Tag Archives: freewrite

Tuesday Tryouts: Shall I Compare Thee?

8:35 am, Tuesday, 18 January, 2011 – Atlanta

I might, to answer my title’s question but first we have to build a resource pool, so we will start with several freewrites. When I sorted through my metaphor material, I realised the whole comprises several steps, so we will take it in small mouthfuls. It occasionally dawns on me that you, too, have a daily routine to get through and probably a couple of sites whose prompts you are working on.

1. Describe something you saw in the past few weeks; treat it as a still-life: a meal, an object, a panorama. Paint it with words. Get as many details as possible in, as many sensory details as you can remember. Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.


Chair and the Pipe Van Gogh

2. Describe something in a room in your house, or work [you need to be there], first from where you are and where it is. Then get as close as you can, put it under a mental magnifying glass and describe it again. You don’t know what will be important, or what you will want to focus on in the next steps, so every line, crack, crevice, and blemish should go into your writing. Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.

3. Pick a person in a location and describe them. You might start with what they are doing then transition into a description. Painting a portrait with words is not easy, but, as you are not worrying about final product, be literal: His left elbow rested on a newspaper, the end of his sweater sleeve looked like it had been picked at, his hand curled around a Starbucks cup…pick a starting point and work out from there.

Room at Arles van Gogh

4. Think of an object, place, or scene, that you think you know well [it must be accessible]; without looking at it describe in as much detail as possible. Then find it and add details you forgot. Same caveat: Do not worry about sense, or good writing, at this point.


And, that is it! You can, of course, write several of these. Part 2, next Tuesday.

Remember, I am off tomorrow, but on Thursday I will have the second part of my thoughts on publishing.


Posted by on 18/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Freeforall: Roundup

8:50 am, Friday, 14 January, 2011 – Atlanta

Snow weeks make for long weeks. If you are still snowed in, or rained in, this group of prompts and exercises will keep you busy and off the streets! As always, visit the sites, as I give you the bare bones of what is on offer. The sites give you the whole body [sorry - had to keep with the metaphor].

Over at Writer’s Island they want us to find our Destiny.


Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck 2 has another fun exercise, to do with colours. She says, in part: Now, I know that many of you purists out there don’t watch television – some of you don’t even own one! But most television shows work hard to be visually appealing, and writers can always exercise their observation skills. For those of you, like me, who like an exercise laid out, Donna explains and gives an example.

Sunday Scribblings wants us to take on a walk in the park, but not necessarily a literal walk.

Carry on Tuesday‘s quote this week is a line from Tupac Shakur. In addition to their suggestions, you can also try the Poetry Tow Truck’s prompt 1.

If you like single word prompts without leading questions bounce over to One Single Impression, or Three Word Wednesday.

Big Tent has another creative prompt and while today is posting day, if you haven’t seen the prompt, it’s worth trying. Their exercise is in two parts and here is some of what they tell us for the first part: Ask your friend alliteration to help you write a word list. Pick one letter of the alphabet and set down a bunch of words (at least 8 or 9) that begin with your chosen letter. (Hint: When you pick your letter consider the energy in its sound. Do you want to work with a clipped and energetic c or k? How about a playful p? Is soothing or melodic on your mind, or would you like to point it in that direction? Try the singable consonants m or n. Do you want to howl or moan? O and a might be your friend this week.)

I always get lost on Jingle Poetry‘s site but I think I have the correct link. They have the past and future prompt together. Their prompt for the past week is to do with journeys and the routes we choose. The prompt for the next few days is: Languages, Signs, and Symbols. The link for posting goes up on Sundays.

Poets & Writers has a fun exercise if you haven’t done an erasure poem before. Go on over to their site to read the directions.

I love Magpie Tales image which is a piece of sheet music. If images sometimes don’t work for you, try freewriting the image for a while and see what happens.


One Stop Poetry, where you never know what you will find and so is worth visiting every day, has a musical prompt today. I offered an exercise like this last month; if you go here, you can check it out. Then try Brian Miller’s piece at One Stop. On Monday One Stop will be talking about a poetic form, so stop by then. The past two weeks they have dealt with haiku.


We Write Poems asks us:  to write a poem that is a conversation between two people. It can be imaginary, or one based on an actual experience. Read the whole prompt on their site. This one can be fun.

