[Write On Wednesday] Picture Prompt

Sometimes it takes a traditional writing prompt to get us writing…and that’s perfectly OK. When you could write about absolutely anything, that’s too much choice, and can be paralyzing.

So this month at StoryADay I’m focused on providing prompts and info to get you to your writing as quickly as possible. Today, it’s a picture prompt.

close-up of person tying walking boot. Outdoors, scarf, grass.

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by this picture

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] The Not-Writing Prompt

Sometimes ‘writing’ doesn’t meant putting words on the page. Today’s prompt is designed to help you get comfortable with this reality of life as a writer.

(For more on this idea, read “Does Thinking Count As Writing?“)

"Win" illustration

The Prompt

Pick and implement a ‘tiny win’ for today, that doesn’t involve writing new words.

Tips

It’s very important to feel the reality that not everything in a writer’s life is about adding words.

These suggestions are designed to help you carve our time not just for writing, but for ‘writing’ (all the other stuff that goes with it).

Choose from one thing from this list (or make up something similar) and carve out 15-20 minutes to focus on it. Turn off all your notifications and just allow yourself to focus.

Then report back, to let us know what you did, and to celebrate!

  • Find a tiny notebook in your stash (you know you have a notebook stash!) and commit to carrying it with you every day for a week, so you can capture ideas. Start by writing down something you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell right where you are, right now.
  • Read a story by someone else and write down everything you love and hate about it.
  • Go for a walk or get some other kind of exercise that gets your blood pumping. Bonus points for getting out of your usual space. (Your brain is connected to the rest of your body. Take care of them!)
  • Write a review of a book you loved and always meant to get around to reviewing. Bonus points: write a letter to the author, if they’re still with us (you can send it to the publisher listed in their books). Connecting to the rest of the writing world builds your commitment to your craft, and reminds you that authors are just people. Hey, you’re a person! Maybe you DO have a right to write, too!
  • Ask another writer how they’re doing. This can be someone who seems to be doing “so much better” than you. (Connect on Twitter or some other social media site.) Trust me they’ll appreciate it. And again, building your connections with the greater writing world will help you feel more committed, and stop you from slinking off and saying “I could never be a real writer so I might as well not try”. Of course you can be a writer. And having connections with people in the writing world helps remind you of that.
  • Revise a short story or scene that you’ve previously written. Focus on crafting one sentence you really love, somewhere in that piece.
  • Rework a story or scene to cut it down by 10% of its word count. Be ruthless (work on a copy if you have to!). What does that do for the story and your prose?
  • Set a timer and spend 20 minutes (no more! It’s a rabbit hole!) researching publications you might want to send stories to.
  • Doodle or illustrate a story you previously write. You might draw a portrait of a main character, sketch the house they live in, or splash colors on the page to represent their personality.
  • Make a Pinterest board of interesting characters and places you can use in stories (thanks to MoniqueAC for this suggestion!). Again, set a timer, because this is meant to be a tiny win, not a new lifetime project!
  • Go on–or book–what Julia Cameron calls an Artist’s Date. What inspires you? For me it’s often music. For you, it might be art. Can you book an outing now, to an art museum, a live music concert, a play? Can you put a time on your calendar to walk in your favorite park, or call your funniest friend?

What other tiny wins can you think of? What did you try and how did it go? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

[Write On Wednesday] A New Angle

In this month of stealing worlds, characters and ideas (from yourself and others), this prompt encourages you to take another look, from a new angle.

watching

The Prompt

Tell a story in someone else’s universe, from the perspective of a secondary, overlooked, or unnamed character

Tips

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[Write on Wednesday] Mirror Mirror

This month’s theme for prompts at StoryADay is: playing in other people’s sandbox, or in other words: writing fiction based in somebody else’s universe.

Evil Kirk and Spock

The Prompt

Take a universe you love and write story where the values are reversed: the good guys are bad and the bad guys are evil

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Penny for the Guy?

This month’s theme at StoryADay is the idea of alternative stories: writing new stories in other people’s universes. This can mean fan fiction or it can mean taking folk tales, history, or myth and writing in that. Perhaps you and a writing buddy swap universes for a day and you write about their characters for a change.

Stay tuned each Wednesday this month for more ways to play in other people’s sandboxes.

Penny for the Guy

The Prompt

Yesterday, people in the UK celebrated Guy Fawkes’ Day, a family friendly festival celebrating the gruesome end of a would-be revolutionary. Write a story inspired by that of Guy Fawkes

Tips

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[Reading Room] The Third Tower by Deborah Eisenberg

The Opening

Therese

Julia found it in a pile of old stuff. She didn’t want it so she said she would give it to Therese.

I love this as an example of starting in medias res. We dont know what it is of who they are, but THEY do.

In medias res means in the middle of things but it doesn’t necessarily mean a car chase or a fight. In the middle of a conversation where the participants know their world better than we do, counts too.

Continue reading “[Reading Room] The Third Tower by Deborah Eisenberg”

[Reading Room] No More Than A Bubble by Jamel Brinkley

The Reading Room is a series of posts where I review short stories with a writers’ eye.

The opening

“It was back in those days. Claudius Van Clyde and I stood on the edge of the dancing crowd, each of us already three bottles into one brand of magic brew, blasted by the music throbbing from the speakers. But we weren’t listening to the songs. I’d been speaking into the open shell of his ears since we’ve gotten to the party, shouting a bunch of mopey stuff about my father. Sometime around the witching hour, he stopped his perfunctory nodding and pointed towards the staircase of the house. “Check out these biddies,” he said. Past the heads of the dancers and would-be seducers I too saw the two girls he meant.”

So what do we know from these opening lines?

Continue reading “[Reading Room] No More Than A Bubble by Jamel Brinkley”

[WoW] What We Remember, What Has Been Lost

Today’s Write On Wednesday prompt was inspired by reading Wendell Berry’s story The Great Interruption: The Story of a Famous Story of Old Port William and How It Ceased To Be Told (1935-1978)  in this year’s Best American Short Stories. (Read my review here.)

journals

The Prompt

Write a story from your childhood memories, keeping in mind your audience and what changes there have been since the time of your story

Tips

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[Reading Room] The Great Interruption by Wendell Berry

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BASS2019tn.png

This story was featured in The Best American Short Stories 2019, edited by Anthony Doerr

This story’s full title is The Great Interruption: The Story of A Famous Story of Old Port William and How It Ceased To Be Told (1935-1978). It’s a great example of the benefits of writing a lot, and never trying to sound like anyone else.

The Opening

The style of this short story was a challenge, for me. Its long, complex sentences, so unlike most of what I read these days, slowed me down. In fact, I had to read a page or so, out loud, to get myself into the rhythm of the narrator’s voice.

Even the title was confusing—until I untangled it, when it became intriguing.

It read like Mark Twain, like Charles Dickens: of a time and place that is not mine.

But I knew straight away it was going to be worth it. Here’s how it starts.

Continue reading “[Reading Room] The Great Interruption by Wendell Berry”