Writing Prompts for January 2017

Writing Prompts for January 2017
Reflections at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.

I considered reflecting on the events of 2016, but frankly, there’s lots you really don’t want to know–honest. The above photo is from a family holiday that included visiting Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC. I have great memories of explorations in galleries, museums, rain forests and mountains–and quiet family times of reading while the sun set. I’m very grateful for that time with my family and for every morning that I wake up and know  that I’m another day further into my life after last year’s cancer surgery–and feeling gratitude is not a bad way to start a new year.

But what will 2017 hold? I don’t know, but over the last couple of days I reread Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and I was reminded to “share whatever you are driven to share.” I write lots of non-fiction about writing. I enjoy it, and I’m going to keep doing it. I love motivating people to write. This year, I’m going to seek out other ways to reach new writers and help them share what they “are driven to share.” And if I find myself worrying about whether or not to take a risk, I’m going to remember this, too: “Hey, why not? Because it’s all just temporary.” Exactly, Elizabeth.

I hope that you have a 2017 filled with peace, and love, and creativity, too. To get you started on your creative goals for 2017, here are your writing prompts for January.

Use one, some, or all of the words in the following lists to inspire a story or poem:

  • Slide, column, eye, remember, red, hidden
  • Glass, case, door, fear, run, seal, black
  • Escape, tunnel, race, battle, freedom, star
  • Beam, rescue patience, delay, moment, revenge

Here are some titles that might suggest a story or two: Rate of Decay, Last Chance, Brother Why?, Indefinitely, A New Year’s Resolution, The Captain’s Son, Battle Stations, Just a Step Away, Love on New Year’s Eve, Holiday, Seeing in the Dark.

Try one of the following opening lines to start a story.

  • Most people have a party or, at least, drink a toast with Anderson and Kathy on New Year’s Eve. Instead, I open my back door, a stray cat walks in, and an hour later I have a cat, four kittens and an old college sweat shirt that I will never wear again.
  • The last time I saw Harry, he had that same dumb grin.
  • Saying goodbye is never easy.
  • If they could hear my heartbeats, I’d be found in about 30 seconds.
  • Nothing made a castle colder than three days of uninterrupted rain.
  • His cloak smelled of wood smoke and rain.
  • Security! Report to Deck 9!
  • I still haven’t told my family that I was fired.
  • Helen always knew the wrong thing to say.

Here are a few snippets of dialogue. Can you write a scene using one of them?

  • When was the last time you talked to Henry?
  • This morning.
  • Then, he told you.
  • Yes.
  • Do you want to get caught?
  • No.
  • Then keep up!
  • I thought you weren’t coming back.
  • I have something to say to you.
  • Then say it.
  • I’m getting cold.
  • Just a little bit further.
  • Promise?
  • Promise.
  • So, another hour?
  • At least.

Happy New Year and may 2017 hold only good things for you!

Writing Prompts for December 2016

Writing Prompts for December 2016

I always enjoy the approach to the holidays. Decorating the house, planning meals, and even all the long-overdue cleaning and organizing are done with a lighter heart. It’s a musical time for us, too. My choir has a concert, my son’s university ensemble has a concert, and we all attend the local symphony’s holiday concert, joining my brother-in-law’s family for dinner afterwards. I hope that you and yours enjoy times filled with peace, love, and happiness in the coming weeks and that these feelings follow you through 2017.

Though your writing time may be limited in December, I encourage you to take even 10 minutes out of your day to put a few words on the page. Typing at 25 words per minute would fill a double-spaced page. Think of how those pages could add up over the month, and how much further ahead you will be starting 2017.

If you need some writing inspiration or fresh ideas, here are your writing prompts for December. Remember that you can change names and gender to suit the story you want to write.

Opening Sentences – Start a story with one of the following sentences. You could use the sentence to end the story, too.

Wait! Don’t open that!
The fire was too small to warm the room.
Henry and I had an agreement—until yesterday.
The branches of the bare trees clattered overhead.
Making a wish as you blow out your birthday candles isn’t just for kids.
Helen should have known better.
Secrets should be kept secret.
I don’t have a cat anymore, so what was coughing and hacking in my kitchen?

Random Words – Choose a group of words from the following list, and using one, some, or all of the words in the group, write a story or poem.

Gate, pillar, robe, wonder, blue, cry, gold
green, hills, wander, home, far, cold, rain
run, danger, lost, captain, white, strange
window, tense, sneer, answer, leave, yellow

Possible Story Titles

Yesterday’s Man, The Gold Tower, Tree People, The Leaving, Ghosts at Summer Camp, Strangers at First, Ethan’s Mountain, The Blue Sword, The Kameron Curse, The Second Gift.

