Tag Archives: Mary Jo Campbell creative writing teacher

Teacher Tuesday: A Resource and Prompts

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.”

Paul McCartney, Singer/Songwriter

I like this theory! Though, I’ll be the first to speak up on behalf of the “mature” sector of us, sometimes our imaginations need a little lift.

As a recommendation from a particular post on Teaching Authors blog, I ordered a book from my local indie shop: Unjournaling by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston (Cottonwood Press, Inc.) I thought it was a book of ideas for journal writing: thought-provoking questions to help a writer dive deep beneath the surface and pour out one’s soul.

I was pleasantly surprised! Not at all the soul-searching material I expected, but 200 writing prompts to flex the creative muscles, tickle the funny bone and awaken the mind. Each prompt is unique in the exercise and the lesson it provides.

Ever struggle to explain the “show, don’t tell” concept of writing? Here are some examples from this fabulous book:

“40.  Chris walks into a room. By describing only the reactions of  the others in the room, let us know something about him.”

“135.  In one sentence, describe something (not someone) that is very ugly. Create a vividly ugly image, with words.”


Here are a few prompts for the love of words and creative thinking/problem solving:

“39.  Write three different sentences, each using the word “crumpled.” Create an entirely different image with each sentence.”

“36.  Some people can’t smell. In one paragraph, make them understand “skunk.”

“70.  List ten words that use ph to make an f sound (Example: phrase.) Then use all ten words in a paragraph.”

“75.  Most people believe vomit is an ugly word. Write a paragraph that incorporates at least 10 words you believe are ugly.”


And some prompts are just silly:

“101. Unbeknownst to most people, the chicken had lots of reasons to cross the road. What were at least five of them?”

“103.  You know what an orfinbellydorper is. Mot people don’t. Explain to them what to do with one.”


I can’t wait to use some of these prompts at my next young writers group!

What books help you inspire creative writing in your class? Has anyone used A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You, by Ralph Fletcher?  I’m thinking of purchasing them in bulk for my Summer Writing Studio in August. Any reviews you can offer?

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Filed under Advice, books, teaching, Writing prompts, Young Adults

In the News…

snack time @ Summer Writing Studio

Want to see what I’ve been up to lately?

Check out this article that ran in my local paper:


Let me know your thoughts on teaching creative writing to young adults.


Filed under Education, teaching


{image courtesy of i.zdnet.com}


On the heels of the Oscars, I’ll use that infamous phrase, “ACTION!” 

What’s on your to-do list today? Pick one item, just one. Commit to it, tell someone else what your task is and how you plan to complete it. Then, take Action! 

Feel free to post your to-do item here for accountability. Then, remember, the minutes and hours will pass anyway, might as well use them productively. 

My to-do’s: (Cause I practice what I preach!) 

  1. Draft and Schedule upcoming interview posts (including one for tomorrow!)
  2. Search the Writer’s Market for a good fit on my YA nonfiction piece.
  3. Decide on theme and game for tomorrow’s Young Writers’ Workshop

“Time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose.” Lance Armstrong 7-Time Winner of the Tour de France


Filed under Advice, goals, Inspiration, procrastination