That’s the advice playwright Sam Shepard gave to musician Patti Smith early in her career. She had said to him, “I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations” and that was his response.
Sound familiar? This line from Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, inspired author Barbara Abercrombie to write Kicking in the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals.
Inside are 365 five-minute writing exercises, a great way to jumpstart your writing for the new year. Dip in and pick anything to start. Here are some examples:
- Write about the time you were ruthless. With a garden, a poem, a relationship, or a place.
- “Go forth and be fancy today.” — Rachel Kann. Write the first image that pops into your head from the quote. Don’t overthink it. Don’t think at all. Just jump in.
- Write about a time you had to be patient. Or wished you had been. Write about what your body does when you’re feeling impatient.
Why are writing prompts worthwhile? You might think you don’t need them because you have your own writing to do. But so much richness can come. First there’s the simple pleasure of remembering, or writing about a feeling or an event. It’s freeing and satisfying, because your job is only to get it down.
Best of all, it’s easy, because you don’t have to pitch it or edit it. Decide what to do with your writing later, if at all. And you can easily work in a food theme, because food applies to any prompt when you’re obsessed with it.
If you’d like a copy of Kicking in the Wall, please leave a comment below. I will pick a winner at random and send you the book, signed to you from me. This offer is good in the US and Canada only.
Have you been to Food Blog South yet? It’s a wonderful, inexpensive conference, with the money going to charity, and two evening parties featuring alcohol and Southern food. How can you go wrong?
I’m teaching a four-hour workshop Friday afternoon, before the conference begins. We’ll focus on how to tell a story effectively, and dissect the techniques award-winning food writers use. There’ll be time for writing exercises and, most of all, the chance to amp up your writing skills.
February 15, 2014, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Food Writing for Food Lovers
The Writing Salon
I rarely teach in the Bay Area these days — I’ve been bit by the travel bug lately. But I’m back for a 1-day workshop in the East Bay. Here is an inexpensive day-long overview of food writing, particularly the craft of writing. We’ll also cover freelance writing, blogging, recipe writing and getting a cookbook published.
Join me! You’ll meet all kinds of fascinating people in this class, including food bloggers, writers from other genres, caterers, chefs, restaurateurs, and cooking teachers.
(Disclosures: This book was sent to me by a publisher, an this post contains affiliate links.)
Update: Susan Cooper is the winner of the giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered. I used Random.org to generate the number.