Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Creative Writing Prompts


If you’re stuck, write about writing. A book may be static, but our perceptions are dynamic.

A piece of literature can have many incarnations. When writing such a work, always cite exact quotes, & what work it is based on. I did this with a very interesting short story.

Just as there are numerous genres in which to categorize a story, there are many formats in which to write them. Experiment with some of these lesser-utilized ones.

Write a response to another poem, & watch it take on a life of its own.

Have fun with the absurd. Have you heard of fractured fairy tales? How about a compound fractured fairy tale?

You can go for a “multiple ekphrastic”—using 3 (or more) paintings as inspiration for a narrative poem/prose. I married that idea with Rudyard Kipling’s “Just-so” type stories.



Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Blogging


My writing tithe: No more than 10% of what you write should be given away for free (posted on blogs, social media outlets, etc.), but always post high-quality work. Your blog is your brand.

How dreary life would be without milestones, celebrations, & holidays. Share those that are your very own.

If you’ve written a book you can’t quite find a market for (yet), don’t despair. You can repurpose it by writing “creative promotions” for it on your blog. This has helped me edit my novel with a finer eye, producing some great little pieces in the meantime.

Even a rejection letter can make for an entertaining blog post.

Book reviews are a wonderful way to get blog views, because the book you’ve reviewed (hopefully) has a built-in readership. (Not to mention you don’t have to worry about coming up with an image.)

Don’t repost the quotations of others (even if you assign attribution), unless you are responding to that quote. Seek to mine your own words of wit or wisdom. There is nothing worse than to go to an author’s Instagram page & see it full of other people’s words.

A blog, unlike a painting, is a multi-layered work of art that cannot be seen all at once. Unlike a book, a blog is ever-evolving & has no end.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Creative Writing Prompts


If you’ve run out of ideas based on your own life (hopefully a temporary thing), borrow from the lives of others. (Just be sure to change the names of the innocent & especially the not-so-innocent.)

Imagine how different your world would be if one thing (or even a letter of the alphabet) was taken away.

Write a story about someone who is at odds with their environment. (Think “The Beverly Hillbillies.”)

How would the world be different if electronic communication was limited to those around us?

Don’t want to write your own memoir? Write someone else’s. (Just make sure it’s labeled as fiction; first-person P.O.V. & present tense preferred.)

What would life be like if the Internet didn’t exist? Write a story (or an essay) about something (i.e. an invention) we take for granted.

Instead of “What’s in your wallet?”, try “What’s in your purse?” Just as bumper stickers can tell you a lot about a person, so can the contents of what you carry with you. Look in your own purse (I don’t advise looking in someone else’s, so you’ll have to use your imaginations there), & write a story (or memoir) of its owner by filling in the blanks.


Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #447: Release


Max Hollywood

He liked his own posts—
his favorite subject being himself—
even going so far as to
put sticky notes all over his mirror,
reminding himself of how awesome he was.
But when that face in the mirror went all Dorian Gray on him—
the mirror cracking when he smiled at it—
he was rewarded with 7 years of bad luck.
Then he had to rely on a world
that became blind to his male beauty,
but not to his bullshit.
His face,
his lucky charm,
was no longer a goldmine.
The women he’d collected like dolls,
or charms for a bracelet,
were released from his magnetic charm,
for the value of his sperm bank
had depreciated,
& so, like an aging movie star,
there were no new releases,
save the ones that he did himself.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Creative Writing Prompts


Reimagine fairy tales, turning them into reality tales.

If you enjoy writing poetry, but are, at heart, a storyteller, writing a verse novel is a way of satisfying both of those needs. I wrote my novel first, & am now in the process of creating a stand-alone verse book, which will be fashioned into a chapbook to market the novel.

What we write doesn’t always have to be created from nothing. You can write about writing (analysis, book review, criticism, et cetera), or you can write about how a piece of cinematic art (especially one that is well-known because others who are fans of that art just might want to read what you have to say about it) made you feel. (And by cinematic art, if it has moved you deeply, it is art.)

Write a sequel (perhaps even a grown-up one) to an existing children’s nursery rhyme. You just might create an entire series of flash fiction stories that would work—without the reader even knowing how they came about.

Art imitating life (or something like it) can be as inspirational as life itself. Try imitating the art that imitates life.

An ekphrastic poem is a “vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating & reflecting on the action of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify & expand its meaning.” You already have the big picture (pun intended)—all you must do is fill in the details. Here’s an example: Also, rather than write a movie review, write a poem about it. It still requires analysis on a deeper level, & you will be creating a piece of art.


Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Journaling


Journaling is the purest, rawest form of writing.

If you don’t like the idea of a diary, create a journal for a fictional character. Get to know them, then write your story.

Live to live, not to record. Never let the magic of the moment be lost because you were too busy writing it all down.

I’m a scrapbooking collagist when it comes to journaling, meaning heavy on the photography & “graphic design,” & light on the writing. I’ve included newspaper clippings, greeting cards, event programs, badges (for example, my college press pass), & many more.

Always have a notebook (& pen) nearby: on the nightstand, in the glove compartment, in your purse/murse, etc. Ideas often come at the most inopportune times. It’s easier to keep up with several books rather than having to remember to always carry the same one around with you (unlike a cell phone).

Have a “theme” journal. Joe Brainerd did an “I remember” theme. I am doing a “Precious Moments” book for my daughter. Other ideas would be “What if?” (my favorite poetry subject), “If only,” &, in the spirit of Tom T. Hall, “I Love.”

Start a reading journal (this is best for poetry). Unlike a book review, which analyzes the text with a critical eye, a poetry reading journal is about what the text means to you.
Journaling isn’t just about the product, but the process. If you focus too much on the product, you’re editing, not writing.

In the Irish film, The Secret Scripture, the main character has a Bible in which she keeps her journal, writing in between the lines, in the margins, et cetera. You can do this with any book that profoundly affects you.

Though there’s something intrinsically beautiful about a handwritten journal, don’t feel you have to write your journal by hand. (Better to keep a digital journal than no journal.) There are many journaling apps online. Think about it. Most of already journal every day, whether it be through Facebook, Instagram, our Shutterfly Share site, WordPress blog, etc., though hopefully, we’re not posting our deepest, darkest thoughts—that should be between you & your journal, whether on paper or paperless.


Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Creative Writing Prompts


Writing prompts are a wonderful way to break through writer’s block. When I find myself stuck on a piece, I put it away & work on something else. This was one of the most interesting prompts I ever worked through, & my favorite from when I took a college level creative writing course.

Many of us remember where we were when something big happened. Use that event as a framework to build your narrative.

Posts about chocolate are always well-received. Just be sure to package it nicely, like any box of assorted truffles.
Give your community the “City Confidential” treatment. Like people, places have quirks.

If you find yourself stuck, make a list of things that come in sevens (the Seven Wonders of the Modern or Ancient Worlds, the seven dwarves, even the seven years of bad luck you’re supposed to get if you break a mirror) & write a poem (or group of short poems) based on the subject you choose.

Pick four related words, & write a riddle poem. Try using the following words: everything, nothing, something, & anything. See what you come up with. (You just might come up with as many different poems as there are Sonic beverage flavors.)

Childhood memories are some of the most vibrant. Think of something you loved as a child (a toy, a book, a game, et cetera), & write about it. You can make a favorite stuffed animal come to life, write a grown-up follow-up of a beloved book character, or a reimagined backstory of a game. Most importantly, just have fun with it.