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Here are some writing prompts from Amanda Patterson. By the way, I’m not just “giving you guys homework.” I’ve done some of these actually.

* List five things that take too long.

1. Applying for jobs.

2. Getting ready in the morning.

3. Homework.

4. Explaining to the older generations why Facebook and Twitter are good things; or how to use them.

5. Starting on an obligatory project that you don’t really want to do.

 

* Write about a person who lives with chronic pain. This person has to open a jar, but can’t. Write in first person present tense.

* What is your protagonist planning to do in the week between Christmas and New Year?

Other than attending a funeral, Sara hasn’t planned anything. At least, not much beyond putting in a few hours a day at the office and spending some time with her boyfriend-ish friend Ace. It feels too soon for her to call him a boyfriend, even though they hold hands and kiss and talk about everything, and even though he’s agreed to come with to the funeral. He hardly knew Lorraine, but he likes to stand by Sara, like her knight in shinin’ armor. Normally, that kind of intent would have bothered Sara, but she knows he looks out for her, not because he thinks she’s helpless – far from it – he cares for her a lot, that’s all. Ace has already seen Sara cry once so he might as well be there with her, she thinks. 

At the day of the funeral, Sara asks the family if she may have the permission to say something. Lorraine’s husband will read the eulogy, her parents will speak, the in-laws will talk as well. Sara doesn’t dare ask sooner, not until she meets them at the church, clutching one of Lorraine’s old notebooks. It won’t be an apology. She won’t mention the circumstances, because the very thought of this evil deed haunts her as much as it haunts them. Maybe even more, the mother in-law comments coldly and Sara understands that every single one of them knows why she blames herself. Moments before she steps to the podium, Ace gives Sara’s hand a squeeze. 

The number of people gathered within the marble walls aren’t worthy the life Lorraine had. Sara thinks there should be hundreds of guests here today to say goodbye. Don’t any of them remember that this woman took the time to tell their stories? Fighting back the tears, Sara introduces herself, then talks about how much Lorraine loved to write poetry, much more than she liked writing for the newspaper, how marvelous she was at memorizing verses and quotes and passages from poems and books. When a clot builds inside her throat, Sara has to clear her throat and inhale deeply. Then she opens the notebook and begins at a random marked spot. Upon reading the poems, Sara realizes this is the first time these very words, Lorraine’s words, have an audience.

 

* Start writing with this sentence: ‘When he arrived, everyone stopped talking.’

* What is the first thing your protagonist would say if he or she were asked to run for political office?

You just contradicted anyone who’s ever claimed that you have some sense. Right now, all I am is an investigative reporter and I’ve got more enemies than I can count on my fingers, but you think I might do better as the Prime Minister? 

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* Creativity advice from Anthony Ehlers from Writers Write:

The Night Shift:

Finding the time to write with a full-time job

Most writers have a full-time career, children, family and social commitments. Where do you find time to work on your own stories? Let’s face it, only those at the top of the pyramid have the luxury and security of writing all day. The rest of us have to carve out time to write after hours. Here are five ideas to help you find a workable solution.

  1. Become a night owl. When she was starting out, Danielle Steel would make herself a cup of herbal tea, pin her hair up, set herself down in front of her vintage typewriter and hammer away at her manuscript. She’d usually start at 11pm and write in to the early hours of the morning.
  2. The early bird. Novelist Beryl Bainbridge would get up at five before her children and write with her notebook balanced on the washing machine as she did a load of laundry.
  3. Mark the change. Crime writer Patricia Highsmith would come home, have a bath and change into different clothes before she settled down to write her own stories. This little ritual helped her separate her working life with her rich creative interior world.
  4. Set a timed challenge. Prolific writer Anthony Trollope was also and early riser. He’d write between 5:30 and 8:30 and with his watch in front of him. He’d require himself to write 250 words every quarter of an hour.
  5. Make the most of days off. Stephen King famously admitted that he writes on Christmas Day. If you’re a compulsive writer, any day off is a great time to catch up on writing. Your imagination doesn’t know it’s a public holiday.

The lesson here is that if you really want to finish a book or a screenplay, you will find a way to make it happen – even if it means you go with less sleep!

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