December 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. A misspoken compliment
  2. A circle of friends in school yard.
  3. She poured a bunch of M&M’s in my champagne.
  4. The lively pop of a beer can opening.
  5. The lamp cast a dim yellow background to their argument.
  6. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: boost, strength, would, tailed, dangerous.
    2. Write about two people talking, but not to each other.
    3. Write about deciding what to work on first.
  7. A soapstone ashtray
  8. Why did she always smile when hearing the word moon?
  9. A thrift store find.
  10. The soft hum of a freezer defrosting.
  11. No, Clown’s don’t scare me, water does.
  12. Draw a picture of your favorite childhood space before writing today.
  13. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: created, wheel, numb, photo, shoved
    2. Write about a detail that changes everything.
    3. Write about leaving something up to chance.
  14. Describe an architectural anomaly in your town.
  15. A street mime looking like Michael Jackson.
  16. The tenacity of oak leaves in autumn.
  17. She only wore shawls from Dubai
  18. They talked about fashion for an hour and a half.
  19. He made a fool of himself at the launch party.
  20. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: wondering, anybody, biting, taste, shingles.
    2. Write about a window.
    3. Write about forgetfulness.
  21. A hat pin collection.
  22. My spine shivered at the menace in his voice.
  23. He smashed the birthday cake in drunken anger.
  24. The snowflakes felt like kisses on her hair and nose.
  25. Why do cultures create myths?
  26. Can you peel an apple in one continuous strip?
  27. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: word, stationary, someone, whatever, faded.
    2. “If this was so, the decrepit state of the interior spoke badly of the state of the new mathematics” (use or abuse the previous quote, selected more or less at random from Logicomix)
    3. Write about a coincidence that isn’t really a coincidence.
  28. Tell a true story of an email mistake.
  29. Cleaning up after a dragon fight.
  30. The smell of rotting leaves.
  31. Happy New Year eve! Resolve to have fun with writing in 2010.

November 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: telling, waiting, tomorrow, coincidentally, kicked
    2. Write about a provocation that your character can almost, but not quite, ignore.
    3. Write about Fall, falling, or something fallen.
  2. Validate a character’s fears
  3. Set a scene in a minor character’s workplace
  4. Get inspired for a character bio by a topic at the NIMH
  5. “You can have anything you want. All you have to do for me is…”
  6. Write 500 words on a stolen moment at a children’s party
  7. There’s one secret he’s kept from his best friend. Write the story of it.
  8. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: twenty, often, bolts, stove, family.
    2. Write about having to borrow something that you urgently need.
    3. Use the phrase, “If only there were more than 24 hours in a day.”
  9. Dark chocolate, Frank Sinatra and a dusting of snow
  10. She wants to know all the details, no matter how sick they make her feel
  11. A yellow eye, staring out of the darkness. It blinks. Then —
  12. It seems colder on a clear night with a full moon
  13. He walked under the ladder on purpose, as always
  14. Fish sticks and chocolate pudding for dinner, eaten with a spork
  15. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: wall, explosive, season, leaving, hands
    2. Write about vengeance declined.
    3. Fill in the blanks: “______ has always been ______.”
  16. A pair of broken eyeglasses in a paper bag
  17. She left behind a Pez dispenser and a pair of pink underwear
  18. One piece of apple pie
  19. “You agree with me? Congratulations.”
  20. The less expensive of two evils
  21. “Are you sure that’s octopus?”
  22. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: encountered, people, lighter, drove, early.
    2. This week I saw the following two items on a bulleted list on a whiteboard: lunch, shadows. Write something connecting the two.
    3. Use the phrase “on the other hand”.
  23. “Actually I do have a question. But you’ll never answer it.”
  24. A moldy jack-o-lantern falls off the front porch step
  25. Two tickets for the concert
  26. “We don’t serve the pie until the football game starts.”
  27. Outside the store at 5:13 a.m.
  28. There was something fishy about the rhubarb pie. Literally.
  29. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: sweat, sense, counteract, jumble, cartwheel
    2. Include the names of at least two kinds of non-human animals.
    3. Write about connecting the dots. (Alternate prompt: beer.)
  30. They both reached for the radishes.

