Friday, September 22, 2017

Writing Exercise #15: Quick answers

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.  

We've talked before about the importance of writing practice and as I ease my way into a new project, I'm reminded again just how important it is to keep my imagination in shape. Even a few minutes of free writing a day can keep our minds in a posture that is ready to receive and create new ideas. Practice keeps us thinking like writers. 

The trick to any writing exercise, is to simply get going. There is something magical about those first thoughts you have when sitting down to write. In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks a lot about first thoughts. Here's one of my favorite quotes:


With Goldberg's thoughts in mind, let's practice writing a bit, okay? And today we're going to kick off our exercise session by simply, and quickly, answering a single question.

Here's how it will work:

I'm going to ask you a question you may or may not have an answer to. It doesn't matter either way. You're a storyteller. Make something up and leave your answer in the comments section.

And then just keep writing.

For a total of three minutes (set a timer, friends!), I want you to continue writing. Don't stop. Just let your fingers run with whatever narrative your mind is wanting to tell.

When three minutes are up, you're welcome to check for typos, but don't stop to edit your writing as you go. And don't worry if it makes little sense when you read it back to yourself. We're just practicing here: the art of writing down our first thoughts. It's supposed to be messy.

Also, please be a team player and delete anything that might be inappropriate for younger readers. We like to keep it fairly clean around here.

Be sure to come back throughout the weekend to encourage your friends as they practice. Remember, we're all learning the craft of writing. Not one of us are experts. Anytime you bravely share your work, we're grateful.

Okay! Everybody ready? Here's that question:

Are you going to the football game on Friday?


And, remember! When you participate in our writing exercises you can enter to win an opportunity to ask Jill, Steph and me a question for one of our upcoming writing panels. Once you leave your response to the writing prompt in the comments section, use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Next week, Rafflecopter will select one winner and we'll contact you for your question via email. Happy writing, friends!


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59 comments:

  1. The football game. Not likely. After all, what good is football but a lot of little boys imagining they can be men? Is there glory in catching that little bag of pig skin, or just the fame that comes with people being aware of your name? No, I won't be going to the game, although so many will. I will sit here and read, wondering what those boys out there think of themselves. Are they aware that they may be wasting their whole lives, as they sacrifice their grades and their careers in the Altar of sports? Smart kids play football. But they will stop there, and go no further. Not to catch hippos, not to be famous singers, not to be president. No, they will go nowhere. And the worship of football illuses them into thinking they can get to a place where they, too, will walk into the Super Bowl drills to be worshiped by Lad GaGa.

    Whoo! That was hard! As you can tell, I'm not really a football fan. But this was fun, Shannon! Thanks for putting these together!

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    1. Faith ... THAT ROCKED!!! I love it, especially the catching hippos part. :D

      ~Ivie
      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. Ha! Way to keep your stream of consciousness going!

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  2. Football? What is football but a game that boys run and tackle each other into oblivion? All they do is get hurt, damaging their heads and their bodies. Football is dangerous and in no way shape or form should it be allowed.

    Football is my least favorite. But many, unlike myself, enjoy watching grown men who are extremely large run into each other and eventually hurting themselves. No, I won't give in to watching that.

    What is the main goal, anyway? They toss a ball and get it to a certain point of the field, but what is the end goal of the game? We have other professions that save the world, but what does football come to? The big Super Bowl where they get to see singers do a performance that is rubbish?

    No, I won't.
    (No I won't be watching the football game.)
    (A little over three minutes by, like, six seconds.)

    That was hard. I'm not one for sports to begin with, so I just wrote what first came to mind, which is football players hurting themselves. Plus, I'm always hearing stories about high school football players dying to to impact of playing football and it makes me sad, honestly. I find it to be too aggressive.

    But, to each their own.

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. I really liked that bit about the Super Bowl - that made me laugh. Nice job!

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    2. Thank you! I wasn't really sure where I was going with this one! XD

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    3. Writing about things you don't like is a fantastic exercise. Though, I think we need some more football fans around here. I'm feeling like an outsider!

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    4. "Football is dangerous and in no way shape or form should it be allowed."
      This is awesome.

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  3. Am I going to the football game? No. I’m going to the theater instead. I’ll probably fall asleep in the middle of it, though apparently that’s considered rude. But when one has had a long week, can a little grace be expressed? Not that I’m complaining. It’s been a good week, but I’m still tired. And seeing as it is Friday, the week isn’t yet over. I’ve got even more work cut out for me. But that’s exciting. Baking. Painting. Running. Celebrating. What a beautiful way to end a lovely week. God’s good. Life’s great. And I think I can afford to fall asleep in the middle of a play.

