writing101

Writing 101 Challenge: How Many Words Does it Take to Make a PB&J?

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Today’s challenge is to simply free write 400 words or more. I won’t know exactly until I type it, since I’m using paper and pen. (Well, I could count but that’s just too much trouble.) I think this is a help, because my eyes won’t constantly be looking at the word count. I’ve actually thought about this before – Is there a word minimum or maximum a post should be?

I often have so many thoughts running through my head about potential ideas to write about. There are always the same questions. Where do I start? Is this idea good enough? How can I get all my thoughts organized without being too stressful? Of course, the best thing to do is just pick up your pen or pencil and begin writing and hopefully it will all come together. Fingers on a keyboard while glazing at the screen also works. I think all writers fear the blank page or screen. However, this blankness is also a fresh start to anything. The connection you make with paper or computer may begin slowly like pouring molasses or pour  out quickly like salad dressing. Sooner or later these ideas will take shape, but you just need to start.

That brings me back to the word count dilemma. Perhaps it’s not really a dilemma at all. I love to post photos and everyone knows the phrase, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. One photo is a thousand words – amazing. A photo or visual is very powerful. With the correct photo, few or no words are needed to express the feeling or explain the photo. Many bloggers, including myself, participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge. Others post photos on particular days, ‘Wordless Wednesday’ or my new ‘Foto Friday’. Everyone loves to share and view these photos that say so much with little or no words.

Posts can have a few words and still be powerful. A beautiful poem evokes emotions unique to each reader. A simple recipe can introduce readers to a delicious new dish. Readers learn the best ways to start a herb garden, basic daily exercises, or how to knit socks. Many words aren’t required to convey the message. Is there a maximum word count for a post? No there isn’t.

Some thoughts, ideas, concepts, and instructions require deeper information. It reminds me of dating profiles when I used online dating. Some individuals wrote a small paragraph to tell the world who they are. The last sentence was usually, ‘Send an email if you have questions’. Well, I really didn’t have enough information to ask. Sometimes more words are needed to fully communicate our thoughts to the world.

Try this idea with someone. One person tells another exactly how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Go ahead, it takes more words than you think. Remember to follow only the words they tell you. This activity should provoke many laughs.

In conclusion, a word count truly shouldn’t matter when writing a post. I always believe quality over quantity. Make every word count. I’m now going to type this and discover if in fact I wrote 400 words or more. If you try the PB&J activity let me know!

Word count: 538

Writing 101 Challenge: Fears & Worries

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Prompt: ‘We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.’

Decisions, decisions, decisions. If you know the true Caroline in real life then you know I have difficulty making decisions – any decision. What should I order at the restaurant? What nail polish color should I pick? Do I really like this shirt or just the price? What will people think about me when I’m wearing/doing/acting a certain way? Should I say this or that? Maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all. What’s the best way to teach this lesson? How should I handle a student behavior? Which street should I drive? Am I making the right decision?

These are just a few decisions I’ve made. There are both small and big choices. Trust me, I could ramble off many more decisions I’ve faced. I think my fear or worry is making the wrong decision then getting negative attention. Are my situations life or death? No, but I stress and worry so much that the decisions seem so important. I’ve often been called a ‘Worry Wart’ or ‘Debbie Downer’. Of course, these comments just make matters worse.

I really don’t like this part of Caroline. It’s very frustrating as I debate with myself about which decision to pick. Overall, I know it often doesn’t matter. Some decisions are important, such as relationships, jobs, and family. I need to remind myself that normally nothing negative will occur after making a decision. More importantly, I need to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people say or think. The next time I’m faced with a decision I’ll listen to my gut feeling and first response. Hey, you never know a gut decision could lead to my new favorite dish, a friend, or great book.

Writing 101 Challenge: The Lost Room

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Prompt: ‘Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar or interesting you find in a pile.’

Lost Room

You must have a valid invitation to enter.

Emma looked at the somewhat ordinary piece of paper in her hands. It was plain white with a typed message:

You lost something important. Go to the listed location open weekly 8AM-6PM. Please remember that there is no attendant or anyone to assist you. It is your responsibility to locate your lost item. This invitation is for only your eyes. You may not mention this experience to anyone. Enter code 1X2R5BW9

Good luck on your search!

Emma stood at the entrance to the lost room and laughed. She didn’t even know what she exactly lost, but was curious after receiving the ‘official invitation’ in the mail. It was actually stupid to be here, since there could be a murderer behind the door. She pushed in the code and waked inside the lost room.

The room was extremely organized. There were endless shelves with labeled boxes of numerous sizes. She scanned a few shelves and boxes. Emma was at a complete loss, because she didn’t know what she lost. She started to scan a few shelves and boxes.

