2022 Writing Exercise Series #153: How to... 13

The 2022 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to spark their creative mind and to spur production of new pieces. 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 about" 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—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 series' exercises in under 30 minutes. 

The Timer Method

If you're going with the timer method (which is certainly not required) I recommend setting four timers (these markers are if you're doing a 30 minute session): The First Timer for 5 minutes for a pre-writing reminder, if you do any planning or thinking on how those things can fit together or how to structure what you're doing, or to revisit your writer's notebook to remind yourself of anything you might have noted to write about 'in the future'. But mostly, to remind you not to overthink, not to delay the actual writing process. You should think at least a little about what the point of the piece will be (more in the third timer section) The Second Timer for 15 minutes which is the main writing time. Remember, don't overthink during this section. You're knocking out the piece. When this timer goes off it's not the end, but a signal that you'll be trying to wrap it up soon. The Third Timer for 5 minutes which is time to wrap up what you're writing. This is where you're making sure that you're tucking in any 'loose narrative threads' and getting to your conclusions. Remember, pieces should have some takeaway or 'point'. Some 'why'—a thing that the reader can point to if they're asking themselves "why did I read this?". The Fourth Timer for 5 minutes which is time for editing, for going back over the piece and giving it a 'once over' for typos. I highly suggest reading it aloud once at the beginning of the five minutes (or prior to starting the last timer). Then you'll use the time to fix things early on that you later changed, and to sprinkle in 'crumbs' which foreshadow or work well with later metaphors so that the piece feels more united.  

How to... 13

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 toSee Poetry (or Art) Everywhere.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include at least two sentences that are exactly one words long, and your piece must include the words "Sand" "Scraped" "Nearby" "Morning" and "Relic".


If you'd like some background music try this lofi mix "Spirits of the Altars" by A.T.P.