Friday, May 22, 2015

A Different Kind of Bucket List Writing Prompt

Photo: Bucket and Spade on the Beach by Henry Burrows 

Hello, Everybody! I just want to say thank you to everyone who visits the blog. I know I have not posted in quite some time, but the archive is huge, and I'm so glad so many come to the blog every day in search of writing inspiration.

I have been teaching so much, which is why I have not been posting.  But since I am going to be off for a while, I thought of some new prompts I would like to add.

For today's prompt, I want you to think "Bucket List," but not in the typical way.  Many people have bucket lists, whether it is written down or just ideas in their heads. However, for today, I want you to think about some of the surprising things that you have already done, maybe some things you have engaged in without having any prior plan. Think about some cool things you have done, things you are glad you have done, things you have achieved. Take 2 minutes and write a list.

***************Time Passes. . . . .

Now that you have a list, I would like for you to pick one thing from your list and write for 7 minutes to the following prompts:

1. Memoir: Write a short memoir piece about one of the things you have done. Include your feelings about it before, during, and after. OR write about the interaction of the people who encouraged you or were with you when it happened.

2. Poetry: Write a reflection in verse about one of the things you have done. Show surprise. Show light.

3. Fiction: Add to the details of your outcome, or change details to make it more interesting. Put a character in place. The conflict is trying to achieve the outcome, and the journey is the story. Does the character end up achieving the goal? Why does the character want to do this? Are there people contributing to the conflict? Are there supporters for this character? The support the character receives does not have to be human. So.....

After you write for 7 minutes, you might have something you can work with, so Happy Writing and Happy Revising! Feel free to share what you write.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Writing Prompts with Lindsay Stirling's Video

Lindsay Sterling is amazing. For today's prompt, enjoy her music video. Write to the music for 10 minutes without stopping. No subject required, just go where the music takes you. The song is "Crystalize," and the scenery is breathtaking. Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Prompts

Today is Martin Luther King Day. You can reflect on either the quote in the photo or the quote below. Write for 15 minutes without stopping.

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

When reflecting on forgiveness, you can:

1 Start an essay about forgiveness in your life and what it took to forgive someone, or reflect on the process if you are still working on it.
2. Write a poem about something you have or have not forgiven.
3. Write a story or dramatic scene where two characters must forgive each other in order to move on with their lives.
4. Write a short essay about whether or not you agree with the quote.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Ordinary Object

Make a list of 10 ordinary objects you come across often in your life.

Read today's featured poem on Writer's Almanac.  It is "Towels" by Samuel Hazo.

Now write a poem about an ordinary object from your list, or start a scene with a character and an ordinary object from your list to open a story.

Happy Writing! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Creative Writing Prompts

Happy Earth Day!

Below is last week's column from American Life in Poetry.  I chose Linda Hogan's poem "The Sandhills" for your enjoyment.  I hope you like the poem.

Creative Writing Prompts

Fiction:  Write a short story that starts with 2 characters watching sandhill cranes.  Where are the characters?  What are they talking about?  Note:  This can be written as drama, too. 

Poetry:  Write a poem with a bird in it.  10 lines or less.

Nonfiction:  Reflect on watching birds.  If you are fortunate to look out your window and see a bird, just observe for a few minutes, then reflect on life via a journal entry.

Free write prompt starters from Hogan's poem:

From the following lines, free-write for 3 minutes and see what you get!

1.  The wind is. . .

2.  The shine of water. . .

3.  Above strands of earth. . .

Commentary by Ted Kooser, from American Life in Poetry

This column originates in Nebraska, and our office is about two hours’ drive from that stretch of the Platte River where thousands of sandhill cranes stop for a few weeks each year. Linda Hogan, one of our most respected Native writers and Writer in Residence for The Chickasaw Nation, perfectly captures their magic and mystery in this fine poem. 

The Sandhills  by Linda Hogan

The language of cranes
we once were told
is the wind. The wind
is their method,
their current, the translated story
of life they write across the sky.
Millions of years
they have blown here
on ancestral longing,
their wings of wide arrival,
necks long, legs stretched out
above strands of earth
where they arrive
with the shine of water,
stories, interminable
language of exchanges
descended from the sky
and then they stand,
earth made only of crane
from bank to bank of the river
as far as you can see
the ancient story made new.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem reprinted from Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas, Ed. by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, The Univ. of Arizona Press, 2011, by permission of Linda Hogan and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poetry Slam with Animals

Happy Poetry Month!

I got such a kick out of this cartoon that I asked the writer of the cartoon, poet Barbara Crooker, if she would mind if I shared it on the blog.  She graciously gave permission.

So, a chicken walks into a poetry slam. . . .

Your crazy prompt is to write a slam poem written by the animal of your choice.  Which animal will it be?  A cow?  A pig?  A dog?  A cat?  An elephant?  A dolphin?  ?????

As always, I would love to read what you come up with.  Please share in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hans Christian Andersen Writing Prompts

In honor of Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, I would like to offer up a special fairy tale prompt.  Did you know that Hans Christian Andersen wrote 175 fairy tales in his lifetime?  Among them are The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Emperor's New Clothes.  The Writer's Almanac has a nice write-up about him today.

Well, if Hans Christian Andersen can write 175 fairy tales, we can at least attempt to write one.  Today's challenge is to write a fairy tale using something magical and follow the guidelines below:

1.  The protagonist is stuck in a situation he or she hates (school, job, family, etc.).  You pick the situation and give the protagonist character (sex, age, personality, motive, etc.)

2.  The magical element is some kind of a talking plant or flower or tree.

3.  Somehow, love must be involved.

4.  Develop a conflict around the situation the protagonist hates and the person he or she falls in love with.

5.  Use the following items in your story:  a coffee cup, a pebble, a stream, stars, and music.

Alternative Creative Writing Prompts:

Here are some lines from Hans' stories, and you can start free-writing from any one of them:

1.  For many heavy days and dark nights the heart must suffer to. . .
2.  The bird flutters round us. . .
3.  In the country, close by a high road, stood a. . .
4.  It was made of clay in the shape of a. . .

You can read fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen for free here: