"I would go as far as and I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations. And then I met a fellow who gave me his secret, and it was pretty simple. When you hit a wall, just kick it in." Patti Smith
Such is the advice that playwright Sam Shepard gave to singer, writer and all-around awesome person Patti Smith and it is this same advice that inspired Barbara Abercrombie's book of writing exercises and prompts.
The book is called Kicking in the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts, and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals. At the top of each page, you'll find an inspirational quote on writing and then two or three writing prompts. Abercrombie encourages writers to spend five minutes on each prompt. At the end of the book, she includes examples of exercises completed by her students–which gives inspiration to see how far-ranging you can go in just five minutes.
Here's a sample of some of her prompts:
–Write what you know of your parents' courtsthip. Is there one common story, or are their two versions? Or more? Or no stories?
–Write about an apology that failed.
–Write what you are. Start with "I am…"
–Write about a transformation you once had. Or need to have now.
–Write an opening of a scene with someone asking a question about a pair of shoes.
As you can see, this book is not a book that you read for information on writing, there's none of that in it. Rather, this is a book you keep beside your computer and use when you get stuck. So often we writers tend to stare off into space when we're blocked, when really the best thing to do is figure out a way to get writing again.
Prompts and exercises can be very useful to get words on the page, and I recommend using them in a variety of ways, which is why I think this book can be very helpful for writers from beginner to professional. (I have my own page of prompts, which you can access here. Mine are of a bit different type, simple made-up sentences which encourage creative responses.)
Kicking in the Wall is due out May 13th.
Do you use writing prompts to jump-start your work?