Every Monday, I try to include a writing prompt in my LiveJournal to help my writing friends get back into the writing mind after a weekend break. Below is the archived list of the prompts I've posted. People often post what they've written in the comments section of my journal, or on their own journals. I hope you'll join us! (Note: If you'd like to see all the posts from my journal, with comments from friends who tried the prompt, you can go to the pages tagged from my journal here . You may also have noted that I am not very good at keeping this page current. I am trying! But if you are looking for something more current, head on over to my LiveJournal and hit the Monday Morning Warm-Up tag to find the most recent writing exercises.)

©Johanna Knowles


04/27/09
Write to the prompt: "I want to write something that will..."

4/20/09
Write to the prompt, "I have something to tell you..."

4/13/09
Write to the prompt, "The first time I saw you..."

4/6/09
Describe your nighttime routine when you were a little kid. Write the description as if you're writing a scene in a book. Did a parent read to you? What did the voice sound like? What was the book? Did a parent sing to you? What was the song. Did you put yourself to bed? Did you look under your bed/in your closet for monsters? Did you have a special night light? Did you sleep with a stuffed animal? Did your sheets have pictures on them? What about your pillow? Try to remember as many details as you can.

3/30/09
Describe a pet from your childhood. What was his/her name? Personality? What's the happiest/funniest/saddest memory you have of him/her? What did he/she look like? Smell like?

3/23/09
Write a letter to your teen-age self, giving him or her some advice you wish you had then. If you ARE a teen, write a letter to your child self and do the same. Or, write a letter to your ADULT self, and tell him or her something you want to be sure to remember about who you are now.

3/16/09
Describe an object in your office/workspace that serves no purpose but you can't bring yourself to part with. Tell us why it's so important to you.

3/9/09Describe the first time you held hands with someone. Where were you? Who made the first move? What was going through your mind? Was your hand sweaty? Was his/hers? How did you feel when you let go?

3/2/09
Describe one of the ways you played when you were a child. What did you play with? Were you alone or with a friend? Where did you play?

2/23/09
Describe the last time you laughed so hard you cried and what was so funny. Then share. Cuz I bet we all could use a laugh.

2/16/09
Find one of those memes that's been going around that asks you to name 5 or 25 things about you. But instead of doing the meme about yourself, choose a character in your WIP that you need to learn more about and answer the questions for him or her.

2/9/09
Write to the prompt, "I spy with my little eye..."

I really do want to know what you see right now, so share! What small thing just caught your eye?

I spy with my little eye a white paw, stretching out across the rug toward the invisible heat of the wood stove.

1/26/09
Write to the prompt, "Not far down the road, there is a..."

1/19/09
Write to the prompt "Deep in my heart..."

1/12/09
Describe a book that had a particularly significant impact on you and why. How old were you? What about the book inspired you? Touched your heart? Made you see yourself or the world in a different way?

1/5/09
Write one writing dream on a piece of paper. Something reasonable, yet dreamy, too. A nice fat book contract, an author tour, a starred review, a bunch of fan letters, being asked to speak at your favorite conference, a blurb from your favorite author. Whatever would make you really, truly happy about your writing life. Then, fold it up, squeeze it in your hand and concentrate on the hope you hold. Now put it away in a special place, but remember it. Take it out from time to time and give your dream a hopeful squeeze. I believe it will come true. It may not come true in the next month or even the next year, but if you keep believing, I really think it will happen. Seriously.

12/28/08
Write about something mischievous you did as a child.

12/22/08
Describe the best Snow Day ever.

12/15/08

Describe a beloved pet from your childhood. What was his or her name? Personality? Odor? ;-) What made him or her special? Annoying? Memorable?

12/8/08
What is your favorite holiday tradition that you've continued since childhood? Describe what it was like when you were a child, and what it is like now.

12/1/08
Describe the best Thanksgiving celebration you've ever had. Who was there? Where were you? What did you eat? Drink? Who was too loud? Quiet? Who did you sit next to? Who was missing?

11/24/08
Describe what it was like when you had to stay home sick as a kid. Did you have to stay in your bed? On the couch? In front of the TV? Did you mom or dad stay home with you or leave you alone? Did you have a blanket over you? What did it look/smell/feel like?

11/10/08
Write to the prompt: "Here's what I left out..."

11/3/08
Describe what it's like to vote in your neck of the woods. Is there a long line? Do you visit with neighbors? How do you feel when you hand in your vote?

10/27/08
Describe the best Halloween costume you ever came up with. How old were you? Did other people know what you were? Were there any mishaps? Did you win a prize?

I believe my finest moment was as a piece of Hubba Bubba bubble gum in the sixth grade. I painted a box pink and made it look like a wrapped piece of gum. Then made holes in it for my head, arms and legs. I had pink tights and pink sneakers. I even attached pieces of gum to my barrettes. Unfortunately (or maybe not), no one took a photo.

10/20/08
Draw a map of the home you grew up in. I know we've done this before, but it's been a long time and there are new people on my friends list. :-) As you map things out, try to note specific memories you associate with a certain room or special spot outside. Like the time you crashed your bike in the driveway. Or where your catÑwhat was her name?Ñused to sun herself. Include as many details as you can possibly fit. You'll be amazed at the memories that start to surface once you get going.

10/14/08
Write to the prompt, "I guess I should tell you what really happened..."

10/6/08
Describe your ideal reading space. Do you sit in a chair? Couch? Bed? Towel on the beach? Do you like a cup of tea? Glass of wine? Coffee? Cookies? Scones? Iced tea? Are you wearing your pj's? Sweats? A cozy sweater? Bunny slippers? Give us the perfect picture of you and a good book. :-)

9/29/08
Describe the bedroom you had when you were sixteen years old. What did your bed look like? What was on your walls? What did you see out your window? Did you share your room with anyone?

9/22/08
Describe what FALL is like in your neck of the woods...

9/15/08
Choose a character from a work in progress. Make a file with two columns. In the left column, write at the top: "All the things I love about [fill in name]". In the right column, write at the top: "All the things that bug me about [fill in same name]". Now fill in your chart. :-)

9/8/08
Write to the prompt, "When I woke up this morning..."

8/25/08
Describe your dream vacation... :-)

8/18/08
Write to the prompt, "When I think of fall..." Make it a poem! A list! Something one of your main character's would write.

