuterie Board, A Goat, Finland

Something Borrowed: The Sparked Lit Mag Fall Ekphrastic Contest (Requirements: write a piece inspired by one of 6 images from Chernobyl that are included in the link).

Reminder, this piece can still be sent to Sparked Lit Mag! Even though the contest is over, it still definitely counts as a 'prompting partner' for itself.
Something Blue: Write a piece which includes watching a baseball game of either the Toronto Blue Jays, or a little league team named the Blue Jays.

Something Wedding: Write a piece which is set at a wedding and includes either a fistfight, or a car accident.

Something 300: Write a piece which is at least partially set in the year 300 (either BCE or CE). For bonus points have lightning strike something.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 'I found my home in your arms' mix again from our lofi buddy Dreamy

2021 Writing Exercise Series #299: Three Things, Five Words 27

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.

#299
Three Things, Five Words 27
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 Werewolf
  2. A Vampire
  3. A Poodle
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Pumpkin, Ominous, Flummoxed, Plasma, Incisor.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Chill Out Jazz Hiphop & Smooth Jazz.

10/25/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #298: Title Mania "Kitchen" 27

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.

#298
Title Mania "Kitchen" 27

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose that utilizes one of the following titles, and if you want extra 'bonus points' also include the three items from below the title list. These titles all come from the awesome Samuel Ugbechie poem "Loss Hangs Thin in the Kitchen" which was published the current issue of Aurora Poetry (and won the 2020 Poetry Contest) (3).

Titles:
  1. A Quilted Scene
  2. The Temperament of Honey
  3. The Odd Pose of Culterlies
  4. A Rusted Question Mark
  5. By the Hem
  6. Bereft Snows
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. A Sink
  2.  Rust
  3. A Wok
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If you'd like some background music try this "Music to put you in a better mood" lofi mix.

10/24/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #297: Beginning, Middle & End 27

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.

#297
Beginning, Middle & End 27

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 librarian reading a book to a bunch of crows.

Somewhere in the middle: A skydiver has to pull their 'safety' chute.

End WithA young photographer using their first 'good' camera.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title or first line must include the word "Before", and you should include the following five words: Virginia, Jumbled, Aperture, Murder, Zen.

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If you'd like some background writing music try this "Relaxing Fantasy Music" background music mix.

10/23/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #296: Ekphrastic Fantastic 25

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#296
Ekphrastic Fantastic 25

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

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


Image 1:This photo by Jaanus Jagomägi.


Image 2:  This photo by Valentin Petkov.


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How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Is that man the 'robot's maker hiding on an island after the apocalypse? Has he washed up there unsuccessful? Is he just a robotics professor on vacation? An inventor trying to get his mind off of his last failed invention? Reveling in a success? Something totally different? How might they be connected? Are they completely unrelated? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen! And always remember that if you're onto gold—run with it.

You got this!
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If you'd like background writing music, try this: Dream Waves - Heaven World [Full Album New Age / Ambient / Electronic / Synth Music Cassette 1987] from somewhat new background music friends of the blog, Sounds of the Dawn. Lots of good ambient stuff (that reminds me of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for... reasons) when you're looking for a break from lofi or classical or jazz. Slightly spacey, very 80s (this is a 1987 cassette release).

10/22/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #295: Sentence Calisthenics 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 45 minutes.

#295
Sentence Calisthenics 12
For today's writing exercise complete the following steps for a specific period of time, using the timer on your phone or computer and setting it for 5 minutes for each 'set'. The point here is to produce at very least 6 sentences in each set, but you're looking for both quality and quantity. Don't write a bunch of sentences with the same construction or that are boring—it's better if you have no idea how in the heck you might use the sentence. Something funky, interesting.  Normal, well-phrased sentences are of course good to have in the mix too, but include some quirky ones in each set.

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

In order to complete the large number of sentences demanded of this exercise it is imperative that you write fast. Don't stop to think too much at all until you've reached the final exercise. The process of this quick production is to thrust past second guesses or other stumbling blocks that sometimes impede your writing. You're aiming to write 30 individual, unlinked sentences in 25 minutes so you have ten minutes to organize and write that actual piece using the 'round up' prompt. This means you're going to be writing more than a sentence a minute. You can't do that if you're dawdling or trying to figure out the 'perfect' phrasing. The first couple times writing to these sprint-style prompts you may barely squeak the lines out in time, but as you get more used to it you'll get more both in quantity and in quality of your sentences. 

