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!

Write Every Day

Well, as usual, things don’t always work out the way you hoped–especially in the self-publishing world. What I thought would take a week, took a little longer. The journal is up and ready at Createspace and Amazon(more about that below) and the grammar book is still a work in progress. Of course. the delay was a result of my own distraction. Once I sorted out how to design a cover on Canva, I realized that I actually had two more journals just waiting to be created–so I did those, too. Now 201 Writing Prompts and Writing Prompts and More are journals, too! I’m just waiting for my next batch of ISBNs and then I can get those in print, too.

I wanted to get the Write Every Day journal out in time for writers who might like to get in training for NaNoWriMo, and I just squeaked under the wire. Goal accomplished–though the journal is really for any writer, any time.

The idea for the journal began after reading that it takes approximately 66 days to create a habit. That’s a long slog on your own, so Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit (158 pages) gives you 66 writing prompts, some needed encouragement along the way, an extra 50 writing prompts in case you’re just not in the mood for the one assigned, plus a few coloring images that you can use to colour your way to creativity. I hope you check it out if  you need to work on a daily writing habit or if you know a writer who needs a creative boost.

I’m planning to enjoy my last two weeks of freedom before prep for school starts again. I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. I’ve certainly been enjoying mine, but part of me is an autumn person. I like the changes and the idea of starting something new–new students, new challenges, new colours in the leaves, new freshness in the air. Maybe it’s because I was born in October, or maybe it’s just part of my DNA, but fall is when I like to start fresh–a bit like the New Year but a few months early. What about  you? Is the fall a time for new beginnings for you? Or do real changes happen after New Year’s Eve?

Whatever your timetable, I hope that writing and creating are still at the top of your to-do lists!

Oh, and here’s a sneak peek at the new journal covers.

Writing Prompts and More journal210 journal cover

30-Day Writing Challenge Starting April 7

IMG-20130709-00210If you’re looking for a way to get your writing back on track, I’m running a writing challenge for 30 days on my Facebook author page. Participants don’t have to do anything more than post “I did my writing today” or words to that effect in the comments of my daily post. Join me and other writers who want to get back to writing every day and need a little boost to keep going. I’ve participated in similar challenges before. Having someone waiting to hear that I’ve done my daily writing has been an effective incentive to help me reach my goal.

My role is cheerleader–and some days, fellow sufferer–to help you stick to your daily writing by offering you a place to check in every day. You decide how much you want to write. Set a time limit or a page limit or just be glad that some days you wrote a couple of sentences. It’s the sticking with it that counts.

If you’re interested, just drop by https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Wright-Writer/336470796443870 to let me know you want to join the challenge on Tuesday. Love to have you on board!

And now, I need to get down to writing April’s writing prompts (a few days late), having been very distracted by the hacking of my writing prompts’ page for a ciallis ad. Yikes! Just a mild panic here, but my web host took care of it, so, back to work!

Back to the Writing Schedule

IMG-20130709-00210Is your creative output in a slump at the moment? Mine certainly is. I have lots of excuses, too, such as the busyness of starting teaching again, looming freelance deadlines, house projects requiring progress, marketing tasks, and creating a website and publishing the first in a series of short story anthologies for boys. I’m busy. I’m working. I’m getting things done in all areas, so what’s the problem?

The problem is—I’m a writer. I have stories I want to tell, and they’re not getting on the page. It’s time to carve out the writing time again. I know from experience that I can find the time to write every day, but I just don’t do it. For me, the best writing time is at night before I go to bed with journal and pen—or very early in the morning, when I wake up at the crack of stupid and can’t get back to sleep.

In 2013, I participated in a couple of accountability challenges (Thanks, Kristi Holl) and they made all the difference to my creative output. Kristi organized interested writers into groups, and when each of us had finished our writing for the day, we sent a “done” email to the group. It may seem strange that sending an email to a group of strangers would be enough incentive to keep me writing every day, but it was.

I’m lucky to have a good friend, and fellow writer, whom I’m going to ask to be my accountability buddy for a while, until I get back to writing every day again. If you think that trying something like this will help you get back on track, go for it! And let me know how it works for you.

The biggest accountability challenge in the world is coming up soon—NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) The folks who run NaNo are already getting in gear for this year’s challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days between November 1st and 30th. Over 340,000 people met the challenge last year. Drop by the NaNo website and learn more. If you’re a teen or pre-teen writer, they have a young writers program that’s perfect for you. They also have a lot of free writing resources for any time of year, not just November. Maybe you could get a teacher to run a NaNo club at your school to help motivate you and your fellow writers to reach their goals.

