Your weekly dose of pen-spiration. 🙂 Have your own writing prompt to share? Leave it in the comments and help contribute to the end of writer’s block! Also, if you’re on Pinterest, please feel free to follow my Pen-spiration board for writing quotes and exercises!
Tag Archives: writer’s block
Here we are–September. SEPTEMBER. Can someone please tell me what happened to August, or even the first seven months of the year?
September is going to be a big month for me. About a zillion people I know are getting married (just a rough estimate, don’t quote me on that number). My puppy is getting spayed. Oh, and my new book is going to become available. [Insert ear-piercing squeal here.] This will be my second book and it is absolutely nothing like my first; while my first was based on this here blog you’re reading, the one coming out this month is a memoir. I’ll save all the dirty details for a blog post when the book hits the shelves, but I had to take a moment to document the reality of it. Eeeeee!
Annnnywho. I hope many of you are enjoying this extra day off of work. Working or not, here’s this week’s set of prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” -Beatrix Potter
Happy Monday, fellow writers! Here’s to a week of fresh ideas and vivid stories. 😀
Although the challenges for my stories are a little different than traditional writing prompts, I do have an appreciation for the good ol’ fashioned method. Every Monday, I’m going to start posting five writing prompts for my fellow writers who might need a less aggressive jump start to their writing for the work week. Here is the first set!
It’s a miracle I’ve gotten any writing done this past week since my hands have been full with this little cutie-patootie:
Miraculously, I did crank out a story and I gave my blog a little bit of a makeover. (Didja notice? Didja didja?) Enjoy this bit of Sunday reading! Challenge is revealed at the end of the post…
“I’m a celebrity, you know,” Gretchen tells me, running long, purple fingernails through her French poodle’s spirally fur.
“No you’re not, Gretchen,” I say as I turn my back to her. She sits on the front porch with a glass of peach-flavored iced tea. She doesn’t respond, but huffs with an air of disagreement.
Gretchen hired me six months ago to tend to her garden twice a week. A compulsive liar, she’s told every fib under the sun, plus some from another universe entirely.
“Pick off those dead leaves, dear,” Gretchen instructs, pointing at a curtain of ivy ten feet from where I’m standing. Only a moment ago, she’d told me not to bother with anything other than the tulips today.
“Yep,” Gretchen says with a stretch, “back in 1979, I was on the cover of Modern Wife magazine.”
“Why were you on the cover of Modern Wife?” I inquire, my bullshit detector picking up a signal.
“Why do you think?” she asks. “I was a model, and I portrayed a damn fine wife if I do say so myself.”
I pat the dirt, pet it light I might stroke a kitten, wondering if this story could be true. It certainly seems true, not like the others Gretchen tells that involve copulating with werewolves and singing in an a capella ensemble with Prince.
“I’ve tried to bond with Gretchen, thinking it was odd to spend 15 hours a week with a woman I hardly knew. Now, as she flicks cigarette ashes onto the flowers I treat with such care, I would rather bond with a grizzly bear.
I make my way to the ivy, plucking away leaves with browning edges like burnt paper. “Do you want my autograph?” Gretchen asks, adding, “I’ll give it to ya for five bucks.”
Gretchen does this all the time: tries to swindle money out of me by feeding me bogus stories. “Did you know I sponsor starving lemurs in Africa?” she once asked. “You can feed 50 of them for a 20 dollar donation.”
If only she knew what five bucks can do for me. If only I could pay 50 dollars to sit on my porch and bark commands at some poor woman. “But Gretchen, I already have your autograph,” I say, “on all of my checks you’ve signed.”
Gretchen purses her lips, old and weathered from a lifetime of cigarettes. “I think you might just be jealous that you’d never get featured on the cover of Good Wife magazine.”
“Isn’t it Modern Wife?” I scowl, ready to hogtie Gretchen in ivy and stamp burning cigarettes into her eyes. She will spend the whole afternoon concocting a new tale. For now, Gretchen mutters a “hmmph” at her being caught, again. Sometimes I can understand why she does it. How I would rather the world see me as a model or a lemur-saver than as a poor girl surviving on plucking dead plant leaves. But that’s the difference between Gretchen and me. I want to believe that at her age, I will have real stories to tell, true memories to share with the woman tending my garden.
Gretchen says, “My mom won the Nicaraguan lottery once…”
The challenge for this story was: Every sentence contains exactly three 3-letter words.
The spell is broken, the spell is broken! I have slayed the mighty Writer’s Block!