Poets United wants us to: step outside the normal pursuit of poetry and use a random piece of art found at deviantArt. Read the whole prompt, as they do have an interesting caveat.

If you still haven’t thrown a stone in the river, I encourage you to do so. It doesn’t matter that you have missed a few. I have found the routine of a small stone is invaluable.

And that does us for this week. May your weekend be fruitful in some way. If it involves words and writing them down, that’s a bonus.  If you are here for the first time you can also visit this site for this week’s exercise. I will see you on Tuesday for our next foray into writing.



1 Comment

Posted by on 14/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday Tryout: 8×10

9:32 am, Tuesday, 11 January, 2011 – Atlanta


Make three columns. In the first column jot down ten verbs whose SOUND you like; in the second column, list ten nouns whose SOUND you like; and in the third column list ten adjectives/adverbs whose SOUND you like. Circle FIVE words in each column. Do not worry about the words going together. That would be more restrictive than you might think. Then again, don’t worry if the words do go together.

Write a paragraph [or more] in which you include all fifteen words. This can be a freewrite to loosen you up, or if you already have an idea, follow it.

Create a ten line poem, with eight syllables in each line, and five rhymes. The rhymes may be end rhymes, slant rhymes or internal rhymes.

feast at least once
moose on the loose


RESONANCE    n, m, ng, z, zh        lingering,droning, vibrant effects

HARSHNESS    k, g, hard c        throaty sounds, for dissonance and cacophony

PLOSIVENESS    b, p, t, d, g, k,         percussive sounds

A nice, gentle structure, but enough to make you work at it. The trick is in not having the poem sound like it is bound by the structure, but to let the structure enhance the poem.

As always, I would love to see what you come up with. Post in comments or leave a link where the poem can be read.

I am taking a snow day tomorrow. My husband has had two snow days and I figure I deserve one! I also want to think about the evolution of this blog and make a few decisions. So, I will see you back here on Thursday for some thoughts on submissions.

1 Comment

Posted by on 11/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Freeforall

9:20 am, Friday, 31 December, 2010 – Atlanta

No, I’m not really here, but I wanted to post once more about Fiona Robyn’s small stone writing month which starts tomorrow, or in some places in the world, today.Here is what she says:

Would you like to start the new year as you mean to go on?

You might have heard of NaNoWriMo, where participants are encouraged to write an entire novel in a single month.

I would like to announce a new event beginning on January the 1st 2011: InNaSmaStoMo. International Small Stone Month.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a small stone every day during the month of January.

What is a small stone?

A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention.

You can see many fine examples at our sister blogzine, a handful of stones. You can read more about the birth of the concept of small stones here and how to write them here.

Why would you want to join in?

Because choosing something to write about every day will help you to connect with yourselves, with others, and with the world. It will help you to love everything you see – the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the beautiful and the ugly.

You don’t have to be a ‘writer’ to get involved. The PROCESS of paying attention is what’s important. I’d especially like ‘writers’ and ‘non-writers’ to get involved. If you’d rather not publish your small stones on a blog, you can write them in a note-book. It could change your entire year…

Sounds fun. I am joining in but will publish my stones on a different blog so as not to confuse things on this one. My address for small stones is at Random Stones. Think of it as image collecting, or freewriting from which you will find a poem or imagistic moment you wish to polish.

Happy New Year and I will still see you Monday to start off the new year.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 31/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday Words: In Other’s Words

9:42 am, Wednesday, 15 November, 2010 – Atlanta

I have been doping out what to do for the next couple of weeks while we are all busy being part of this holiday season. I thought today I would give you poetry in others’ words and set you a challenge. I suspect many of us collect writing on poetry by other writers. I, as a teacher, collected quotes to put up in the classroom to, hopefully, make my students look at poetry differently. I collected the ones that thrilled me with their words, the definitions that are as poetical as the writers’ poetry. But I have never put into words my definition of poetry.

Poetry arrived/ in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where/ it came from, from winter or a river./ I don’t know how or when… Pablo Neruda, “Poetry Arrived”.

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means, and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again, since it is life…William Faulkner. Faulkner may have written prose, but this is one of the best definitions of writing I have come across and works for poetry.

