Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stretching, Prompting, and a Contest


Stretching our writing muscles is important. Why? I believe that it sharpens skills, enhances our experience, provides fresh perspective and ideas, and broadens our horizons. It's good, too, to break out of our comfort zone every so often and try something new. Keeping those muscles limber provides benefits beyond the keyboard. It helps keep our minds active and sharp. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? 


This is a prompt I like to use to stretch, to brainstorm for ideas, or just for fun. Go ahead, give it a try. ;)

Bricolage is a French word for odd jobs. As an activity, it has been interpreted as succeeding at using only what’s at hand. A bricoleur is someone who uses something simple to solve a bigger problem. Ever see an old movie where someone uses a bobby pin to open a lock?

Bricolage is a great tool for writers. A writing activity similar to free writing, bricolage is an exercise in turning nothing into something. It helps you think and gets those creative juices flowing.
How do you bricolage? Choose a simple object like a pebble, a raindrop, a chocolate chip, or a pine needle. Set a timer for a few minutes and write about this item. What to write, you ask? Anything you want. Expound on all the redeemable qualities of the item; think of its many potential uses. Imagine that the item is narrating what goes on in its world during the day. Perhaps this simple item saved a starving nation, helped put out a fire…or?

The Contest

Coffeehouse for Writers is sponsoring a contest; the topic is "Dear Diary" (the healing power of reflective writing). See details here.

Also, if you register for an upcoming class at Coffeehouse for Writers you will be entered to win a free class, Blogging for Fun or For Profit with Jennifer Brown Banks.  Click here for info.

So, are you game? Care to try the prompt? Please share your bricolage with us!

What are your weekend plans? Any prompts in the mix?

Have a great weekend,

Copyright 2011. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the author, Karen Lange.

Image credit: nvadim


  1. Writing prompts are fun but the writing is usually so bad that i need to rewrite and rewrite!

  2. No weekend plans here--getting a tooth pulled today and just praying no complications so I will be reading and reading:)

  3. I won a book of writing prompts recently. Honestly, I've always disliked them! But probably because I find it very hard. I will challenge myself though, because I hear you when it comes to helping out your writing. Off to check the Coffeehouse now. Thanks for the links!

  4. Hello Karen...My writing usually consists of what is going on in my life---my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and happenings.

    This weekend I will be attending the funeral of my elderly aunt, who I loved dearly. There will be a dinner with friends and family afterward. That is on Saturday.

    Then, Sunday, I hope to take a day trip to a town about an hour away. There's a Trader Joe's there that I love and I have a certificate that was a gift for Christmas.

    Hope YOU have a great weekend! Always nice to see your posts. Susan

  5. Your writing prompt sounds like fun. I'll have to give it a go. :O)

  6. Laura,
    I wouldn't even be concerned about that. I like them just to get the ideas out there and stretch some. I have to turn off the editor and go from there! :)

    Hope all goes well. And yes, I'd say that's a good opportunity to read and then read some more! :)

    Maybe I can make a "prompt convert" out of you! LOL No, really, I think they have their place to help us, but if you don't care for them, don't stress over it. :)

    You know, me too. Even ideas for the blog come from things I've got going, writing or otherwise. So sorry to hear about your aunt. Will be thinking of and praying for you.

    Oh, be sure and let me know if you do! I love your microfiction on your blog. They're always fun!

    Blessings all,

  7. Great ideas and food for thought for the new year! Thanks for the mention.

  8. Interesting prompt. I'll be deep in revisions this weekend though.

  9. I'll have to give your prompt a try. I generally take prompts from everyday and turn them into a blog post. Thanks for the links and tips.

  10. This exercise reminds me of the assignment we gave our middle school church group recently. We broke them into groups of about four or five, gave them a paper bag with about 6 or 7 random objects, and they had to come up with a 3-minute sermon/bible lesson. It was cool and very fun for them.

  11. Jen,
    I figure why not start the year off with creative inspiration, eh? You are most welcome for the mention. :)

    Well you are most definitely stretching by doing the revisions. Wish you all the best!

    I'll be curious to see what you do with it. Will keep an eye on your posts!

    There are so many variations and applications to this idea, you know? That's another prompt for another day, I suppose! :)


  12. Hi Karen -

    Although I know about writing prompts, this term was new to me.