    This was a fun exercise! Definitely got me in the mood to keep working on my edits! Thanks, y'all!

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    1. Great job! And the rest of your weekend sound busy but definitely fun. Have fun at the theater tonight - or, at least have a good nap!

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    2. Hooray! I'm glad it helped! Writing exercises always get me in the mood to write.

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  4. I have a question. What is more popular in the cotemporary young adult market, diary style writing or first person present?
    -Emily D.

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    1. Honestly, I think first person is probably more popular, but I think a diary style can still be amazing if done in a unique way. I'd say if you want to do diary style, then do it and rock it! But if you want to do first person, then do it and rock it.

      You're writing will be unique to you and you can do amazing stuff and rock it!!

      Good luck and God bless you!
      ~Ivie
      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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  5. Pre-exercise thoughts: I find it hilarious how no one here is interested in football.

    Post-exercise thoughts: Well, that was fun! I really rambled here, and didn't even think about what I was writing (so a few times, I'll be half way through a sentence and wonder "Where was I going with this again? I have no clue. What can I possibly say that would make sense here?") You can tell I wasn't thinking about what I was writing because it's so long - I just typed and typed. I did go over three minutes by a bit, just to wrap up, but here we go.

    Me? Going to a football game? I don't think so. No – the last time I went to a football game was probably about ten years ago. I was young. My father was semi-excited, as we had just moved back to the town he'd visited every summer as a boy, and we were going to see the football game that was the first of the season. He was going to share football to his kids who were four and two, and his wife, who was never been to a game before. We went a few more times, but soon tickets became more expensive (even though it was high school football) and it was more fun to watch a movie together at home on Friday night rather than go to a game. That's ha I'll be doing tonight, actually. When football season fell out of favor, my family swapped that for a movie or game together, and we still do that. I'll be watching Cheaper by the Dozen today with my family, and next week I'll probably be playing Clue or Monopoly or the like. No, the only football game I remotely care about is the annual one between the two cities I'm close to - my little hometown, and it's neighbor. The battle is the oldest one in the state, and the friendly rivalry is one seeped in pride – and is the only time I take even the slightest interest in football.

    Also: Happy Hobbit Day, everyone!

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    1. Great job, Vera!
      Its funny how a lot of people don't like football here. XD

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    2. Happy Hobbit Day to you as well! And I'm glad I found someone who can at least stomach football. We really do need some sports fans here!

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  6. No I'm not going to the football game. There's more things to do in life than watching a bunch of guys pass a ball around. Like painting or going shopping at the mall and taking selfies with someone wearing a unicorn mask. Where's the adventure in sitting on some bleachers and watching someone else play around? How about we go climb some mountains or babysit our baby cousins or go to the pool with friends? That's my idea of well-spent time.

    ---

    Oo-kay, I was not expecting that. lol

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  7. Oh my! *dies laughing* I am CLEARLY a planner.

    "No, because my pet unicorn ran away. I have to find her and then I must take her to the groomers to get her ready for the unicorn show on Friday night. My unicorn is sparkly purple with a gray mane and loves eating cotton candy. She’s really fun and is feisty, so she runs away a lot. I’ve been meaning to buy a leash for her, but the pet store doesn’t have any that are big enough for her."

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    1. This is one of the best on here. You really thought outside the box. XD

      ~Ivie
      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. Haha, I love how you made this about a unicorn! *high-fives fellow unicorn lover*

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    3. LOL thanks guys! And haha, Shannon, I do indeed. XD

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  8. What? The football game? I didn't know there was a football game. I think that maybe football is an outlet for people who need to move and hurt each other. I don't really know how to play. I've heard that football is actually kind of dangerous and that they're modifying the rules to make it safer. I'm sure that it appeals to some people, but I really am not a sports person... I know a lot of people who are, though. Actually, how do people get the ball through the big goalpoast? Do they just toss it up there? Once in math class a word problem involved football terms so I didn't know what to do in order to solve it. Someone said, "It's called football" and the teacher reprimanded them, telling them that I didn't follow sports.

    Wow. I didn't expect that. By the way, I really don't dislike football as much as that makes it seem. I just have very few feelings about football at all.

    ~Mila

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  9. Are you going to the football game on Friday?

    Me? Are you kidding? I didn't even know there WAS a football game on Friday, and even if I had known I wouldn't have wanted to go. (Although I'm kind of curious which football team we're talking about? The Tigers? The local high school? Which one? WE HAVE SO MANY HIGH SCHOOLS. I am at a loss. I don't know anything. I have no answers.)

