Gabriela Pereira of DIYMFA talks about her belief that you don’t go to a workshop, you workshop writing and what that looks like in her DIYMFA community.
Choose a nursery rhyme.
That is going to be the plot of your story.
The key with this exercise is that now choose an author whose voice you love.
Write that story with that character, but in the voice of the author you chose.
This is actually a great prompt to do more than once. Once you’ve done this exercise, you may want to come back to it after the StoryADay challenge and do it again, choosing different writers as the inspiration for the voice.
If you do this, use the same Nursery Rhyme each time. Then you’ll start to get a sense of how, when you’re putting on another author’s voice, you’re sort of wearing that author’s voice suit, how your voice behaves in that ecosystem, and eventually you’ll start to get a sense for what your voice is and what you bring to the table that is completely unique and you can then, write.
After you’ve done it two or three times, I want to challenge you to write that same story in your own voice with your own storytelling awesomeness. This is a great exercise to practice stretching yourself a little bit in terms of your voice, but also to help you find your voice.
People always say, you need to find your voice. Well, you never lost it in the first place. It’s always been there. This will just help you uncover. The things that make your voice especially unique. So there you have it, the Nursery Rhyme Exercise
Gabriela Pereira is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, her mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their education and professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, at local workshops, and online. She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews best-selling authors and offers short audio master classes.
Gabriela is a long-time friend of both myself and the StoryADay community. To find out more about DIY MFA, click here.
Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!
As well as running DIYMFA, Gabriela Pereira often speaks at conferences about issues other than the writing craft, including entrepreneurship and mental illness.
Today, we have a frank discussion about Gabriela’s history with mental illness as one part of a very full life that also includes running a business, having a family, and being a creative person.
We also talk a little about writing emotion when you struggle with your own.
(If you need help and live in the US, please text HOME to 741741. In Canada, 686-868, In the UK 85258. In the UK and Ireland, call 116 123. In Australia, call 13 11 14)
We talk about the pillars of a writing life, why Gabriela wanted to create a do-it-yourself DIYMFA, and that old favorite: Imposter Syndrome.
This prompt…exercises your brain in a new way.
Today’s prompt comes from the Chief Instigator of the DIYMFA program, Gabriela Pereira. Always full of writer-craft goodness, you should definitely be checking out DIYMFA.com, always full of writer-craft goodness, and the wonderful weekly DIYMFA Radio podcast.
Famous Last Words
Most prompts give you a place to start and let you take things from there. Today we’re going to flip the equation. I’m going to give you a last line and you need to write toward it. In other words, your assignment will be to write a piece that leads you to that last line.
The reason this prompt is so useful is that it exercises your brain in a new way. As writers, we’re used to taking a kernel of an idea and running with it, but it’s a totally different proposition to have a fixed ending and finding your way to it.
You may someday find yourself in a situation where you need to use this skill, like if you know your ending but haven’t figured out yet how to get there. This prompt is great practice for doing just that.
Take the last line from your favorite book or choose one from the list below. Now write a short piece that ends with that line.
1. No one has claimed them yet.
2. “Let me tell you about it.”
3. Everything must go.
4. “Make me pretty.”
5. And it was still hot.
These are all last lines from actual books. Can you guess which books they came from? Answers are below.
1) From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3) Feed by M.T. Anderson
4) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
5) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Gabriela Pereira is the founder of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. She is also a speaker, podcast host for DIY MFA Radio, and author of the forthcoming book DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community (Writer’s Digest Books, July 2016). For more info and email updates, sign up for her newsletter.
Gabriela Pereira is the Chief Instigator at DIYMFA.com, the home of the do-it-yourself MFA in creative writing. In her new podcast series she has interviewed everyone from agents, novelists, writing teachers to marketing and networking guru Guy Kawasaki! You should definitely check that out!). She is hard at work on a DIYMFA handbook due out next year from Writer’s Digest Books.
This prompt is a little bit different today — and it comes with the possibility of publication.
Over at DIYMFA they’re launching an anthology and the only stipulations are that you write to the theme and use the custom-built Writer Igniter feature at DIYMFA to somehow spark your story. It’s a fun little slot-machine of a prompt generator that Gabriela had custom built for her site. It’s kind of irresistable…
The theme for the anthology is ORIGINS. The deadline is August 31, 2015, so you have plenty of time to brush up whatever story you sketch out today.
The rules are as follows: spin the Writer Igniter (no more than three spins!); take a screenshot of your result (ALT + Print Screen on Windows; CMD + SHIFT + 4 on Mac, then draw a box around whatever you want to capture); then write a story.
The finished story should be up to 2,000 words. See more guidelines for submission here.
Choose a piece of music from the list below. Listen through it once or twice and get your mind in the mood of the music. Then start writing.
Gabriela Pereira is the Creative Director and Instigator of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. She creates workshops and tools to help writers get the MFA experience without going to school.
Gabriela holds an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. When she’s not teaching or designing learning tools for DIY MFA, she enjoys writing some fiction of her own. She especially loves writing middle grade and teen fiction, with a few “”short stories for grown-ups”” thrown in for good measure. Visit DIYMFA.com to learn more about Gabriela and DIY MFA.
[Also, don’t miss the Writer Igniter visual prompt machine at Gabriela’s site. So much fun!]
A 6-part journey through the short story.
Starts July 28, 2023