    This weekend, I'll try to make a dent in my ever-expanding Task List. I need to write three blog posts, edit several articles, and (gasp) clean.

    Susan :)

  13. You know, I've never done any writing prompts (that weren't associated with a class). I really should do more.
    No weekend plans here. Boo-hoo.

  14. This prompt sounds like fun. I might try it this weekend. But. I. Won't. Share. It. :) I don't want to embarrass myself. But on Monday, I will tell you how it went. :-)

    Thanks for the links, my friend.

    How are you?

  15. Weekend plans? Well, let's see.
    1. Get Boy Two to church in time (5 PM) to leave for conference. This, after trotting around all forenoon looking for trunks. No luck.
    2. Head for pizza/family night with Schrocks as a sibling is in town.
    3. Work like a maniac tomorrow to type reports that didn't get done today. See #1.
    4. Get groceries so as to forestall offspring riot and/or another coup.
    5. Pick up Boy Two from church parking lot Sunday evening before...
    6. Attending small-group hoo-ha, also on Sunday evening.
    7. Try to get a nap sometime in there so there's just a tiny bit of gas in my tank come Monday morning when I will...
    8. Work on next week's column. Again.

    Grinning and waving,


  16. Susan,
    Oh you have one of those task lists too? I'm about buried at the moment. As for cleaning, I can only hope!

    Perhaps something fun will pop up. How about a prompt? :D

    Would love to see what you come up with. It can't be any more off the wall than some of my prompts! :P

    You are just too funny my friend! Praying you get all things done with grace and rest sprinkled in between.


  17. Like your brainstorming word usage! Will definitely give it a try. Thanks for stopping by clara54 today:) And did someone mention "free" contest?!


  18. Thanks for the info! I hope you have a great weekend!

  19. Writing prompts are fun. I will surely try them. Thanks for the info.

  20. Karen, you're wonderful. You always put so much time and effort into your posts!

    Writing prompt exercises are a favorite of mine.

  21. Hi have an award on my blog.

  22. Clara,
    Thanks and you're welcome! Hope you share it with us. Yes, free contest, fun, huh?

    You are welcome. Hope you have a great one too!

    They are! Let me know how it goes, okay? Thanks so much for the award! :)

    You're making me blush. :o) Glad you like prompts. Me too! Hope you like it.

    Happy weekend,

  23. I love the idea of a bricolage Karen!! I know the word, as we use it in Europe for a supermarket chain! I will try this...
    As for the weekend... gardening, working on a column, and currently: to the beach for a walk, the weather is gorgeous here!

  24. Hi Karen,

    Just stopping by to say hi! Was just in the neighborhood to review something I'd written in the interview I did here a while back. And I wanted to say howdy and hope things are going well for you! :-)

  25. I don't know about the prompt/contest, but I LOVE the word bricolage! I'm going to claim it for future use as it has imbedded implications (sort of a bricolage of the bricolage) that will be fun to excavate.

  26. Hi Karen - love that word bricolage!! Wonderful .. I have the ideas .. but wait to do the writing .. and that I'm going to change!

    I've just watched Songs of Praise from Arundel .. and the mix of religion, history and culture was truly fascinating .. I need to sit and do a post!

    Time is a challenge & the energy from looking after my mother .. albeit it's only the spiritual and daughterly thing ..

    So I look forward to bricolaging properly .. cheers Hilary

  27. Marja,
    A supermarket chain, wow. That would give me a chuckle to see if I was visiting! :)

    Good to see you. :) All is well, hope the same is true for you and your gang!

    Oh yes, that will be fun! Let me know how it goes, okay? :)

    Yes, you need to do a post on that one, sounds interesting! Of course, your posts always are. :)


  28. I hadn't heard the term bricolage before yet I've used it with my student. Great idea.

    Thx for coming by and commenting on my style!

  29. I've used this exercise before to really get my brain thinking about texture and sensory description. It's amazing what you can come up with from an ordinary object when you really have to think about it. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  30. L'Aussie,

    I know, I love the idea. Your style info was great! :)

    Hey, this is true, and extremely evident on your blog! You do an amazing job!


  31. It's important to continue to flex our writing muscles regularly! Thanks for the ideas and the reminder!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!