Day 9 – #StoryadayMay

Day 9

Today’s prompt is about 6 word stories.

Welcome to Sunday.

THE PROMPT

Write a six-word story complete with a beginning, middle, and end. Classic example from Hemingway: “Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.” Suggested prompt word: May. Could be the month, a person, a permission request, a game (e.g. Mother May I?). Or use another word. Bonus points if every word starts with the same letter.

I have used this prompt for years for myself and my students. It can be used as a reading exercise as well. It is also good for titles in my opinion.

Here are some:

Every time you ask, I’m suspicious.

It must be the full moon.

Knight in shining armour failed me.

Peace comes in a wine glass.

Walking and crying: how to be.

I find myself thinking in 6 word sentences today. My brain sees the pattern and won’t let go.

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. People on my newsletter will be able to sign up first and spaces are limited. Registration opens May 15th. It will be a unique generative experience no matter what level writer you are! Sign up for my newsletter here to be in the inner circle!

Details about the class are here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

Day 8 – Story Challenge

Day 8

Today’s prompt is from Premee Mohamed. You can read the whole prompt here .

Finally the weekend! I can start my day with coffee and hours of writing. My ideal life! This prompt has me puzzled. Here is the prompt:

THE PROMPT

In a mysterious valley, two rival abbeys of nuns and monks serving the same strange god play a secret game unbeknownst to their superiors. When the stakes for the game become souls, how can the game be ended — and the debts to the demon of chance be paid?

I try to approach this prompt with something that is not obvious. What game would these people be playing that would be able to keep secret? There are limitations here because of nuns and monks. Their material objects would be minimal. I kept thinking about slap games that dumb ass teenagers play in the halls of high schools!

I started writing in my notebook and then moved to the computer. Once I started writing the story idea came! The group finds a mysterious bag in the garden and they play a card game. I had a lot of fun with this story and it would have never emerged without this prompt! The demon aspect is my story is more implied than obvious but I like it that way.

Anchors for Day 8 story: blue bag, garden, staircase, room 2138

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. People on my newsletter will be able to sign up first and spaces are limited. Registration opens May 15th. It will be a unique generative experience no matter what level writer you are! Sign up for my newsletter here to be in the inner circle!

Details about the class are here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

Day 7 – Story Challenge

Day 7 – One week in!

Today’s prompt is from Roxane Gay. You can read the whole prompt here .

I started the day with writing, but nothing about this prompt.

One of the stories that came to mind was about a couple who was separated because of the Concentration Camps when they were young and both held a half of a fork. It was a happy ending. I may come back to this idea and put my own spin on it.

The story I wrote has the theme of hope. Or at least I attempted. I kept writing and it kept taking a left turn into the darkness. Today was not a happy day for me and to construct a story of happiness without being cheezy is nearly impossible.

There are threads of hope in my stories, but the conflict comes from deep rooted unhappiness in my stories. I don’t do happy usually. I even tried to pull a tarot card to help me and I pulled the 5 of Swords – a card of conflict and disagreement!

I wrote something, but I don’t like it. Right now I do not even like any of the lines in it! I was looking forward to Roxane’s prompt too because I adore her. I loved her book Hunger, many of her essays, and her masterclass.

I didn’t feel like I wrote enough today so I went with my other prompt, “It’s my signature.” This ended up being poem-like and more about me than I would have liked. I thought about what I am known for now as opposed to years ago. There are some memories in there and some lines I am good with but it feels undone and misaligned.

That is the thing with writing right? You can always go back and revise it later. Maybe they will look different in June light!

Anchors for Day 7 story: hope, list, ideal, bottled emotions

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. People on my newsletter will be able to sign up first and spaces are limited. Registration opens May 15th. It will be a unique generative experience no matter what level writer you are! Sign up for my newsletter here to be in the inner circle!

Details about the class are here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

Day 6 – Story Challenge

Day 6 of the Challenge

Today’s prompt is a prompt from Julie, the founder of Storyaday! You can read the whole prompt here .

Julie’s prompt is to interview a character. At first, I didn’t want to write using this prompt. I had an experience with a dialogue writing exercise in the fall that derailed my momentum for a bit and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.

