Alchemy – WFMAD Day 3



Fiction writing is eight-tenths magic. The craft skills that we use when revising account for another tenth. The last tenth is comprised of equal parts serendipity, caffeinated beverages, and staying away from the Internet whilst creating.

What do I mean by magic? It’s when you sit down to write, sometimes with a plan, sometimes not, and all of a sudden the words explode out of your fingertips. You don’t know where they are coming from. You don’t want to think about any of this too much because the magic has a lot in common with ghosts. Never look at a ghost directly. Always keep your eyes averted.

Just keep typing.

It can be very hard to get into the zone where the words flow like that. Making sure that you write every day helps. So does understanding that emotions are an underpinning to all human behavior and activity.

Yesterday’s prompt sparked a lot of emotional reactions from many of you. Awesome. Strong emotions kindle magic easily. If you use today’s prompt, you are going to build on that magic.

Today’s quote

“Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.”

Gustave Flaubert


Today’s Prompt: Yesterday you let rip with strong emotions as you fantasized and wrote about what you would love to say to the toxic person in your life. Today you are going to build on that dialog.

Craft a scene based on what you wrote yesterday. Fill in the setting and the narrative action. Remember to put in sounds and smells. What else – other people? Interruptions? If the scene feels dull, add a twist. Make yourself or the toxic person do something completely unexpected half-way through the scene.


 Scribble… scribble… scribble…

The Power of the Toxic – WFMAD Day 2


Wow! This is, by far, the biggest response ever to the WFMAD Challenge! Thank you everyone who wrote, posted, tweeted, facebooked, and otherwise shared the news and spread the excitement.

Most importantly… ::stands up and applauds:: Congratulations to everyone who wrote for fifteen minutes yesterday!


You didn’t write for fifteen minutes yesterday? Life got in the way, right? Let me guess. Kids? Work? Vacation? Parents? School? Olympics? Twitter? Kardashians?

You know what? I don’t care. Sh*t happens. Please do not waste anymore time beating yourself up. It cuts into your fifteen minutes.

Permit me a basketball metaphor. In the average college game, both teams will score about 75 points. (I just made that statistic up, btw. Feel free to fact check me and post the real average.) The point is that in basketball (sport of the gods) you don’t have time to pout about the mistake you just made, because the other nine people on the court have already sprinted down for the next play.

Start anew today. Start anew every day. Where are you going to carve out today’s 15 minutes to write?

Sometimes it’s hard to dive into writing because our lives are sorta good. Or sorta boring. Now when someone makes us crazy, well then, by golly, it’s easy to write. In fact, it’s impossible to get the words down fast enough when the blood is boiling!

Let’s use that today.

Today’s Quote

“When I start writing, I rarely know what I’m writing about. Am I writing about all of those great abstract nouns that you’ve ever heard about — love, integrity, honor, compassion or whatever? The writer’s job is to take those great abstract nouns and turn them into flesh and blood and bones. Then they are real.”

Harry Crews


Today’s Prompt: You know that toxic relative or former friend who makes (or used to make) your life miserable? Write out dialog in which you finally tell that person what you think of her and why. Do not hold back. Do not edit yourself. Do not worry that anyone is ever going to see it. Just write!


Scribble… scribble… scribble…

WFMAD Day 1 – Welcome to the Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge



Welcome to the Fifth Annual Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge©!


The rules of the WFMAD Challenge are simple.

  1. Commit to write for 15 minutes every single day this month.
  2. Write, just like you promised yourself.
  3. There is no Rule #3. Life is already too complicated. Two rules are easy to remember. The point is to get you to write, not bog you down with silly regulations.


How Does This WFMAD Thing Work?

Every day for the month of August, I’ll post a quote about writing or art, and a writing prompt. I’ll probably ramble a bit, too, though expect to see less of that this year than in years past. After the ups and downs of the last year, I’m finally back in the writing groove, and that’s where my focus needs to stay. (That, btw, is why I haven’t been blogging or hanging out much on social media sites recently.)

The prompts are written without assuming anything about your experience or abilities. I believe that pretty much anyone can write about pretty much anything if they give themselves permission to do it, and put in the requisite time and attention to craft.

Many of the prompts are written so that you can respond with your personal feelings, memories, or experience. Feel free to respond, instead, from the viewpoint of a fictional character. Use a character from your Work In Progress. Make up a new one every day, if you want.


Where Do I Sign Up?

No sign-ups, although in years past, writers have double-dog-dared their writer friends to join them in the Challenge. I suggest a high-stakes bet with your friend, if you choose to do that.


Do I Have To Respond To Your Prompts?

Goodness, no! Write what you want, write what the little voice in your head is whispering. But if you are stuck, try out the prompt.


How Can You Tell If I Am Doing It?

I can’t. It’s between you and your Muse, unless you tell your friends or leave a note in the Comments section of my blog. (I must admit, I like it when people do that.) Sometimes people post their day’s writing in the Comments section. (I like that, too.)

You are accountable only to yourself, ever, for the amount of time you choose to spend writing. Or if you blow it off. This is a good place to begin the daily discipline, and to get in the habit of that accountability. Here you are with friends who understand the struggle. Feel free to tell us all about your writing challenges, or ask me questions in the Comments section.


Is This Connected to NANOWRIMO?

Nope, but I am a big fan of that project and strongly encourage all of you to sign up for it this year.


Will You Read What I Wrote?

Thank you for asking, but I have to say no. There are not enough hours in the day for what I want to do right now. Sorry.


 Can I Use Your Prompts In My Class?

Yes! Please cite me properly, that’s all I ask. If you get a moment, I’d love to know what kind of feedback you receive from your students. (Permission is only given for classroom use. The prompts, like all of my blog writing, remain my property.)


Why Are You Doing This?

Because the arts flourish in community. When kindred spirits gather they raise each other up. The differences between someone who has been published and someone who hasn’t are not nearly as dramatic as you might think. I still struggle to make time everyday to write. I still choke at the thought of the blank page.  I never write as well or as thoughtfully, or as fast as I want to. But I love writing. I’d be scribbling stories if I had never been published. It is the writing – surrendering to the magic – that is the best part of my day. It balances me, and makes me feel alive. I want to share that with you.


Ready? Set your timers to 15 minutes and get going.


“If the angel deigns to come, it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner.”

Rainer Maria Rilke


Today’s Prompt:  What things do you allow to get in the way of your writing? Be specific, detailed, and brutally honest.


Scribble… scribble… scribble…