What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets
Some people work with prompts to start their ten minute write. Which I think is a wonderful idea, it’s like warming up before a run, or something. I don’t run. Don’t listen to me.
In Don’t Write Like We Talk, we include a prompt in every show. To stream line the process, here are a few writing prompts. Feel free to print them out, share them, use them.
- Writer’s Block: When your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.
- Write about writer’s block. Believe it or not, when you are really stuck in your work, try writing: I am really stuck, over and over. Or try writing non-stop for ten minutes. The act alone can help you break through.
- I love holiday letters that chronicle perfect families, wonderful lives, but gloss over some of the rough parts: the latest arrest, another job loss, the school record for detentions served.
- What would happen if we sent our friends and family holiday cards that spoke the absolute truth? Would our year look different from what we post on Facebook? Would our holiday missives sound different if they weren’t mailed to elderly aunts and cousins we still want to impress?
- What does that look like?
- Write a holiday letter that only tells the truth.
- Don’t mail it.
- Have you ever not said something and were later glad you didn’t?
- Write about the times you wished you kept your mouth shut.
- If you need to increase the tension in a fiction chapter or lift a sagging story line, allow your character to blurt out some inconvenient truth to the wrong person. It will keep things lively.
- Ever do that yourself?
- What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What was the worst job your character ever had. How did it shape her character, how did it shape yours?
- Write down a memory from your grandparents. Did they have a story they told and re-told? And your initial reaction was “not the story about Grandpa and the bear again”. This time, remember that old story and write it down. See what happens from there. I know, maybe nothing.
- What have you done recently that was memorable but has no accompanying photos?
- is it possible to experience something and not have a photo of it?
- Write about an adventure that managed to happen without any photos.
- Write out your favorite joke. Now write it as if it went horribly wrong. Wrong set up, wrong punch like, just wrong. If that too funny? Or just horrible? Write a story about someone telling a joke badly. Or someone telling a bad joke.
- What is stored in the garage right now, gathering dust?
- What part of your life does it represent?