An entire shelf was dedicated to lost keys with boxes labeled: house, car, locker, jewelry box, and even ‘keys to success’. Another shelf was organized by photos with boxes labeled: wedding, class pictures, reunion, summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc with a year and location. Another shelf was dedicated to kitchen items with boxes labeled: spoons, teacups, grandma’s gravy boat, wine glasses, etc. The rows of shelves of lost items continued until she reached the last shelf. The last shelf was slightly different, because it didn’t contain lost items that an individual could hold in your hand. This shelf had boxes labeled lost: humor, love, adventure, confidence, life, etc.

Emma stood still and confused. What exactly was lost in her life? She had all her keys, family heirlooms, and even kept photo books. Why did she receive this special invitation to this unique room? Did others receive a similar invitation? She would never know, since she couldn’t talk about this experience. Emma walked again down the last row.

She opened the box labeled ‘lost humor’ and heard laughter and saw many paper slips with jokes, photos, funny moments, and even weird objects. It made her smile and laugh. No, she didn’t lose her sense of humor.

She opened the box labeled ‘lost adventure’. There were photos of sail boats, mountains, bikes, animals, hot air balloons, parachutes, a movie set, her hometown at night, a farm, delicious foods, and even a photo of Earth. Emma paused and thought. She knew her life had too much routine and she never tried anything new. She decided that she lost her sense of adventure. Emma closed her eyes and picked a photo. She decided this would be her next adventure in life.

She picked a photo of the pyramids. It wasn’t the first place she thought about, but it would sure be an adventure. She was off to Egypt. Emma found her lost adventure.

What would you find in the lost room?

 

 

Writing 101 Challenge: To Whom it Concerns

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Prompt: ‘Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. Pick a word and write. For an extra twist, write the post in the form of a letter.’

I used the book China Dolls by Lisa See. (I just finished, so a review may soon follow.) The word I picked was ‘street’.

Dear Street,

Thank-you for the mostly pleasurable bike ride this morning. I can tell you need to freshen up a bit, since the holes weren’t fun. I know it’s not your fault. You take the stress and demands from cars, construction sites, and even teens skateboarding every day. I also know that it’s the city who needs to shape up and help keep you looking beautiful. When my bike coasted on your smooth pavement it was such a delight! I’ll try to remember that feeling the next time a street is bumpy. I never know what the next street may look like.

Keep Strong & Beautiful!

Caroline

Writing 101 Challenge: Found

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Prompt: ‘Write about finding something.’

“I hope this is a good player. I don’t want to wear someone who sucks”.

I said this while scanning Seahawks shirts in October 2013 at Target. I was hesitant to own any Seahawks apparel. It was all new to me. My now boyfriend handed me a Wilson #3 shirt and said this was a good pick. I made him buy one too. We were now matching with Wilson #3. This was my very first sport’s apparel at all.

He gradually taught me football rules and how things worked. In the process, I made up a few of my own terms. (Perhaps, the NFL can use my suggestions.) During this time I proudly wore my Wilson shirt. I slowly learned he was a good player. I wore my Wilson on every Blue Friday, Sunday, and if Seahawks played on a Monday or Thursday. It got so soft after many washes and it seemed to fit just right. Then something awful happened, I lost Wilson.

While unpacking from a trip with my boyfriend, I discovered I couldn’t find Wilson. I searched again and again, but it just wasn’t there. Now by this time I owned more Seahawks apparel, especially after their Super Bowl victory. I even had a jersey in my closet. However, none compared to Wilson. Wilson was my first Seahawks item and connected me to the spirit. I slowly accepted the loss of Wilson, but was still sad. Other shirts just weren’t the same. My boyfriend offered to get me a new Wilson, but even he knew it wasn’t the same. Then my luck brightened.

While searching through my boyfriend’s clothing I found Wilson. My heart leaped at seeing it, but then saddened because I knew it was just his matching shirt. Or was it? I took the shirt and hugged it then looked closely. It was my size. This was my Wilson! I found Wilson! I quickly put it on, smiled, and did a happy dance. I had Wilson back.
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Writing 101 Challenge: Conversation

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Writing Prompt: ‘Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.’

My ‘conversation’ actually involves little or no dialogue.

It’s a casual Saturday morning at your local diner. My boyfriend and I enjoy a breakfast before we begin our day’s activities. We chat about this and that then turn our attention to another couple eating breakfast.

There is no conversation about this and that at the other table. It’s an elderly couple who’ve probably been married fifty years. They don’t need to talk, because they know each other so well. Occasionally, one may ask for the salt and another may state it’s going to rain after reading the newspaper. There isn’t much in the conversation, but their gestures and presence of each other says it all.