8/4/08
Holly Black gave us all an assignment over the weekend to think of an author whose career we admire, and say why. It was a lot of fun to hear who people chose. I challenge all of you to do the same, and then if you feel comfortable, write about it in an lj post. Try to choose someone who has been in the business for many years and has an established career. And yes, it can be someone who is no longer with us. I will post my choice some time this week.

7/28/08
Write a letter starting "Dear Nobody" explaining why you write.

7/21/08
Write to the prompt, "I am not..."

7/14/08
Describe your ideal summer day.

7/7/08
Write an embarrassing school dance story OR an embarrassing encounter with a crush story.

6/30/08
Write to the prompt, "I knew it was over when..."

6/23/08
Write to the prompt, "Whenever it rains..."

6/16/08
Describe a song that has had/continues to have a strong impact on you. Or, choose a song that feels like the "theme song" for your WIP, or a main character.

6/9/08
Write to the prompt, "I believe" (suggested by Leah at my last writing group). I think this would be a great exercise to try writing from your main character's point of view.

6/3/08
Write to the prompt, "When I go home..."

5/26/08
This is an exercise I did with the women at the prison last week. It has two parts. For 3-5 minutes, write to the prompt, "The things I hate." When time's up, turn your paper over or start a new screen page and write for 3-5 minutes to the prompt, "The things I love." Here's mine. It's rough and kind of silly and maybe a little lame, but when you do it yourself, you'll see how some of the items you come up with have a story behind them, and hopefully one might trigger an idea for you to take farther.

The things I hate...
Are the things I don't always understand:
War, poverty addiction, lying, cheating, beating, stealing.
I hate that I can't change the world
Or end hunger
Or find a cure for AIDS
Or impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney.
I hate that people are starving
And babies are born addicted to crack.
I hate that life can be so beautiful and ugly at the same time.
I hate it when ugly wins.

The things I love...
Are the things I sometimes know
And the things that are a mystery.
I love watching the sunset, then climbing a hill and watching it again.
I love the way a baby smiles just because you did.
I love the first tulip in spring
And the first snow in the fall.
I love that something can be ugly and beautiful at the same time.
I love that sometimes I can make a difference.
I love that hope somehow always finds its way back.
And that next fall, Bush and Cheney will be gone anyway.

5/19/08
Describe a fear you had as a child. For an extra challenge, write about that fear from the point of view of your child-self. Or, do this for a main character in a piece you're working on. Go deep.

5/12/08
Describe your biggest hair fiasco. Be sure to include what you were trying to do, and what the end result was. Have FUN! You survived!

5/5/08
Write to the prompt, "I come from..."

4/28/08
Describe a boy from your childhood using as many details as you can remember. Weave a memory into the description.

4/21/08
Write to the prompt, "I wish..." You can write about one wish, or make a list poem. Also, consider writing this from your main character's point of view.

4/14/08
Write to the prompt, "I am..."

4/7/08
Write to the prompt, "I know it's spring when..."

3/31/08
Write to the prompt, "Whenever I hear that song..."

3/17/08
Write to the prompt: "When I found out you were gone..."

3/10/08
Write to the prompt, "I wish I could see..."

2/25/08
Last week at the prison we used a prompt that Dana gave us. It turned out some very powerful pieces so I thought I'd try it here. Write to the prompt, "I never knew..." I think we've done this one before, actually. But that's OK. Like the "I remember" prompt, this sort of prompt always brings up something new.

2/18/08
Describe going to your very first movie. What was the movie? What did you eat? Who were you with? Were you scared? etc. etc.

2/11/08
Last week at my prison meeting Katie suggested this prompt: "As I walk down..."

The women came up with some incredible descriptions. Kevin, the editor I work with, wrote about walking down the sidewalk in the evening, holding his girlfriend's hand. I wrote about walking down to the wood shed through the snow. And the women wrote about walking to chow hall, walking into and out of trouble, and walking on. It was really cool. I hope you'll try it!

2/4/08
Write to the prompt, "When it's cold outside..."

1/28/08
Write to the prompt, "As I sit here thinking about you..."

1/21/08
I am working on FINALLY updating the prompts page on my Web site so that these are up-to-date. I believe I'm well over a year behind. But for today, lets do an old favorite inspired by Natalie Goldberg. Write to the prompt, "I remember..."

1/14/08
Write to the prompt, "The things I miss..."

I used this prompt last week with the women I work with at the prison. One of the women made a list poem, one described food in luscious detail and the way she missed cutting onions (she went to culinary school and was training to be a chef before she came to prison), and one talked about doing laundry for her two daughters. They were all incredibly powerful. I hope you'll try it!

1/7/08
Describe a tree that stands out in your memory, either from your childhood or another time. Reveal its story through your description.

12/31/07
What was the very best thing/favorite event that happened to you in 2007?

12/17/07
Describe a favorite holiday memory from your childhood.

12/10/07
In honor of Jeannine Atkins, write to the prompt, "When the world is quiet..."

Here is a variation of last week's warm-up. This week, instead of thinking of specific memories grounded in your childhood, think of a particular person from your childhood and list up to 10 words or phrases that represent memories you have of that person.

Here are mine:
1. Her long skirt with the skunk embroidered on it
2. Fancy hostess dresses
3. Giving the horses Christmas cookies on Christmas eve
4. Banging pots and pans in the cupola at New Year's
5. Reading reading reading
6. Mom! Call Honey!
7. Oreos
8. French toast with maple syrup, bacon and peanut butter
9. If I could take the pain for you, I would
10. The safe, warm weight of her body in my bed, protecting me from my nightmares

11/26/07
Jerry Spinelli gave a talk at the ALAN breakfast that made my heart ache for no logical reason other than for those feelings of nostalgia that make you long for the people from your childhood who are no longer here. He gave us a list of memories. Just a simple phrase or even a word that called up a powerful moment for him, even if the memory itself, like the whistle of a neighbor calling her kids to supper, was mostly mundane. But what he showed us was that each of those phrases, those tiny fragments, each held a bigger, deeper story, and he wove those pieces throughout his talk.

So for today's warm-up, try to come up with 10 memories from your childhood, but only refer to them with a simple phrase or even a single word.

Here are mine:
1. The lilac trees under my bedroom window
2. Prudence (our sheepdog) sleeping in the road on warm summer days
3. Making hay-bale tunnels in the hay barn
4. Making sundaes at the Keller Haus
5. Scavenger hunts at birthday parties
6. Sailing with my brother on his Sunfish
7. Making "potions" with my sister
8. Standing over the heat register in our nightgowns
9. Singing to the big tree in our back yard when I was lonely
10. The day my brother taught me how to climb onto the roof of our treehouse when I needed to hide.11/12/07
Write about a book you've read recently that made you change the way you think about your world and the bigger world around you.

