• When she’s ten she ___; then she’s 16 and ____; after that she ____.
  • Write about the first time you (your narrator) got lost, without using the words “lost” or “scared” or “heart” or “stomach.”
  • Write an ending to your novel for five minutes, 5 times.
  • Do something with this:  Somewhere someone has found or lost something someone has accused someone else of doing something someone feels like something embarrassing.
  • Four big things to help you write:

ONE:   Everything takes place somewhere, at some time, to someone.

TWO:  Ask yourself at all times: what does your narrator want?

THREE: Attitude: everyone has one. There is no such thing as neutral perception.

FOUR: You can’t think about writing and write at the same time

FIVE: How to write: first, write anything; second, edit it until it’s what you want to say.

  • Write a paragraph that includes the following information:

1 what time is it?

2 day of the week

3 the sky is

4 she wears

5 she is doing (a small action)

6 she wants (one big thing, one little thing)

7 she (put an action here, ie, jumps from the tree)

  • Complete the following:

1 Within the next hour I could be _____

2 Soon she would _____

3 Don’t look for me in _____

4 So this is how it will end: _____

5 I am choosing not to _____

6 In this version she _____

7 In this moment I want _____

  • Various:

1 read a poem you like, copy the last line, and keep writing from that

2 write in near darkness for seven minutes without reading what you wrote

3 cut a page into strips and rearrange all the sentences, see what you’ve got

4 describe a photograph

5 make a list of lists, then complete one of the lists

  • Fill in

You are too ____ and ____ and ____. In the ____ you can ____. It is ____ outside. For three days you’ve been ____ and ____. You never told this: How when you were ____, you ____. Now you ____. Your body is ____ with ____. You say: “Let me ____, let me ____.” Outside the ____, ____ are ____. In this version you ____ to the ____. Here in the ____ where you ____, the ____ is ____ and ____ and ____. Because this is ____ you are ____. If you were ___, you would not ____.


1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists, lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with- “In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

  • make lists

A list of unrequited friendship
A list of muzzles and leashes
A list of over-caffeinated arguments
A list of blushes
A list of half-read novels
A list of Boston ferns that have perished under my care
A list of toasts to other people’s happiness
A list of unfettered embraces
A list of spontaneous leaps
A list of broken wicker furniture
A list of alcoholics
A list of lingering debt
A list of New Year’s resolutions
A list of circles formed with folding chairs
A list of threats to national security
A list of beautiful graffiti
A list of forgotten umbrellas
A list of gas station meals
A list of chaotic lusts
A list of no-fly lists
A list of weather forecasts
A list of overwritten college essays
A list of pay stubs
A list of housing projects
A list of feral cats
A list of unnecessary apologies
A list of strange fascinations
A list of discarded self-help books
A list of important meetings
A list of escape routes
A list that dreams absently of Paris
A list of cancelled credit cards
A list of slipped-away people
A list of thwarted ambitions
A list of grudges
A list of polite small talk
A list of crushes
A list of rain
A list of tattered flags on wheelchairs
A list of fingers and toes
A list of self-pity
A list of landlords
A list of exaggerated regret
A list of projects taken up and abandoned
A list of coins found beneath couch cushions


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