Summer Writing Journal: Week 11

Yipes: How did the summer get by us so fast? The first thing you should do this week is make a list of anything you still want to do. Putt putt? Splash around in a creek? Find the best lemonade? Is there anything left on your list? And the second thing you should do is make a list of anything you still want to write.

Summer jam: Do you have a summer jam? A song you loved from this summer? Or even one you wrote yourself? What is it and why?

Reviews: What’s the best thing you’ve read all summer? Write a review in a few sentences, but as always, even a few choice words are okay. (How often do you see movie reviews that just say “Exhilarating!” Sometimes, when you find the right word, it just takes one.)

Weather: What’s it like outside today? Describe the weather in as much detail as possible. Give me a metaphor. Is the air thick? How thick? What’s the grass doing? The birds? The sky? And while we’re on the sky, why don’t you go outside and sketch a cloud? (Unless you’re reading this at night. If it’s night, sketch the moon.)

I wonder: Here’s an easy way to construct a poem that will also help you figure out, when you look back on it later, what you were curious about this summer, when you were at this age, this time, this place. Start each sentence with the words “I wonder.” Then, write down all of the things you wonder about at this moment in time.

That’s fair: Summer fairs are often held in August. Did you go to one? Give us 10 words or phrases about the fair that will help set the scene. Did you see any crazy fair food? Then fashion a poem about a crazy fair food. It can be short, sweet and funny.

Tom Swifties: Have you ever heard of Tom Swifties? They’re simple sentences that play with words and puns. I wrote a blog post about them awhile back and I’d love for you to try some. Go here to learn more.

Share: If you completed any of these prompts and would like to share it, write it out in the comments.

Finish up: If you started a story, try to finish it. If you kept track of something (t-shirts, best ice cream, etc.) look back over your results. You can even try a list of summer favorites.

Keep going: Even if you’ve only done a few of these prompts, remember: It’s a start. And I hope you’ll remember, too, that just because summer’s ending doesn’t mean you have to stop writing in your journal. (It doesn’t mean you have to stop playing putt putt or drinking lemonade, either.)

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Week 9 prompts are here.

Week 10 prompts are here.

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Summer Writing Journal: Week 10

I have friends whose kids are starting back to school this week, so for some of you, summer has already ended. Still posting this week and next week, though, for those of you still plugging away.

In my room: Pick a place and write a poem about it. Your room, maybe, or a tree, or a space in your brain. It can rhyme or not. Be as vivid as possible. Remember when you’re writing, it’s the specifics that really paint the picture. Words to avoid: Pretty and beautiful.

How to: Explain how to do something in a few simple steps. How to pick a flower, for example. Use simple, direct language.

Words: I love thinking about words, so this time, I want to know: Do you have a favorite word? A word you hate? Why?

Letter time: Write to a friend this time. It can be a postcard or a longer letter. Remember, the best way to get mail (besides bills) is to send mail (besides bills).

Inventions: When we go on family car trips, I always ask everyone to try to invent something; silly things, mostly, but you never know when a silly thing might save the world. In Nanny X, there are loads of gadgets that look like items for taking care of kids, but that have a secret-agent purpose. So now it’s your turn: write down what you’d invent. If you need more of a prompt, take an item you’d use at the pool or beach, and give it a secret-agent purpose.

Exquisite Corpse: Have you ever made one of those pictures where you draw the head on a folded piece of paper, and then pass it on so someone else can draw the body — without seeing anything but the lines where the neck would connect to it? Here are some instructions on how to play this drawing game. Find a friend or family member and play. Glue your paper in your journal.

Exquisite Story: Now do the same thing with a story. Everyone writes a different sentence, but you have no idea what the sentence is before yours. This becomes more fun as you add more people.

Your story: Hoping you’ve made some real headway by now. These are the weeks where you’ll want to finish up. For those of you who want to try something bigger and longer, check out this site this fall!

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Week 9 prompts are here.

Week 11 prompts are here.

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Summer Writing Journal: Week 9

Firefly: Have you spent enough time looking at fireflies this summer? Spend some time in your backyard looking at them tonight. Jot down a few descriptive words. And then, you guessed it: write a short poem.

Rate your camp: Did you go to any camps this summer? Write down a couple of things about it that you remember. Would you go back to this camp? Was it worth your time? Why or why not? What was the best thing? What was the worst?