10/29/07
Here's a prompt I used in class last week. "I knew it was the end when..."

10/22/07
Write to the prompt, "If I could get out of here..."

10/15/07
Write to the prompt, "I wish I could stop..."

10/8/07
Describe something hanging on your refrigerator. Why is it there? How long has it been there? What is its significance.

10/1/07
Write to the prompt, "When this is over..."

9/24/07
Write to the prompt: "If I could take it all back, this is what I'd say instead..."

9/17/09
For those of you starting something new, or maybe even for those of you looking for a new beginning, try this prompt:

"It all started when..."

9/10/07
Write to the prompt, "If I'd known he was going to be there..."

9/3/07
Write to the prompt, "On the first day of school..."

8/27/07
Write to the prompt, "I wish I understood..."

8/20/07
Write to the prompt, "Sometimes I'm afraid that..."

8/13/07
Write to the prompt: When I'm alone...

8/6/07
This is an oldie but goodie that I recently used at the Simmons College workshop to warm us up. I'm always amazed at what people come up with, and just how they find their way to the story by the time the five minutes ware up. So, even if you've done this many times before, try writing to the prompt...

"I remember..."

7/30/07
Write to the prompt, "I never expected..."

7/23/07
Start with the words "I see" and describe everything you can see from where you're sitting now. Or choose another place to sit and observe and do the same thing. We did this once a long time ago. If you've already tried this exercise, go sit somewhere else and do it again. Have fun! Notice things! Make your list a poem.

7/16/07
In honor of the Winnebego, write to the phrase, "The toy I remember most..."

7/9/07
Write to the prompt, "My worst summer camp experience ever was the time..."

7/2/07
Describe a childhood vacation you remember. List as many details as you can. Really reach in your memory for the small details.

6/18/07
Describe a childhood boat ride...

6/11/07
Describe a time from your childhood when you were scared...

6/4/07
Describe a kitchen from your childhood. Use as much detail as possible. Or, describe a scene you remember from your childhood that took place in a kitchen

5/29/07
Write about your fondest last day of school memory.

5/21/07
Write about an experience you had when you spoke up, even though you were afraid (and I know it was stupid of me to be afraid, but I've always hated conflictÑthough obviously I'm getting better at that, I think). Or, think about the main character in your work-in-progress and write about him or her doing something brave.

5/14/07
Write about a mom other than your own who changed you in some way.

5/7/07
Describe a time when you were extremely nervous. Make us feel your fear.

4/30/07
One of the women I work with at the prison wrote an incredible essay about breakfast time in prison. She describes an elderly inmate she spied one morning this way:

"The creases of her pale skin, the wayward hunch of her back, to me screamed Grandmother. She slowly, methodically ate her hot cereal. I watched the rhythm, and wondered how many years it has taken to establish."

Today, describe they way in which someone eats. Could be a spouse, a friend, a child, a stranger. What can you say about the way the person eats, what can you show us, to reveal something deeper?

4/23/07
Describe a door from your childhood. What did it look like? Where did it lead to? What did it open or close for you? what did it hide or reveal?

4/9/07
Describe your favorite movie as a teenager. Describe the movie and the setting in which you saw it. Who were you with? Did you eat anything? Were you at a theatre? Drive-in? Was it dark? Give all the juicy details.

4/2/07
[Brought to you by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer] Describe your grandparentÕs home. Think about meals and holidays to help the memories flood back in. DonÕt forget about the smells! Then, if you like, describe your grandparents. This is a nice gift to the next generation too.

3/26/07
Describe the book you want to write someday...

3/19/07
Write to the prompt, "I love the smell of..."

I did this one with the women at the prison last week and it was fun to see how many similar smells we thought of. Cindy F. came as a guest and wrote a beautiful piece about the way her grandmother's purse smelled like peppermint lifesavers. I still have the images she described floating around in my head.

3/5/07
Write to the prompt, "What I'm not allowed to tell you..."

2/26/07
Think of a photograph you no longer have in your possession but that you used to look at often. Describe it in as much detail as possible.

2/19/07
In honor of the librarians we love, describe a librarian who made a difference in your life.

2/12/07
Write to the prompt, "I know what you're thinking..."

2/5/07
Pick three strong emotions. Now, write a scene that conveys each emotion without naming (or using synonyms for) that emotion.

Write to the prompt, "Dear Stranger." Take a few quiet, deep breaths before you start to clear your mind. Then, just let yourself go. If you get stuck, start a new line with "Dear Stranger" again. I tried this with the women at the prison last week. I had a really hard time getting started but eventually I found "my stranger" which ended up being a part of myself.

1/15/07
What is your big dream?

1/8/07
Describe a room. Any room. Could be one from your childhood, or the one you are in now. Maybe it is your dream office, or the bedroom of your future. Maybe it's the bathroom where you escape to cry, or your child's bedroom after he/she falls asleep. Let a specific object or sensation take you on a new tangent. Really let your heart loose.

1/1/07 Think about how you will be better this year. Write a line or a sentence or a paragraph. Then put your words somewhere special. Take them out and look at them when you need reminding.

12/18/06 This is a two-part exercise. First, start with describing in as much detail as possible your least-favorite childhood holiday memory. Give yourself about 5 minutes. When you're done, describe in as much detail your favorite childhood holiday memory. Again, give yourself about 5 minutes. If you aren't up for this, try creating these memories for the main character in your Work-In-Progress. What sort of holiday memories do you think he or she might have (good and not-so-good)?

12/11/06 Some of you have been reading my blog for a while might remember when I suggested we try to map out our childhood homes. This time, focus in on your bedroom. Give as many details as you can remember. When I did this, the memories started flooding in. I remembered the way the red carpet was so old it was totally matted down. And the black stain from some spilled paint that was just in front of the window. The pink hearts on the wallpaper my mom let me pick out. The way the mice scurried overhead in my slanted walls. My bedroom door, plastered with tags from my and my sister's favorite clothes: Esprit, Jordache and Calvin Klein were the stars of that door. The tiny closets I was terrified of„they had to be tightly shut and preferably have something in front of them to keep the child ghosts who lived in them (yeah, I was a strange child) out of my room when I fell asleep. The bottom drawer in my built-in dresser that smelled like chocolate and gummi bears because it's where I stored my candy sale goods for the fundraiser we had for our trip to Quebec in the tenth grade. My antique hospital bed that was so tall a mattress could fit underneath it and friends who slept over could stay under there. I don't remember, though, if anyone did. I could go on, but I don't want you to fall asleep. :-) Anyway, you can see how once you get on a roll, it's hard to stop. So do this exercise. And then, try doing it for the main character in whatever manuscript you're working on (this can be a character of any age, so pb writers, you are not excused!). Have fun, and I hope some of you will share any surprises!