    At this point you're probably wondering what I will be doing Friday afternoon, since I'm not going to the game. Well, I'll tell ya . . . I will be sitting on my bed, in my nice quiet room, working on this writing exercise. BECAUSE IT IS ALREADY FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND THAT IS WHAT I AM DOING.

    [That was hilariously fun. Although it's not very polished. But I still enjoyed it.]

    [Also, what is up with the lack of interest in football around here??]

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    1. Oh my gosh, this is hilarious! XD

      ~Ivie
      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. I KNOW! We need some sports folk! And I dig the lack of polish. Says you were just flowing. That's good practice.

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  10. So, I guess I'm going to the football game. My whole family is going and they want me to come too. But will I watch all those guys run around on that painted field? Nope. I will stash away a book in my purse. I've always preferred a character's adventure to a bunch of guys running into each other. I just had a terrible thought! What if it gets too dark to read? Calm down. I'll bring a flashlight.

    This was fun! Though I think I went a little over three minutes. The funny thing is, I always bring a book to read whenever my family goes to a sporting event. lol

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    1. this is exactly what I do....whenever I leave the house. haha:) but you never know when you might need a book! :):)

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    2. Exactly! You never know when life might send you a boring moment!

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    3. We go to football games every weekend during the season. My boy plays, but my daughter ALWAYS brings a book. I have so many pics of her reading in the stands, it's ridiculous.

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  11. "Are you going to the football game on Friday?"
    Her question caught me off guard. I stared at Alyssa, slowly processing her words. She bit her lip, obviously disconcerted. "Uh, you don't have to go, if you don't want to."
    I blinked, realizing that once again, I had spaced out. Quickly, too quickly, I blurted out,"Oh no, yes, I guess I'm going." Instantly, I mentally slapped myself. What had I just agreed to?
    Alyssa smiled and said, "OK great! I'll see you then." She turned and walked towards her car, waving over her shoulder.
    With a sigh, I kicked a pebble and it skittered across the parking lot. I, who despised every sport, had just said agreed to go watch two hours of immature, annoying high-school boys jumping and pummeling each other.
    "This is going to be fun," I muttered, jamming my hands into my sweatshirt pockets and stalking towards my car.
    But now, looking back, I wish I had decided to tell Alyssa that I changed my mind. That I wasn't going. Because what happened on Friday night sent my perfect, mundane life into a maelstrom.

    This was fun! I hope I did it right:).

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  12. "Are you coming to the football game friday?" A vioce greets me at my locker and I stare blankly at it's owner. How can she be my best friend and not know that answer? "No way am I going. There's one person I really don't want to see right now and I'm pritty sure she's dieing to see me."
    "Oh, April. I wish you both would forget about that" I know she's just trying to be helpful but it's just getting to be anoying. I wish she would mind her own buisness and stay out of mine. I also would like the world to do the same.
    "How can I forget about what a betraior and sevral other words my parents would kill me if I attempt to say them, their cheerleater captin is."
    "Hey girls" Great she probly heard me. Why is that when you are talking about someone she walks up behind you? "Are either of you going to the game friday?" She asks way to friendly. Why are you bothering with us? I thought you were done with us, or that's the empression you made durring freshman year, miss pobular.
    "I am, April's not. I'm just going to watch the cute new trumpet player." Wow, two sentence. That's a record for Kedra who usaly says nine or ten in one breath.
    "Only you, Kendra, would go to a football game to watch the band." She flashs a smile and turns to me. "Why arn't you going?"
    "You know why" I snap and toss my bag over my sholder. I let my feet march angerly down the school hall. I know what she was going to ask me next. And no, I'm not going to forgive her. Our friendship died last year and there's no chance of reviving it. That's why I'm not going to the football game.
    -Emily D

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  13. Bright lights and baby-powder clouded air fills the space under the lights. Students packed into the stands, cheering until their throats are hoarse as the brightly-colored players push and pull and collapse over each other in pursuit of the football. I've been to enough Friday-night games to have each repeated detail catalogued in my memory, familiar as the senses of the house in which I live. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of the game, the energy of the pulsing crowd and the liveliness of the cooling air. Maybe someday I'll branch out a little, try a quiet diner or a dance hall on a Friday night, but there's just something about being here. I wouldn't want to miss out on the action. And hey, if I make it to four years worth of football games, maybe I'll win that spirit award senior year.

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    1. YASSSSSS! See. Someone likes football.

