Thursday, October 2

According to Jewish law and tradition, this year, 5775, is a Shmita or Sabbatical year, when Jewish farmers are supposed to let the land rest. The idea of fallow fields got me thinking about what grows when you don’t actively plant seeds, either physically or metaphorically.

Prompt #1  Write about toiling, perseverance, stepping back, being receptive. Write for 15 minutes.

Prompt #2 Follow these steps to see what emerges.

  1. Write for 10 minutes inspired by the word “fallow.”
  2. Write for 5 minutes inspired by the word “follow.” Encourage connections with the “fallow” writing.
  3. Write for 5 minutes inspired by the word “fellow.” Again, look for connections, either thematically or aurally, with your “fallow” and “follow” writing.
  4. Look at all three samples. Circle phrases and words that stand out for you. Choose one word or phrase from each sample and write them on top of a new page. Write for 10 more minutes.


Childhood Toys

Saturday, August 16


Write a about a childhood toy or game.

Writing suggestions and inspirations:

1. Describe the game. What did it look like? How did it work? Did you play it with others or by yourself?

2. Do you associate any particular sounds or smells with this game? Was it a new or old game?

3. Was it a shared game? Did you own it or did it belong to a sibling, friend, or cousin?

4. Was there a time that your played with it regularly or did it disappear then reappear?

5. Describe a typical conversation between two people playing this game.

6. Did any frustrating moments arise from this game? Any tears? Any triumphs?

Sign Up

For Wednesday, August 13

  DSCN0249 DSCN3684 IMG_0899    IMG_0441IMG_2651DSCN1380

Write a poem or prose piece inspired by a sign.

Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for unusual, playful, or cautionary signs. Then, incorporate one of them into a written work.


1. Write from the point-of-view of someone who passes the sign frequently. What goes through their head?

2. Write a short essay (first person) about your reaction to the sign. What stands out for you? Why?

3. If the sign is a warning, write from the point of view of someone who ignores its message. What happens next?

4. Try writing a poem that includes all the words in the sign, but reworks, remixes, or re-purposes them.

The House with Porthole Window

DSCN0375 Today’s Prompt

Write a poem, flash fiction piece or the beginning of a story inspired by this photo.

Incorporate at least four of these words: rough  pie  slant  oboe smooth dirt bolt  round   home   worn   road  deserted  once must  broom

Write for 15 minutes.




Super Star

June 30, 2014  Prompt #59

star night

Today’s prompt follows up on yesterday’s Sunday Shape-Up which starred stars.

Further Writing

  • Use one of these phrases as your prompt: Gold Stars. Hollywood Star. Star struck. Starburst. Star of David. Star of Bethlehem. Star-crossed.
  • Write in response to the painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Imagine you are in the painting. Imagine you are painting the painting.


Variations for Writing Groups

  1. If you meet at night, find a safe but dark area from which to view the sky. Without writing, look at the stars for 5 full minutes. Then, using the minimal amount of light needed, write down impressions and sensations.
  2. Repeat.
  3. Inside, follow-up by circling a favorite phrase from your notes and using it as your first line. Write for 20 minutes.
  4. If it isn’t possible to see the night sky during your writing group, look at a photo of the night sky here. Choose one of the photos and write in response to it for 20 minutes.


Sunday Shape Up: Star

June 29, 2014  Prompt #58


This week’s Sunday Shape-Up lets you shine like the star you are.


  1. For 10 minutes, jot down phrases, dialogue and images that come to mind when you hear the word star.
  2. Re-read what you’ve written and circle a phrase or sentence that stands out.
  3. Next, underline a phrase that feels awkwardly written, difficult, or otherwise problematic.
  4. Write both phrases on the top of a new sheet of paper.  Write in response to them for 15 minutes.

Tomorrow: Further Writing and Variations for Writing Groups


Expendable Adjectives

(One Day Late for) June 23, 2014  Prompt #52


For most of this week, we’ll be looking at revisions.  So dig up some old writing and get ready to rethink, revise, and re-do.

Today we’ll focus on adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives modify nouns. Adverbs modify verbs. They supply your readers with information about the noun or verb. Sounds good, right? And yet…


  1. Choose an essay, story, or poem that you’ve written.
  2. With a colored pen, circle all the adjectives and adverbs in the piece.
  3. Can you remove any of these adjectives and adverbs by beefing up the nouns they modify?  For instance, instead of writing tall building, you could write tower or skyscraper. Instead of writing she ran quickly, you might write she sprinted or she raced.

Further Writing

  • Read your piece aloud.  Do any adjectives and adverbs jar its rhythm? Consider cutting them. Read it again. Does the work feel tighter? More agile?
  • Instead of cutting back, double or triple up on every adjective. The slim, skinny, thin man took out his leather, hide, animal skin wallet. Try this for a page or two. Can you create a short piece that uses this technique?