October 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Sit around a fire and tell scary stories.
  2. Write both an acceptance/rejection letter for your current work.
  3. A paradigm shift in a relationship.
  4. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: after, making, circular, mean, between
    2. Write about something that’s not as bad as expected.
    3. Write about not looking where you’re going.
  5. The car began to hydroplane and he lost control.
  6. Everything was overcooked, slightly burned. We ate in silence.
  7. I believe in “The No Asshole Rule”
  8. Is it possible to be addicted to kindness?
  9. Do you tell true personal stories, or do you embellish?
  10. What instrument does your m/c play or dream of playing.
  11. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: which, flipped, alone, spidery, eyes. Bonus points for “weirdness”.
    2. Write about something that only lasts for a short time.
    3. Write about mottled sunshine.
  12. I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag.
  13. My neck keeps getting redder.
  14. Our marriage isn’t working and neither are you.
  15. She thought he was a man; in reality he was a little boy.
  16. Some days last longer than others.
  17. Sixty-seven more miles.
  18. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: floor, warily, gazed, blue, scarred.
    2. bob: Use the Janis Joplin line “It ain’t much. It’s everything.
    3. aethucyn: Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night. –Include precipitation, or failing that, a postman.
  19. “You don’t know what I’m going through”
  20. He finally understood the paradox of choice.
  21. The hush of the forest humbled me.
  22. How does your m/c deal with fear.
  23. Find something that excites you here, and write about it.
  24. What does waiting feel like?
  25. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: shelves, fascination, under, frame, vibrating. Bonus points for “newsboy”.
    2. Fill in the blank: “the speed of ____”.
    3. Write about an herb plant, growing in a flowerpot.
  26. A change in a character’s heart.
  27. “That was a vicious wedding dress.”
  28. What expression do you find overused…awesome, sweet, dude, etc…?
  29. Imagine an evening with your favorite author.
  30. What are the 3 things you want to accomplish next year?
  31. Write that spooky/scary story or poem rattling around in your brain.

September 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Who eats a whole loaf of bread for lunch and why are you wearing that hat?
  2. “What I’m saying is that I don’t know how he’ll react.”
  3. “So you’ve decided to grow a beard.”
  4. A bowl of hard candy (boiled sweets) beside the armchair.
  5. The slip of paper pressed into her palm reads “old flame”
  6. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: share, peace, amazed, loving, better (taken from the Ideal Bowie Lyric)
    2. Write about preparing to go somewhere.
    3. Write about an element (chemical, astrological, D&D, or otherwise)
  7. “Ketchup on a hot dog? You Philistine.”
  8. She knits a scarf to match the mittens in the cardboard box.
  9. Use the following: headset, ignition, strength.
  10. “The first time I did this, I was wearing a cowboy hat and a pair of chaps”
  11. Girls night out versus boys’ night in.
  12. A silent ride home after the game.
  13. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: lazily, paper, metaphor, ladder, spiral.
    2. Write about refusing a request.
    3. Write about an expensive mistake.
  14. Next thing I know, she’s screaming at me in Russian and throwing coffee cups.
  15. Smith comes up with an explanation for the anomaly.
  16. Use the following: pluck. sleep, light.
  17. Use turquoise (color and/or stone) as a symbol.
  18. A month ago, she wouldn’t have given me the time of day and now…
  19. “Talk Like A Pirate Day” — write a pirate story/poem.
  20. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: touch, bullet, newer, himself, bright
    2. Write about something you can do with a ball.
    3. Write about pockets (or Pocky).
  21. A gift wrapped in polka dot paper in the center of the kitchen table.
  22. “He always was a pompous bastard but this is something new”
  23. A giant shrimp on top of a souvenir stand/motel.
  24. “Stop hounding me about your stupid piece of plastic!”
  25. “This salsa is too spicy. Where’s the beer?”
  26. A box of crayons missing the blue one.
  27. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: series, glint, alike, watch, store.
    2. Fill in the blanks: “all ____ and no ______”.
    3. Write about something shocking.
  28. Put your music player on shuffle and write based on lyrics of the third song.
  29. “In an effort to salvage his dignity, I’ve decided to raffle him off.”
  30. A police costume, a banana and a bungee cord shoved in a brown paper bag.

