The Time Is Now

The Time Is Now offers a weekly writing prompt (we’ll post a poetry prompt on Tuesdays, a fiction prompt on Wednesdays, and a creative nonfiction prompt on Thursdays) to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. We also offer a selection of books on writing—both the newly published and the classics—that we recommend you check out for inspiration, plus advice and insight on the writing process from the authors profiled in Poets & Writers Magazine. And don’t miss Writers Recommend, which includes books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired other authors in their writing.

1.25.12

Write for twenty minutes about one of the following subjects. Combine two or three subjects to create something larger.

  • An experience with an insect.
  • An experience with a child.
  • An experience with an animal.
  • An experience with a stranger.
  • An experience in an automobile.
  • An experience in a school.
  • An experience in a place of worship.
  • An experience in a stranger’s house.

This week’s creative nonfiction prompt comes from Jo Ann Beard, who is on the nonfiction faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. Her most recent book is the novel, In Zanesville (Little, Brown, 2011).

1.18.12

Choose an incident from your past—it could be an ordinary occurrence, such as a family dinner—or a significant event, such as an achievement or a mishap. Write about it from your perspective, then write about it from the perspective of someone else who experienced it with you—a friend, sibling, or parent.

1.11.12

Take an episode from a piece you've already written—the more personal the better—and rewrite it as a third-person news story, faithfully following the inverted-pyramid and who-what-when-where-why structure of normative journalism.
This week's creative nonfiction prompt comes from Vijay Seshadri, director of the nonfiction program at Sarah Lawrence College and author, most recently, of The Disappearances (Harper Collins, 2007).

1.3.12

Using John Ashbery's poem "And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name" from Houseboat Days as a model, tell a story by telling us how to tell a story. Scaffold the narrative by meditating on the nature of storytelling.
This week's creative nonfiction prompt comes from Vijay Seshadri, director of the nonfiction program at Sarah Lawrence College and author, most recently, of The Disappearances (Harper Collins, 2007).

8.30.09

As the old story goes, Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write a six-word story about himself. This is how he responded: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Write a six-word memoir about yourself. For inspiration, check out Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoir Project.

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