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The Power of Words

Write a list of random, free-association words. For creative writing, list ten words across ten columns. Then go to each column and add nine more words so that the result is ten columns and ten rows, a total of one hundred words. Just reading the list and noticing the creative leaps your mind has made may surprise you. If you like, continue the exercise by using all one hundred words in a short fiction piece. For poetry, select the words that suggest a common theme.

Beginnings

Getting started is one of the most difficult tasks that faces every writer. Julie Parsons is an international bestselling author. For this exercise, she's giving you the opening lines from some of her books. Take the following lines and use them to write the beginning of your own chapter:

  1. You could say it began with a phone call."
  2. Michael had watched them both for weeks."
  3. She remembered the way it was the first time she saw the prison."
  4. Midsummer, no time to be in New Orleans."
  5. With the dawn came the light."

Punctuate:

This is a challenge that will exercise your prowess at one of the oft-used components of English: punctuation. To start off, write a paragraph of no more than 500 words about the benefits of skin care. Within this paragraph, use ; : - _ ! ? " ' , . at minimum twice.

Now I'm Free, Free Writin'

Take 5-10 minutes to free-write about your project in new or strange way. Scrawl your thoughts on construction paper in purple marker, close your eyes and write outside the lines - or draw your plot in pictograms. When you're done, choose the bits that stand out most to you or were the most fun to jot down, and make them the central points of your outline or story.

The Word Salad

Our subconscious minds combine items in unexpected, sometimes whimsical ways. Set a timer for twenty minutes and use at least three of these words in your draft. Write without stopping: a red scarf, windshield wiper, chrome, doily, blowtorch, spatula, CD-ROM, postage stamp, frittering, static cling, radio silence, kismet, calamity, heartburn, bandage.