Tag Archives: writing prompts

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #14


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During all of my adult life, until her death five years ago, my Mom sent me a twenty-five dollar check for my birthday. Always with a card, sometimes with a note to get myself “something special.” I always tried to keep it out of the general fund, and get myself a meaningful gift with it. Still, around the time of my birthday, with my mother in mind, I pick out something special, “from Mom.” This year, I have a brand new source for writing ideas.

The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron is actually a compilation of three of his books, none of which I was familiar with before. From his introduction:

Writing is an act of hope. It is a means of carving order from chaos, of challenging one’s own beliefs and assumptions, of facing the world with eyes and heart wide open. Through writing, we declare a personal identity amid faceless anonymity. We find purpose and beauty and meaning even when the rational mind argues that none of these exist.

The book includes more than eight hundred writing prompts, all within lessons and discussion about particular aspects of writing, from forming the habit to developing characters and editing. I’m pleased to see that I have already worked through many of the ideas about delving into my personal history. I’m also happy to see that the author devotes one category to “Joy and Gratitude;” Those are things important to my mother, and ideas I’m working on in all areas of my life right now.

Write about a time when your creativity flowed…Try to describe the feeling. Describe, too, the circumstances…try to get to know your creative self a bit better.

My husband used to fall asleep right in the middle of an argument. It was the stress that caused it; sleep was his escape. You can only imagine the frustration it caused, and how he was made to regret not being able to keep his eyes open. Still, he didn’t seem able to change.

My escape – and often my salvation – is my creativity. When I am embarrassed or humiliated…when I am sad…when I see no way out of or around a bad situation, that is the rope that I cling to. I may go to the studio to immerse myself in paints and papers until all outside grievances are diminished. Or, I will write it out.

When I’m emotional – sad or frustrated, hurt or mad – the words flow. Old journals carry page after page of my righteous indignation at some affront; words and pictures outline every heartbreak. When I – in the middle of getting a divorce, my life upside-down already – received foreclosure papers for my little piece of property, I quickly whipped out a twenty-five page reply. When I was passed over for a raise at work, the first draft I wrote was eight pages of anger and recrimination that may have cost me my job if I had sent it without a drastic edit.

A few years ago, an unfortunate encounter at work resulted in a tearful middle-of-the-night writing spree that I published as a blog. It was widely read, and I received tremendous support and sympathy from all corners of the globe. However, it was also hurtful. I outlined the thoughtless behavior without mercy. Because I alone held the pen, there was no other viewpoint, no defense. Writing should never – at least not in the context that I do it – be used as a weapon. I’m more careful now.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing that my most creative outbursts are driven by life-shattering events, but there it is.


This Tuesday


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This Tuesday, being fairly certain that I have worn thin the kindness of readers who have endured recitals of my moment-to-moment activities combined with editorial grumblings, I am going back to Writing Exercises.

For this purpose, I signed up for a newsletter that promised me 31 Writing Prompts. In order to retrieve the free download, one must only click on a link to confirm the Email address. Doing that, I am beamed over to an infomercial that wants money to improve my writing career, signed up for the daily newsletter, and presented with a PDF file of 31 Writing Prompts, as promised. I “X” my way out of the infomercial and open the file.

The prompts are long. They start with a little dialog, an inspiring quote or two, a few examples and then a suggestion for what to write about. I feel like I’d do better with some of that direction right in front of me. I cannot “copy” and “paste” from a PDF file. By the time I save and close the file, and get to this page, I feel like I have lost the gist of the suggestion.

I try to go back, for a more thorough reading. I can’t find it! This new computer is wonderful, but it is also mysterious. It does not have a “start” button that would – on my old computer – lead to choices like “documents,” “downloads,” “pictures” and “shut down.” I’d had this computer a month before I figured out how to properly turn it off! I can’t find and retrieve things that I’ve downloaded. Of course, I always believe that if I sit here trying for long enough, I will figure it out. So far, that has not proved to be true.

I go back to the inbox in my Email. I reopen the message with the special offer. I click on the link to verify my Email address. I am again transported to the infomercial, signed up for the daily mailing and given the PDF file. I still can’t seem to retain the information. I still can’t copy and paste, or even toggle back and forth from that file to my empty page. I try again.

I have now gone through these activities three times. Perhaps you can guess the results. I am now receiving three identical newsletters each day, with tiny helpful hints, but mostly encouraging me to watch and listen to that infomercial, and to purchase other writing aids. Somewhere, in this mysterious computer, I have three identical PDF files of writing prompts, which may or may not be of value. I don’t know; I only read the first one. If I want to see more, I’ll have to download it again.

In the future, I’m going to be doing some form of writing exercises on Tuesdays. Maybe I’ll get ideas from What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. That’s where the ideas for writing about my addresses came from. Maybe from another of the many books I have on the shelf with direction for writers. It is very doubtful that any ideas will come from that missing PDF file of 31 Writing Prompts. Life is too short.


What Next?


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Today, a mere one hundred and forty-five days into this year-long writing commitment, I’m beginning to wonder how I’ll fill the rest of the days.

Sundays are okay.  The 52 Lists Project is designed for one each week. There are thirty Sundays left in this year, and thirty lists yet to write.

That leaves one hundred and ninety-one days.

Timeout for Art – which has been filling the Thursday slot – has become pathetic. I have exhausted all angles of talking about art right down to complaining about my lack of time for art. I think I should put it on the shelf until I actually make some art to talk about.

I have almost come to the end of my list of addresses. If I stretch them out to the absolute maximum, they still won’t fill more than five or six days.

I wrote about one failed business, and have two others I could write about, on two separate days.

I could (dread!) go back to those thirty days of Creative Fire writing prompts that I hated so much I quit after only seven days. Even if I can bring myself to do that, there are just 23 of those left.

You see my problem.

I need direction. Without proper motivation, this blog will devolve into nothing but the rantings of a self-absorbed, over-worked, dog-loving whiner.

I’m open to suggestions!