If you’ve discovered some great ways to keep the writing going, please share. I’m always looking for new ways to get myself to write everyday, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Hope you have a writerly week ahead!

10 Days and Still Writing

IMG-20130709-00210I hope you are having a writerly November whether you have signed up for NaNoWriMo or not.

I set my own NaNo challenge goal and joined a group of like-minded writers in order to stay motivated and get the writing done. What a great idea that has turned out to be. I’ve been crazy busy with a lot of other things, but reading the daily writing posts from the other 36 writers has kept me inspired and writing.

I’ve learned a couple of things about the way I write, too. First, I need an outline. My work for the first week was based on notes for stories that I had scribbled in my journal over the past six or seven months ( a lot of unfinished business), and getting those stories written was a breeze. Then, I opted to work on something new that was really only a germ of an idea, even though I was excited about it. What a difference in output–and how I felt about the words I put on the page. While my fingers clicked the keys, there was a part of my brain that kept saying, “Well, this writing doesn’t matter. You’re going to throw these words out once you get the story organized. Just get to your daily quota.”

Shudder. Ugly writing mantra. Go away!

The other thing I learned (again, I might add) is that my writing needs to be purposeful. I started NaNo a few years ago and happily clicked myself 20,000+ words into a novel that I knew all along would never really go anywhere. I thought I would enjoy writing just for fun. Wrong. I stopped writing it and wrote Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens instead. It was my dream book. The one I really wanted to get out there. It had my heart. Purposeful writing. Yesterday, I put the non-outlined book away and went back to the sequel I’m writing to The Dragon’s Pearl. I reread the entire book, edited, and then wrote a section that I had only roughed in (made my quota) and moved the entire project a big step closer to publication. This book has my heart, and I guess I just don’t like unfinished business. I’d tried to put it aside to work on something new, and I couldn’t do it and actually produce anything worth reading.

I needed to learn that, as long as I’m writing every day, I’m fulfilling an important goal of my NaNo–and, I hope, developing a writing habit that will stick. I’ve also realized that this month, I’m probably going to have to stop thinking about word count for a couple of days and do some serious outlining before the writing can get in gear again. That’s okay, too. The NaNo experts always suggest spending time outlining before starting the event. For me, a definite non-pantser, that is good advice. I’m just going to do it in the middle that’s all.  If I don’t reach my word count goal of 22,500 words, I won’t be heart-broken. If I have a bunch of good words and a plan that I can keep following after November that will result in a finished novel, then I’m a winner. Where am I now? I’ve written 6656 words–6656 mostly purposeful words. Like Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”

Hope you have a great week ahead and that you meet your writing goals big or small.

Accountability Challenge Check-In

A Saugeen Lane
A Saugeen Lane

Today marks day 14 of the accountability challenge, and I’ve managed to write my early morning pages for 13 of the 14 mornings. I really do work better when I have to check in with other writers. Their short emails about their progress are inspiring and a big reason why I keep going some days.

Sometimes, the early morning pages are a place to make the to-do list or rant or get things prioritized or just let the mind wander. And all that’s helpful, too. When I get to the writing later that day, the decks are cleared of whatever I left behind on the morning pages, and the writing comes  a little easier. Because of a daily writing habit, I’ve drafted two short stories for an upcoming deadline and figured out how to adapt another idea for the same project. It’s a lot easier for me to find writing time later in the day, when I’ve started the morning behaving like a writer.

I’m planning a second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens and am rereading The Hunger Games as a source for some examples for various writing tips in the book. It’s quite a ride, and I’m enjoying it. I love it when research turns out to be fun!

I hope you are progressing toward your writing goals and that you have a writerly week ahead.

Other People’s Gardens

From my neighbour's garden.
From my neighbour’s garden.

I’m grabbing a few days away in Southampton–a town that inspires walking and stopping to smell the roses. Though I still have some work to do on a paid gig, I plan to commit a lot of time to working on the sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl–and walking.

I love looking at other people’s gardens. I’m no gardener myself, so it’s not envy, just simple admiration at the time people commit to creating beauty around them. I’m strictly a 1-large-pot-by-the-front-porch kind of person, and a lot of hostas, day lilies, and (sorry) goutweed to fill in the bits I don’t want to weed.

I hear that gardening is relaxing, but to me it’s just a battle that I wage with weeds when they’ve taken over too much of my turf. Last year was easy. We had no rain for months, so things stayed pretty tidy. This year, however, we have been blessed with lots of rain, and my weeds are in their happy place.

When I get back from my break, I’ll be digging and yanking and spraying (only the eco-friendly stuff, I promise) and then be able to relax for a while. That, of course, is the problem. I don’t go out there every day and do a little bit. I wait until I’m facing a weeding marathon. Not the best approach, I know.