Recipe Time: I’ve been obsessed with these Mexican Popsicles known as paletas. They’re spicy and icy and incredibly refreshing. We’ve been buying them at Pleasant Pops but this summer we decided to make our own. So this week’s challenge is to make yourself a popsicle. Even if you don’t have molds, you can do it in some paper cups. (Partially freeze, then add stick, then continue freezing.) Either make up your own recipe or find one on line you’d like to try. Copy the recipe in your journal. The first one I tried was Mexican chocolate, my favorite. Super simple. The recipe I used is here.

Letter to the President: This week, write a letter to the president. Draft in your notebook, final copy in the mail or email.

Peace: There’s been lots in the news lately about hate, especially toward people we think are different. So for this prompt, I’m just looking for a list: write about things that all people have in common.

Future: What do you want to be when you grow up? Why? For adults: Same question, though if you’re happy with where you are, write down what you wanted to be when you were small, and why.

Story Time: Keep going! Stuck? Play the what if game, where you consider different options for your character until you find the one that works.

Bugs, again: Go outside and find a bug. Describe the way it walks. You can draw another picture if you’d like.

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Week 10 prompts are here.

Week 11 prompts are here.

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Summer Writing Journal: Week 8

If I Ruled the World: Here’s a chance to get down some of your thoughts about your part of the universe, arranged in poem form. Your first line is: If I ruled the world. After that, it’s up to you. You can be serious or hilarious. What kind of laws would you create? If you could make people do anything, what would you have them do? What’s your recipe for a better world?

Listen up: One thing that I sometimes struggle with in my own writing is describing the way things sound. Here’s a chance to practice. For a few minutes today, stop wherever you are and try to describe what you hear around you. The whistle at the pool. The cry of a little kid. The precise sound of a bird or cicada.

Rock Star: For this week’s letter, write a letter to a musician you admire. Or, if you want more flexibility than that, how about writing to someone you think of as a rock star, famous or not?

Story time: Add three paragraphs on your story!

Summer is: Similar to the color poem from early on, this is a poem that begins with the words “summer is.” Start most of your lines that way. Everything else is up to you. For example: Summer is sweat and snow cones. Summer is math packets and marshmallows and mosquito bites. (Or: Summer is business as usual. Summer is an endless line of traffic…)

Boredom: Are you ever bored? Write down some words (complete sentences not necessary) that describe the good things about boredom. Try it again with the bad things. Now write out a list of things to do when you are actually bored.

Dog Days: They call these days “the dog days” of summer. Can you think of any other expressions that describe the weather or time of year? Now, try making up one of your own! Make sure you write down what it means.

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 9 prompts are here.

Week 10 prompts are here.

Week 11 prompts are here.

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Summer Writing Journal: Week 7

That’s a Rap: A few summers ago we were totally into this rap made by some kids as part of a summer program. Today I bought some Takis because of them. So here’s an invitation for you to write a rap about what inspires you. If you prefer other types of music, you can go ahead and do pop, rock, anything with lyrics. Too intimidating? Why not just try the chorus?

Ode: Similar to the rap about Takis, an ode is a poem about something (or someone) you love. Odes often use smiles, metaphors — your usual arsenal of descriptive language — to help you compare the object in question (a boy, a girl, Cheetos) to summer’s days, ambrosia, etc. They tend to be long, but yours doesn’t have to be. Check out this example over at young writers.

Thanks for teaching me: I wrote a sentence that turned into a poem this summer and thought I’d turn that into a writing prompt. It works like this. Your first line will be: My ____ taught me. Fill the blank with the name of someone who taught you something: Your mother, your sister, your best friend, the president, the postal worker, your teacher, etc. Then give us one image. Make it as detailed and tangible as possible. Arrange that detail into a poem. If you’d like, you can string a couple together. Here’s mine:

My son taught me

that a lily, when you throw

the bud

into the fire,

will open and bloom

for a few seconds, at least,

before turning to ash.

My daughter taught me

that I am overcomplicating

this business of making friends,

that “wanna play?”

is all you need to say.

One sweaty game of tag

and the deal is sealed.

Senses: Let’s play around with the senses. Pick a food. Describe how it tastes, looks, smells, feels, and sounds (if it has a sound). You can try to arrange those details into a poem if you’d like. The silent grape… Well. You get the idea.

Draw: Draw something you’d see at the beach. Give me five descriptive words to go with it.

Story time: If you’re working on a story, you should be cranking along by now. If you’re not, try writing a story in just six sentences.

Story time 2: Is six sentences too many? How about six words then? Here’s a whole site devoted to writing six-word stories.

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Week 9 prompts are here.

Week 10 prompts are here.

Week 11 prompts are here.

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