3-2-1 Creative Sparks

Here is some Wednesday Inspiration

3 Challenges

STORYADAY MAY

Starts May 1st! Sign up for free prompts sent to your email every day at Storyaday.org. The Superstars community is one I am active in and enjoy especially during the month of May. There are several new members this year and the conversation has already taken off in the Slack channel.

You can go to the website and post under the daily prompt and find community there if you are looking for some fellow short story writers.

My goal will be to write 30 short stories over the course of the month. I give myself one day to not write a story from start to finish.

#the100dayproject

This challenge began April 7th. This challenge involves making a piece of art every day for 100 days. Follow the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram to see all kinds of projects. My project is to write #100randomsentences that I will meld together and make a short story connecting them all at the end.

Bradbury Trio

In order to keep myself inspired I am loosely following the idea from Ray Bradbury to read a poem, a short story, and an essay every day.

2 Podcasts

The Bradbury Challenge hosted by Literary Roadhouse

On a whim, I search “writing short stories” and this podcast popped up. There are not many short story specific podcasts. There are three writers that are writing a story a week for a year with the idea that you cannot write 52 bad stories in a row.

Keeping a Notebook by Nina Lacour

I love this podcast. Nina gives writing ideas and her voice is lovely to listen to. She runs the Slow Novel lab as well. She does the podcast in spurts when it moves her and fits into her schedule. It is honest and inspiring.

1 Subscription

I just renewed my Sarah Selecky daily prompts. I use these every morning in my notebook and hand write for at least 10 minutes. Some of the prompts are situational, some require description of a character or a different perspective of situation.

Bonus

Another set of prompts I have been using are the Keep Writing flash fiction prompts from https://deadlinesforwriters.com/. This is the same site that does the 12 Short Stories prompts and 12 Poems prompts. It is a closed community where you post your stories and can receive feedback in exchange for you reading other’s writing. The flash prompts are usually one word and a word count. In this Shelter in Place moment they work for me somehow.

Llamas on Slack #SOL20

Tuesday is one of my favorite days. It is grounding for me. and helps me find my place in the week. I dubbed it Llama Tuesday awhile ago and it stuck especially in my Storyaday community.

I am part of a writing community called Superstars facilitated by Julie Duffy of Storyaday.org. She hosts a challenge every May and September where writers come together to write a story a day for the month. Julie posts daily prompts to get you thinking. You can sign up at the website.

This May is the 10th anniversary. Our Superstars group has a Slack community that I adore. It is a private paid community that has topics contained within channels. You can share with the group or individuals. We have different channels for writing, sprints, random, submissions, etc.

If I want to talk writing I can go there and strike up a conversation. I can check in with a writer that I want to talk to or check on their project. If I want to pose a question I can do that. I can share what I am reading and what I think about it or how it is influencing my writing.

The other day I asked everyone what notebook everyone was currently writing in. The pictures started rolling in and was delightful. For those of us who love office supplies pictures of notebooks make my heart beat a little faster!

Back to the llamas – I post a picture of a llama every Tuesday morning in the #random channel and wish everyone a Happy Llama Tuesday which I did this morning.

Slack is my connection to my people.

My other community is the Creative Life Scholars. This group began as a book club. A book club of action that turned into a mastermind. There are all types of creatives in this group. It has a different flavor than the Superstars. I can ask questions or complain or ask for advice in this group too. It trust these women.

Both groups also have regular Zoom meetings – this was a practice before the shelter in place orders. I know these people – I really know them. They know me. In my life I will be the first to admit I wear a lot of masks. There are roles in my life where I must portray a certain list of characteristics. I am allowed to be myself in these groups.

There is one group of writers I WISH had a Slack group but the leader doesn’t love it as much as I do (Yes, Nicole this is about you!) This last group is more recent but has had such a wonderful impact on my writing life. There is a bit of overlap with the CLS group here so there are a couple people I can interact with in Slack.

Slack keeps me connected to the people I feel my most true self around and I am grateful I can be tied to them when we stretch all over the country. I know when I need help or a creative kick in the pants I can reach out. They are true friends and I am grateful.

Future Plans #SOL20

I received the email a couple of days ago we are not returning to school this year. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this news. I am glad to know. I am sad I will not get to end the school year with my students. I worry about what everything will look like in the fall.

Last night I started planning for August. I pulled out my slides and materials I plan to teach in August. I reviewed protocols and two picture books I will use for instruction the first three weeks of school. I thought about how my classroom is arranged. I thought about skills block lessons and what lessons I will be able to pull students for one on one.

I need a teapot for my first week’s lesson so I will look for one over the next couple of months once the thrift shops open. There is a Llama Llama book I do not own that I need that I will look for as well.

BTW – Don’t you love thrift shops for finding things for your classroom? Old toys, sorting items, books, costumes – the possibilities for creativity on the cheap abound! It is always an exciting trip.

Yes, I am sad we are not returning to school but I am going to use some of this time for planning for my new classroom in the fall.

Yes, I keep forgetting what day it is but I know it’s Tuesday because of the fabulous Two Writing Teachers site.

Yes, virtual learning is not idea but today my class meeting is a scavenger hunt! I am excited and cannot wait to ask my kindergarteners to find a fork – among other items!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

It is Sunday again! We had snow on Friday. It was heavy and wet. Saturday was 50. What type of coffee would you like today? I am having dark roast black coffee of course! There are certain habits I don’t break often.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we found out we are for sure distance learning till the end of this school year. I am thankful for a wonderful team and virtual meeting apps.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote every day but felt less inspired than normal. One thing that helped was finding Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s conversation about their notebooks and what they are reading. I wish I had a writing partner like this!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I found these videos as well through Pernille Ripp. The videos are made by the poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and she tapes them in her writing trailer named Betsy! These are short videos and were great for generating lists and ideas in my own notebook. She shows her own notebook as well which is always fun.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it has been a stressful week but my #the100dayproject has been getting done every day. I am liking this project a lot. There is satisfaction with the idea of a cool story that will a product at the end. One random sentence is not difficult to write.

I hope your week was great. I cannot wait to hear about it. I always love that we get together every weekend to catch up. I was feeling really tired today and almost didn’t post. I am glad you came by to visit.

Notebooks and Partners #SOL20

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have a writing practice. It is established and has been fairly unshakeable during the pandemic and the constant wheel of change.

Every day I write my own version of morning pages. It is mostly writing. Once in a while I doodle but words are my jam. I love the look of more arty notebooks and entries and my Instagram feed is full of them.

Writing is how I cope. I have been purposefully NOT writing about the isolation, the school closings, the sickness, etc. It has creeped into my writing in spite of my efforts.

Yesterday I wrote a lot of sentences that said absolutely nothing. I believe in the practice and know my truth will come through if I keep writing.

I am also a runner. I used to be a long distance runner of the obsessed variety. I have run more than 10 marathons including Boston. I have run multiple ultra marathons including a 50 mile race. I know how to train.

There are points in training where you feel like you are sloggin along. But if you keep running, you keep showing up, it gets easier. There is the day you run and you forget you are running. You feel you can run forever.

Writing is the same way. If you keep showing up to the page, it gets easier and words come out that surprise you.

Yesterday I stumbled upon Youtube videos from two writing teachers I adore. I saw Penny Kittle speak with Kelly Gallagher and Donalyn Miller several years ago in New Orleans. I listen carefully to these people. They teach students, they teach adults and they write.

These videos they are posting are about what they are reading and what they are writing in their notebooks. They are talking about how they are adapting to the school closings and their feelings about not seeing their students again. They talk about their insecurities about writing and how they lean on each other.

THEY ARE WRITING PARTNERS in all senses of the word and I get a glimpse into this process because they are brave enough to record it and share it with the world.

They talk about their notebooks and what they are writing. Gallagher talked about starting to write about one thing and had to get all the way down the page revealing what he was really thinking. It is what writers do.

I listen and take notes. I am on day 4. I am watching in order.

I find myself wishing there was someone I could call and ask, “What did you write in your notebook today?” I have a small group I talk about writing with but it is usually project based. It feels more scattered than what Gallagher and Kittle seem to have.

There are teacher writer friends who share pictures of their notebooks on their blogs and Twitter. I feel blessed to be part of the world at this time of technology that it is possible.

What did I write today?

I started a new notebook yesterday and it felt wrong. So I started a different notebook that was gifted to me. It is wood and feels better. I used two prompts. One is “Last December” and I wrote about applying for my job and how I knew it was a catalyst.

I wrote a flash fiction story about a wishbone based on truth.

I wrote notes about what I think my kindergarten students should write about during this time but realizing how little control I have over this process considering the circumstances.

I wrote about how I have to let go of my own boundaries with myself so the words flow and I do not stifle myself.

I wrote about my thoughts about the videos and how I was going to use it as my slice today.

What did you write in your notebook today?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

Welcome back to the weekend after the Pink Supermoon from earlier in the week! it is Easter today but looks different than it ever has before in life.

Today I have french vanilla coffee again. I have some caramel or some chocolate if you would like something added. I will get you a glass of ice water as well. I will have mine black as usual. A habit I picked up in college and haven’t kicked.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I started the #the100dayproject on Tuesday. I am writing a random sentence every day and then when I have the 100 I will read them aloud and string them together for a short story. I am posting the sentences on Instagram as I go along. I was not going to post all of them, and I may change my mind, but I like the Canva design and it makes me happy and accountable.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had many video meetings every day. Some with teachers, some with students, some with writers. It is a new normal and most of it was energy draining. There is a different type of “on” that needs to happen.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a breakthrough with the running. I had a run on Thursday where I felt all my muscles firing and I felt like I was gliding, not slogging along. I am hoping for more runs like this rather than the feeling of forcing myself.

Do you need a refill? I am out already. I think I could drink the whole pot by myself I love coffee so much! I like you though, so I don’t mind sharing.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I watched Caroline Donahue’s live Instagram videos every weekday. She has been talking about writing process and goals. There are book recommendations as well.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I listened to my podcasts while I was running or walking this week. I have found a few more writing podcasts this week so that is always exciting. I listened to a master class about scenes which is really interesting.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I hope you had a great week. I cannot wait to hear about your week. I wish you happiness, health, and magic for next week.

A New Challenge Begins #SOL20



Today begins the 7th annual #the100dayproject where people choose an art project to pursue their creativity for 100 days.

As many of you know, I love a good challenge. I always enjoy the Two Writing Teachers challenge and am happy to continue on Tuesdays.

Anyone can join. The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.

There is a newsletter and a community on Instagram.

My challenge:

One of my favorite writing exercises is writing lists of random sentences. I learned from Sarah Selecky to write 100 sentences that do not connect. You must write them in the same point of view.

Then at the end you read the sentences aloud and you will see how they tie together.

At the end of the challenge I will construct a short story based on the list!

Next Right Things:

This week started the planning and teaching of my kindergarten class. It was interesting to have a Zoom call with the kids who were excited and then shy at the same time.

The “first day” after Spring Break was full of meetings – on Zoom. Today is lighter and then there are 3 more meetings tomorrow.

This is all a new time for us.

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome back to Sunday! Thank you for joining me for coffee. I always love when we sit down and chat. I have french vanilla coffee today. It makes the house smell wonderful. Would you like that today or a cup of something else?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I made the last trip to Indiana for a while on Monday. We had a couple of loose ends to tie up and drove over for the day. I am glad to have those tasks done. They were looming in the back of my mind and I am glad for them to be gone now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I wrote every day. There was the end of the Two Writing Teachers blog challenge on Tuesday which is always Llama Tuesday. New challenges started on April 1st for me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the anniversary of my Oma’s death was Wednesday. I never forget the feeling of answering the phone to hear she was gone. Dreams this week have been of my childhood home and uncomfortable. They have not been about Oma exactly but unpleasant nevertheless. I am not sure what my subconscious is trying to tell me but I wish it would be more direct.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was interviewed for the Stop Writing Alone podcast on Tuesday and it was published on Thursday. The response was positive and it was a ton of fun to talk to my friend about something I am passionate about. I taught a class about more specifics about my submission practice and the #100rejectionsproject.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I ran every day. It has felt great to be outside doing something I love and running hills. Oh, the hills!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am trying to figure out how I do what I do. I had a coach tell me years ago that people do not move or think at the same pace I do. No one had ever told me this before. Many people have asked me how I write the way I do. I think it is partly just because I am me. I am trying to ask myself questions to uncover the secret formula. One thing I recognize is like James Clear talks about habit stacking I prompt stack. Clear talks about associating a new habit with an already established one. For instance, I write in my notebook right after I get my coffee. I have an internal pull to do so because I associate the coffee and the notebook now. I stack prompts — I combine them. I also will take a prompt and think through that lens all day when I am listening to podcasts, conversations, or reading. Then the ideas flow automatically. I also keep an “everything” notebook. All the morning pages, ideas, short stories, poems go into one master notebook. There is a timeline to them then and I can find things associated with time. As I transcribe this week for my #quarantineretreat goal I am sorting ideas into different documents in the Google folders.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my district is going to try to roll out distance learning with no prior experience. It should prove to be an interesting week. I am hosting a Zoom call for my kindergartners tomorrow and I am sure at the very least it will be entertaining. At least I can mute them all. HA!

Have a good week!

#FMF NOW

Every Friday I set the timer for 5 minutes and write what the word Kate chooses spurs in my mind.

Ready….set….go:

Everyone is using the word NOW during this crisis. Funny that it took a pandemic for people to focus on the present. People are worried about the future in a whole new way with a special tint of darkness — but, is it really all that different?

Humans like to fancy themselves predicters of the future — just look at the calendars we kept before we were forced to stay at home. Fear is the anxiety of what might happen that we conjure up in our minds.

The bottom line is we don’t know any more now how the future will look than we did before the pandemic. There is still uncertainty. There is always uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen anymore now than we did before. Some people deal with this feeling every day because of the hardships and obstacles they have in their lives.

We have to just control what we can. We have to pivot when we get new relevant information.

Mother Nature has put us all in a collective time out to think about what we have done. We have all been sent to our rooms. Some people still do not get it. They haven’t changed their behavior, they are still having parties, they are still standing super close and chatting. Will they be the ones that get sick? Maybe, maybe not. There is too much unknown to predict and it doesn’t matter anyway. We cannot control that aspect of the scenario.

Appreciate what you have. Pivot and reflect. Journal, read, write a list, call a friend, make a flexible plan for the next two weeks, but please STAY HOME.