Thursday Writing Prompt No. 140

It’s been some time since I posted a Thursday Writing Prompt. This year has been unfriendly to being productive, but it’s time to climb back into the driver’s seat and get some writing and editing done!

For today’s prompt, do an online search for cocktails and find one with a name that intrigues you. You’ll take that name and use it as a working title for a short story. “Tequilla Sunrise” would work as a prompt, and it already gives you an idea of the setting for your story. It might work well for a travel type of story, or perhaps a romance where a traveler meets that special someone.

“Dark and Stormy” is another name that is highly suggestive, but this time it makes me think of Gothic castles, haunted houses, or wild weather and large waves crashing against a rocky shoreline. Because who cares if it’s dark and stormy and you’re safe in bed in your urban apartment? Well, now … that would be a different setting, wouldn’t it? Write the unexpected!

And a search for weird cocktail names will give you even more inspiration. “Dances with Wenches,” “The Drunken Elf,” “Blue Lagoon,” “Twelve Mile Limit,” and “Green Ghost” are some fun names to start with, and there are more … adult-named beverages out there, too, if that’s your bag.

So, grab a cocktail recipe of your choice and be inspired — with or without the alcohol — that’s your choice. Just don’t blame me if you’re seeing twice as many words on your page as you’re actually writing!

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Thursday Writing Prompt No. 139

I captured this image during a nighttime cemetery excursion in Edinburgh, Scotland. Is it simply a flashlight blurred by movement, or is it something else?

I captured this image during a nighttime cemetery excursion in Edinburgh, Scotland. Is it simply a person holding a flashlight, blurred by the camera’s long exposure–or is it something else?

I’m having another night of insomnia. It’s gotten to be that I’m dealing with this three or four nights a week, but I can’t find a pattern to it. It doesn’t seem to matter if I drink coffee or tea or alcohol, and it doesn’t matter what I eat or how much I exercise. I think partly I’m just getting used to using the time for writing or other creative work and so I’m starting to crave it. Obnoxiously, a few nights ago I wanted very much to work on a project and I couldn’t keep my eyes open no matter what.

O! Fickle Muse!

And that brings me to this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt. Many writers use the wee hours of night to coax words onto the page. Some just can’t sleep, while others just find it easier to write uninterrupted once everyone else has settled down for the night.

But what if the reason were something else? What if, during the night, your Muse did actually visit you? What form would it take? Human, animal, god/goddess, elf, alien, robot? Would the Muse offer you a gentle nudge, or slam your head into the desk if you didn’t start typing right away?

Your task is to introduce your Muse and to describe the modus operandi that he or she or it uses to wring some words out of you. Because you are the only one who can see your Muse, you will have to be very descriptive in your writing. Pull the curtains shut against the world, shut the door against interruptions, and write on into the night. I am.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 138

My "explorer" photo added to a virtual bus stop.

My “explorer” photo added to a virtual bus stop thanks to PhotoFunia.

My husband calls this picture of me my “Richard Attenborough” photo. Not the bus stop — just the picture of me in the window. It’s from Yellowstone, when we visited back in 2010. The cloud behind my shoulder is steam from a volcanic vent and my hair is tousled by the wind. It’s probably the wildest place that we’ve visited and the closest to being an explorer that I’ve been. What can I say? I’m an urban/suburban child. I might manage to do a short survival trek, but I like my coffee, hot water, and soap, thank you very much. And — the mosquitoes like me just too much.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about travel. Pick a location and write a paragraph or two for a travel brochure that describes the place in glowing detail. Now here’s the twist: the place is somewhere you’d never want to visit. Whether it’s just rough country or an urban area infested with traffic jams, identify that place and put your fiction-writing talents to work selling that locale to some unsuspecting would-be tourist. Have fun, and don’t forget to inject some humor into this. It shouldn’t be all doom-and-gloom.

But see those white posts next to the road? I bet you think they’re some kind of traffic bollards, don’t you? Well, they’re not. They are the spiky teeth of some gigantic monster that’s about to devou….

The Year of Numbers

numbersThis year I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for my writing and reading. I need to set some exercise goals, too, but that’s more difficult for me because I’m less fluent in knowing what exercises I need and how much. So far I’ve decided to read 50 books this year and write 240,000 words. I’ve signed up for the Zombies, Run! virtual spring race, too, so I need to get back into running training.

I’ve found that the more I slack off the less I get done. Maybe it’s because there is no sense of urgency because there are no deadlines. Crochet projects fall to the back of the closet and get forgotten. Other art projects disappear under piles of paper. The one thing I am really good about is maintaining my reading schedule, but I find that when I push myself to write every day I tend to find ways to avoid doing it. I don’t think it’s writing itself, but if I am working on a particular project and I get stuck then I just find ways of weaseling out of the task. And the more frustrated I get with other things in life the more likely that writing and other productive things get ignored.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t meet my writing project deadlines. I’ve only asked for two extensions on more than sixty encyclopedia articles, and I gave my editor a heads-up. It’s not the same as letting deadline go by without taking notice of it. I’ve never been late on term papers, either. When I need to I can pump out some words. It’s just a matter of lighting that fire under my chair and typing, typing, typing, until the work gets done.

So, my ambitious goals mean that I need to plan out my work and set reasonable numbers for myself. Nearly a quarter of a million words seems ridiculous, but it will include editing. I’m just not ready to count 1,000 words per hour as recommended by the good folks at NaNoWriMo; perhaps 500 would be more reasonable for me, judging by past rewriting and editing experience. I’m calculating on doing NaNo again this year, so that will be 50,000 words. Then I need 190,000 words in 48 weeks, so I’m setting a weekly goal of 4,000 words. I’m doing well despite a few days of ignoring the keyboard: I have 6743 words written since the beginning of the year and I’ve finished reading two books. Here’s to determination!