Dialogue – Use one of these dialogue excerpts and imagine the story around it.

Why do we have to travel at night?
It’s safer.
It’s also cold.

I haven’t seen you with Henry lately.
Oh, we’re old news.
But I thought you were getting married.
Tell that to Henry’s father.

Are you sure we can trust Helen?
I don’t see that we have a lot of options.
But, I told you—she’s lied before.
So have you.

I don’t like the sound of that.
Me neither, but it’s too soon to worry the others.

You found something.
No.
Show it to me.
No.

Hope you have a wonderful, writerly December!

Writing Prompts for October 2016 & Accountability Group

October 2016 Writing Prompts & Accountability Group

Okay, where did September go? I had every intention of getting my writing life organized this month and managed no more than daily to-do lists—effective, but not quite what I had in mind. Anyone else struggling with this? I’m looking for some accountability partners to help get me, and each other, on track.

Starting October 7, I’m going to be running an accountability group on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/. You set your daily writing goals (they can include, planning, research, outlining, writing) and each day you just check in with a “done” to say you’ve met your goal. I’ll be posting daily so you’ll have a place to add your “done” to the comments. If you’re signing up for NaNoWriMo this year, this three weeks of accountability will help you get your planning done for your November novel and/or help you get your daily writing habit back in shape, too. All good.

If you don’t have a story idea yet, here are some writing prompts that might help.

Create a poem or story using one, some, or all of the words in one of the following groups:

  • History, banner, black, crystal, mage, flames
  • Mountain, fear, fog, red, breath, open, hide
  • Concrete, stars, shadow, windows, swoop, lights
  • Shell, waves, storm, pride, darken, stone, gift

Maybe one of these opening lines will suggest a story:

  • That was the last thing I expected you to bring home.
  • I’m sorry. Should I have been listening?
  • You want to know when I saw him last? It was Tuesday—Tuesday morning.
  • The lights dimmed in the concert hall.
  • Pieter huddled behind the wall and cursed the rain.
  • A woman’s face peeked out from behind the curtains. Henry had told us the house was empty.
  • The forest was silent. It shouldn’t be.
  • Even mean girls can be kind sometimes.
  • I just wanted to curl up under my blanket and forget the day had happened, but instead, I kept on moving. If I didn’t, tomorrow had every chance of being worse.

Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?

The End of the Road, The Rest of Us, Once Upon a Rainy Day, Forgotten, The Tree House, Storm’s Ending, The Hallowe’en Mystery, Starting Line, Just a Glimpse.

See if these dialogue excerpts suggest a scene or some characters that you might like to work into a story.

  • I haven’t seen you in a long time.
  • I’ve seen you.
  • What do you mean?
  • Look what Helen found?
  • Helen?
  • Why the surprise?
  • It can only be found by three people. And I’m one of them.
  • It’s time for us to leave.
  • What if I disagree.
  • I’d advise you to think about that. You’d put all of us in danger.
  • Henry’s coming with us.
  • I don’t think that’s a good idea.
  • But we can’t leave him behind.
  • We’d be safer if we did.

Don’t forget, to join the accountability group at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/  and get your writing habits on track for the fall (and NaNoWriMo, too.)

Have a writerly October!

Writing Prompts March 2016

March came in like a lion here with high winds and snow. Today, we have blue skies and sunshine. Yup, it’s March in Ontario alright. Aside from surviving the crazy weather, I’ve been the unwelcome host of a nasty cold (snorfle, sniff, moan) since Sunday, and finally crawled out of my pity party today to realize that I hadn’t written my March writing prompts. You will find them below.

Online course planning with sticky notes
Online course planning with sticky notes

Since I wrote last, I have been busy working on creating an online fiction writing course for teen writers with help from Joseph Michael and D’vorah Lansky. It’s a painstaking process and I don’t imagine anything will see the light of day until May, but it’s been exciting to brainstorm topics and ideas in the planning stages. I’m a big fan of sticky notes for this part of the process, as you can see. Soon, I will be getting down to organizing all this pink chaos into units and lessons. After that comes the creation of the actual audio-visual components–a scary prospect, I can assure you. Like most people, I’m not in my happy place in front of a microphone. But, I also enjoy a challenge, so … 🙂

Here are your writing prompts. I hope you have a creative March ahead!

