I am fairly oblivious to the many disturbing things a person must
endure as a student of the writing craft. Thankfully Ive been fortunate
enough to have both a wealth of things to write about AND a place
willing to publish them. However after receiving a recent e-mail I
count my blessings even more.

My friend Kellie sent me a list of
things called writing prompts. These are exercises designed to generate
creativity and inspire writers to dig a little deeper into their souls.
I suppose they are good things to practice, and they might help when
you are stricken by writers block. Of course, after reading a few of
these things, I am reminded of the old adage, those who cant, teach.

The prompts she received were a gift from a credible source, Writers Digest.
I believe she made the mistake of subscribing online or entering one of
their contests so she now receives their special variety of SPAM.

assumed with the many competent writers on staff submitting articles
for this magazine, these writing prompts are time-tested & proven
methods that have no doubt saved or started many a career. However the
more I read them the more I am convinced these are the tricks taught by
charlatans and the methods used by very desperate people.

who use these things are NOT going to be publishing any best-sellers
any time soon. These are people taking the creative writing classes at
their local community college hoping to write their On the Road.
I am confident that the people in these classes, using these prompts,
are the folks that couldnt get into their local improv class and
settled for writing. I shudder to think what improv studio would
actually REFUSE a student.

Am I being harsh? Maybe. I looked
over the list of 30 prompts for the month of September and I can see
where these exercises would indeed help someone get the creative juices
flowing. However, lets examine the ones that are most unusual or
offensive to me.

Before I delve into these gems, let me say
KUDOS to the man or woman that found a way to reach a payday with this
crap. YOU are who I want to have as my literary agent. You are one
HELLUVA sales person!

I now give you a glimpse into the
fledgling writers world. In RED will be the prompts as written in the
Writers Digest e-mail. After each example will be my take on these
little exercises.

Describe your childhood home. Write down as many details as you can remember. Compare it to the location you call home now.

childhood home was big and it had a sandbox! I had my own room and I
never had to worry about food nor money. Now I live in a shit-hole
apartment with my cat. The place smells like burnt fudge and curry most
of the time, and my neighbors have a crystal meth lab. Id like to live
someplace else, but Im a writer and I am poor. I always buy tuna
because thats the only thing that my cat & I can both eat. My job
at Starbucks (the caf at Borders wasnt hiring) doesnt pay any of my
bills, but at least I am not waiting tables.

Reread your favorite book. Then try to mimic the authors voice, tone and style in an original plot of your own.

this is just plagiarism isnt it? I know they said an original plot of
your own but really, now. Developing this skill will only help if you
want to work on sit-com scripts. Hey, maybe this isnt such a bad idea
after all.

Let the pen lead youliterally. Create a story in
which an author is led on a strange and comical quest by his or her
trusty pen that comes to life one day.

And then, using that pen, KILL YOURSELF! Stab yourself in the neck and end your suffering! Honestly, didnt Sid & Marty Krofft do this one in the 60s?

Create an idea basket. Write down plot or article ideas on strips of paper. Fill your idea basket with future projects.

my wife write this one? OK, I can do this. Lets seefuture projects1)
Write angry letter canceling Writers Digest 2) Pick up pads for wife 3)
Compose suicide noteGot it!

PRICELESS!You have $50 to spend for the month. Outline your budget, explaining why youd spend money on certain items.

bucks? These prompts ARE for writers! Heres the list: Bottle of Jack
Daniels - $24.99, 4 packs of Marlboro Reds - $18.00, Sterling chain for
10 Year AA Token - $7.00, Not having enough money left to buy Writers

Try writing a short mystery story. Create a detective as your main character and relay the story from her point of view.

NOOOOOOO! A mystery? With a detective? Oh you're good!

Youre inside an elevator and the doors wont open. Whats worse, youre claustrophobic. Write this story.

I forget, did this happen to Laverne or Shirley?

Spend a day in your characters shoes. Speak, dress and act like him. Take notes.

character is fictional and doesnt exist. He has no shoes or clothes.
Ill get arrested if I do this one. Wait! I COULD write about a porn
star. Hmmm.

Write about the family dynamics during holiday
dinners or picnics. Capture the subtle and more obvious traditions your
family upholds.

OOH! Can we get Mike Myers, Billy Crystal, and
Eddie Murphy to play all the characters? I guarantee a $50,000,000.00
opening weekend!

Choose seven words. Create a poem that uses all of them.

I have chosen my seven words and I have opted to write a haiku.

Writing Prompts

By Andy Martello

My Exercises

Excruciating. Pointless.

Writers Digest SUCKS!

an article that shares the writing technique tips youve found
beneficial. This exercise will make you think about how your writing
process works.

Whyuhthats just ridiculous. Who would be able to write an article about such a thing?

Want more Tales from Andy Land? Check out Andy's BLOG!