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.