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

WRITE FAST, DON'T OVERTHINK

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

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

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

Wordbank 1:
  • Snail
  • Flummoxed
  • Air
  • Squat
  • Zombie
Set 2: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use two words from that first wordbank. At least two (2) of the sentences must be fewer than six words. 

Remember to mark 1-2 favorites for each set.

Wordbank 2:
  • Hunger
  • Dehydrated
  • Chrome
  • Tail
  • Amber
Set 3: Now write six (6) or more sentences which use one word from Wordbank 1 and one from Wordbank 2.

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLETE-A-PIECE 

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

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

Today you will write a piece which follows someone on a road trip. There should be a destination chosen and given to the reader early on. That destination will never be reached, begin your piece knowing this. Your characters will want to get to the place to varying degrees, at least one person begrudgingly has tagged along, and one person is very excited. As you're writing the first 2/3s of the piece, be setting up this failure (whether mechanical, change of plans, something out of their control etc) as you go, and have an observation as to why this change of plans is better, or at least not so bad which you can end with.

Step 2) Now we're going to write a piece which is broken roughly into 1/3s with the first 1/3 including one or two of your sentences and begin with an energetic 'first leg' of a road trip with a group of at least three people as we'd earlier talked about. Include some levity, and one unique 'snack and gas' stop.

Step 3) The second 1/3 should include 1-2 of your sentences and include a heated argument when it turns out one person stole something (or many somethings) at the 'snack and gas' stop and another member of the group is very upset by this for one reason or another. There should be a near-accident and we should hear about at least two or three interesting vehicles which the group passes.

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

Step 5) The final 1/3 should include your remaining sentences and early on in this section we should get the issue that will stop the group from reaching their goal. There should be stakes and consequences. The piece should have an observation of some sort at the end, and the actual ending should be an image which is tonally aligned with that observation, and be a more detailed depiction of something that you've mentioned earlier in the story in some way. You can always go back and add it in if you don't have something already in there, that's the joy of writing! Or, you know, one of them.

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. Add in subtle foreshadowing first 1/3 in an innocuous or 'fun' way. Also include one additional interesting car and its unique driver. This trip should be intriguing, and all your own. 

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

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Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try this "Chillhop Essentials - Fall 2017 🍂 [Chillhop / Jazzhop / Lofi Hip Hop]" lofi mix.

10/21/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #294: 'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 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.

#294
'Wedding' Multi-Prompt 15
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: No Frills Prompt 19 (Published on Notebooking Daily on 6/6/2018, this ekphrastic prompt has you write a piece inspired by this image—which just happens to be mostly blue).

Something New: Three Things (include these three things in a piece): Malta, Chess, A Condor

Something Borrowed: ISSUE NO. 24 FALL 2019 Effigy, Sleepwalk, Wane (Requirements: write a piece including the words EFFIGY, SLEEPWALK, WANE).

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 which includes both an image of earth from space and also a blue balloon (in separate paragraphs/stanzas).

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this 'Work Jazz' mix

10/20/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #293 Micro 101 Episode 19

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.

#293
Micro 101 Episode 19

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: Second Person 1. In a very short piece written in second person (the 'you' perspective) in which it appears that the 'you' is considering jumping to their death, weighing out the reasons to jump and not to jump, but by the end we realize it's someone at a public pool's diving board.
Micro Exercise 2: Second Person 2. Write a very short piece written in second person in which a person has decided to act on impulse, regardless of what they think to do.
Micro Exercise 3: Tunnel Collapse 1. Write a micro piece in which a narrator is digging a tunnel that collapses on them.
Micro Exercise 4:  Tunnel Collapse 2Write a micro piece in which a character is in traffic just before a road tunnel, when for some reason the tunnel ahead of them collapses.
Micro Exercise 5: Second Person 3. Write a very short piece written in the second person where the 'you' makes an irrational decision, leading to slipstream/surreal events/occurrences.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Late Night Nostalgia" lofi playlist.

10/19/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #292: How to... 22

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.

#292
How to... 22

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, MĂłnica 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 toApologize (and actually mean it).

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a Microphone, and the words "Grift" "Jilted" "Endemic" "Downward" and "Cliff".

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If you'd like some background music try this "Midnight Lofi Fall Vibes" lofi mix.