August 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Overhearing someone give their credit card number on their cell phone.
  2. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: shoulder, theater, actual, bound, other.
    2. Use a piece of jargon or specialized vocabulary.
    3. Write about catching a wave.
  3. What would be the best way to get rid of a dead body?
  4. The sparring of hummingbirds at a feeder.
  5. He had no confidence in his ability to parallel park.
  6. The primaeval drumbeat of tree frogs on a summer night.
  7. Share a cooking story and recipe with a friend.
  8. Include a gargoyle in a short story or poem.
  9. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: visit, look, afternoon, entirely, inside
    2. Write about the hunter becoming the hunted.
    3. Write about counting something (or something that doesn’t count).
  10. She collected sock monkeys.
  11. Describe your most treasured possession.
  12. A sidewalk cafe on a Sunday afternoon.
  13. A family visits the Museum of Discovery. What did they discover?
  14. A bald man with a chest length beard.
  15. Her sadness was palpable.
  16. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: quietly, beside, buttons, penumbra, whole.
    2. Write about a name, date, or place that reminds you (or a character) of a particular event.
    3. Write about a character changing his or her mind about something important.
  17. What place is you m/c most comfortable in?
  18. A couple not speaking because they don’t want to argue.
  19. The haunting sound of a distant church carillon.
  20. This is where I come to find sanity.
  21. His nightmares grew in frequency.
  22. Describe the most beautiful sound you ever heard.
  23. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: looking, reason, weather, trying, mostly (bonus word: drive)
    2. Use the phrase “I will regret this.”
    3. Write about refusing something that you want.
  24. Write about a romantic evening.
  25. The moonglow over a cypress swamp.
  26. “Your behavior is unacceptable.”
  27. She knew her husband was dying.
  28. The guitar player’s smile made my heart leap.
  29. He owned multiple homes.
  30. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: quick, streaming, could, building, thick
    2. Write about an involuntary reflex.
    3. Write about something that is either the best or the worst.
  31. Rainstorms make me horny.

July 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Gags, the one-legged trucker.
  2. The last night of the community theater run of “Oklahoma.”
  3. “I can’t explain that painting but I can tell you why I bought it.”
  4. Three fathers standing around a barbecue grill talking about a game.
  5. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: store, describes, crossed, forbidden, stretching.
    2. Write about a string, rope, braid, or ribbon.
    3. Use the phrase, “Perhaps it’s time.”
  6. Base a story or poem on a Madonna song title.
  7. A man cutting the grass stumbles across an unexpected object.
  8. “My first job out of college was as a tour guide.”
  9. Take an existing,stalled work and edit the word count down 10%.
  10. After finding a source of clean water, the group’s top priority is…
  11. “If you’d given me the task sooner, he wouldn’t be dead.”
  12. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: flood, existence, transition, story, thinner
    2. Use the following phrase, “Well, that’s annoying.”
    3. Write about a lie you were told as a child.
  13. An argument over the new sofa as it’s being delivered.
  14. Two children eat slices of birthday cake on the porch/stoop.
  15. Begin in a dentist’s waiting room and end in a used bookstore.
  16. Nine years later, a new clue comes to light.
  17. A nude woman walks up to a newsstand and buys a paper and a pack of gum.
  18. Margaret runs out of bags at her yard sale / boot sale.
  19. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: doing, breathe, code, thank, timely.
    2. Take the sentence “Love is a plane crash of the soul” and replace all but one of the nouns.
    3. Use the phrase, “unusually quiet.”
  20. The narrator/MC can’t place the man s/he’s talking to until his phone rings.
  21. Character 1: “It feels like Tuesday.” Character 2: “It is Tuesday.”
  22. A mother braids her daughter’s hair.
  23. “No monkey business,” he said, taking a step back.
  24. Heat, spice and sizzle.
  25. “This looks silly without the music.”
  26. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: barely, crawled, arrival, abrupt, recognition
    2. Write about a mess: creation, care, feeding, or resolution.
    3. Write about something green.
  27. Her first day out of jail, he spots her waiting outside his kitchen.
  28. A black cat sits on top of an aquarium licking its lips.
  29. A bouquet of white shasta daisies wrapped in green wax paper.
  30. A tall man with dark hair and glasses approaches the librarian’s desk.
  31. Celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday by writing something for people under 18.