Some people may see the couple and view them as ignoring each other. Go ahead, be alone with someone without talking. Do you feel awkward or comfortable? Do you know what the other person is feeling or thinking without asking? Of course, words need to be shared to understand and communicate with others. However, I think everyone wants to find someone who makes you feel comfortable enough not to fill a conversation with empty words.

Writing 101 Challenge: Special Food

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‘Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory. Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.’

Many foods and dishes went through my head for today’s writing prompt. There’s special French toast at each birthday, rice pudding with left over rice, egg dish at Easter, and favorite dishes at potlucks. I picked an overall food group that makes the season. I choose Christmas cookies at Christmas.

Christmas cookies have been part of my Christmas celebration for as long as I can remember. I always knew the season started when my mom began making cookie dough. There was never ever just one type of cookie made. Instead there was a wide variety to please most stomachs: sugar cookie, gingerbread, peanut butter balls, killer balls (chocolate bon bons), molasses, and always a new cookie to try.

My mom, sisters, and I put on aprons ready to help measure, stir, crack, and taste. Licking the beaters was always the best. (I’ve eaten raw cookie dough as long as I can remember.) The cookie production was always messy and chaotic, but at least only one kind was made at a time. Everything flowed within the flour mess as each had a job. Laughter and Christmas music was heard in the background.

Anticipation hung in the air as the cookies baked. We peaked from outside watching them bake. Finally, the moment to taste our delicious creations. Silence as we took our first bite then smiles and mmms were suddenly heard. Christmas is truly here.

Now came the fun part to give personality to each cookie. Sugar cookies and gingerbread were frosted with bright colors, candies, and sprinkles to dazzle. Each looked so unique that you almost didn’t want to eat.

Cookies were carefully selected and placed on plates. Plastic wrap held them together with a red ribbon. The cookies were ready to give to friends, family, and neighbors. Our special treats became theirs to taste. The Christmas season was truly here.

 

 

Writing 101 Challenge: Compare & Contrast

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‘Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Use dialogue for an extra twist.’

I decided to compare/contrast books and movies. This is my first dialogue attempt.

Setting: A random cafe in Anytown, USA, on a Monday afternoon.

Isabelle walks into the cafe in need of caffeine. It sure was a Monday.

“Welcome, how can I help you?” the perky barista asks.

God, how can anyone be so cheerful on Monday. Isabelle ponders.

“Hi, I’ll have a double nonfat vanilla latte” Isabelle responds while searching for her rewards card.

“You’ve got it.”

Five minutes later Isabelle holds her desired caffeine and searches for a table. She’s meeting her best friend, Emma.

Emma walks through the door and immediately scans the tables for Isabelle. Emma smiles when she sees her friend happily drinking her latte.

“Hey Izzy! How are you today?” Emma asks while sitting down across Isabelle.

“I’m fine now that I’ve had some caffeine in my system.” Isabelle replies.

“Oh you’re always so cheerful why bother with caffeine?!” Emma teases.

“Back in a sec.” Emma says as she walks to the counter for her desired drink. She returns with a raspberry lemonaid and a smile on her face.

“Really Emma, how can you smile so much?” Isabelle says with a smirk.

“Just because you don’t enjoy life doesn’t mean I can’t.” Emma responds then takes a slurp from her sweet drink.

Emma and Isabelle laugh since both tease each other, but never too much to hurt.

“Did you do anything fun this weekend?” Isabelle asks.

“Yes, I saw the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars.” Emma replies then takes a sip.

“Oh, really? How was the movie?” Isabelle asks.

“It was really good. I think they did a great job capturing the book.” Emma says.

“Hmm, really? I’m just not sure I want to see it. I really enjoyed the book.” Isabelle responds.

” Well, if you liked the book I’m sure you’ll like the movie. Trust me bring your kleenx.” Emma says with a smile.

“I just don’t know if I want to wreck the book by seeing the movie.” Isabelle says with a sigh. “I’m sure it’s great.”

“What do you mean wreck the book? It really showed the relationship and stayed true to the book.” Emma says seriously.

“I just mean that I have a vision of Hazel and Gus. I’m not sure my vision matches the book.” Isabelle says while twirling her hair.

“Hmm, you do have a point. Movies often alter a book so much it makes me want to scream.” Emma says while playing with her straw. “God, don’t even get me started on what they did to My Sister’s Keeper.”

“Oh, that was awful! I forgot about the big change from book to movie.” Isabelle says.

“You’re right. A book is almost a bond with the reader.” Emma says. “That bond can change with a movie.”

