Writing Prompts for January 2016

IMG-20130709-00210inspirationHappy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and that you’re ready to tackle whatever the new year brings.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you good at keeping them? One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that everything I resolve to do doesn’t have to be achieved by the end of February. Way too much pressure—and way too easy for someone like me to give up at that point. (I have a lot of experience with that!)  At this time of year, I like to think about what I hope to achieve next year. I don’t have resolutions exactly, but instead, I have an ongoing, ever-in-revision to-do list that serves as a daily reminder of what my year’s goals are. And yes, if you check my last post, I did go out and buy a new journal to help me keep track of everything.

For my own health and sanity, weight loss and more exercise are on the list–starting with a standing desk–plus I’m working on a plan plan to go out more often with my husband. (I’ve already bought the concert tickets!) I’m also looking for one thing to do each week to help fill the creative well that so easily gets emptied when you’re a busy, creative person.

For my writing, I have a lot of goals to reach this year—more books and journals and, at least, one online course. The last will be a challenge. Like most people, I don’t like the sound of my voice on tape, but I’m finally ready to take the risk and work on this project that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a couple of years now.

I’m also going to attempt to learn to read Latin this year. I know that’s a weird goal, but I’ve written a couple of books set in the Middle Ages (not published) and have ideas for more–one involving a person who illuminates manuscripts. I’ve always wanted to actually read the words on the medieval manuscripts I’ve seen so often while doing my research.  And, since my mom bought me a set of how-to-learn-Latin DVDs for my birthday, I no longer have any excuse!

I want to thank you all for dropping by the website to check out the resources or to say hi over the past year. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be adding some new sites and information for teens who want to get published. Visitors drop by from all over the world, and I’m humbled that so many of you find inspiration for your writing or your classroom here. Whether you make resolutions, or set goals, or just let life bring whatever it brings, I wish you every success, and a healthy and happy 2016.


draft cover for journalIf one of your goals is to write every day in 2016, research shows that it takes 66 days to develop a habit. There are ample writing prompts on this site to feed a 66-day, habit-building plan many times over. If you need something a little more structured, check out the journal I created last year and see if it has the solution you’re looking for.



1.See if you can use one, some, or all of the words in one of these groups in a story or poem.

a) cup, danger, blue, fragile, reach, high
b) book, scratch, far, wonder, red, end
c) curtain, lights, remember, warm, close, fear

2. What story can you create that begins with one of these opening sentences?

  • Henry said, “Do not wish me a Happy New Year.”
  • Helen dropped the last of his photographs into the trash.
  • Why wasn’t I surprised that the light switch didn’t work either.
  • I hoped they remembered the old adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
  • We’d never make it before dawn.
  • They were not her people. Helen realized she was lucky to still be alive.

3. Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?
Winter Solstice, The Offer, Sonata in Screams, Haunted, I Hate Love Stories, Blue Wednesday, Rodeo, The New Year’s Mystery, A Dog for a Day, I said No, Fire Place, The Witch Next Door.

4. What scenes can you imagine around these lines of dialogue?

Turn on the light.
I did—and I checked the bulb. There’s no power.
That’s not good.

Why did you leave Harry?
I didn’t. He left me.
That’s not what he said.

I’m sorry for your loss, Helen.
Believe me. It was no loss.
But how can you say that?

I thought robots were supposed to do what they were told.
Not when they’re told something stupid.

What’s in the bag?
The stores closed an hour ago.
Okay then. I liked.

Have you ever seen any creatures so disgusting.
Should I say something?
You should say, thank-you. They saved our lives remember.

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2016!

Writing Prompts for January 2015

IMG-20130709-00210Along with the prompts for January, I’ve found some excellent blog reading to start your new year.

I love Kristi Holl’s writing advice. I own three of her books and check her blog regularly. She’s on a break now until after the New Year, but she has a great archive of thoughtful blogs to help launch your 2015.

If your New Year’s resolutions’ list looks like you are heading into a year of giving up everything that’s fun, check out Kristi’s blog to find out how to add some joy and renewal time to your resolutions that will help you reach your goals. http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2013/12/a-writers-happy-new-year/

When I think of accomplishing any goals, the words “motivation” and “will power” come to mind right away. For me, however, neither is terribly reliable, and both are tough to sustain over the long haul. Kristi passes along a simple system that just might make both obsolete and help you reach your goals in a way you never thought of before. And yes, this system will be a part of my New Year’s plans. http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2014/08/no-motivation-or-willpower-simple-solution/

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best for 2015!

