Writing Prompts and Exercises

~Emma Approved is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, and the latest episode just game out (I’m SUPER addicted). Your mission is to take Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174262) and try and work it into a prototype for a modern adaptation! Sort of like the LBD or Emma Approved- or something else entirely! Good luck!


~In the 18th century up until the 20th century (and indeed a good chunk of that as well) becoming pregnant out or wedlock would me total ruin (and even death!) for a woman. Based on this (very sparse) info, and any additional research you feel like doing, write a short piece (prose or poetry) from the point of view of a woman who has become pregnant outside of marriage. This can take place anytime before… say 1935. Be more emotive than descriptive, and engage the reader with subtleties and unique details.

~An interesting activity which we should all try out is writing a creative piece based off of the observations we collect about a stranger. I have tried it once before and it is interesting to see what traits catch your eye. (From Louise Fournier)

~ The Love Letter Project
✴ The Love Letter Project is a movement away from the traditional structure and intention of a love-letter, and into something of beauty that someone, somewhere can benefit from. The idea is that words change lives, that letters can change lives. Their website says;
“We invite you to write a letter. Consider the greatest challenge you’ve faced and write an open letter to help the next person overcome it.”

Consider your greatest challenges and accomplishments. What have you overcome that others continue to struggle with? It can be something as simple as biting your nails, or something as convoluted as a struggle with an eating disorder.
Based on this, write a short letter to your younger self– what you wish you had known and been taught at that point.
Review your piece and look for “accidental” language moments: anything especially beautiful, insightful or symbolic that you may not have noticed whilst writing.
Take aside those language moments (minimum of 3)
Create a letter in the form of a poem
Optional: Send your finished letter into the program coordinators.

~Visit this website and take the quiz: bunnymeasurementindex.com
In your notebook, make a few initial notes of your impressions. What kind of quiz is this? What is it’s purpose?
At the end of each section, make a few small notes about your impressions: how does this make you feel, about yourself and about society?
At the end of the quiz, write down what parts of your results stick out the most- include both positive and negative things. How does this make you feel? Angry? Proud? Why do you feel this way? What can you do to change the way this makes you feel? Is it at all valid? What does is say about society?
Respond to this in poetry or prose. For example, it can take on a rant, letter, editorial, or spoken word form.
Bring your notes and response to the next workshop.

~ You are going to discover your truth. This exercise will be reworked over the course of the year, so make sure that you are true to yourself and your words. When working on this piece, remember our manifesto. If the piece is too personal, you are not obligated to share with anyone, but you are encouraged to do so.

Make a list of everything that makes you, you. Include positive things, negative things, personality traits, scientific and medical facts, job experience, academia, quirks, hobbies, sports, etc.
Make a list of 20 nouns that were most present in your childhood.
Make a list of 5 memories involving sound.
Make a list of all of the hardships you’ve faced in your life. Choose one and write about it from a positive standpoint. (2-3 sentences)
Make a list of 3 memories involving taste.
Make a list of the most influential people in your life. Choose one of them and describe a body part of theirs in detail. (2-3 sentences)
Write about a memory involving sight and texture. (1-2 sentences)
Make a list of five academic goals, five career goals, five familial goals, five personal goals, five writing goals, and five ‘experience’ (or bucket list) goals.
Make a list of 5 or so moments that correspond with the items on your lists. Pick the most visceral ones that jumped out at the creation of these lists. Write one sentence for each.

Using the above generated text, write one narrative/ descriptive paragraph, 3 haikus, 1 list poem (you must draw from multiple lists), one blank verse poem (20 lines or less), one scientific blurb (just facts) and one diary entry (1-2 paragraphs) detailing a moment from above. Together, these things create a vivid picture of you as an individual; you’ve created your first hybrid memoir!

~How has your grandmother influenced your life? What parts of her do you see in yourself, physically and personality-wise? Make a list poem of 10 things.
Repeat for your mother, your sister, your aunt(s), your biggest competitor or your best girlfriend. Even an influential female teacher.
The goal of this exercise is to gain awareness of the strong and not-so-strong female presences in our lives. What relationships are positive or negative and why?
Pay attention to images. Try your best to make each item in the list apply to one of the 5 senses. Make them visceral and tangible.
Remember: Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme! Speak your truth, and the rest will come easily.

~Write a letter to your future daughter(s). What sort of advice would you give them? What do they need to know to go out into this world?
You may address the following, or anything you like:
-Body Image
-Alcohol/ Drugs
-Death/ Illness
Don’t feel constricted to the classic letter format. You can write it as such if you’d like, but you can also delve into poetry, prose, non-fiction, drama, etc.
Think about how previous stories or poems of yours can fit into this prompt. Can the poem you wrote about a breakup or an eating disorder act as a ‘letter’ to your future daughter?
If you cannot fathom the idea of having children, use this letter to explain why.

~Take a chapter/ segment/ page (or whatever- be open minded!) of a classic novel aimed at women (Think Wuthering Heights or Emma) and translate it into an era of technology.
How would Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship have been different if they’d had iPhones? What would her Facebook statuses have been like? Get creative- write a text or IM conversation between two characters, a series of status updates, or even a tumblr post! What would be on their iPods? Make a playlist. What would be on their desktop? What would the background on their iPhone be? Always remember to provide evidence and back up your claims.
Once you’ve come up with something, reflect on how technology has affected women’s literature and the way female characters are represented in novels.

~Write a series of haikus (4-10) about someone you love. Invoke the 5 senses! No ‘feeling’ language- show us how you feel about this person through a description of them.

~Take the page included at the back of this document, and turn it into an Erasure poem. Print it off and use a sharpie or black marker to take away all unnecessary words.

~Pretend that you are your great-grandmother. Knowing what you know about her, her life, experiences, philosophy, and legacy, write a list of advice to yourself at 16, 18, or 20.

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