Use one, some, or all of the words in these groups to create a story or poem:

  • flower, song, frame, balloon, calm, purple
  • chair, shadow, dial, repair, candle, cup, yellow
  • path, marking, window, sky, light, white

See if you can imagine a story or poem with one of these titles: Thursday’s Child, A Small Hero, Shadow Land, The Blue Empire, Target Gold, Last Gasp, Dragon Rites, Clock Tower, Midnight Moon, The Wanderer, Broken Promise

Try one of these opening lines for your story or novel:

  • One of these days, I’m going to say no.
  • I agreed that Henry was a puzzle, but I was the only one who thought a couple of pieces were missing.
  • It’s bad enough when your ex-boyfriend calls you, but when the call is from his mother, it’s time for action!
  • I knew that sound. Dragons.
  • I thought space was supposed to be silent.
  • We didn’t know it would be our last sunset at the lake.
  • Tires screeched. I turned and ran down the alley.
  • He lit a cigarette and watched Henry close the door.

See if you can imagine a scene from one of these groups of dialogue lines:

Are you sure we’re going the right way?
These are the directions Henry gave me.
Was that before or after you had the fight?

Do you think Mrs. Wilson knows?
Knows what?
That Helen cheated.
We’ll find out soon.

I saw Henry this morning.
But, I thought he said he was leaving last night.
That’s what he wanted us to think.

Why do we have to meet on the bridge?
What’s the matter? Scared?
I’ve got every reason to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Publication for Young Writers

51fSKVUK2lL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Here’s a list of new locations where young writers can be published. I’ll be adding these to the Where to Get Published tab, too.

10 Publication Opportunities for Young Writers:  Writers like Françoise Sagan, Sonya Hartnett and S.E. Hinton demonstrate that youth doesn’t have to be a barrier to literary success. Here is a list of 10 magazines, journals and websites that are committed to publishing young writers and that champion the work of those just starting out.   http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2015/03/26/publication-opportunities-for-young-writers/

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats. http://canvasliteraryjournal.com/submit/

New Pages Young Authors Guide: Where young writers can find print and online literary magazines to read, places to publish their own works, and legitimate contests. Some publish only young writers, some publish all ages for young readers. For specific submission guidelines, visit the publication’s website. This is an ad-free page; publications and contests listed here have not paid to be included. This page is maintained by Editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers.   http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/young-authors-guide

YARN (Young Adult Review Network):  YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices…including teens. http://yareview.net/how-to-submit/

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success. Places to Publish:  http://www.tellingroom.org/get-published/places-publish

A Holiday Gift for Yourself–A Journal

IMG_4436I just discovered a wonderful post on the value of journaling: 9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year. In this post, author Lori White looks at how journaling can benefit all areas of your life and help you reach your goals, and she offers links to other articles to back up her premise that keeping a journal can “improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything! And for those of you thinking, “Whatever diaries are dumb,” try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.”  

Now, I’ve done daily journal writing for short periods, like a month, but I’ve never made a longer commitment to the process. I will definitely be working toward making journaling a daily habit in 2016. Lots of the areas of life that journaling can impact are areas that I’m looking to improve, so it’s time to decide that I’m worth 15 minutes a day with pen and journal. My own research has taught me that it takes 66 days to create a habit, so that’s my first goal–to stick with journaling for 66 days. If I can find time for Facebook or FreeCell, I should be able to find 15 minutes a day to write in a journal–and I’ll have the fun of buying a new journal, too. I hope you decide to join me and make daily journal writing your resolution for the new year. If you’re already a journal writer, please drop a note in the comments to tell us about your experience with journaling. How does it benefit you?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I’ll be checking back on New Year’s Day with your first writing prompts of 2016!

 

Colouring Pages for Writers

2015-10-04 22.41.37I’ve been having some fun with some new software. These are some early attempts at creating mandalas and colouring pages for writers. You can find them here: 6 COLOURING PAGES. Pass them out to your writer’s group, make them available to your students, use them yourself for a few moments of quiet time.

The following is an excerpt with a couple of links from one of my upcoming journals that explains why colouring, stress relief, and creativity are a good combination. I can say from my own experience that even just five or ten minutes of focusing on which colour to choose and which area to colour next will calm the brain and help creativity flow. “William Brennan wrote in the April 2015 issue of The Atlantic: ‘Research suggests there might be something to the idea of coloring as a means of stress relief. A 2012 study in the journal Art Therapy found that art activities such as coloring mandalas significantly reduced anxiety.’ (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/big-in-france/386249/) In a HuffPost article, psychologist Antoni Martinez explains that he recommends coloring ‘as a relaxation technique. We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state. We can also use it to connect with how we feel … I myself have practiced that. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.’
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/coloring-for-stress_n_5975832.html)”

Have fun!