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. On a fresh piece of paper, write down all the adjectives and adverbs from a short story, a poem, or an essay. (Or from the first two pages of any work.) Read them aloud. What tone or emotion do you pick up from them? What do others in your group think?
  2. Trade a short piece of your writing–with all its adjectives and adverbs circled–with a writing partner. Write new, stronger nouns for your writing partner then swap back. Do any of nouns they provided appeal to you?

Even More

Want to brush up on your parts of speech? Try this website.



Sunday Shape Up: Oval

June 22, 2014  Prompt #51


For this week’s Sunday Shape-Up, we will carefully press a circle into an oval and give it a spin.


  1. Quick Tip: The word oval originates from the Latin ov or egg. Hence, oval means egg-shaped.
  2. For five minutes, jot down phrases and images that come to mind when you hear the word oval.
  3. Re-read what you’ve written and underline a phrase or sentence that stands out.
  4. Write that phrase on the top of a new sheet of paper.  Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Running tracks are oval. Imagine you (or one of your characters) approach one at 6 a.m. on a spring morning. What happens next?  Include outward descriptions and inward thoughts. Write for 20 minutes.
  • Oval Office.
    • Get inside the head of a U.S. president. Imagine what he thinks about when he is alone in the Oval.
    • Write about your favorite fictional U.S. president.

Variation for Writing Groups


  1. Bring two eggs (raw, boiled or both) to writing group. Pass them around (gently). Feel the weight of them in your hand. If you are at someone’s home, try cracking one open or peeling one.
  2. Next, for 10 minutes, write down all your associations with eggs.
  3. Read your work out loud.
  4. The person to your left chooses one word or phrase they find inspiring from your writing and uses it as their prompt.
  5. Continue around the circle until everyone has a key word for their prompt.
  6. If you have more than 4 people in your group, pair or triple up to share work and choose a prompt word.


  1. Stir up a glass of Ovaltine.
  2. Sip and write. Sip and write.


Picture {Postcard} Perfect

June 19, 2014.  Prompt #49

denver2Today’s prompt may take you to places unknown.

Have a marvelous journey.




  1. Do you have a collection of old travel postcards?  If so, choose one for this prompt.
  2. If not, in Google image, Flickr, or another image search, type “travel postcards.” Choose a postcard image from it.
  3. Write down thoughts and sensations inspired by the postcard. Write for 10 minutes.
  4. Rewrite your last line on the top of a new page. Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Postcards are known for limited space.  Write a haiku elicited by the postcard.
  • Imagine you sent this postcard. What would you have written on the back? Who would you have sent it to? What would you have told them to console them, to lure them, or to make them jealous?

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Postcards often offer a candy-coated version of what they depict. Write a short prose piece (200 words or less) either building on this lie or debunking it. Start the piece with three adjectives in a row.
  2. Bring a postcard to your group and have everyone write a poem or short prose piece based on it. Write for 10 minutes.
  3. Share your work. Do common themes emerge?
  4. Repeat the prompt with another postcard.

Next Week

Two of next week’s prompts will focus on editing and revision.  To prepare, find a story, poem, or essay to revisit.  You can use a rough draft or a polished piece with which you are willing to experiment.


By The Sea

June 17, 2014.  Prompt #47


I’ve been steadily editing a novel of mine that takes place at a beach. Even while I am typing away here in landlocked Colorado, much of my brain has relocated to a Jersey Shore beach town circa 1993.

For today’s prompt, therefore, we’ll work with words associated with oceans, bays, beaches and shorelines. May a wave of creativity wash over you.

(For those of you who have been reading this blog closely, you’ll see this is a variation on the post “Plant.”)



  1. Choose nine words from this list: bay, beach, boat, bob, breakers, bright, brisk, dive, dolphin, dunes, fish, foot prints, kite, life guard, nap, salt, sand, shell, shore, swim, tan, tide, umbrella, wave.
  2. Using the nine words and others of your own, write a nine line poem.
  3. Write for 9 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Use the same nine words and write a piece that has nothing to do with beaches. Write for 15 minutes.
  • Choose one of the verbs from the list and use it in a poem or piece of short prose nine times. Vary it at least three times, using different forms of the verb.  For instance, if you choose dive, try using also using dives, diving, dove, or diver. Write for 15 minutes.

Variation for Writing Groups

  1. Choose one or two words from the list which are both noun and verb. Play with those combinations in a short piece. This is a chance to use repetition in a deliberate way. Write for 15 minutes.
  2. Choose words from the lists that have more than one definition, such as wave, bob, shell, or tan. Write a piece that makes use of their multiple meanings.
  3. Read your writing out loud. What do you notice about its rhythm and pacing?

Next Week

Two of next week’s prompts will focus on editing and revision.  To prepare, find a story, poem, or essay to revisit.  You can use a rough draft or a polished piece with which you are willing to experiment.