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Liberate your writing mind with these prompts

Some people think writing exercises are a waste of time. I heard one writer once say, “just write your story.” But I’ve found that writing prompts can be a doorway for something surprising – an intriguing plot or the birth of a character.

In one writing workshop I attended, participants were instructed to write about the tools they needed to do their job. I didn’t expect anything compelling but found that as I wrote, the words picked up steam, spilling out a very emotional essay about a story I had reported on as a journalist.

Since then, I’ve collected interesting exercises and think of them as warm-ups when I need to flex my writing muscles. As I was doing some reorganizing recently, I ran across a favorite book called The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing, by Bonnie Neubauer.

Here are a couple exercises from “The Write-Brain Workbook.”

Exercise 1 – Spoiled Rotten

List six disgusting things you’ve found in your refrigerator (or have heard others describe they have found in theirs.)

Use all six in a story.  Start with, “Whenever he mentions Paris.”

Take the next step: Many wonderful ideas come while doing mundane tasks. Hang paper and a pencil on your refrigerator to record ideas that come to you while washing dishes; in your bathroom for ideas that come in the shower; and in the car for ling-disance drive inspirations. (Pull over to write, please!)

Do it now. Don’t miss out on a single creative writing idea!

Exercise 2 – Testing 1-2-3

Choose ONE word that most appeals to you:

Trophy, Bible, Inhale, Giraffe, Weed, Lava, Crush, Banana, Mask, Gas, Fender

Choose ONE setting that most appeals to you:

At a circus

During a war

In a space station

Under a full moon

On a beach

At a park

Choose ONE starting phrase that most appeals to you:

If I could stop

I once asked

The first day

If you must know

The hurricane neared

Start your story with your chosen phrase and incorporate the setting and word.

Take the next step: Many things come in threes, including three-word expression like, “live, love, laugh” and “hip, hip, hooray.” List as many as you can think of.

Include all the phrases in a story. Set a timer for ten minutes. Ready, set, go!

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