This was a Grind Writers’ free-write combined with a round robin write. Here's how it worked:
· Then we passed those prompts two people to the right. Set the timer again, and we each wrote to the prompt we received. We wrote on separate sheets of 8½ x11” paper.
· After 5 minutes, we passed the writing we had done to the next person. We set the timer an wrote for another 5 minutes, carrying on from what the previous person had written.
You could carry this on, going completely around the table if you had time. We only did the two. Then we read them. Here is some of that output. Person 1’s writing is in sans-serif font; person 2’s is in a serif font. We were writing fast and loose—by hand—so indecipherable words have a blank line.
You’ll find it interesting to see which of the writers carry on from the previous paragraph; which people just ignore the first person’s writing and take the thing in a different direction, sometimes even a contradictory one.
Do people write in first person? Does anyone try other POVs? Did anyone put their contribution in verse? Or write screen dialogue? The field was wide open.
You might read some of the prompts and think that you would never find anything to say about that prompt -– and then perhaps be surprised to see what flowed out of others’ minds to that particular bit of inspiration.
And then maybe you’ll want to take a stab at some of those prompts yourself? We’d love if you shared your output with us.
Prompt: Sincerity & Senselessness vs. Common Sense
Sincerity all the way. It’s all _____ senselessness I don’t care for. I need/want to feel. Common sense – it comes out of the multitude of us; it’s a generic common ground. Sincerity will pull me out of it if necessary. With sincerity I don’t look out yet ___ deep inside myself to grasp what is most authentic, most honest for me to say or do. I am willing to step out of line and offend somebody.
I’ve always loved you, I imagine myself saying, even though you tell me that’s not what I really think. Like I’m lying to myself. The doors are big and hollow; a gust of wind could blow me over, I think, if I wasn’t leaning against it. The only thing keeping me attached to my old world.
He’s with her. Three months.
If I’m to rest with myself, I’ll try her. Tell them both what I really feel.
10:05 - I need another pack of cigarettes.
10:14 – The beer here is so expensive. Ad it’s not like they’ll let me talk much. He’s so loud and she’s much more of a bitch than she used to be.
10:31 Yea, one more shot. Make it double, neat.
11:52: They’ll ever listen.
Prompt: Traffic jam.
The metal strips decorating his El Camino’s dashboard were like oven grates, frying our bodies locked in an iron cage on wheels, _____ing silently like the stuck fat pigs on a movable spit. 103 degrees, 111 with humidity, and he had to grab the chicken, fried chicken steak and waffles, bubbling fat and cholesterol and sugar blended together for the poor man’s health cocktail.
The way he saw it, the grease will keep the whole thing moist. I-5 traffic was a bitch right now, an accident on the bridge. Asshole rear-ended a Maserati, probably jealous of some Asian tech kid making it big. He’d probably had done the same, maybe. Marlene would skin his hide, what with the kids and the rent and the non-existent health insurance he told her he got last week. Jana’s teeth were crooked and Marlene wanted to get it fixed. His teeth were crooked . He’d turned out fine.
He honked loudly. the bald black guy beside him grinned in comradery. The owner of the red Honda Civic in front flipped him the bird. The smell of waffles and fried chicken steak was making him nauseous.
_________Prompt: The last time I took a trip I learned……
The last time I took a trip I learned that tripping is not easy. Well, okay, it’s easy, too easy actually—and a bit addictive, if you know what I mean. The brilliance of the food for all the senses, powering reactions, unexpected moments of exhilaration, but oh that disappointment, that crash when it’s over, when you come back home. I woke up the next day and decide to plan my next trips better. I opened my laptop and scrolled to read online. I wondered what excited me about a new destination, what meds more organized………_________
Prompt: You are stuck on an island with 99 other people. The island is ruled by a dictator who has banned all mirrors and all communications between people.
All reflections are gone. no one speaks. No one moves without twitching nervously or looking around to see whether others have noticed what they’ve done. Mirrors are gone, shattered into microscopic pieces. They said they weren’t allowed. What to do then if we can’t look at ourselves? We then look at each other. It’s the only way to alleviate the boredom. I don’t know any of their names. Not allowed, they said.
Focus, breathe. Remember. Yes. Little did I realize when I signed up for this silent retreat just what that would mean, how much, how strong are my impulses to connect with other people. Silent sitting meditation for hours and hours.
Empty the mind.
Notice the thoughts. The feelings flitting across my consciousness. Cramp I left hip. Let them flit, let them go. My hip still hurts.
Prompt: Leather skin.
Prompt: Leather skin.
Her hands from the dirt in the garden for years there were vegetables and traffic now outside the garden where once there were just a few cars, ow there was a constant stream.
