Posts Tagged ‘writing prompts’

Sometimes my writing break-throughs are when I’m not actually writing.

So much of writing is thinking. But consciously thinking – forcing the thoughts to be brilliant and original and all-around perfect and fabulous – rarely works for me. Thinking while doing something else is much more likely to be productive.

Some of my favorite writing by not writing techniques:

  • Making something. Cutting, pasting, painting, weaving.
  • Weeding.
  • Listening to music, really loud.
  • Obsessively fixating on some kind of minute and tedious chore.
  • Driving.
  • And always – to the point that it might actually be writing – walking the dog.

Or sometimes it’s writing in a different form.

I was greeted with a poem this morning, written by a friend. It’s the first poem I’ve read by her. If she hasn’t been writing poetry, she should be. Made me want to write a poem too.

My critique group is looking for more ways to spark creativity and writing – any suggestions for us?

Sarah Wones Tomp


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This is my answer to Jo Knowles’s post yesterday… a snapshot from a family vacation in 2010.

We came from

California… Massachusetts… Washington…

Colorado… Utah… Maryland

to lie in a pile

fly kites


talk about Pokemon.

Eyes up and out and looking ahead

Aye ayes to laughter

Each I a little bit different but

also a little bit same

Ay-yi-yi it’s

Island time ~

daily ice cream


driftwood forts


and yakking

(about Pokemon).

Sarah Wones Tomp


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The girl-child and I headed up to Los Angeles for a dive meet this past weekend – two hours there and almost four to get back, so it goes in Southern California.

She brought her I-pod, of course. She has a pretty eclectic taste in music – and I do too, but I decided listening to Eminem in traffic is asking for trouble. So between my nerves and her falling asleep leaving me at the mercy of whatever played – I listened to a lot of Taylor Swift’s new album, Speak Now.

She’s quite a storyteller – her songs are full of romance and tension and drama. My mind was definitely a-wandering and a-thinking. I felt like I was traveling in time a bit – her songs reminded me of what it was like to be a teen. Makes sense seeing as she’s barely left her teen years behind her (Although I can’t see how she would possibly have had a typical teen experience!)

Her lyrics capture so much in simple distilled lines – they are almost flash fiction. I felt as though each one of these songs could be the start or even the outline shell of a YA novel. Could be a cool writing prompt…

Sarah Wones Tomp


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Writing takes practice. It takes time (and pages) to develop technique. You have to work at it to get better, to develop those writing muscles.

I think this news is often disappointing to aspiring writers. Maybe it’s because we spent years in school doing a lot of writing. And, most likely, during those years writing came easily. People told us we were good at it. We already know how to write. All true.

But… you still have to practice. And each sentence, paragraph, page, story will be with you as you start the next one. Improving, growing, learning the craft.

I was lucky enough to hear (the late) Sid Fleischman speak in January 2005. He talked about his own self-training. He made himself index cards filled with characters, places, events. He then chose random combinations of these to dictate the story he had to write.  And then he went on to a very successful and Newbery Award-winning career, happily every after writing life.

I love the surprises that come from prompts – that was in my brain? Mine? Had no idea

Writing teacher Judy Reeves wrote A Writer’s Book of Days – a collection of writing prompts/practice. Check out her website for example prompts – and she can convince you that practice is necessary!

And here’s a link to picture prompts – a new one is generated each day.

It’s all about the play and the work and the training and the joy of being a writer.

Here’s one for today: Write a one page letter using these words: turpentine, float, scratch and check.

Sarah Wones Tomp


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