 

October 2015 Writing Challenge and Writing Prompts

2015-09-20 11.40.17
My September Weekend Writing Place

October is a busy month here: two birthdays, a wedding anniversary, the trailer closes, the boat comes out of the water for the winter, two freelance deadlines loom, and because we’re in Canada–Thanksgiving!

AND I’ve decided to run another daily writing challenge over on my Facebook page because, well, of course, I’m going to have lots of time to write every day. It’s the routine of the writing rather than the word count that I’m working on. Small daily writing goals are the key, and I mean small–maybe 100 words–so that, if I’m having a challenging day (which will be every Tuesday with 7 hours of classes followed by choir), I will still feel successful if I only write that 100 words. And steady daily success is the plan because I want to start building the habit of writing that will take me through November, too. Kristi Holl (author of Writer’s First Aid and More Writer’s First Aid) introduced me to the ideas of small goals and building mini-habits here.

On my Facebook page, I’ll be posting encouragement, links to interesting blogs, and I hope, some humour to keep myself  and you writing every day. To participate, all you have to do is post the word “done” in the comments under the daily posts, and we’ll know you met your writing goal for the day.

I hope that the writing prompts below will help you find a story idea if you need one. Some of today’s writing prompts come from the collection I’m preparing for my next set of journals for genre writers.

Have fun!

Opening Sentences

  • Mira felt danger in her skin. I saw it in her eyes.
  • Sometimes Henry’s smiles were warm and kind. This wasn’t one of those times.
  • Helen strained to see the sails on the horizon more clearly. Friend or enemy?
  • I knew one thing about my new job. Henry was going to be a pain in the neck.
  • Predictable could get you killed.
  • For the third day in a row, Henry knew he’d been followed.
  • Red flashing lights were never a good sign.

Random Words

  • clouds, wind, cry, shiver, grey, hurry
  • campfire, fear, scream, hidden, red
  • leaves, gold, broken, pond, clear
  • stones, sun, blue, carry, escape
  • city, rain, climb, smell, green, alone

Titles

The Fallen, Unbroken, Trust Not, Generous to a Fault, Road Trip, Last Chance, Love Waits, The Enemy Within, Strange Music, Kept

Dialogue

You’re Henry, aren’t you?
So?
So, Max is looking for you.

 

I want to go home.
You know that’s not possible.
But–
No buts. This is where we’re safe, and this is where we’ll stay.

 

Why didn’t you tell me you were hiding here?
There wouldn’t be much point in hiding then would there.
Very funny. You know I can help.

 

It’s awfully steep. I’m not sure.
Can you see another option?
No.

 

I’m sure Henry has it.
You’re lying. It’s you.

If you’re still stuck for inspiration, check these out, too. Just click on the covers for more information.

201 journal cover

 

 

The Writing Habit

Work-In-Progress Cover
Work-In-Progress Cover

“Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.” – Spanish proverb

For as long as I can remember I thought it took 21 days to make a habit. I was wrong! Research now says that it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. Here’s the link to James Clear’s summary of a recent study in the art of habit building. Clear states: “if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days. Interestingly, the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.”

I must admit that I found that last bit inspiring. Knowing that the whole process will likely take a lot longer than I expected and that total perfection isn’t compulsory actually gives me more hope.  I do, however, recognize that 66 days is a long haul, and it’s a long  haul when you’re on your own.

To help writers develop that daily writing habit, I’m working on a supplement to my new book, Writing Prompts and More. When it is published (with luck by the end of the month, but likely mid-July) I’ll also be offering for sale a self-directed habit builder with 66 days of 10-minute, daily, writing prompts. Stephen Guise, author of Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results is convinced that mini-habits are the way to build lifetime habits–and I agree with him. That’s why my habit builder is designed to encourage writers to get a little writing done every day. Often, as Guise describes, once you’ve checked your mini-habit task off the list for the day you’ll  find that you will extend the task with more energy and motivation than you had at the beginning. That’s great news for writers.

For writers that need a bit more encouragement, I’m also working on a product that will include the 66 days of prompts, but also the opportunity to hear from me every 8 days. Every eighth day, the writing prompt will encourage you to reflect on your process, your writing, your current project. You will send that reflection to me, and I will reply commenting and encouraging you to stick with it. These are personal emails, not generic auto-responds. I know how challenging this can be, and I want to be your best cheerleader. A third level of the product will include 3 critiques of your writing (500 words max) to help you get past a trouble spot, clarify questions, and help you with character, plot, dialogue, description, etc. If you want to learn more about these packages and get links to other helpful writing tips, please sign up for my mailing list in the box on the right.

