Today marks the end of the fourth week of NaPoWriMo – only two days left! Once again, the good folks at The Poet’s Billow have provided a quick and easy exercise that works equally well for prose and poetry.

With eyes closed, open the dictionary at random and place your finger on the page. Write about the origin of whatever it is that your finger landed on. (This would probably work with almost any book, but the dictionary also provides some reference information to help you along.)

Happy writing!

We’re just a shade over two-thirds of the way through NaPoWriMo and heading into week four. Today features another excellent exercise borrowed from The Poet’s Billow, a variation on found poetry.

Choose 4 or 5 books – the more they differ in subject or format, the more interesting the exercise. Open to a random page and write down the first line that catches your eye. Repeat 10 times. Construct a poem or prose piece using these 10 lines.

For something quick, use each as the first line of a paragraph or stanza. If you’re into longer forms, begin a new chapter or section with each line.

Today marks the second week of NaPoWriMo, just one day shy of the half-way mark. Regardless of what we write, it’s important to do something a little different now and then to keep our brains limber.

The good folks over at The Poet’s Billow offered a creative reading/listening exercise the other day that fits the bill nicely. The idea is to read/listen to something in a language you don’t understand and then write what you think you see/hear. Google something with the translation option turned off, or check out the global poetry listing at Poetry International Rotterdam. For something less mundane, have a look at this blog written entirely in Klingon. (Although some poetry has been both written in and translated into Klingon, I was sadly unable to find any recordings of literary readings in the language.)

Happy literal transcribing!

Now that we’re one week into National Poetry Writing Month, it’s time to take a break from all the serious writing you’ve been doing, poetry or not.

Do you remember Mad Libs, that wacky fill-in-the-blank word game? Here’s something similar to loosen up your brain cells a bit. Fill in the parentheses with the indicated type of word. Copy and paste the text into a file, or do it the old-fashioned way and make a separate list of words then read the whole thing aloud.


When in the (noun) of (adjective) time
I (verb) descriptions of the (adjective) (plural noun),
And (noun) (-ing verb) beautiful old (noun)
In praise of ladies (adjective) and lovely (plural noun),
Then in the (noun) of sweet (possessive noun) best,
Of (noun), of foot, of (noun), of eye, of (noun),
I (verb) in their (adjective) (noun) would have (-ed verb)
Even such (noun) as you (verb) now.
So all their (plural noun) are but (plural noun)
Of this our (abstract noun), all you (-ing verb);
And, for they (-ed verb) but with (adjective) eyes,
They had not (noun) enough your (noun) to (verb):
For we, which now (verb) these (adjective) (plural noun),
Had eyes to (verb), but lack (plural noun) to (verb).

This is a trace exercise, based on Sonnet CVI by William Shakespeare. You can read the original sonnet here. Grab the newspaper or the nearest book and do the same thing with a paragraph or two, just for fun.

NaPoWriMo 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016Wake up! National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) begins tomorrow!

If you don’t usually write poetry, this is the perfect excuse to try your hand at something new. If that seems too intimidating, allow yourself to write BAD poetry, the poem equivalent of “It was a dark and stormy night….” (Hint: bad poetry is usually WAY more fun to write than good poetry.)

And if you just can’t bring yourself to write poetry of any kind, let NaPoWriMo spur you to work on something else. Think of it as an extension of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month): finish that half-baked novel you started last November (or three Novembers ago) or revise that Frankenstein of a first draft lurking in the bottom drawer.

Whatever you do, write!

P.S. For writing prompts, check out the links to the right or the Writers Write handy-dandy April prompts. The NaPoWriMo site also has links to all sorts of resources, including prompts. The WordxWord 30/30 Poetry Challenge has moved to Facebook: you can sign up here to participate.

Whether your summer is busy or relaxed, chances are it brings a shift in activities and schedule. Why not incorporate something to stimulate your writing life?

Poet Jeannine Hall Gailey offers a short list of easy (and fun) ideas for shaking the cobwebs out of your brain this summer: “Five Things You Can Do to Up Your Writer’s Game Over the Summer.”

I’ve already started on number five, making a summer reading list. Hey, if the kids are going to sit around reading, I might as well do the same. Do yourself a favor and make a new habit (one that feeds your writing habit) this summer.

Despite what some people say, head-hopping (shifting POV in a story without appropriate transition) is a fairly common problem in a lot of writing and an issue that every writer needs to pay attention to. Not because I (or anyone else) say so, but because it confuses the reader. I would even argue that a writer who *intends* to confuse the reader ought to be knowledgeable about head-hopping because it could be employed to that end with great effect.

The ever-helpful Jami Gold has posted a concise but comprehensive discussion of POV (Point of View: What Does Your Character Know?) on her blog. The post covers different types of POV (what they look like and how they are used), what can go wrong and suggestions for fixing it, and additional resources. As usual, Jami has done a bang-up job introducing the topic, and if the comments follow their usual pattern, the discussion there will almost be a workshop in itself.


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