In Search of Inspiration, NWP-style

In my “What’s Up Wednesday” blog post, I said that I’d felt no writing inspiration lately. Even though I feel like inspiration should be a grand, sweeping thing – artwork, nature, music – I remembered back to my days at the National Writing Project in 2008.


If you’re not familiar with the National Writing project, it’s a program for teachers K-12, and the theory behind is that no matter what subject you teach, you also teach writing. Part of the premise of the class was that in addition to learning about teaching writing, you needed to walk the walk, and do writing yourself. My NWP experience was life-changing for me – it’s where I started my first novel, and made the habit of writing every day.

One of the things we did every day was a quick write, about 7 minutes writing to a prompt, pen moving the whole time to increase your writing fluency. The instructors always mentioned that you could write about your own topic instead, if you felt you needed to.

Today, I started writing to a prompt, but I couldn’t do it. I was too bothered by something that had happened last night, at a neighborhood party. I dashed off two notebook pages, and felt more peaceful about the situation.

And then, inspiration NWP-style hit! During class one time, we’d turned some prose into poetry, using phrases we liked from the narrative. I like arbitrary rules sometimes, so I underlined every 20th word, and first put them in order, hoping for a poem, only playing with line breaks and punctuation:

Vodka, too

I think, to I sleep


Asked to to a Jeff


if I

Here’s taken


Hmm, not too interesting, so I reorganized the words and tried for another poem:


Jeff asked her to parties too,

I, I think-

If taken, I sleep

Here’s to a vodka

Definitely not a good poem either, but man, it was fun to play with the words. I miss that playfulness when I’m caught up in revisions, that sense that language can be a game, with zero expectations. And in NWP style, I’m sharing my work, knowing that the product is the process, and that everyone supports process.

What’s Up Wednesday – on Thursday


Ugh. So apparently it’s Thursday. But I’m going to do What’s Up Wednesday anyway, okay? It’s an easy way to blog. Did I mention that before?

What I’m Reading: I finished a book this morning, “Anybody Out There?” by Marian Keyes. It’s one of her books about the Walsh sisters (Claire, Maggie, Rachel, Anna, and Helen). I read the one about Helen earlier this week. It’s so much fun to read about the sisters from each other’s perspectives. The one I finished today was about Anna, but I was so curious to hear about Helen, who was completely fascinating in her book (“The Mystery of Mercy Close”) – a P.I. with a hard exterior and deep depression underneath (very interesting combination). In Anna’s book, she’s had a huge thing happen, but I can’t get say what it is because it’s a total spoiler!

What I’m Writing: I met with my critique group last week, so I’m working on their revision ideas for ch. 8 of “Marianna.” (I’m still compelled to mention that I don’t like my title.) I love their ideas. And I absolutely LOVE that they talk about my characters like they’re real. I also wrote two blog posts this week. I’d like to keep doing that, but we’ll see.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: My kids finally had their last day of school. My older one graduated from elementary school. It seems like such a trivial thing to me (back in the day, we never got to graduate from elementary school! We were lucky if we just got out at the end of the day! Uphill! Both ways!) but for her it was meaningful. She was one of the emcees, and did a great job speaking loudly and clearly. She was rather ungracious posing for pictures, but she’s 11, so…

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I hate this answer, especially when I look at other people’s blogs, but nothing. I’m still in the same funk I was last week, which is probably why I’ve done so little revision. I still want to do some writing prompts, and maybe if they’re in a nice pretty notebook that will inspire me.

Until next time…

Teachers Write: Summer 2013

Teachers Write 2013 Button

Teachers Write is back!

Teachers Write is the brainchild of Kate Messner (author of such chapter books, MGs, and YAs like the Marty McGuire series and Capture the Flag). She’s running it with Jo Knowles, Gae Polisner, and Jen Vincent (one of the gurus behind Teach Mentor Texts).

You can find out more and sign up at Kate’s Teachers Write informational post.

Basically, the deal is that teachers, librarians, and others read minilessons on the craft of writing by various authors, get inspired by prompts, and commit to writing, at least a little bit, and maybe even out of their comfort zone.

It starts on Monday. I’m going to try to actually do it, instead of just lurking! Hope to see you there.

What’s Up Wednesday

What's up Wednesday

Lately, I’ve been at a loss for what to blog about. I have the time – school’s out – but not the inspiration. So I noticed this meme on another writer’s blog – Katy Upperman’s – and I thought this would be the perfect way to move gently back to blogging. Here’s the structure:

What I’m Reading: I’m reading “The Engagements” by J. Courtney Sullivan. She wrote “Maine” and “Commencement,” both of which I read. The title sounds fluffy, but it’s not, it’s solid contemporary fiction. Not YA for once! It’s the story of Evelyn, Kate, Delphine, James, and Frances, and their engagements (obviously), marriages, and partnerships. I like it so far, and I’d better – it’s on a 7 day loan from the library!

The Engagements

What I’m Writing: Sadly, not all that much. I’m working on “Marianna,” which is a really bad title, and will absolutely be changed. I was kind of stuck in revision-land, half-heartedly going through my second draft, trying to figure out the middle of the story and what I wanted to change. Then I had a brainstorm on Friday – a way to up the stakes. Now I feel more interested. Plus, my writing group meets tomorrow, so that’s helpful accountability.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve been toying with a career switch to become a Library Media Specialist, and I enrolled in a summer class called “Reference and Resource Materials.” I’m learning so much – it’s been so long since I’ve taken a class. The only bad thing is that my perfectionist tendencies are popping up. I’m worried about the first time points will get taken off, and I’m sure they will. It’s an online class, and I love the structure. There’s so much more discussion than there would be in person, believe it or not. Is it weird to say that I love my professor’s voice? I have no idea what she looks like, but she narrated a Powerpoint that I looked at last week, and I think  have a girl-crush on her voice.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Honestly, not much of anything. I’ve been in a major funk for a while now. I’m hoping that by the next time I do a “What’s Up Wednesday,” I have an answer! Inspire me in the comments, please.

I have no idea how to show the other links of blogs doing this meme. So for now, I’m going to leave the link to a blog with the links, if that makes sense. This is Jaime Morrow’s blog URL: I’m going to figure this out!