June 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Don’t tell me how to build a clock, I just want to know what time it is.
  2. A man with a hangover.
  3. Your m/c is a prisoner.
  4. Describe the sunset from your home.
  5. The neon “Open” sign was incongrouous for an antiques store.
  6. Like a sewing machine that just quit sewing.
  7. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: higher, draws, tell, fear, break
      or f*cking, sorry, person, second, ambulance,
      or any combination thereof.
    2. Write about a fire demon.
    3. Write about making the same mistake twice.
  8. Chess pieces in an unfinished game.
  9. The life of a garbage collector.
  10. “You didn’t answer my question.”
  11. A high maintenance customer in line ahead of you.
  12. A fat old man in a glossy leather coat.
  13. He always dressed as if he were in a locker room.
  14. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: running, closer, exactly, changing, beautiful
    2. Someone is holding something.
    3. Use the name of a poker hand (doesn’t have to be in the context of poker).
  15. Begin a journal of sounds and colors.
  16. The first time your m/c saw a mountain.
  17. A seedy motel by the railroad tracks.
  18. Looking for a place to fall apart.
  19. Describe a blistering sunburn.
  20. The death of a dill plant.
  21. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: woodgrain, closing, soaked, timely, again.
    2. Write about crowds.
    3. Write about something that shouldn’t happen in summer, but does.
  22. A woodpecker attacking an eavestrough.
  23. Use Chicago, purple and emotion in a paragraph.
  24. Write the scene of an accident from three witness’s perspective.
  25. She never wore anything green.
  26. His hair looked like used Brillo pad.
  27. The sadness of a sagging window shade.
  28. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: first, blindness, young, through, time
    2. Use the phrase “but there’s more.”
    3. Use the phrase, “This is not a(n) …”
  29. An empty rocking chair silently rocking.
  30. Hummingbirds in flight.

May 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Use these in a story/poem: pressure, plastic, purple.
  2. Opening line: “Get me out of here!”
  3. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: silence, true, question, compatible, misguided
    2. Use the phrase “definite impossibilty”
    3. Write about the end of an era.
  4. Write about two brothers, who barely get along, having an argument.
  5. Write about a scene about psychological or emotional torment.
  6. Theme: pampering and/or recuperation.
  7. Send a character on a (physical) voyage. Write the departure scene.
  8. A grandparent shocks his/her grandchild with a flippant aside.
  9. Use “silver” as a symbol or theme.
  10. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: white, tools, except, would, action.
    2. Someone says “thank you.”
    3. Write about a third eye.
  11. “What a way to run a railroad.”
  12. Open your story/poem with three ducklings following their mother.
  13. A teenager home from school finds something unexpected on the kitchen table.
  14. Setting: opening night of a silent film festival.
  15. Use dialogue: “Yeah, I have a suggestion. Why don’t you call The Colonel?”
  16. Write a mini-mystery (complete in under 1000 words).
  17. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: during, communicate, harbors, owner, second.
    2. Use the following, including the quotation marks, as a complete paragraph: “You didn’t.”
    3. Write about an unwitting volunteer.
  18. The twentieth anniversary of the event.
  19. Everything in what would have been the previous scene has gone all wrong.
  20. Base a story/poem on the last song lyrics you remember hearing.
  21. At a flea market, two people find something they’ve been searching for.
  22. Setting: a small town drugstore.
  23. A night at the opera.
  24. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: stands, blast, smoothing, months, relieved.
    2. Use the names of at least two varieties of cheese.
    3. Write about a role reversal.
  25. Stuck in a story? Kill off the last character who spoke (except your MC).
  26. Someone is asking your MC some inconvenient questions.
  27. She’s told not to worry her pretty little head about it.
  28. He’s told to “man up” about it.
  29. Write a scene between two people with different ideas about the afterlife.
  30. Write a scene based on today’s weather forecast.
  31. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: sands, shoulder, strong, pieces, times.
    2. Begin a sentence with one of these words: nobody, everybody, somebody, anybody.
    3. Write about a promise made, kept, implied, or broken.