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    2. Yesss I quite enjoy football. Professional, that is. Go Broncos!

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  14. Absolutely not. Football is really not my thing... at all. But I did read this interesting article on football the other day. It was both a historical piece, and maybe morale? Or just a lot of thoughts and ideas.. haha. Anyways, I found myself, surprisingly, enough enjoying it. Probably because it was both history and thought-provoking. But I'm sure you all have already heard most of what it said, as many people actually like football. Just stuff about football being an american sport that was invented back a long time ago. How dangerous it is - what it does to men's mind. How it's strange "we" enjoy something that is really very barbaric - screaming over men hurting themselves!?

    This is all I think of when I think of football: Stupid. Except I find it amusing in a cute way when people rant over which team is the best.

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  15. No! It's almost a frightening thing to think of. A crowd, a group of teenagers who, at times, hold no standard but that of showing up in the right sneakers or the perfect top. Stereotypes. Groups. Cliques. It is all so black and white, so much so that it is a bit frightening. My creative soul cries at the thought of spending an entire night at a football game, watching the players wrestle while my mind wrestles to keep thoughts and ideas and imaginations in check enough to even keep up with the game.

    A double use of frightening. Yikes! I guess you can tell I'm not a football fan! or a crowd fan!

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    1. I can see your stream of consciousness! Good job.

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  16. "Are you going to the football game on Friday?"
    "She hates football," Ellen says, with a smirk.
    I nod. "True."
    "But she likes the food," Peter continues.
    "Also true."
    "Then why won't you come?"
    The question hangs in the air like a foul smell. I wrinkle my nose.
    "I just don't want to. You gotta problem with that?"
    "Yeah," Peter says. "I do. You're my sister, and something's wrong. You've been different lately..."
    "Fine. I'll come."
    What I didn't say, what I didn't tell him, was that I would have to watch my back every second of that game.
    Or I was a goner.

    This is a great exercise! Thanks Shannon! I'm one of those people who thinks things over stuff like five times before calling it "done," or even before deciding to stick with the idea or the plot turn. This is really helpful:)

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    1. I'm so glad. Just getting out words can be super helpful.

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  17. No. I hate football. To me, it is a useless sport where men in tight shorts run around injuring each other like barbarians and they call it 'sport'. I bet you could find so many other uses for pig skin. It is an insult to pigs. No, I'll be sitting in my room reading a book about something that is important. Okay, sure it's fiction but everyone knows fiction is really good for the brain. Even if it isn't a book, it will be a family movie or possibly a good game of Monopoly or Uno.

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  18. Nope. I don't care about the sport, and I don't care whether my school wins. It's not like I have any friends to go with anyway. But that's okay, it's not like I want any friends here. It'll just make it harder to leave when I have to. After all, I only have a month at this school before I'm off to a new location, somewhere in a totally different place or time. One month on this mission, and then I can go back to a place that's simpler, that doesn't pull on my heartstrings. Going to a football game with friends on a Friday night? No, thank you. I'll pass.

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  19. “Are you going to the football game tonight?” Ethan flicks a lock of chocolatey hair behind his ear.

    Ethan. Talking to me. And not just about Maths homework or the weather.

    His hazel eyes dance with colours, spiralling like a fidget spinner. I blink. “Uh, sorry, when?”

    “This evening.” He shifts his weight to the other trainer. “Just, I have a spare ticket. So, can you be at mine by five?”

    This evening. See, I’m a bit preoccupied this evening. With sneaking across the country and saving the world and all that.

    But then Ethan is asking me out, and that doesn’t exactly happen very often, and probably won’t ever happen again.

    I can’t go, obviously. I’m a hero. The world not being destroyed by demons obviously takes priority to really hot guys asking you out.

    But then, strangely, completely of its own accord, my mouth suddenly decides to open and form a coy smile, and form the words: ‘Sure. I’d love to.’

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  20. I don't like football. Whose playing? Football is loud. Everybody yellig in the middle of the night. Or maybe afternoon. Who are we rooting for? (Who are you rooting for?). Are they the ones in white? Just found out there the away team is always in white. Not helpful for sibling trying to identify the team they are supposed to have allegiance to. Football snacks are nice though. Except jalepeno poppers. Too spicy. Friday night? Do they have football games on Friday? I think so. Lame teams play on Thursday...

    I don't know if this is what you were looking for but here is my stream of conscience on the topic of football.

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    1. Whenever I think of football I think of the person whose whole job is holding on to the coaches belt so he can't run onto the field. This job has always amused me.

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