She starts with an introduction, explaining what led her to pen a book of prompts. Her story is similar to many of ours. She has studied writing, earned a degree in it, taught writing, and read books full of advice. But she still stared at a blank, white page. "What I’ve found is that it’s incredibly helpful to have somewhere to start besides the blank page," she writes. "That’s what brought me to writing this book. My students, my friends, and I needed somewhere to start besides that scary white page staring back at us."
She also explains that these writing prompts can be just for you, or you can turn them into something publishable. But the one requirement that she has is that you remove the inner critic while you respond to them. That is amazing and excellent advice!
The 365 prompts are mainly designed for fiction writers to get in touch with their senses and bring that awareness to their stories. She organizes the prompts into ones that focus on each of the five senses and exercises that address all five at the same time, as well as a few that focus on reading, inspiration, excuses (none of us have any of those, right?), and old ideas.
Being a writer myself, I decided to try out a few of her prompts. Here's how I feel after this experience.
Prompt one from the beginning of the book: Write about why you care to write. "To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal, but you have to care." Anne Lamott
I like this prompt a lot because sometimes I lay in bed at night, and I think to myself, Why am I doing this writing thing to myself? I am crazy! But when I did this prompt, I realized that I would not be happy doing anything else. I can't imagine a life where I am not a writer. So, I am going to keep the response to this prompt and read it whenever I am feeling a bit down about the writing life.
Prompt two from the "seeing" part of the book: "Looking through a magnifying glass, he finally saw…" I always enjoy these kind of prompts--I call them story starters. They can give you a story idea, the beginning of a story, or the whole thing. When I did this writing prompt, it gave me an idea for a second book in the middle-grade novel mystery series I am working on. (I should tell you I am still writing the first book, however.) But the way I finished this sentence is: "Looking through a magnifying glass, he finally saw the clue that would help him solve the mystery. How could he have missed it before?" To find out what the clue is, stay tuned for the mystery series! (smiles)
Prompt three from the "smelling" part of the book: Write about the smell of old books. This prompt made me really think--the first thing that comes to mind most likely for everyone is musty--but when I write, I don't want my readers to read the same thing that everybody else writes. So, I dug deeper, and I tried to compare the smell of old books to something--a memory came up of when my husband gave me an old book for Christmas the first year we were dating to support my writing. It was very sweet. So, I connected a memory with the smell. I'm not sure if that's what this prompt was supposed to do, but remember, Olivia instructs us in the beginning to let ourselves go!
This is a well thought-out book--it's like taking a fiction writing class for a year for under $12.00. It will take dedication and determination to complete one prompt a day; but as with all things, you do what you can--if you need particular help with hearing and feeling sensory details, then focus on those first. You don't have to do the prompts in order, necessarily.
The best news of all is we have a copy of Writing for the Senses to give away.
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
We are giving away a print copy of Writing for the Senses by Olivia Aragon (list price $11.99) to one lucky writer. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Open to US and Canada for a print copy. (And open internationally for a Kindle copy!)
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Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked. Good luck!