12/14/06 This is a two-part writing prompt that I did with the women I work with last week. For part one, write to the prompt: "What I'm afraid of..." for five minutes. For part two, write to the prompt: "What I'm not afraid of..." for five minutes. The results were very powerful, and we plan to run them in the column as another group piece.

11/27/06 Write to the prompt, "I wish I could have told you..."

11/20/06 Because we all need to remind ourselves (especially me), write to the prompt: "I write for..."

11/13/06 Write to the prompt, "I believe." Note: I keep forgetting to mention that you can try writing these exercises from the P.O.V. of your main character, or any other character in your work-in-progress. Have fun!

11/6/06 Write to the prompt, "What I didn't do......"

10/23/06 Write to the prompt, "The last time I saw you..."

10/16/06 Start with the prompt, "I miss..." and write for 5 minutes. Then write to the prompt, "I don't miss..." I did this exercise with the women I work with at the prison last week. Their words were so powerful, we're going to publish them as a Glass House piece as a whole. I can't wait!

10/9/06 Describe your favorite fair food. Don't just describe what it tastes like, describe what it looks and smells like, too. If you want, describe the fair, the concession stand, the person who served you the food, etc. When it comes to fairs, it's not just the food, but the whole experience that makes it so good.

10/2/06 For anyone struggling with voice/character motivation, here's something you can try with your main character, or any character you're not sure what to do with. This works for picture book writers too. Answer the following questions from your main character's point of view (or whichever character is giving you trouble):
1. Who are you?
2. What do you want/need?
3. Who/what is keeping you from getting what you want/need?
4. What mistakes have you made?
5. What are you afraid of?
6. Who/what do you love?
7. Who loves you?
8. What would make you happy?

9/25/06 Describe someone who has made a positive impact on your life.

9/19/06 Begin with the words, "I want my words to..." and see where it takes you. For those of you revising or starting a new project, try keeping the story or the main character in mind as you write to the prompt.

9/11/06 It's hard to believe 9/11 was 5 years ago. Today I am remembering the innocent people who died that day, and the untold thousands of innocent people who have died in the aftermath. And the many more who will have died by the end of this day. And by the end of tomorrow. Today, write something to inspire peace.

9/4/06 In honor of labor day, describe your very first (or worst or both) job. Give as many sensory details as you can.

8/28/06 Try writing to the prompt, ñI feel.î You can refer to your emotions, your senses, whatever you want.

8/21/06 Today's prompt is to start freewriting to the phrase, "I see." You can do this from your office, go somewhere busy and people watch, or you can take a minute to close your eyes and write what you see then. Have fun! Look! Notice! Gaze!

8/14/06 When IÍm stressed out, I tend to forget things. A lot of things. I also tend to do things like put the orange juice in the cupboard where the glasses live. When this starts to happen, I need to make lists. For todayÍs, warm-up, make your own list/poem starting with the line, ñI forgot.î

8/7/06 The "homework" assignment I gave to the women at the prison last week was to free-write to the prompt: "What I haven't told you." This was sparked by one of the inmates who is having trouble writing beyond her outer story. (In other words, she keeps telling us about the journey that led her to prison in different ways, but still not getting to the core or emotional truth. We finally touched on it last week, I think. There was a line in one of her essays about how she never got to be a child. As soon as she read the phrase out loud I thought: That's it. That's what she hadn't told us yet. So with the line above in mind, she's going to try again. That's your assignment, too. Apply this line to something you're working on, or simply think about it in a general sense.

7/31/06 This week's exercise is inspired by You DonÍt Know Me, by David Klass (HarperTempest 2001). Check it out (from pp. 1-2):
"You donÍt know me at all. You donÍt know the first thing about me. You donÍt know where IÍm writing this from. You donÍt know what I look like. You have no power over me.
What do you think I look like? Skinny? Freckles? Wire-rimmed glasses over brown eyes? No, I donÍt think so. Better look again. Deeper. ItÍs like a kaleidoscope, is'Ít it? One minute IÍm short, the next minute tall, one minute IÍm geeky, one minute studly, my shape constantly changes, and the only thing that stays constant is my brown eyes. Watching you."
The writing prompt is to start with the line, "You donÍt know me" and see what happens.

7/24/06 Here's an exercise I tried with the women at the prison last week. I read the first chapter of Harry Sue, by Sue Stauffacher, which included this passage:
Now I can count on at least one water-head to say, "There must be some mistake, Harry Sue. I have no intention of getting on the wrong side of the law, let alone being sent to the joint." Whoever said it was a choice?
It's time you learned something for real. Not all prisons have four concrete walls and a steel bunk. I say prison is a lot like home. It all depends on where your heart is.

So, the prompt was to start free writing with the line, "My heart is..."

7/17/06 Begin with the words, "It all started when..." and keep writing. I think this could be a helpful exercise, too, for when you're trying to figure out where your book really starts. ;-)

7/10/06 Here's an exercise I'm going to give at my first ever author visit today! We're going to talk about beginnings/first pages. The prompt is to start with the words "That night" and keep going. Write whatever comes to mind. It can be a personal essay, or something totally made up. Anything goes!

7/3/06 Share a lesson you've learned from a summer vacation. It can be humorous or sad or touching or painful or all or none of the above.

6/19/06 Describe a dad in your life. Doesn't have to be your own. But use ONLY physical features to do it. How can you use physical description to say more about who a person is? Do the calluses on his hands say something? The scar above his eye? The thick glasses? The way he squints when he thinks? The way he walks too slow? The way he sleeps? Choose the images that come to mind that you think say the most about who the man is.

6/12/06 Choose a person you love or find intriguing (friend, lover, child, co-worker, spouse, secret crush, parent, grandparent, person you see every day on your way to work, etc.). Now, rather than describing that person in the usual way, make a list of 10 or more (or less) items you relate to this person that would give the best portrait of him or her to a stranger. What things would tell us the most? The coffee cup with the seemingly permanent lipstick smudge? The briefcase that looks like it's never been used? The worn rubber soles on a pair of Doc Martens? The sticker on an iBook? Choose items that reveal the person's personality in a subtle (or not so subtle) way. Have fun! Share!