January 2015 Writing Prompts

  1. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem:
  • Cut, water, moon, silver, nail
  • Handle, clock, door, blue, box, bell
  1. See if these opening sentences inspire a story:
  • I could barely see the house in the fog.
  • Yesterday was a mess. Today didn’t look too promising either.
  • I liked visiting Henry. He always did everything he could to make me feel welcome. His dog, on the other hand, didn’t copy his master.
  • I’m sorry. I dropped it.
  • It can’t be that late already.
  • The box slid to the ground and fell open.
  • Even dragons get the blues
  • Everyone believed she’d run away—everyone except me.
  1. Maybe one of these titles will suggest a story or poem:

A Quarter Past Midnight, Death by Text, Runaway, Dare, A Reason to Care, Road to Fear, Wish Me Luck, Summer Camp Disaster, The Coin

  1. What scene can you write around these lines of dialogue?
  • It would be nice if you’d listen to me.
  • I was listening.
  • Then, what time did I say we were leaving?


  • Why did you come back?
  • I wanted to see you.
  • Okay, you’ve seen me. Now go.


  • Do you have the key?
  • Yes.
  • What’s the matter?
  • I’m not sure we should use it.


  • That was a mean thing to do.
  • I didn’t mean it.
  • You did, too.
  • Okay, I did. So what?


  • What’s that in your hand?
  • Nothing
  • You’re sure?
  • Yes
  1. What does the start of a new year mean to you? With what feelings do you look back upon the year that has passed? Think of the good things that happened in 2014 and take a few moments to write them down so that you can remember them. If other people were helpful in creating your positive memories, consider sending them a note to say thank-you. Think of the character in you story. How does he or she feel about the start of a new year?

Looking Ahead to 2015

treadmill deskAre you looking ahead to 2015? Are you thinking of all the changes you want to make? Projects you want to start? Time you want to find for more writing—and more exercise? Me, too. And I don’t think we’re alone.

For the first time in a long time, I’m not teaching during the winter semester. And, yes, I have lots of things that I plan to do instead of school work starting January 5th. But I’m also realizing that I can’t rush into all of them at once or I won’t achieve anything.

Making lists is my first step. I have freelance contracts to honour, my own writing and marketing to do, a family to care for, a house to manage, and I want to get a dog, and get in better physical shape, oh, and I want to declutter the house before I bring a dog into it, and—okay, just writing all that down is making my head spin.

So I’ve made a decision to work on my list in instalments. I can’t go chasing all of those goals starting January 5th or I’d be giving up on them all by the 6th. I need to look further ahead. What would be a reasonable date by which to get the house decluttered? Probably the end of January.

What about the writing and the freelancing? Well, I’ve started to help myself there by not going on the internet until after 9 a.m. I’m an early bird, and I can get some writing done on my own projects before I open my inbox to see what my freelancing life is going to come up with that day. If there’s nothing there that I have to worry about, I can go back to the writing and check in later.

I have one freelance contract that I know of starting in the new year. It’s a project that will take a few months to complete. Once again, there’s no need for me to start work on it before 9 a.m. by which time I’ve made progress on my own projects before starting to focus on the billable hours.

I’ve learned (slowly) that putting off my own work until I’ve finished the school work or the freelance work for the day, means that my own work just doesn’t get done. By the time I’ve worked on the other things, I haven’t run out of time (because there are hours ahead before I turn in for the night,) but I’ve run out of the creative energy necessary to make good use of those hours.

I’ve tucked my freelance work away for the holidays, but I’m already trying the no-internet-before-9 routine, and it’s working. My husband and son are both on holidays, too, but they’re not early risers, so my day actually starts with writing. I love going into a busy day knowing that I’ve already put words on the page.

I also have a treadmill downstairs with a makeshift platform attached for my laptop, but I don’t use it. Fortunately, my husband’s work laptop has been upgraded, so I’m going to hook up his old one down there permanently. I spend a good 45 minutes to an hour every morning checking email, Facebook, reading articles, and just noodling on the Internet. I’ve decided to do all that while on the treadmill. I don’t walk quickly, but at least I’ll be moving—or at least standing—and that’s got to be a good thing.

How are you planning to tackle your new year’s resolutions? I hope you reach all your goals and that you have a healthy, happy, and writerly year ahead.

Writing Prompts for January 2014

Snow and IceHappy New Year!

Like many of you, I’m making my to-do list for 2014. If yours is still a work-in-progress, here are a couple of blogs that suggest refreshing strategies for setting your 2014 goals.

The first is by James Clear, who states, “What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.” To read Clear’s blog, “Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead”, click here.

The other blog that changed my to-do list focus was this one from Kristi Holl, “A Writer’s Happy New Year.” In it she says, “I took another look at my 2014 goals. There wasn’t one single fun thing on the single-spaced, two-page list.” If your list looks like hers, click here for ways to put fun and renewal in your 2014 to-do list.