I decided to use inspiration from a Neil Gaiman story that is told through written one sided answers to a questionnaire. I also combined my story with my Sarah Selecky prompt that had to do with bananas. I wanted to have some fun with this one.

I did start the day with writing as usual but wasn’t able to dive into the story before I went to work. Having access to a group of 5 and 6 year olds was something I utilized today. We wrote about bananas in class. Then we combined the idea with the book we are reading this week about a small fish who steals a hat from a large fish. The kids thought of all kinds of things that stole their bananas and what we could make out of bananas.

Once I decided on the format it went fairly quickly. It is a fun concept that I will come back to I think. I also don’t feel derailed by this exercise!

I attended a Hermit Crab flash class during my lunch time today. I was lucky the time from England coordinated with time I could be online! I was able to start a story in the form of a recipe which had been vexing me before.

Anchors for Day 6 story: bananas, interview, police report, rainbow, potassium

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. People on my newsletter will be able to sign up first and spaces are limited. Registration opens May 15th. It will be a unique generative experience no matter what level writer you are! Sign up for my newsletter here to be in the inner circle!

Details about the class are here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

Day 5 – Story Challenge

Day 5 of the Challenge

Today’s prompt is a prompt from my friend Marta! You can read the whole prompt here and find links to her work.

Marta’s prompt is about losing something that belongs to someone else. This is a prompt designed for me. I write about lost things all the time. It is one of my reoccurring themes.

Last night I hosted my PUSH group and part of the conversation was about stories through objects. The format for our group is the same every week. We have a few minutes of chit chat and then we celebrate the wins of the week. These can be small or large. Then we do a writing prompt. This week’s prompt was about place and its influence on what we write. There were some surprises after the exercise and everyone used more objects to tell their story than usual. This group always has interesting conversation and last night was no different.

I was fueled to write this morning because of this group of women! We always laugh a lot which is good for the soul.

I had a hard time narrowing down the ideas I wanted to use for my story today. I also wanted to combine my Sarah Selecky prompt with Marta’s today. One of the techniques I used was to write 10 unconnected sentences. This helped me figure out what idea lit me up today to construct into a full story.

The concept of my story is strange and I love it. While on my walk the perfect beginning sentence came to me and then all the other pieces came together. Today was unusual as I did not write the story in a linear way. I had the middle and then the beginning and then the end. I may change how the characters get to the end because it seems too obvious but I will let it sit for a few days and see what emerges.

Anchors for Day 5 story: unhappiness, bet, Curator of the Lost, tattoo

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

I am teaching a Fabulous Flash Fiction class June 9-13! You won’t want to miss it. People on my newsletter will be able to sign up first and spaces are limited. Registration opens May 15th. It will be a unique generative experience no matter what level writer you are! Sign up for my newsletter here to be in the inner circle!

Details about the class are here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

Day 4 – Story Challenge

Day 4 of May

My Agenda for the Challenge:

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?

Today’s prompt is an ending line from my friend Neha. You can read the whole prompt here and find links to her work.

Beginning with the end in mind is something I learned when I first started in education from Stephen Covey. I am grateful to have taken that training so early in my life.

Starting with an ending line leads you to where you are going.

The prompt took me in a different direction than I expected but I like it.

I combined Neha’s prompt with the Sarah Selecky prompt as well. I wrote a bit in the notebook about process and how I am feeling. I am experiencing some resistance because of the lack of acceptances this 2021 year. The writing moves on of course! I need to revise stories that have been sitting for a long while. With composing so quickly during May I often forget about gems hiding in the drive.

I have been up since 4:30am this morning so writing time was earlier than normal. Time moves differently this early as well as my thinking. I feel compelled to write which is always a good feeling.

The character who emerged is a Mother Nature like figure and the story involves a magical gate.

Anchors for Day 4 story: gate, splinter, time, dark

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

If you would like to read my reflection from Day 2 click here.

If you would like to read my reflection from Day 3 click here.

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

Day 3 – Story Challenge

Day 3 of May

My Agenda for the Challenge:

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?

The prompt is about using two POV’s. You can read the whole prompt here.

I liked this prompt and resonated with it BUT the idea did not come right away. I played around with a lot of angles before I started to compose. I wrote during my regular time this morning but the ideas are not flowing as easily as I feel they do other times. I am struggling with the schedule a bit in general, not just in relationship to the challenge.

These prompts are forcing me to think about plot and conflict is a more intentional way. I usually just write and if it is a story; it is a story. With the two fold intention to write a story a day and to produce a better draft, my feeling is I have to be more calculated with the story.

I am sure this is not actually true. It is how my brain is working this first week. The writing is not comfortable or as easy as usual. I find myself starting the story and mulling it over and over in my brain during the day. I keep thinking about fairy tale structures as well and I like that a lot. Today I used Little Red Riding Hood.

I am always thinking about story and writing but with trying to work out specific issues in the daily story, other ideas are flowing that have nothing to do with the prompt. It is working well! The idea pump seems to be primed.

Today I did consider going into my draft folders and pulling out something, but nothing felt right. There are a couple of scenes I keep trying to fit in like puzzle pieces and they are not working yet! It is about the play and the curiosity.

So far, I like the prompts and plan to use them over and over again.

I changed the POV order as outlined in the prompt. 3rd person began the story and then 1st person was the 10 year later section. It worked better for me.

Anchors for Day 3 story: wine, lie, tulips and dandelions, salt, house

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

If you would like to read my reflection from Day 2 click here.

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

Day 2 – Story Challenge

Day 2 of May

My Agenda for the Challenge:

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?

The prompt is about someplace new. You can read the whole prompt here.

I like the prompt. After reflecting about a place that I have not written about I had a hard time thinking about somewhere. I have written so many stories that a new place just off the top of my head seemed difficult. I wanted to combine it with the SS prompt today – everything I know about pearls. I feel like I have put too much pressure on myself to write a story a day even though I do it anyway. I feel like I am getting the words down but the flow isn’t there. I am focusing on a specific outcome which I am going to have to let go of.

I also got a rejection in my inbox this morning so that made me feel a little down.

I like the openness of this prompt and even see myself combining day 1 with the bridge to the new place in day 2. I will use this prompt again for sure.

The story is written and I combined several things. I used notes from the keep app, the prompt, the SS prompt and some past writing all together. It is a short story and I am not sure where I want to go with it. It feels like it should have more dramatic conflict in it but I am also overly concerned about the story structure and plot than normal.

The anchors idea that I referenced yesterday, and just below, is a technique I learned from Nina LaCour. It is a good exercise in rewriting as well. If I take just the anchor words and write the draft from scratch I am certain it will be better. If you keep in mind the anchors when you are writing then your focus can stay steady for your longer drafts.

Anchors for Day 2 story: pearls, skeletons, Montreal, scavenger hunt, layers

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

Would you Write a Story a Day?

It is the first day of May. For me that means I write a story for each day of this month.

It is a challenge I have been doing since 2016.

I always charge myself with an added layer of personal intention for this challenge. One year it was to just get the stories done completely [no skeleton stories]. Another year it was to freewrite first and then compose the story. Sometimes I pick a theme to use for the month. It often depends on what I need to work on or what I am currently obsessed with.

I am a reflective writer who likes to grow and I always learn something about process in May. This year I am going to be more intentional about the reflection in a public way.

Since I started taking my own writing more seriously and sharing that with others I get questions all the time about my process and how I write what I do.

This year’s inspiration is a combination of Felicia Rose Chavez’s book and process, classes I have taken over the last year with Nina LaCour, Jane Brunette, and Sarah Selecky and my own need to light myself up with writing.

My Agenda

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?


My overall goal is to produce better first drafts. I plan to incorporate a theme of EVERYDAY MAGIC in my stories and to pay attention to my intuition while writing.

I am hoping that blogging about it will require me to be more accountable to myself and also share my process which is asked of me often. I also hope that blogging will require me to curate and synthesize with a bit more polish instead of just ramblings within in my notebook. If there are specific questions that arise for you if you follow along with me on the journey, please ask! I hope my stories and reflection will help you with your writing in some way. Even if that is only that someone else is writing at the same time you are!

Prep

How did I prepare for this challenge?

I have a series of month long challenges I do each year. May is slated for Storyaday always and I start thinking about it one on and off for a couple of weeks before the first of the month.