6/5/06 Write about a moment of your life that has held you up or shot you down, or both.

5/29/06 Where are you? Be literal if you want to. Describe what you see, and in doing so, help us feel what you're feeling right now. If you want, try this from the point of view of a character in your WIP.

5/22/06 In my new WIP my character inherits a hiding place. I based this place on two hiding places from my childhood. One, my sister introduced me to. The other, my brother showed me. Both were up high. One was out in the open, one was under cover of a huge oak tree. When I close my eyes I can smell both places. I can hear the quiet of life going on while I hid there. I can feel the rough surfaces under my fingers. For today's warm-up, write about your secret place.

5/15/06 Do you remember your first childhood love? What was it that made your tiny heart go pitter pat? Describe physical features: hair, clothes, skin, mouth, teeth, hands, etc. What set him or her apart? What made him or her special? What else do you remember? A note? A phrase? A song? Have fun!

5/8/06 Last night at my teen group we tried the "I remember" exercise but with a focus on our moms. So, today, try that. At the top of the page write, "I remember" and then simply start listing all the things you can remember about your mom, starting with your earliest childhood memories. Try to use all of the senses and focus in on small details. For example, the color nail polish she wore (or why she never wore it), the way she did her hair, the best/worst food she made, a phrase she often said--you get the picture. By making a list of these details, try to give the reader a clear image of who your mom was/is.

5/1/06 This is taken from one of the exercises author Jeannine Atkins had us try in her workshop at the New England SCBWI confrence. Make a list of all the things your main character loves, but list them using the 5 senses. Show us who your character is by letting us see, hear, smell, taste, feel that the things he or she does.

4/24/06 Think about your main character's "shadow" (this is a lot like thinking about what's in your character's metaphorical basement). What keeps him or her from chasing the shadow, and what motivates him or her to go after it? Where did it come from? Since it's the last week of National Poetry month, try putting your words into a poem. (If you don't have a WIP, try thinking about your own shadow and writing about It.)

4/17/06 At the top of a piece of paper, or on your screen, write the words "IF I WERE YOU..." Who is the first person to pop into your mind? Did you think of yourself saying the words to that person? (If so, write what you would say.) Or, did you imagine the person saying them to you? (If so, write what you imagine the person saying to you.) Just write whatever comes to mind. Don't edit yourself as you write. Explore!

4/10/06 Take my son's advice and let your mind fall into a hole with the word "myth." Think of the hole as the journey inward. Close your eyes and let yourself fall, taking the word and the story you're currently working on with you. Look around through your main character's eyes. What would you find in your character's darkness? Make a list of the fears and emotions and images that come to mind for you. Even if you don't know yet what your character's real truth is, I think this exercise might help you get closer to it. Good luck!

4/3/06 Make a list of all the things you love. No people or pets, just things. Give yourself about 5 minutes. When you're done, look for a common theme in your list. Does this say anything about you that you didn't already know? Now try the same exercise for the main characters in your WIP. Across the top of your page list the names of at least three characters. Under each name, make a list of what each of these characters likes/loves/wants/needs. When you're done, look again for a common theme within each individual list. Circle the words that most stand out for you. Now look at each character's key words. How are the characters different? Alike? How can these traits better help you develop your characters?

3/20/06 Use the storyboard technique to outline a manuscript you've completed. You can also do this with a short story, single chapter, or picture book by outlining key scenes. Once you look at the whole piece laid out this way, look for the key emotions and images that stood out for you.

3/27/06 Remember that kid from elementary school/middle school/high school? The one you always wondered about but never got to know? Whatever happened to that kid? What was it about him or her that kept you from trying to make friends? What made him or her mysterious? Interesting? Scary? Strange? Unapproachable (at least in your mind)? Write about that kid. Make us see that kid through your eyes, make us wonder what his or her story is. Make us care.

3/13/06 A while ago when I described a day my son and I spent with my friend Cindy I used a sort of list of special things to shape our day (see my Feb 23 entry). For a warm-up, try doing this to describe all or part of your weekend. Focus on the quirky, fun, hard, strange, crazy, surprising, awake bits that can say the most with the least. Here's my attempt:
My weekend involved a fairy house, a hospital scare and a stone named Sharon, a trip to the mall, a dog named Chamberlain who burped in my face (ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!), a cat named Fizgig who chirps when he cries, dolls, a writer-girl survivor kit with an eraser that says "Smart Women Make Changes," dinner at a big, round table in a room to ourselves, talk of horror movies, a raspberry chocolate-chip muffin as big as my head, finishing my revision, a Book Mill, talk of water, of dreams, of friends we love, a nightmare in which Chamberlain (see above) tried to smother me, re-writing five chapters of my new WIP, more talk of water, of vacations, of siblings and pain and surviving, coming home to love and a package with crown decals and a toe ring and a book from the real Queen of Cool, showing Mad Hot Ballroom to four boys (3 7th and 1 8th grader„only one of them fell asleep!), talking about pressure and dancing and planning and winning and losing and surviving again, and, at last, going to sleep in my own bed.

2/27/06 At the top of a piece of paper, write: "I wish I could remember..." then keep going. See where it takes you. Have fun! Be brave!

2/20/06 Take a close look at a hand, a foot, a knee, or elbow. What makes some part of you (besides your face) visibly different from everyone else? Is it a scar? A ring? A crown decal on your fingernail (hi C)? A birth mark? A wrinkle? Fingernails bitten so far down your fingers bleed? What does this thing, whatever it is, say about you„you now, you then, you in the future? Try this same exercise on one of the characters in your WIP. This time, DON'T reveal what it means. Just describe the thing. How can a specific detail tell us something important about a character without the writer explaining too much? What do scabby knees suggest? What do scars on an index finger reveal? See how much you can tell us about your character by showing us a specific detail. Have fun, and share if you want to! :-) [Note: My son is looking over my shoulder. He told me he doesn't think "to" is a good word to end a sentence with. What do you think??]

2/13/06 For Valentine's Day, I think we should all try a Haiku Valentine for a sweety. Could be a spouse, partner, friend, cat, dog, child, neighbor„someone you know who could use a special message tomorrow. You've got one day to perfect it! Hope you'll share!!! [A traditional haiku has three lines: 1st line has 5 syllables, 2nd line has 7, and the 3rd line has 5.]

