3 Exercises for A Writer Who’s Stuck

Hello artists (and readers as well!), I recently sent this out as a personal email in response to a writer asking for advice. We can all use a boost sometimes so here it is! 3 great writing exercises to get you going when you feel stuck…

Photo on 10-20-14 at 10.15 AM #2Number #1: About Yourself Writing Exercise
by Judy Ireland

This is a very thoughtful exercise and is great because its super structured and very interesting, more than your typical writing prompt…

1. Write 5 things that you see everyday in the order in which you see them
2. Write 3 non-primary colors (NOT red blue yellow)
3. List an object you have encountered in a dream
4. List a childhood experience that made you angry
5. List a forbidden thought pertaining to love
6. Write down 3 questions for which you never found an answer
7. Write something about love that you find boring
8. Write down 3 slant rhymes (3 sets of words where the consonants are similar like moon – mine, years—yours)
9. Write down 3 things people said to you in the past 24-hours (short phrases)
10. List 3 transitional objects (sometimes called comfort objects to get you from one place to another during an uneasy time. Example – a blanket, a teddy bear)
11. If you had aow put it all together…
Now put it all together…
Use #11 for your title
Use #6 for your 1st line
Use #5 for the line in the middle of your poem
Use #9 for the last line of your poem
Add in #4 and #7 where you see fit
Add in #2 and #8
See what you have, move things around, and maybe fill in the rest (#1, #3, #10)
You will see a theme or direction emerge, go with that

Number #2: What’s in the room? What’s in your life?

Photo on 10-20-14 at 10.14 AMThis one’s one of mine, a metaphor/simile exercise though I’m sure others have thought of it too…Make a list of 10 objects you see in the room around you. If you are stuck, mix things up by changing your setting – go somewhere you don’t normally go and bring your journal. After making a list of 10 objects. Pick an object on the list and write about how this object represents an idea or an issue in your life. For example, “my table shows stability, it’s calm is like what I wish I could see around me”. Or “the radio is noise like the constant input of other people, telling me who I should be and what I should do”. Use what you come up with as your first line and write a poem.

Number #3: Write A Letter

Photo on 10-20-14 at 10.24 AMThis is a pretty textbook writing exercise but it never gets old and always helps me when I’m stuck. Write a letter to somebody, or even to a place or a thing. You can write a letter to your 10-year old self, write a letter to your future children, write a letter to one of your ancestors, write a letter to someone in your life right now (you don’t have to send it), write a letter to your favorite food, write a letter to your apartment…you get the idea.

Hope this helps!

This post was written by Kristin Richardson Jordan
Pens Up Press

Warrior Woman Taking Back Life and Removing Pain

African_American_women“This warrior woman is taking back her life,
taking back the respect that was taken from her
throughout the years ever so slow.
This warrior woman is removing pain and hurt from within the heart
caused by the knife,
from all those who are both family and foe.”

- Lady J-Ann

See more at: http://gem-vita.blogspot.com/2011/12/inspirational-quotes-for-women-and.html#sthash.KIrb55Vk.dpuf

Posted by Kristin Richardson Jordan, Pens Up Press

“The Proof That One Truly Believes Is In Action” – Bayard Rustin

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. Continue reading

Writing Your Ancestors Activity, Uproar Sneak Peek

Read the list below and think about these ways you can record your family’s history. Pick one and write a poem or short story guided by that prompt… Continue reading

“You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is to Native Americans … to be told they were discovered” – Ivan Van Sertima

Continue reading

Do Roses Say I Love You?


Picture of Author Jewel Grant-Talle


What Life Brings by Jewel Grant-Talle, a recently published book by Pens Up Press

I remember the first time
you gave me roses.
You told me that
you loved me
And that you would
always protect me.

The next time
you gave me roses
Was after a fight.
I guess you felt guilty
about the bruises
you left on my arms and face

Over the years I received roses from you.
Always in hopes of forgiveness
after a smack,
A punch or a push down the stairs.

The last time I got roses from you
Was the most special.
How beautiful they looked
As they glistened in the sun
As you as you gently placed
Them on my grave.


This poem, “Roses Say I Love You” is an excerpt from What Life Brings by Jewel Grant-Talle, a recently published book by Pens Up Press.