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.

Posted in summer, summer reading, summer writing | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in summer, summer reading, summer writing | Leave a comment

Summer Writing Journal: Week 6

Looking Out the Window: Try an observation poem, based on what you see out your window. Adapt this as needed, writing down things you see out the window on a car trip or just on a drive around town. If you’d like, substitute plane or bus or the window of your house or apartment or office. For those of you who like more rules: try to be detailed. Not just “corn” but “stalks of corn, stretching toward the Virginia sky.” Make your first words some variation on: “Looking out my car window, I see:”

Music: So in my first post I mentioned that when I want to access feelings, I can conjure them up when I play songs from certain times of my life. Write down three of your summer jams. Option: Write a short music review of your summer jams. Why do you like them? What do they remind you of?

And while we’re talking music: Write your own summer jam! It can be a story-telling song. It can be short. It can be long. You can just come up with a catchy chorus. If you don’t like open-ended ideas and want more direction: how about a mid-summer blues, to the tune of Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy.

Object game: Here’s one I used with my creative writing students at Boston University. Gather a few objects from around your house. You can include things like plants, a hairbrush, a hat, a bar of soap, etc. Then write down two lists for each object. List one is objective words that describe the object: things everyone can agree on. It’s green. It’s plastic. It has an odor. List two is subjective words that come from inside you. It’s the color of spring. It smells like possibility. Each type of description has its place in writing. Which type do you like best?

Person, place AND thing: Sometimes it’s hard to describe what things look like. So now let’s try a variation on the object game, above. Pick a person, place, AND thing and try to describe them, one at a time. You don’t need to use complete sentences if you don’t want to. Just get down thoughts and images and tangible details. If you’d like, you can draw a picture as well.

Characters: And for those of you who are following up with some story writing: Let’s look at some of the other characters in your story. Every character wants something. Write down what each character wants. Also, not that you need my permission for this: keep writing that story. Take it as far as you want to go!

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 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Posted in summer, summer reading, summer writing | Comments Off

Summer Writing Journal: Week 5

Fortune: This is prompted by a fortune cookie my daughter opened recently to find: nothing. No fortune. Just air and cookie. Write three fortunes that might appear inside a cookie. Which one would you want the most?

Bugs: Go outside and find a bug. Draw a picture of said bug. Now add a few descriptive words or a poem, around the outside of said bug.

Comics: Comic time again. Draw another comic in your journal. If you’re looking for ideas, consider: restaurants, mosquito bites, camping, snow cones. Try writing about something that happened this week in comic form.

Haiku: Summer haiku time! Remember the syllable count: Five for the first line, then seven, then five again.

Sweat: Write down some descriptive words about sweat.

Yard treasures: Collect a few items from your yard, the beach, the woods — or whatever constitutes your world this week. Sketch them. Then write

Blueprints: Draw a blueprint for a craft you’d like to do, a game you’d like to make, a building you’d like to build, a map of an island etc.

Dialogue: Go back to your character and conduct and interview with him, her or it. Write out some questions you’d like to know and have the character answer in the character’s own voice.

Story time: Now revisit your first sentence for the story about your paragraph. See if you can turn it into a whole paragraph.

Fireflies: Have you caught any yet this summer? Write about how looking at them makes you feel. Do you think it would be fun to be a firefly? Why? Why not? You don’t need to use complete sentences if you don’t want to; just get down some ideas.

Drop and Give Me 10, again: That prompt from last week worked really well in our house, so here’s a reminder to see how well you can build a scene in 10 words or phrases.

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 4 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Posted in summer, summer reading, summer writing | Comments Off

Summer Writing Journal: Week 4

Drop and Give Me 10:  String together 1o words or phrases (or both) to set a scene. If you like this prompt, try it in different spots this summer: the beach, the pool, the doctor’s office, a restaurant, the car, your room, a tent — anywhere. For example:

The Pool

Wet
Coconut
Non-greasy UV protection
Float
“Marco.”
Blue
Sushine.
Umbrella.
“Polo.”
Splash!

Draw: Draw a picture of an everyday object. A pencil? A pen? A clock? Now add something fantastical to the photo. Wings? Eyes? Giant feet? If you’re feeling extra inspired, do the same thing with words: Write an everyday word or sentence. Add something fantastical to it.

T-Time: Mary Crockett and I had a blast making up slogans for Will’s T-shirts while we were writing Dream  Boy.  T-shirts are still on my mind, and this summer, I’m writing down the slogans I see in real life. (From a rest stop in New Jersey: The best way to behave is not to.) For this prompt, start your own list of T-shirts that you see. Option 2: make up some T-shirt slogans of your own. What do T-shirts tell you about the times you are living in? The people who wear them?

Character: Let’s revisit your character again and start thinking about a story. Write a list of problems that your character might have. You can pick and chose later.

You: If you had the kinds of problems your character has, how might you solve them? How would you feel about it?

A novel idea: Try a few different first sentences for a novel or short story. At least two should be for a story about the character you’ve been writing about so far. But you can throw in other potential first lines, too, for other ideas you may have.

Letter: This week, write a letter to somebody famous. Go ahead and stick a draft in your journal. See if you can track that person down and actually send the note.

Describe a person: Look around. Find a person you’d like to describe. Try to describe hair color, clothing, features, and facial expressions. Complete sentences aren’t necessary.

Seeds: If you could grow anything, real or imaginary, what would it be? Bonus: Go plant something.  A flower, a vegetable, an herb.

Week 1 prompts are here.

Week 2 prompts are here.

Week 3 prompts are here.

Week 5 prompts are here.

Week 6 prompts are here.

Week 7 prompts are here.

Week 8 prompts are here.

Posted in summer, summer reading, summer writing | Comments Off