“Exactly. My idea may be different from what the movie portrays.” Isabelle says. “It’s just about how it will sell.”

“So true.” Emma sighs. “Whatever makes money.”

“So this is why I’m not sure if I want to see the movie.” Isabelle says.

“Well, if you decide to go you’ve got a movie buddy. I’ll supply the Kleenex.” Emma says with a smile.

“I’ll think about it.” Isabelle replies. “I really did enjoy the book, so maybe the movie matches my view.”

The two friends continue chatting, enjoying each other’s company.

Writing 101 Challenge: Character Building

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‘Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year? Give characteristics and what makes them unique.’

I decided to write character traits about my dog, George.

Day creeps into night, but he still prefers to stay outside. His black fur coat hopefully keeps him warm throughout the night. I peak under the tree where he lays spread out in his huge hole he proudly dug. I whisper if he wants to come inside, but his green eyes just stare back and his body firmly stays in place.

It is now morning and tree sap sticks in clumps in his fur. He appears so scruffy with sap, dirt, sleep in his eyes, and fur falling off as the summer grows near. He’s still my adorable dog, George.

George really is a gentle giant at 90 pounds of Labrador love. Get near and he’ll gladly snuggle or play. However, don’t expect much play as this dog only plays when he desires. This old and greying dog, perks like a puppy for any treat, big or small.

Keys are heard and tennis shoes are seen as George’s excitement grows for his evening walk. This old puppy can’t hold still as his leash is put on. His world awaits to fully explore and make it his own.

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George outside at night in his hole.

Writing 101 Challenge: Loss

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‘Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more’.

I had difficulty with today’s writing prompt, because I couldn’t think of one particular item or individual. I thought of what makes me sad that is no longer there. I suddenly got the idea of local libraries and bookstores closing.

I drive by a podiatry clinic in my neighborhood and sigh each time I pass it. Many may wonder what’s wrong with me, since nothing is wrong with my feet. The problem is that the clinic was a small library. It breaks my heart to see the small building now taking care of feet. There were shelves of books, movies, music, and more. Now people sit in waiting chairs than a comfy couch reading. It saddens me knowing someone may not have access to these materials.

A similar loss is when small bookstores close. They often can’t stand against the changing times. This is very unfortunate. I always smile when I enter a bookstore and feel at home. When I hear about bookstores closing it almost feels like a part of me closed. It doesn’t matter if I visited the bookstore often, occasionally, or never. Instead it’s just one more place where my soul had a chance to open to the wonder of books and reading.

The definition of a book has even changed and a slight loss is felt. I own a kindle, but it took me forever to finally purchase one. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a book on my kindle. To me, it’s almost a loss in society as books have changed so much.

True, people are still reading and some may say there’s an increase in reading. However, there’s nothing like holding a book in your hands, turning actual pages, and smelling the paper.

The loss of libraries, bookstores, and the definition of books saddens me. Books and their ‘homes’ have been in use for thousands of years. Hopefully, the ‘changing times’ won’t increase more losses.

Writing 101 Challenge: Unlock Writing

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I thought it would be fun to participate in the WordPress June writing challenge. I may not write every day, but it will get my creative ideas working. Today is simply to write anything w/o stopping for 20 mins & publish.

I’m currently writing this the old fashioned way w/ pen & paper. To be more exact, I’m writing in bed with an awesome pen that lights up. (I’m not using now.) My own hand is now slightly cramping as I quickly write.

What does my writing look like? I think fairly clear in nice cursive-like print. I’m an elementary teacher and I can tell you how handwriting has declined. Hardly anyone practices penmanship, so you can almost forget about cursive.

Sure we use computers every day, but the art of writing nicely shouldn’t end. I make handmade notecards that I send…the old fashioned way by mail. The joy of receiving ‘real’ mail doesn’t occur as often as in the past. A ‘hello’ in your inbox compared to mail box isn’t as gratifying.

I remember looking at my grandmother’s writing on letters, recipes, and daily lists. It looked beautiful. Handwriting then was taken with time & care.

Many believe cursive should be thrown away in classrooms. Sadly, many students aren’t even taught basic hand typing skills. I sometimes can’t even read a student’s name. (‘The first thing I do is pick up my pencil and write my name’. Song to get students to remember name.)

Handwriting should still be taught in classrooms. It sounds harsh, but you really can tell a lot by someone’s handwriting. Write a handwritten notecard, list, or just practice today.

I should write more fast & freely thinking. Ideas just flowed out of me. I may want to go back and edit, but that’s not the point. Just unlock your writing potential to share.

Now, it’s time to type this handwritten post.