Escher "Drawing Hands" Wikipedia

Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting. Simonides

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.  Christopher Fry

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.  T.S. Eliot, Dante, 1920

A poem is true if it hangs together.  Information points to something else.  A poem points to nothing but itself. E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951

Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree.  He doesn’t eat much and doesn’t read much, but listens well and is a most gracious host.  Astrid Alauda

And I love this one by Hortense Callisher: The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind.

And, maybe my favourite of all is a poem by Roland Jooris, translated from the Dutch by Peter Nijmeijer:


Taking away,
writing is
taking away,

so that
all I leave
is a flowerpot
standing brick red
on the windowsill
and watch twilight
fill in a corner
of the room
with pencil.



The challenge: freewrite your thoughts on, What is poetry? Then, come up with a definition that works for you, or, a poem. Then share in comments or link to your post. You might even write a post on the subject.

Tomorrow, when I planned to engage in a discourse on the topic: The poet is never the speaker, will become Friday instead. Having reached my conclusion that I need to pull back until after the holidays, I don’t want to engage in a topic that will require thinking and engagement, until I have your attention [and mine]. I would love to get a discussion going on the topic, so be thinking about it.

Friday I will be flying cross-country to my mom’s in California, so may, or may not, get to my blog. Therefore, I will do my usual Friday Freeforall tomorrow. See you then.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 15/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday Tryouts: Colour

10:30 am, Tuesday, 14 December, 2010 – Atlanta

“Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting.”    Simonides

Colour is, perhaps, the most evocative of sensory imagery. Mention a colour and bang! it’s there in a reader’s mind. Now, what they associate with that colour might be a whole other thing.

Point of interest: Flowers are the colours they cannot absorb, the one shade of the spectrum they reject.

Make two lists: one of colours that attract you, and one of colours that repel you.

For each colour, write what you associate with that colour.

Approach each colour from your other senses; how do these colours sound, smell, taste, and what is their texture? Jot notes for a few minutes.

Which images that emerge can you use in a current piece?
Begin with the word colour and freewrite on it for several minutes;
Write a poem or short piece in which every line or sentence mentions the same or a different colour;

by findstuff22

Take off in your own direction, but colour must be involved somehow.
list everything you associate with one colour, say red:

crimson – blood metallic tide blush
vermilion – fire heat paint thick smooth
scarlet – chilis, lining of a cape, blaze
brick – rough, earthy cool hard
red – crayon lipstick cherry cinnamon
burgundy  – wine full rich


by dackstrusgirl

From there, follow the words.


If you achieve a poem, post it in comments, or link me to your blog.

See you tomorrow.


Leave a comment

Posted by on 14/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Freeforall

10:56 am, Friday, 10 December, 2010 – Atlanta

Okay, what can I find for us to play with this weekend. I like doing this every Friday. It makes me look around.

Sunday Scribblings has a prompt word: Guidance. If the word interests you, visit them for guidance on “guidance”. They suggest posting your poem, should one arise, on Sunday, but you have until they post a new prompt.


Poets United Thursday prompt is the word: forgiveness. Here is part of what they say: To forgive is to excuse for fault or an offense.  The word forgiveness can bring out a wide range of emotions in people.  Some find it to be a sign of weakness others an immense show of strength. What have you forgiven lately or think needs to be forgiven? Have you ever held a grudge that was taxing on you? They say more and also have a photograph, as added inspiration.

Cafe Writing‘s Thursday Threesome has a Christmas theme, so if you are in the mood, head over there. Their shtick is they take a phrase or words that work together and divide into three. You can use one, two, or all three together. Many paths to choose.


We Write Poems has a phrase for their weekly prompt: The pursuit of happiness. Plenty of scope in that phrase. This site gives a full week and takes posts on the following Wednesday.


Three Word Wednesday has an intriguing choice of words: judge, nightfall, safety. You can post all week.

Carry On Tuesday has a phrase which could be fun: The course of true love never did run smooth. Head over to their site to find out how they suggest we use their prompts.


Magpie Tales has a photograph of an old sled. Just looking at the handworn wood evoked a response from me.


And, finally, a Wordle from me:


Remember that if a prompt, or exercise, intrigues you, but you aren’t sure what to write, freewrite. You do not have to write a poem in response to everything. You can write your response in prose form and, on days when you wander back through your notebook, rereading what you have written, may spark something.

Have a wonderful weekend. More mantras on Monday.