My husband dragged me to see 300 in the theater last night. It was a trade-off: I would only agree to see it with him if he agreed to see a chick flick with me. (Really, all he needed to do was mention that 300 would involve hundreds of half-naked men with air-brushed abs.) Now that I have suffered through it (okay, okay, it wasn’t that bad), I can only compare my victory over Writer’s Block to one of the many intensely gory scenes from the movie last night. I have shed the blood of Writer’s Block and declared my creative freedom!
I do hope that whole spiel was corny enough for you. In all seriousness: the challenge for today’s story was suggested by one of my readers. (Thanks Krista!) I will reveal the challenge at the end!
Belle’s mom wouldn’t let her use curse words. Once, when Belle called her brother an “ass,” her mom duct-taped her mouth shut for two whole hours. Belle never understood what was so bad about curse words—they’re only words, after all—and that only made her want to say them even more.
Belle could count only seven curse words that she’d heard. Whenever she was angry or frustrated, she mouthed them to herself. They made her woozy, the way they rolled off her tongue. She knew a day would come when she would speak one aloud and she’d be grounded, probably even spanked. But Belle wouldn’t be stopped; she was hooked.
The problem was that Belle grew bored of the seven curse words she knew. She’d heard there were many more bad words out there—dozens, actually—but she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to learn them all.
On a Saturday afternoon when her mom fell asleep on the couch, Belle opened the phone book and punched the number of a random person: ANGUS, GEORGE.
“Hullo?” George muttered.
“George?” Belle asked.
“Yes, that’s me,” George responded.
“Can you tell me what’s the baddest, most awful word you’ve ever heard?”
George laughed, a gurgly, hearty chuckle. “How old are you, deary?”
“Seven,” Belle stated proudly.
“Why’d you call a stranger to ask for such a bad word?” George asked.
“Bad words are cool. The way they sound makes my heart flutter. But my mom never uses them, so there’s no way for me to learn them.”
George went mute—so mute that Belle feared he may have hung up. She opened the phone book to browse for another name, but then George began, “Well, there’s…” and he spouted off twenty-two of the worst, foulest words Belle thought must have ever been uttered. When he was done, George let out an exhausted breath.
All Belle could say was, “Wow…”
“You’re a rebel, deary. That’s rad. Now don’t go tell your mom you learned those from me.”
Belle, frozen by wonder, squeaked out, “No, never. You are so cool!”
Belle ended the call and ran to her room to record as many of the words as she could remember. When she was done, she stashed the paper under her mattress.
Later that afternoon, Belle’s mom found her daughter asleep on the floor where she’d thrown a tea party for her dolls. Her heart warmed at how pure and lovely Belle appeared there, a touch of drool collected where her head rested on her arm. She couldn’t ask for a better daughter.
The challenge was, as submitted by a reader: Write a story without any dotted letters (j,i). It doesn’t matter if they are capital or not. If the letter, if lower case, would have a dot, then you can’t use it.
It’s been…over two weeks since my last post. I could blame it on the fact that my mother-in-law came all the way from Maryland for a ten-day visit. I could blame it on the fact that I’ve been running until my legs turn into pudding as I train for the 10k I recently signed up for. (I still suspect I had been drugged at the time.) I could blame it on the fact that I’m writing a memoir. Unfortunately, I can’t blame any of those things. The truth is, guys, I straight-up have a miserable case of [bleeping] writer’s block.
Let me prove it. Here is a picture of (some of) the various scraps of paper on which I’ve jotted down the beginnings of stories that went a whole lot of nowhere:
And that picture doesn’t include all of the stories I’ve started…and scrapped…on my computer. It got so bad, I even made a list of the things that usually inspire me.
1. The soundtrack to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
2. The Sixteen Horsepower station on Pandora.
3. Watching children playing.
4. Sipping a glass of wine.
5. Going somewhere new for the first time (even if it’s just a street in my city I’ve never been down before).
6. People watching in crowded places.
My writer’s block isn’t from a lack of ideas. I’ve got ideas coming out of my arse. (Not literally.) It’s just that after the first paragraph or two, my mind just goes BLANK. As easily as turning a light switch on and off.
So, my sincerest apologies for the lack of new stories. I’m Determined (with a capital D) to finish the story I’m currently working on. I just felt that, in the meantime, I should probably post something and admit that, challenge myself as I might, I’m still not immune to the writer’s block monster that gets us all at one point or another.