Soon, I’ll be making a couple of changes to the website to be more inclusive of writers of all ages and adding a Wright With You tab that will hold information on my habit building programs. I’m very excited about this and must thank my friend, Karalee, for inspiring me to develop this material.

Looking further down the road, I was very happy to be asked to host a NaNoWriMo series of 6 workshops for young writers at my local library. I’ve decided to sign up for NaNo, too, this  year and write along with my young writers. I’m really looking forward to the first workshop at the end of October! If you’re a young writer or know one, check out the young writers’ program and NaNoWriMo. The website has links to great writing resources and how-tos.

Hope the rest of you Friday goes well and that you have a writerly weekend ahead!

 

Writing Prompts for June 2015

I’m Canadian, so I’m going to start with the weather. Yesterday and today I woke to the sound of my furnace running. It’s June. Enough said.

On a cheerier note, I’ve been writing up a storm during the month of May and hope to finally be getting the fruits of my labours online soon. Here’s what I’ve been up to–

My first project has been a series of short business communication guides based on years of teaching business communications and also years of using these skills for employers and as a freelancer. I’m really excited about this series. Here’s a look at the titles and covers so far in my Better Business Communications series.

PicMonkey Collage new

A fourth book is still in progress and it focuses on the grammar and writing skills that everyone needs to be a successful business communicator.

The books in the series are short and to the point with practical tips and how-tos.

The second project I’ve been working on is a sequel to 201 Writing Prompts called Writing Prompts and More–Ways to Spark Your Creativity & End Writer’s Block. It contains another 100 writing prompts and also chapters with lots of other tips on ways to find the story you want to write or to find your way out of a place where your story is stuck.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Introduction

20 Writing Prompts to Get the Ball Rolling

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Titles
  • Five Dialogue Excerpts

Sleep is a Writer’s Best Friend

  • Sleep
  • Dreams

Inspiration in Post Cards

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Dialogue Excerpts
  • Five Titles
  • Write A Paragraph That Includes
  • Five Opening Sentences

A Little Self-Reflection

  • What are you already interested in?
  • What have you already done?
  • Where have you been?
  • What can you do?
  • What Don’t You Know?

The News

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Questions for You and Your Characters
  • Write a Paragraph That Includes

Get out the Pencils, Crayons and Markers

  • Drawing and Coloring Pictures
  • Maps
  • Change Your Writing Tools

Get Moving

  • Walking and Mundane Activities
  • Go to the Library

Final 40 Prompts

  • Nine Opening Lines
  • Six Questions for You and Your Character
  • Five Titles
  • Write a Paragraph that Includes 53
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Dialogue Excerpts

Last Words

  • Any Time of the Year Resolutions

So that’s what I’ve been up to. If you want to know more about these titles and when they will be released, please sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar. I will be offering one or two of them for free at launch, so join the list and make sure you don’t miss a free book or two.

And now–finally–the writing prompts for June. Enjoy!

1. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem:
• Smile, block, brown, music, real
• Peel, wood, lace, light, blue

2. See if you can come up with a story using one of these opening sentences:
• “Have you seen this?”
• Rain turned the narrow path into a steam of mud and dead leaves.
• The man’s face glared down from the picture frame on the wall.
• We smelled the smoke before we saw the flames.
• Going on this vacation had been a mistake.
• I was sure that I someone move past the window.

3. What story can you imagine with one of these titles: Fiddlehead, The Secret Cave, Call Me Never, Life Changer, Witness, Death at Sharpe’s Cove, The Turn Around.

4. Write a piece that has
• A hope and a prayer
• A door and a scream
• A smile and a trap
• A hand and a glove
• A tree and a tear

5. In what point of view have you written your story? Take a couple of paragraphs and use a voice different to the one you originally chose. Was it easy or difficult to find the words for the rewrite? Did you learn something about the characters or events in the scene that you didn’t know before? Are you in the right POV for your story?

6. What kinds of souvenirs do you bring home from your vacations or trips away from home: Programs? Ticket stubs? Collectible spoons? Maps? Brochures? Books? Where do you keep your souvenirs? How often do you look at them after you return? Is it important to have these keepsakes from your trips? Answer these questions for your characters, too.

Hope your June gets off to a writerly start!

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