In a Southampton garden
In a Southampton garden

With my writing, I do a little better. Since March I’ve been trying to be a better gardener for my creative side–doing a little bit of writing every day instead of putting a lot of pressure on myself to clear a big chunk of time and then do a big push through a project. Even a few words a day means I’m making progress, and that’s my happy place.

How do you nurture your writing projects? A little bit every day or a massive write-a-thon?

Writing Links: From Outlines to Submissions to Cursive Writing

A Shoreline View
A Shoreline View

I’ve found some interesting links in the past few days that I want to pass along.

The first is a blog by one of my favourite writers/bloggers Elizabeth S. Craig. In her post, “Chalk One Up for Outlining,” Craig explains that she is not an outliner by nature. “I despise outlining and I hate following outlines.” If you feel the same way, you might like to read how she found a way to make it work for her.

I loved Darcy Pattison’s blog post, “6 Ways Out of Writing Slump.” I could really identify with her reasons for letting writing fiction slide, and I could also see how her suggestions could make a difference.

If you’re getting a project ready to submit to a publisher, read about what seven agents say can stop editors and agents reading: “Seven Agents Talk About the Most Common Submission Mistakes.” Their comments cover the synopsis, the query and your first pages.

Finally if you love writing in journals or with pen/pencil and paper, you might be interested in this opinion piece by Andrew Coyne that was written in response to a report about the lack of teaching of cursive writing in school. “Words on paper – how we write affects what we write.” 

I’d love to hear your feedback on any of these links. Who do you follow for great writing advice?

Thoughts on the End of the Writing Challenge

End of the day in my favourite place
End of the day in my favourite place

Today marks the last day of my early morning writing challenge. And now I face the ‘what next?’ question.

Did writing every morning make a difference in the rest of my writing for the day? Yes, it did.  I really believe that, later in the day when I got down to doing my other writing work, having written in the morning did make it easier to focus and find the words I needed. I was encouraged by what my other group-mates were doing, too. Some were adding daily to their WIP. That was a big incentive for me, who was doing very little on that front. The early morning writing helped me sort out why. It gave me a place to think about the project as a whole and to find some positive self-talk about what I was doing, had done and would do. It gave me a place to make plans and think ahead. For that alone, the daily writing was worth it.

I often get caught up in a short-term to-do list because there just isn’t time to think out a little further into the future. The gift of that early morning writing time has helped me look ahead at what I want to do with my most recently published book and given me the patience to get more of my ducks in a row before I start marketing in earnest. The book is a fantasy for grades 5/6 and I want to finish a teacher’s guide and get my website organized before I try to interest people in the project. A lot of home-schoolers visit my book website. I want to have everything they need to teach my book ready for them. I’m thinking of branching out into Pinterest, too, because that’s where they share the free stuff that’s on my book site. (If you have any advice about using Pinterest, I’d love to hear it.)

So what next? What next means continuing to do my daily morning writing. It’s been too valuable to put aside now. I’m hoping that one or two others in my group feel the same, because checking in with other writers really helps keep me going.

So thanks Kristi Holl for launching this month of writing accountability. I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did! (Check out Kristi’s books, too. Writer’s First Aid and More Writer’s First Aid at http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/more-writers-first-aid/

May’s writing prompts will be posted tomorrow!

April Challenge Update

IMG_5709I’ve been having an interesting time working on my challenge this month to write first thing every morning. I can honestly say that I have written every day, but I haven’t managed to do it every morning, first thing, which was the plan. Now that my semester is ended, I’m hoping to manage to meet the challenge for the rest of the month–and forever. I really have found it a useful exercise. I don’t write on my current project most days. But I do settle my thoughts, make my lists, get frustrations off my chest, and think about how thankful I am for the people in my life. And when I do get to write later in the day, I really do get into “writing mode” sooner, which is a nice benefit. So all good.

I had a couple of fun writing gigs last week. One included my visiting nurseries and finding out about new gardening trends. The other involved a trip to Lowe’s to find out about the latest in power tools. My family thought the latter was pretty funny. My feelings about treking around hardware stores are no secret, though I definitely do my share when home repairs are on the list. Both articles were fun to write, and, as usual, I learned something new. That is one of the best parts of being a freelancer. I get to talk to interesting people, learn new things, stretch my writing muscles with new topics and audiences–and get paid. I’ve posted one of the flower photos that I took while on my nursery visits. Spring is slow to come here, so seeing things in bloom was a real treat.

What writing projects have you worked on lately? Have you learned something from your research or from an interview that you didn’t know before?

I hope you are having a creative April.



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