She came out most mornings screen banging behind her my grandmother’s stucco house grey one story walking in the sun as children we spent hours picking the glass pieces off and secreting them away to our pockets in the garden she pushed her hands into dirt the way her mother showed her as a little girl she followed her mother across the garden she had her own little plot where she scattered seeds or sometimes pushed them. today she grew beets an carrots ad cucumbers.
“Sarah,” her mom would say, “you need to cultivate your plants or they’ll never yield.”
Sarah, four, wasn’t altogether sure she knew what cultivate meant. Or yield. But she would work quickly, and imitate what her sister Beatrice did, if only to get her mother to leave her alone for her real work. She worked quickly so she would have time, each day, to move to the remotest part of her small patch and—pretending to weed—she’d peer into the soil, under the plants, at the insects and…..
Glithy – if this is a word, what might it mean? Mostly, good for a parlour game. Keep the others guessing.
Glithy – let me attempt to explore the sound, sight and images that arise from this od and unknown word. If my approach is onomatopoeic, I confront an entity both shiny an slick, arising from word associations to “glittery” and “slick.” But let me cast my gaze beyond the most obvious. Can I go further, deeper into the psychology or entomology of the word. I think of “lithesome”—a slim and graceful being, but must not overlook “pithy”—tough and strong.
Prompt: When X died, I thought he would ever come back...
I’ve heard lots of stories about people who come back after they die; well I guess just ghost stories. I always figured that these ghosts or returning spirits might just be a fabrication in the mind of a living person that maybe their loss is so acute, the one left behind creates
He never really died. He appeared dead, but he woke up too early, after people left him. So it appeared he was a ghost He walked up fro the table, went home quietly and then proceeded to pack an ____ of his bags and straightened out his affairs. The police and the Interpol in England and France helped him to take his death. Some very bad people were after him. He packed everything, got all his money and passports, and ID and flew all the way to Olaine, Latvia to become Dave Seglins – or Dave Lorbergs – one of his Latvian ancestors. He spoke fluent Latvian. And it was arranged to stay with his many rich relations there. Sheiks. They were royalty, owning a lot of land. There he would be ______ playing Backgammon, cards, all ay in the local pubs.
Prompt: Describe a memory with a tree.
Trees have always been somewhat majestical and mysterious, yet sturdy and safe, especially while I was young but still it seems to have a hold on me, today. So many times my twin and I would go out and sit under a particular tree about (maybe) 50 yards from our front door. Between the door and the tree was a field of wild grasses and in spring the poppies and dandelions would shoot up, racing to capture the sun before the grass could overtake them. Once they were one, seeds and blooms blown away and dried, the grass would reign supreme, rising to two feet high before they would turn to seeds themselves. My cat Maples would disappear in there an I remember sitting on the porch, looking for movements.
The pathway underneath the bridge reminded me of my old school. Claustrophobic. I walked out and the light engulfed me. I walked along the left side. Old homes dotted the street, apartment buildings disrupted the flow of design. People were friendly.
“Good morning,” said the woman with the large dog. I said good morning back and smiled.
That was nice, I thought, as I continued walking Feels good to be here. Feels familiar. And people are friendly. I can relax now….
“Excuse me.” I heard the woman again.
I turned around quickly.
She came back towards me with her large dog.
“ I don’t think we’ve met,” she said. Her ice-blue eyes seemed to penetrate my soul.
“No, I’m new around here.”
Some poet said, “Fences make good neighbours” True. They keep people out, though, while protecting your property. Of course, they keep animals and kids in. A fence is basically a mini-wall. We’ve heard a lot about Walls lately. We’ve had several famous walls through the ages – the Great Wall of China – Hadrian’s Wall – and more recently The Berlin Wall which, when it came down was celebrated globally What walls do we put up, and why? It does always seem to be about self-protection—or hiding. We have firewalls to protect our data. Some argue that if we have nothing to hide then we wouldn’t mind. But thi is also about tone, attitude, plus bigotry, judgement, as well as perception. Look at many work camps, whether in Third World countries, prisons, concentration camps, etc.
Prompt: A life ambition never realized.
Prompt: A life ambition never realized.
· Travelling the world
· Full time work
· Meeting The Queen and family
· Meeting Nelson Mandela
· Getting the Nobel Prize for Literature
· Having a relationship with my father
· Getting to know my Grandpa G_____
· Having siblings
She put the list down and walked outside. It was sunny and the grass was wet on her bare feet. The list remained in her head, lit up like a sign. So much undone. She wondered when the list had first formed. As a child, had she listed PhD as one of her ambitions? When did she first decide that marriage would be an ambition and not merely something that happened, often by accident? When did children stop being something to be avoided? And when did those items o the list slip from being needy things she would do tomorrow, or the next day, to things gone forever, lost into the sands of another person’s life, a person of the same shape and size of herself but whose life charted a different course, filled perhaps with the chaos of children, a half-angry husband, a house, a degree?