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Arriving Promptly: Writing Exercises from Authors of New Books

Arriving Promptly: Writing Exercises from Authors of New Books

3693845666_51be238753_m_french-tarotOne way that we will celebrate new books at Real Pants is by asking authors of recent releases to provide a writing prompt to our readers. These will arrive on Friday, beginning next week with a prompt from Niina Pollari, author of DEAD HORSE (Birds LLC).

You’ll get some insight into how the guest author thinks and approaches writing and craft, probably in some way that relates to their new book, and you’ll have a gentle nudge for your own work. Something to play with.

Then you’ll have all weekend to respond to the prompt, either on your own or in the comments section. From time to time, the guest author will choose their favorite response from the comments and send the writer a signed copy of their new book. We may also publish work on the site that springs from the prompts.

Today, I would love to hear from everybody about prompts in general: Do you use them? Which ones have worked? Have you written whole books that began with a prompt, or stories or poems? Share a link if something you’ve published online has arisen from a prompt.

What is the difference between a prompt and a writing exercise (I use both in the title of this post to avoid weird repetition, but I don’t think they are exactly the same, maybe).

I think a whole lot of poets use prompts they give themselves, somehow. Or practices, or exercises. Like first of all, CA Conrad and his (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals. I got to take a workshop with CA at The Letters Festival and found the rituals he led us through to be incredibly generative.

Personally, I love prompts. For awhile, as I worked on a novel draft, I used a simple ritual suggested in Jill Dearman‘s Bang the Keys: before you write, draw a card from a deck, maybe playing cards, or tarot, meditate on it, and then start writing. I used a beautiful deck from France called Le Petit Oracle des Dames. It was a good way to center my time writing. Later, I used them in a much more intensive way and wrote a series of poems based on different cards. Then I started to invent my own cards and wrote poems that way—The Neighbor, The Mistake/Error (since some cards are doubled, like “L’amour/Le désir.”

Let’s talk about prompts!

Amy McDaniel

About The Author

Amy McDaniel

Amy McDaniel teaches high school and runs 421 Atlanta, a very small press that publishes poetry and short prose. She is the author of two chapbooks, both with the words "Adult Lessons" in the title, and her writing has been published widely online and in print. She is the editor of Real Pants.

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