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The Writing Promptcast – an introduction

The Writing Promptcast – an introduction

The Writing Promptcast is designed to be a timed guided freewriting exercise.  It’s different from other podcasts, in that there’s going to be a lot of dead air.  It’s different from other writing prompts, in that you don’t know what’s coming next.

Here’s how it works:

I’ll start the podcast with a quick intro, followed by “the business items” – website, Facebook, Twitter, any matters I need to share with you. The introduction and business items should take less than two minutes.  Then we’ll get to the writing practice.  I will start you off with a prompt – it may be a word, a phrase, or a concept.  Then, a few minutes later, I will prompt you with another word.  And then a few minutes later, another.  Between these prompts, you will hear nothing – dead air.

Here’s an example:

The first prompt is “Petunia.”  So you write, incorporating that word into your writing, or being inspired by it:

Petunia Potts pounced on the last doughnut before I could get to it.  She stared me down as she took a bite, then turned her head to spit into the trash can.  “Yuck, jelly!”  The doughnut went into the trash.

My stomach growled, and Petunia smirked.  “You really should be on time more often.”  Her ponytail bounced side to side as she flounced out of the breakroom.

I eyed the jelly doughnut in the trash can before

Then you’ll hear a second word:  “Forceps” – remember, KEEP WRITING!

turning to the vending machine and surveying my options.  The Snickers bar called to me, but I would need forceps to pry the nougat out of my teeth.  Besides, I had already had one candy bar today.  Well, two, if you counted each bar of Twix.  

I inserted a five dollar bill and selected L7 – peanut butter crackers.  I could count that as my protein for the morning.  

Bob tapped on the glass as he walked by, then poked his head in.  “We’re meeting in the large conference room.”


You’re third word is “Negativity.”

He blinked at me.  “The new Kaufman account, remember?  You’re supposed to lead the discussion about what avenues we’ll open up for them?  Make them feel like they made the right choice?”

The coffee cup I was filling clunked into the sink as I dropped it and turned.  “Crap!”  I had forgotten about the meeting.  About the account.  About doing my job, evidently.  The divorce was already having a negative impact on my performance at work.


“I’ll be right there,” I told Bob as I rushed past him to my desk.  I grabbed the client folder and scanned the cubicle, looking for inspiration.  Maybe if I

New word:  “Water.”

And so on.

The point of this writing practice is not to think too much about it, just let the story come to you.  It may start out one way, then go in a different direction when you hear a new word.  That’s okay.  Go with it.  Let your story surprise you.

At the end of the podcast, I’ll simply announce that it’s over.  I will try to be as unobtrusive as possible, because I want you to continue writing for as long as you can after the podcast is over, and I don’t want to disrupt your writing more than I need to.

In her book Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg lists the “rules” of the writing practice.  One of them is particularly important for this podcast:

Don’t think.

To quote Goldberg, “We usually live in the realm of second or third thoughts, thoughts on thoughts, rather than in the realm of first thoughts, the real way we flash on something. Stay with the first flash.”

That’s what this podcast is.  As I prompt you, stay with that first flash. Trust your mind, and the words that come from it. That’s where the magic is.

The Idea

The Idea

A few months ago, I signed up for an online writing course.  In one of the lessons, the instructor did a word association practice – she would say a word, and give you half a minute or so to come up with another word.  It got me thinking about some of the writing workshops I’ve been in in the past with a similar exercise.

In every writing workshop I’ve taken, the instructor has led us in a timed freewriting exercise, during which he or she would provide a new word or phrase prompt at random intervals.  Often these words were simply written on small pieces of paper and pulled out of bowl.  The idea was to keep an element of surprise in your writing, to keep you from thinking too much.

I wanted that experience, but I wanted it outside of just the writing workshop.  And thus, The Writing Promptcast was born.

The Writing Promptcast is a different kind of podcast.  It’s a writing podcast, but I won’t be interviewing other writers, or dispensing advice, or telling you about my writing journey.  In fact, the podcast will consist mostly of dead air.  You should not listen to it while driving, or while on the treadmill, or while cleaning the house.  You should listen to it while you write.

The Writing Promptcast is a different kind of writing practice. Use it for journalling, for your morning pages, or to get your creative juices flowing before writing something else.  Or be really brave, and use it to write a book or a short story, a novella or a poem.

We’ve all seen flash fiction challenges where you are given five words and told to compose a story around them.  Now imagine getting only one word, writing for some time, then getting a second word, then a few minutes later, a third.  Where will your story go?

Episodes will be available soon through iTunes or your favorite podcast listening platform.