2/6/06 Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths. Keeping your eyes closed, try to think back to the first time you remember feeling true fear. Now open your eyes and, writing in present-tense, take us through your fear. What do you see? hear? smell? Try to establish the feeling of fear without revealing too much about what you're actually afraid of. Harness those raw feelings and write them down. If you feel brave after, share here or on your own journal. :-)

1/30/06 What do words mean to you? Write an ode, a haiku, a love letter, to words. Have fun! Remember why you love to write, love to read. Remember why words aren't cheap.

1/23/06 Find some stationery that you love, or else set up a blank file to look like a letter. Write the date in the corner. Then, write:
Dear Nobody,
And write the letter. Whatever comes to mind. Just write. What would you tell Nobody, if you could?

1/16/06 I thought I did this one before, but I don't see it below, so I'm going to do it again in honor of the Great Hair Dilemma of 2006 (see my journal for this date). Describe the hair in your family. Give it personality! Let your description reveal a secret, or something special about the person. Describe your mom's hair, your dad's, your partner's, your own, your child's, your Aunt Bertha's, your grandfather's„anyone! I love Sandra Cisneros chapter called "Hairs" in The House on Mango Street:
"But my mother's hair, my mother's hair, like little rosettes, like little candy circles all curly and pretty because she pinned it in pincurls all day, sweet to put your nose into when she is holding you, holding you and you feel safe, is the warm smell of bread before you bake it, is the smell when she makes room for you on her side of the bed still warm with her skin, and you sleep near her, the rain outside falling and Papa snoring. The snoring, the rain, and Mama's hair that smells like bread."

1/3/06 At the top of a piece of paper write: "Why?" Then start free writing. Anything goes, but here are a few ideas in case you get stuck: Make a list of questions and form them into a poem; focus on the first question that pops into your mind and write about it; think of a question your main character has and explore that; or expand the question to something like, "Why did you..." See where it takes you. Go deep. Have fun.

 

12/27/05 How does it feel to carry a secret? How can you describe those feelings without making it feel too clichÚ? Write about a secret you've had in the past/present. It could be a secret about yourself, or a secret held for a friend or family member. Keep in mind that there are many kinds of secrets. A secret can be something funny, exciting, dangerous, sad, scary, mean, confusing, heavy, burdensome, exciting, hopeful, painful„you get the idea. If you don't want to get personal, try this exercise from your main character, or another character in your WIP's point of view. As always, you can free-write this in paragraph form, or make a list, or write a poem. Anything goes! Be daring. Be different. Be brave.

 

12/19/05 Several months ago, I did an "I'm Sorry" prompt. This time, I suggest writing the words, "I forgive you." As in the other exercise, go with whatever comes to mind as soon as you write those words. Don't worry if your thoughts shift mid-sentence. Let stream of consciousness guide you. Make a list, write a paragraph, do whatever feels right. If you don't feel like getting personal, try the exercise from your main character's pov. He or she might surprise you!

 

12/12/05 What's your best Christmas Tree story ever? You don't have to celebrate Christmas to have one. We've all seen them, smelled them, touched them, had one fall on us (oh wait, is that just me?). Anyway, describe a tree-related event in your life. It can be funny, sad, outrageous... whatever.

 

12/5/05 Think back to your childhood or adolescence. Try to remember a gift you received (doesn't have to be a holiday one, necessarily) that stands out in your memory. Describe it. Why was it special? Who gave it to you? What were your thoughts as you opened it? What did you say? Where is that gift now? Have fun!

 

11/28/05 Go look out the nearest window and do some gazing. Remember gazing? Take several deep breaths as you look. Now go back to your computer and write what you see. As you do, think about how what you see can become a story. Who's window is that in the apartment building next door? What child once played in the tree in the back yard? Quick: Write a paragraph or list/poem of the possibilities that come to mind. The point is to create story out of observation. There are story gifts everywhere we look. We just have to look carefully.

 

11/21/05 Write about a memorable Thanksgiving from your childhood. I donÍt mean write a summary about ALL the Thanksgivings from your childhood, I mean write about a particular Thanksgiving. I want details! Remember the list method? Make a list of every sensory memory you have of that day. Try to remember what you were wearing, what other people were wearing. What the place smelled like. What people said. Was it hot? Cold? Was there snow? Was there a fireplace? Was the kitchen crowded? Did you feel lonely? Did anyone get ill? Fight? Fall asleep? Before you start writing, think about why this particular day stands out for you. What is the key piece, do you think? Now fill in the details around that. Let yourself go. Have fun!

 

11/14/05 Choose a paragraph from your WIP. It should be at least five sentences long. Now, rewrite that paragraph in: ´ First-person present ´ First-person past ´ Third-person present ´ Third-person past Obviously, youÍll have already used one of the above (unless youÍve done something really interesting, like second person. If, as youÍre writing, you find you want to change more than just the tense, do it! Sometimes when you shift points of view, something new gets revealed to you. When youÍre done, think about which one has the strongest voice and why. Which one do you connect with most? What did you learn from this exercise? If you donÍt want to do this with your own writing, choose a paragraph from a novel youÍre reading (you are reading, right?). P.O.V. and tense seem to be something we all struggle with, whether in our own writing, or even in what we read. Right now IÍm reading Rebel Angels, which is in first-person present and I think it works beautifully. Other books in first-person present which I think work really well are Stained (which takes place in the 1970s), by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and Boy Proof (contemporary) by Cecil Castellucci. Mira, Mirror (which is a fascinating book), by Mette Ivie Harrison, is told in first-person past. This is one example of a book I think might not work so well in present. The voice Mette creates in this one has a sense of knowing, of looking back. It has a wonderful sort of ñLet me tell you a storyî feel that has almost a ñcautionary taleî quality reflective of fairy tales, which is perfectly appropriate for what this story is about. Anyway, have fun with this exercise. I hope youÍll share what you discover!

 

11/7/05 Make a list of reasons why you write. Try to come up with at least 10. They can be serious, silly, selfish, strange, sarcastic... any reasons at all. Then pick the top five and write them down on a separate sheet of paper. Post the list near your writing space and read it when you're feeling frustrated. Add to it or edit it whenever you want to.

 

10/31/05 Go find the messiest drawer in your house. Maybe you have a designated "junk drawer" like I do, or maybe the messiest drawer in your house is your underwear drawer. If you're at work, look in your messiest drawer there. Root around and find an object that speaks to you. Does it have a funny story? A sad one? One that makes your heart skip a beat? Hold the object in your hand and close your eyes. Remember its story. Then, start writing. Make a list, write a poem, start a story. Go where the object takes you. Have fun, and be brave.