One of my regular practices is to keep notes of inspiration. I call them my lists of 10. [Most of the time there are more than 10 things on the list.] I write down snippets of conversation, lines that come to me, story ideas, observations, etc. These ideas are logged in the Keep app on my phone and I move them to a Google Doc usually. Sometimes I write using the ideas from the day before and then delete them before they get put into the Compost Pile folder.

When composing, sparks of inspiration are not an issue I have. I have files of ideas and I use my intuition to guide me. An idea MUST light me up in order to use it. I often have a lot of writing ideas during my walks but often the ideas that light me up while I am walking does not work when I sit down with my notebook. I have learned to honor that feeling.

I learned the first year I did the challenge that finishing the story is a critical part. It doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to have an ending. Learning how to circle a story back is an important skill for a writer. With practice I have gotten better at this aspect of the process. Reading great flash fiction also helps. I recommend Sherrie Flick for her powerhouse stories that end beautifully each time.

I have an established daily writing practice that works for me. I go to bed with the idea that I will write as soon as I wake up. This helps the words flow most days. Sometimes not. I write anyway.

Every morning I use Sarah Selecky’s daily prompt in addition to morning pages type writing and dream work. In May, I will read the Selecky prompt and the Storyaday prompt and see if I can mash them together. This is typical for me. It leads to interesting stories most of the time that go in a direction I couldn’t do otherwise.

Day 1

The prompt is about a Bridge. You can read the whole prompt here.

I connected with this prompt in a strong way today. I am fascinated by bridges and they have come up in the notebooks in various ways over the past several weeks. I liked the idea but was having trouble thinking about exactly what I wanted the story to be.

I had my coffee and brainstormed in my notebook for about 45 minutes. I recorded snippets of dreams and other thoughts this morning. The Sarah prompt was about a coffee cup rim which didn’t work. The Sprinkled Inspiration prompt was about socks which reminds me of the Naomi Shihab Nye poem, “Secrets” that I love. There are suitcases and socks in that poem which made me think of travel.

I thought about all types of bridges in life, not just a curved cobblestone bridge that looks like it belongs in a fairytale which is what emerged in the story. A plane can be a bridge from one time zone to another. I write bridges between words to create new metaphors all the time.

The story came together fairly quickly and I decided to type it. I feel like this one is a draft and a start but will think on it more. I feel it is a skeleton story at the moment, but if something comes to me I will come back to it. I am going on a walk here soon so if something comes to me I will make notes. I do not consider the story something that must be done in one sitting although that is usually how I work.

I used the images I recorded from my walk the other day to begin the story. I like the idea of an image of a tarot card to be the last image and can see the drawing in my head. This could be a reoccurring theme for the month as an ending image for each story and could tie the stories all together and also create a way to make a collection by the end of the month. Cards can fit in your pocket and that image intrigues me as well.

Anchors for this story: thunder clouds, cobblestone bridge, lightning, questions

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

3-2-1 Creative Sparks

3 Podcasts

The Secret Library Podcast

The new season started today and Caroline’s theme is the Nourished Writer. You can check out the podcast on most podcast catchers. You can click here for more information.

I always feel like I get deep advice and conversation from this podcast. It is one that I do not miss. I knew the new season was starting and kept thinking yesterday was Thursday because of it!

Keeping A Notebook

Nina LaCour is amazing. You need to listen to her podcast just to listen to her voice. It has a dream like quality that takes me to another place.

Her podcast is intermittent. During the pandemic she shared writing prompts and her feelings about the isolation with a spin off called Shelter In Place. She is real and honest. Another podcast I never miss an episode of.

The last couple are celebrating the publication of her new book, Watch Over Me, which is a ghost story. She read an excerpt and then talks about how she wrote that section and where the inspiration came from. It makes my writer heart so happy!

MFA Writers

I have been obsessed lately with MFA programs. This podcast is an interview format. An MFA student is asked questions about their writing and their program. How it works and details about workshops and boundaries pertaining to the individual program.

2 Writing Prompts

Set a timer for ten minutes. Let you pen move and do not censor yourself.

1 Book

Cait Flanders is an author that has a style of writing that is also magical. Her new book came out Tuesday and I am already a couple chapters in. I pre-ordered this book which is not something I do often.

Adventures in Opting Out cover by Amanda Sandlin