Posted by on 10/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday Thoughts

11:46 am, Thursday, 9 December, 2010 – Atlanta

After sitting with my blog open on a back tab, for three hours, I have concluded what first came to me in the middle of the night: I don’t want to use brain cells on a discussion of point of view and the poet is never the speaker, at least, not today. It is my birthday and so, dear readers, I am giving myself a present.

For you a Van Gogh painting. Work into the painting, either by describing what you see; or telling the story of the scene; or the scene we don’t see; or focusing on a detail and describing it, what its function is, the story behind it;

Tomorrow: Friday Freeforall. See you then.


Posted by on 09/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday Writing: Sound Off, Part 2

11:04 am, Wednesday, 7 December, 2010 – Atlanta

I am trying an experiment today, so if it doesn’t work, please let me know. As it involves tech, there is every chance.

I spoke of sound as inspiration. More specifically, music. This is an exercise that, if you like it, you can go to town finding your own music. The only rule: no words. That’s where you come in. I suggest pieces roughly four minutes long;  if you have a longer piece set a timer, or if you have been grabbed by inspiration, write on. This is a slightly different take on a freewrite. Like freewriting, you are not worrying about form, or grammar, or sense. You may find a story as you write. I often write scenes my mind sees when listening to a piece, but if what you get is a collection of lines, or images, that’s wonderful. More resources for your pool.

Get your pen and paper ready. Start the music and start writing. Do not stop. What do you hear, see, smell, taste, feel in the music? If you need to keep writing after the music stops, do so. If a piece doesn’t work for you, I have included a couple, but you can go ahead and find your own piece of music. Try for different tempos and types.

Enjoy and if you get a poem from one of these I would love to see it. Paste it into comments or give me a link. Tomorrow: some thoughts…

1 Comment

Posted by on 08/12/2010 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Freeforall

1:43, 29 October, 2010 – Atlanta

The colour of my tree. What a lovely thing to see each day when I look out through the window beyond my desk. Oddly, its neighbour is still mostly green. I’m hoping my tree will turn red. As a maple, it should go in that direction. That would be something for someone experiencing fall for the first time in twenty years.

For the second day in a row, discovering the ramifications of keeping a blog is keeping me from working on poetry. And I thought all I had to do was write.  Today I learned about creating links [tomorrow I shall try to create some] and uploading images and documents. Note my first image: the tree. Now I have to learn how to make the blog a little snazzier…not something easy when the main point is words, not visuals. I may have to learn to create concrete poetry. I did stray just slightly down the other path and found another blog to follow: franciszka voeltz collects details and likes to collaborate.

Before the weekend when I don’t blog [thus ensuring I will work on my poetry, perhaps], let me go back to  advice for beginning, and not so beginning, writers. Almost any writer on writing will tell you: write write write do not stop write do not edit write do not stop write write write. The problem most of us have is that we have a self-censor sitting on one of our shoulders. This censor says That sounds silly. That’s not grammatical. What kind of syntax is that? Did you put a comma in there? Did you spell that long word correctly? What kind of image is that? It doesn’t make sense. Enough of that and you will talk yourself into not writing. If your mind goes blank because you are trying so hard not to self-censor, or your mind just goes blank, don’t stop. Keep writing the last word you wrote over and over again. Your brain won’t like that and will kick back in. The surrealist writers believed that they had to reach a state beyond reality in order to find and write that which is true. What we call free-writing developed from them. Ideally you want to write several pages without stopping. If you can do that you will find when you go back through that your mind and hand have taken you down many paths. You can choose one of the paths to follow knowingly, or choose words and phrases that speak to you and pull them out as a seed to a possible poem. Rather than setting a time, set yourself a number of pages. If you have never done this before, start with two pages and write. If it will help, pick a topic, but then don’t worry or panic if you notice that instead of writing about whales, you are writing about hot air balloons. Your brain made some kind of connection. Go with it. It may take you wondrous places.

Remember: You need to write before you can write well. You need to have written something before you can worry about revision. You have to write before you can craft.

After spending the last hour reading up on copyright and whether I may or may not share a poem here, I will leave with a poem from one of my favourite poets: Robert Frost. Given the sound of the wind in my tree these days the poem is apt. The title is “The Sound of the Trees” and can be found with many other poems at the Poets’ Corner.

The Sound Of Trees

I wonder about the trees:
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice,
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.


Posted by on 29/10/2010 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

  • creative commons license


    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 795 other followers