 

10/17/05 Write a paragraph that gives a good description of a grandparent (doesn't necessarily have to be yours), but instead of simply describing his or her hands, or the wrinkles on a forehead, depict the person in some other way, maybe through dialogue, action, or a repeated facial expression. No old people clichÚs allowed. How do you convey what you think is inside a person's heart? How do you make your readers fall in love with a flawed character? Dig deep. Be daring. Don't hold any punches.

 

10/10/05 Write a paragraph describing a fair you've been to. Include sights, sounds, smells, tastes. Have fun!

 

10/3/05 Think about a place or situation that makes/made you very uncomfortable. Something that makes/made you SQUIRM. Now, write a haiku about it. I know, I know. A HAIKU?? But yes. I think we should try it. There's something about having to fit words in a tight spot that makes us careful with them. And I think having to search for just the right word gets your mind moving. I know mine needs some exercise! So, go with the traditional haiku form: 3 lines„first line has five syllables, second has seven, third has five. Try to give a snapshot of where you are, but in that snapshot, see if you can make us feel your fear or discomfort. Good luck!

 

9/26/05 Describe something you ñwerenÍt supposed toî see, hear, or know, but did anyway„and what you learned from it. If you donÍt want to get personal, try this exercise from the point of view of a main character from your current WIP. Be brave!

 

9/20/05 Describe a scene from the first Wedding you ever attended. Pick a short span of time, such as sitting in a pew next to your fidgeting little sister while you watched the bridesmaids walk carefully down the aisle, trying not to trip; or sitting at a banquet table with a napkin fan on your plate wondering when the hell it would all be over; or watching your parents dance for the first time; or... you get the picture. Try to convey what you were feeling without naming it, but through your voice and how you describe the scene as it unfolds in front of you. Remember to use the senses, but use the lens, too. Have fun! And be nice to the bridesmaids. Chances are they are not the ones who picked out their dresses. Trust me.

9/12/05 At the top of a piece of paper, write the words: "I'm sorry." Free write for five minutes (or more if you are on a roll). Go with whatever comes to mind, and don't worry if your thoughts shift mid-sentence. Let stream of consciousness guide you. Make a list, write a paragraph, do whatever feels right. If you don't feel like getting personal, try the exercise from you main character's pov. He or she might surprise you!

8/29/05 Describe the first time you held hands with someone. Where were you? How old were you? What did the person look like? Did you (or the other person) ask, or just grab hold? How long did it take for your hands to get sweaty? Did you want to let go? What were you thinking when your fingers first touched? If you don't want to talk about your own personal experience, consider writing the scene from a character's point of view in your WIP. Have fun. I want details! Well, you know what I mean. Make us feel what you felt.

8/22/05 Open your phone book, close your eyes and drop your finger on the page. Write a paragraph about the name you land on. Don't think too hard, just write the first thought that comes to mind when you read the name. Have fun! Oh, and if you land on a business (which I did three times in a row!), flip through the pages and try again.

8/15/05 At the top of a blank sheet of paper, write: "Things I Am Afraid Of" List whatever pops into your head. Turn it into a poem. Be brave!

8/7/05 Describe a favorite game you made up as a child. Who had the idea in the first place? Who made the rules? Who did you play with? Who got to play the best parts? Where were you? Harness those sensory details. Have fun!

8/1/05 Last week Alice Hoffman had a nice article in the NYT. It made me think about the summer books of my childhood. The most vivid memory that came to mind was my mom and me lying out in the sun in our backyard. We were lying next to each other on an old quilt IÍd helped her make. She kept telling me about the book she was reading. Some long thing by Wilbur Smith. Very exciting. I think I was thirteen or so. I asked her to read it to me, so she did. Not the whole thing, but quite a bit of it. That was most likely the last time she ever really read to me. And it felt special because it was an adult book and she didnÍt mind reading it, though I suspect she probably skipped over some of the juicy bits. I felt our relationship change a little that day. It was nice. So the warm-up is to write about a summer book moment you remember from your childhood, or maybe one you've shared with a special child. Describe where you were, what the book was, why it was special or significant. Use all your senses. Have fun!

7/25/05 Describe your first bike and the day you learned how to ride it. Who, if anyone, helped you? Did you fall? Get hurt? Did anyone cheer you on? Where were you? Be specific. And have fun!

7/11/05 Describe one particular detail about a summer job you had as a teen. If you didn't work as a teen (oh, you lucky, lucky person), describe something from your first job. I think the poem/list method might work well for this one. Try to remember the smells, your uniform, the music you were forced to listen to. Have fun!

6/20/05 In honor of Father's Day, lets write about dads today. What is the best advice your dad (or another dad) ever gave you? Describe the scene„how old you were, what your father looked like, what he said, how you responded, etc.

6/13/05 If you didn't do last Monday's exercise you'll have to do it now. Once you have your map, put it on a flat surface. Then, take a dime and spin it on top of your map. Write at least one descriptive paragraph about the space your dime lands on. Predictably, my dime went twirling off the page, but it landed in a spot just beyond the barn, where the thinking rock was.

6/6/05 At the New England SCBWI Conference, Candice Ransom provided several tips for getting back some of our rich and sensory childhood memories. One idea included starting a memory journal, which I plan to do. Another, which I think is quite brilliant, is to draw a map of your childhood home. Here's what she suggests: "Draw the floor plan from memory. Expand the map to your yard, your neighborhood, your school. Sketching the landscape of your childhood will free more memories." Have any of you seen the map Jack Gantos made of his childhood home? It's hysterical. Poignant. I tried to find it on the Web but couldn't. I think it was in Riverbank Review. Ah well. You'll just have to trust me. What he does brilliantly is to go beyond "tree" "garden" "kitchen" etc., and does things like map out the exact place in the yard that he could pinpoint a memory to. I can't remember the details, but I want to say there was a swimming pool incident he noted. And something on the roof of the house. So in actuality he was mapping out his home based on the memories he made there, not the physical place. It was very cool. So cool, it is your Monday Morning Warm-up. Yay Slatts! A drawing exercise! For those of you not wanting a trip down memory lane, why not create a map for the mc in your WIP? Have fun!

5/23/05 Describe in as much detail as possible your earliest memory. (If you're having trouble getting started, try the list method. You could make a list of all the things you remember about your first home, for example, or the scene of the earliest birthday party you remember. Have fun!)