10/17/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #291: Dueling Six Word Shootout 26

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#291
Dueling Six Word Shootout 26
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) Pole 
2) Whole
3) Roll 
4) Scold 
5)  Fold
6) Troll 

Set 2:
7) Note
8) Float 
9) Connote 
10) Moat
11) Bloated
12) Rote

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: Alcohol Poisoning, Slot Machines, and A Ghost.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Summer Vibes (part 2)" lofi playlist.

2021 Writing Exercise Series #290 Red Anaphora—Repetition Files 19

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.

#290
Red Anaphora—Repetition Files 19

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 7 sentences. 

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

"Red" 

Bonus Exercise:
 Include these five words into your piece "Flying" "Bloated" "Tricky" "Dune" and "Butcher".
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try "Blues for Fred" by Joe Pass.

10/16/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #289: Erasing Roger Ebert 42 "Bottle Rocket"

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.

#289
Erasing Roger Ebert 42 "Bottle Rocket"

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 1996 film "Bottle Rocket" (Two Stars)—Wes Anderson's first feature film.

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. The Whimsy, Coincidences and Conversation of Everyday Life

  2. An Achievement Since the Asylum
  3. All Wrong
  4. The Getaway Driver for Their First Real Big-Time Heist
  5. Fragile Charm
  6. Unwound and Indulgent
  7. A Real Criminal

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Bottle Rocket" 

"Bottle Rocket" was shot in and around Austin, Texas, and like "Slacker," another Austin movie, it's in love with the whimsy, coincidences and conversation of everyday life. The plot is about learning to pull stickups, but crime seems almost like an afterthought in many of the scenes, which play more like a documentary on some old friends sitting around trying to think about something to do.

The movie opens with a character named Anthony (Luke Wilson) planning his escape from a mental asylum. Many of the details have been planned by his friend Dignan (Owen C. Wilson), who signals him furtively from a hiding place on the grounds and who seems loonier than Anthony. The escape works, but it's not much of an achievement, since the asylum is a minimum-security institution that anyone can more or less walk away from.

The logic behind the unnecessary escape soon repeats itself, when Dignan and Anthony collaborate on a house burglary that turns out, shall we say, to be a great deal less risky than it first appears. They're in training for the big time; they want to be crooks, but don't have many of the necessary skills, and their personalities seem all wrong. For Dignan, crime seems like less of a career than a convenient way to control Anthony.

They bring in a friend, Bob (Robert Musgrave). He'll be the getaway driver for their first real big-time heist. They choose a bookstore as their target, and the scene is handled nicely; the employees and customers are too lowkey to really mind very much.

"Bottle Rocket" then falls into a version of a familiar movie story, in which essentially innocent characters choose, or are pushed into, a life of crime, and find themselves increasingly alienated from society when all they really want to do is hang out and kill time. Eventually, they get themselves involved with a real criminal, played by James Caan, and find themselves in over their heads.

The formula provides some nice small moments, but they don't add up to much; they suggest that these filmmakers might make a better movie the next time, when they depend less on their own familiar personalities and inspirations and more on an original screenplay.

The story behind "Bottle Rocket" is encouraging for would-be filmmakers. The director, Wes Anderson, met the writer and co-star, Owen Wilson, at the University of Texas. Owen's brother Luke came on board as another cast member. The group made a short film based on their idea, got support from Texas-based screenwriter L. K. (Kit) Carson, took the short to the Sundance Film Festival, and found backing from big-time filmmakers including James L. Brooks, who helped them get money for a feature from Columbia Pictures.

"Bottle Rocket" is entertaining if you understand exactly what it is: if you see it as a film made by friends out of the materials presented by their lives and with the freedom to not push too hard. Its fragile charm would have been destroyed by rewrites intended to pump it up or focus it; it needs to meander, to take time to listen to its dialogue, to slowly unveil character quirks, particularly Dignan's.

It's the kind of film, in fact, that a festival like Sundance is ideal for. An audience that knows about the realities of low-budget independent filmmaking will probably find a lot of qualities in here that might elude wider audiences. I can't recommend the film - it's too unwound and indulgent - but I have a certain affection for it, and I'm looking forward to whatever Anderson and the Wilsons do next.

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

10/15/21

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

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#288
Title Mania "Taliesin" 26

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

Titles:
  1. With Broken Light
  2. The Fabric of Tree Limbs
  3. Jut
  4. Break the Spine 
  5. This Doomful Sort
  6. Full of Slurry
  7. Curtains of Icicles
  8. Giant Bougainvillea
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. A Van
  2.  The Marianas Trench
  3. Spiced Rum
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If you'd like some background music try: Chillhop Yearmix 2020.