April 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Your MC creates crossword puzzles with secret messages.
  2. A child building a sand castle.
  3. Can pirates be kind? Write a character sketch of a benevolent pirate.
  4. A man in bib overalls walking a cat on a leash.
  5. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: other, water, again, unuseful, reached
    2. Write about relearning something you’d forgotten.
    3. Fill in the blank: “the world doesn’t revolve around _________”
  6. Two friends eyeing the last slice of pizza.
  7. Two friends eyeing the last slice of pizza.
  8. She spent the afternoon eating Fritos and playing solitaire.
  9. An autobiographical filmmaker tries a new genre and finds love.
  10. A screened-in porch with a green tin roof.
  11. His loins tingled like a swarm of bees.
  12. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: falling, awake, laughing, hundreds, wise.
    2. Write about being the wrong person for the job.
    3. Write about something that’s worn out.
  13. The smoke from the wood fire spun in the cones of sunlight.
  14. A 300 pound woman with flaming hair and a sequined dress.
  15. Every time I saw him, either his left foot or right arm was in a cast.
  16. He would not tell her his real name.
  17. She watched the fronds on the palm trees lift and clatter in the breeze.
  18. Georgia O’Keefe and Anais Nin are important in your MC’s life.
  19. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: about, right, herself, strands, quite.
    2. Write about a gift that was not well received.
    3. Use the phrase “why not”.
  20. His life was invested in the imposition of control and power over others.
  21. An agressive northerner and a laid back southerner negotiating.
  22. “I only use Burt’s Bees products.”
  23. She secretly recorded the sounds of people sleeping.
  24. The nursing home, like a seedy bar, smelled of misplaced pee.
  25. The moment they met he knew it was a mistake.
  26. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: garden, crush, follow, flaw, tank (Sue)
      Bonus words (use them during any of the prompts): dozen, sake, recovered, mere, sky (courtesy of xore)
    2. Use the phrase, “I’d [he’d/she’d] rather be ________” (toxicfur)
    3. Include twins, clones, or doppelgaenger. (bo)
    4. Fill in the blanks (you can change the pronouns): “I’m so _____, I _____” (sabeth)
    5. One of your characters says, “I do.” (ana)
    6. In honor of Bea Arthur, use her famous line from the tv show Maude, “God will get you for that.” (bob)
  27. The moment they met she fell in love.
  28. “What do you mean this skillet is nasty? It was my mama’s.”
  29. He left his bagpipe in the bar and never returned.
  30. Never share a tofu recipe with a psychotic.

March 2009
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  1. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: ordered, should, obviously, rather, lethal.
    2. Write about a question that can’t/shouldn’t be answered.
    3. Write about free associations based on a coffee (or other) stain.
  2. Your MC’s greatest fear: abandonment.
  3. Research contests, write something new for one of them and enter it.
  4. Setting: An apt building or dorm basement on laundry day.
  5. Use in a story/poem: a skein of red yarn, a comb and a bottle of water.
  6. Base a story or poem on one of the entries at F*** My Life.
  7. Write about a woman who stands up for herself… except on one front.
  8. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises
    1. Use the following words: startled, skirt, rolling, every, idea.
    2. Use the phrase “that was a different reality.”
    3. Write about a need for closure.
  9. Your MC’s greatest strength: honesty.
  10. Make a change in your writing space. Clean, rearrange, purge, paint, etc.
  11. Rewrite an old story from a different character’s POV.
  12. First line: “The kitchen was in chaos.”
  13. Write about a seemingly lucky event that goes wrong.
  14. Someone encourages your MC to do something morally questionable.
  15. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: using, light, sorry, engraved, consequence.
    2. Write about a failure in communications.
    3. Write about one person’s thoughtless omission of something crucial to another person.
  16. Create a mentor or mentor figure for your narrator.
  17. Use “green” as a symbol or theme.
  18. Use dialogue: “It’s gotten to the stage where I feel it just isn’t working.”
  19. They meet inside the walk-in pantry of a restaurant.
  20. Write a story for our “Three Cheers & A Tiger” 48-hour short fiction contest.
  21. Continue working on a 3C&aT entry (or try a prompt from our archives).
  22. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: laughs, thread, tasting, presence, morning
    2. Write about smoke and/or mirrors.
    3. Use the phrase, “if you’re very quiet …”
  23. Stuck in a story? Create an unexpected romance for the MC.
  24. Theme: addiction.
  25. A sprig of lilac nested inside a gift-wrapped box.
  26. Use in a story: a bottle of wine, a pair of scissors and a fountain pen.
  27. MC attends a reunion and no one recognizes him/her.
  28. End your story or poem with the image of a broken glass or goblet.
  29. Do the Sunday Brunch prompts and post your exercises.
    1. Use the following words: meeting, began, drive, check, snoring.
    2. Write about something unexpectedly working out well.
    3. Use the phrase “I wasn’t expecting to see you here”.
  30. Take out an old story and switch your MC’s sex.
  31. Base a story or poem on the phrase “out like a lamb.”