5/16/05 Describe a scene from your first dance. Use the list/poem technique if that makes it easier. Have fun! And PLEASE share? :-)

5/9/05 Describe your typical Monday morning/waking routine. What goes through your mind in those first waking moments? What happens next? Choose details to ground us in your own unique world. What is it about your bathroom that makes it different from mine (besides that it's probably a lot cleaner)? What wakes you? (An alarm? A dog wanting to go out? The beeping of a garbage truck?) Do some gazing in your mind's eye. What do you see? Smell? Hear? Feel? Have fun.

5/2/05 Go forth and gaze. You don't have to live in the country to do it. Make a list of what you see. Make a poem. Here's something interesting Naomi Shihab Nye says about hearing her mother read poetry to her as a child: "I loved poetry's leaping interweave, the selectiveness of each magical word. Poetry wasn't worrying about anything. It was contemplating. I loved the rich descriptions of lines and scenes. Poetry wasn't trying to get us to do anything, it was simply inviting us to think,and feel, and see. It was language we could tuck under our chins. A cool sheet, a cotton quilt." Isn't that wonderful?

4/25/05 Choose an object you've kept for more than five years and make a list of all the memories„the stories„you link to it.

4/18/05 Describe in careful detail a scene from a childhood vacation. Be sure to include all the senses (What were the smells like? What were the tastes like? What did you hear while you were trying to go to sleep? What music played on the car radio, or did you have to listen to people arguing? Was it hot or cold? How did you feel„were you excited, mad, sad, happy?) Use the list method (if that works well for you) and see what happens! Hope some of you will share!

4/11/05 This weekend, being at my sister's and also my parents, surrounded by family photos, it struck me how many relatives I have whom I never really knew. Grandparents who died too young, an aunt who died even younger, aunts and uncles who moved away and became little more than familiar names. So, today's exercise is to choose a "mysterious" family member, or old family friend, or even a character in your WIP, and make a list (yes, I'm very hung up on lists lately„maybe because they have the potential to turn into such beautiful poems?) of all the things you know about him or her, all the "gossip" you've heard, any visuals you remember, any peculiar words or phrases you remember the person saying, what the person's voice sounded like, everything, every detail you can remember. See where it takes you. Have fun! Edited to add: Go read cynthialord's response to this exercise. Wow!!!

4/6/05 Since the "I come from" exercise was so successful, here's another list to try: Family Traditions. I like the idea of forming this list as a poem, too. Hope you'll all share again!

3/29/05 Deborah Wiles suggested making lists to help us get to know our characters. Lists can be anything. A list of what you see in your MC's bathroom. A list of your MC's friends or relatives. A list of what's under your MC's bed. Here are a few list ideas you can try (either for your MC or for yourself„you never know what ideas might spark from them): Family traditions; People you or your mc love; People you or your mc hate or fear; Favorite birthday presents; Best moments; Worst moments

3/7/05 Write a poem about a favorite or memorable (yes, I realize these aren't always the same thing) pet. Be brave and share!

2/14/05 Write a cheesey Valentine's day poem for your sweetie. (And if you are really brave *hint hint* share it here. C'mon Slatts, I'm counting on you to write a good one for MJ.)

2/7/05 Come up with a clever candy heart message and post it. xo

1/31/05 List the three most important things that belong to the main character in your WIP. Next to each item, describe why they are important. Now, what would happen if your character lost one of them? Write the scene.

1/10/05 Poetry time! Write an ode to your WIP's main character. Why do you love your mc, despite his or her flaws?

1/3/05 Re-read the first three chapters of your WIP. What are your mc's biggest personal problems? Have him or her free-write about them for five minutes. BE your mc. Any surprises?

 

12/20/04 The mc in your WIP decides to run away from home. Where does he or she go? Describe the place. How would your mc get there? What would he or she do once there? OR Imagine you are thirteen again. Fed up. YOU want to run away. Where do you go? How do you get there? What do you do once you are there?

12/13/04 Start with the words "I wish I could..." and write for five minutes. If you want, write from the POV of a main character from your WIP.

12/6/04 Take a minute or two to think about the MC in your current WIP. What is his or her biggest secret? Now, I don't mean the one that you reveal on page 22. I'm talking the deep, dark, basement secret that got you to start working on this thing in the first place. (And yes, MG writers, your characters have secrets, too.) If you don't know what your MC's secret is yet, that's OK. At the top of a piece of paper, write this: "I have a secret. I can't tell anyone. But I'm going to tell it to you. It is this:" [YOU, dear writer, are the "you" your character is talking to. Yes, I want you to be your MC talking to yourself. I know it's confusing, but stick with me here.] Now, if, after you write the words above nothing happens, that's OK. Continue with, "But first, I have to know I can trust you. I don't know if I should trust you because..." and go from there. See what happens. Have fun!

11/29/04 Choose a character from your current WIP. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and really put yourself into that character's mind and body. Now, at the top of a piece of paper, write, "I want to..." and then start writing from that character's point of view. Don't stop with one sentence/answer. Write it again, "I want to..." do this for as long as you keep coming up with answers. If this works well, try it with other characters in your WIP.

11/22/04 Start at the top of the paper with: "I don't want to..." You can do this from the pov of your teenage self, your child self, or just from your regular old self, or try all three. Have fun! And don't edit yourself. Complain. Turn it around to something positive (i.e. "I don't want to complain"„yeah, sure!) Just see where it takes you. Don't think you have to make a list, either. Just start the sentence and go from there.

11/15/04 In first-person, present tense, describe in detail the first time you got drunk. Who, if anyone, were you with? What were you drinking? How did it taste (not how you think it tastes now, how it tasted THEN). Did you get sick? Was there music playing? You get the picture. When you're done, turn the page over. Now, re-write the same scene from another person's perspective (could be a friend, someone who has a crush on you, whatever), but BE that other person describing YOU getting drunk.

11/8/04 Set a timer for five minutes. At the top of a blank page, write the words: "I wish I never..." and go from there. If you're on roll, remember to ignore the timer! If any of you try it, let me know how it goes!

10/25/04 Think of a person you WISHED you'd talked to when you were in high school, but never dared. (Could be ANYONE: a teacher you hated, a boy you loved, a girl you felt sorry for, whatever.) Now, rewrite history. You are back in high school (I know, I know, it's scary, but trust me). You just walked up to the person, or called him or her on the phone. Start talking...

©Johanna Knowles

This page was updated on 1/7/07