I found both of those blogs helped me focus my goals for 2014. Stuff happens, and I know that there will be a lot of unexpected bumps along the way to December 31, 2014. I’m hoping that working on creating a workable system for my writing and making sure that I also book some breathing time into my life along the way will make 2014 a positive writing year. I wish you a wonderful writing year, too.

To get things started, here are the prompts for this month.

1. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem.

  • table, clock, cold, blue, sharp, brush
  • dress, late, light, silver, touch, ring

2. Try one of these opening sentences.

  • Did he just wink at me?
  • Claire slid the ring off her finger.
  • I used to think Jack worried too much.
  • Never meet your best friend in a graveyard.
  • I wondered why she’d left the TV on so loud.
  • A siren wailed in the night.

3. Can you think of a story or poem for one of these titles?

Wrapping Paper, Diary of a Break-Up, Labour of Love, At the River’s Edge, Blue is for Boys, The Time Tree, Light’s Haven

4. Here are some snippets of dialogue. What scene can you create for the speakers?

  • Who is that girl?
  • That one?
  • Yes.
  • You must be the only one that doesn’t know.
  • I can’t believe he gave that to her.
  • I can’t believe she took it.
  • What happened to me?
  • What’s the last thing you remember?
  • Oh. Crap.

Hope you have a fantastic start to 2014!

26 Days and Still Writing

photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons
Time Disappears in a Good Book                       photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

My personal NaNoWriMo has been chugging along for 26 days now, and, I’ve produced over 16,600 words so far. Compared to those writers who are meeting and surpassing their 50,000-word goal already, it might not seem like much, but it’s a big accomplishment for me. Did I miss a couple of days? Yes. Did I move on, and keep writing? Yes! For me that was the important part–not quitting.

I had a lot on my plate this month, which I won’t take the space to itemize, but belonging to a group of people who posted their progress and encouragement daily and who faced their own challenges made a big difference to my own self-encouragement and to my determination not to let them or myself down. I can’t say enough about the value of having some writing buddies in your life who are positive and respectful and for whom you want to do your best.

To meet my check-ins this month, I wrote at times of day (and night) that I never would have considered remotely feasible. Has that made a difference to my writing life? Definitely! I have always considered myself strictly a morning person. The best time of day for me to write was first thing, and if I missed that opportunity … well, there just wasn’t much point in even trying at any other time of day. Was I ever WRONG! It was so important for me to get the words down for my check-in, that I wrote at all sorts of times of day, and discovered that in order to be able to string words together good enough for a first draft, I needed no special time or place. Wow! Talk about freedom! And a lesson has taken me waaaaay too long to learn. Armed with that knowledge now, I feel hugely excited about meeting my next goals.

So when the month is over, can I take what I’ve learned and go back to being a solitary writer and still write every day? I’ve been a part of three writing challenges this year, and, except for the odd glitch that gets thrown into everyone’s life,  I’ve stuck to my goals every time. I’m ready to stick to this, too. I’ll be checking in with my own writing log after November 30th. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

For those of you south of my border, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. And for everyone, you have all my good wishes for lots of creative days ahead!

Looking Back

Dec 2012 blog tagxedo
Inspired by Patricia Ann McGoldrick’s blog , I created a word cloud of what I’ve been writing about this year. I can’t use Wordle, because I can’t stop my computer blocking the software I need to upload to use it, so I used Tagxedo instead. You can make it more Wordle-like by changing the emphasis to 1. I warn you that playing with either of these programs can be addictive!

I thought that the word cloud was pretty informative actually. The words goals, writing, and time featured pretty predominantly. Obviously these are things I was writing about and concerned about last year. Did I set goals and accomplish them? Yes–and no. I finished my 30-day writing challenge, so that was a definite yes. Some other writing goals I wanted to pursue fell by the wayside.

So what about next year? What will my goals be? The writing challenge brought a few things into perspective about where I am with my writing and my writing business. Do I have a novel ahead of me? No. Some shorter pieces? Yes. Do I have some marketing plans? Yes. Am I still teaching? Yes. Do I have one major goal that I want to accomplish in the new year? Yes, I want to be a lot kinder to myself. Yup, that’s the goal I picked. And I think that if that is the starting point for any other challenges that I take on–writing, marketing, losing weight, exercising (oh yeah, the last 2 are definitely on my list)–I think I’ll have a better chance of succeeding.

I’m trying to turn the have-to’s and their accompanying moans of gloom into actions that I do because they are actually good for me, that come from treating myself well. It’s an effort to fix my head voices that are far more often negative than positive. I hope to end the year with them less eager to point out failure, and more inclined to shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, not everything works out the way you plan. What can we try next?”
What are your next steps for 2013? Have you set writing or health-related goals? Do you have any strategies for success that we should know about?

I’ll be back in a few days with your writing prompts for January.

Until then, be kind to yourself. 🙂

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