1. A very old woman, in her nineties, is taken to lunch by her teenage grandchildren. She tells them something surprising. What is it, and how does it change their relationship?
2. You are on an airplane that suddenly loses altitude. Oxygen masks drop; you are told to brace yourself for an emergency landing. Your seatmate begins laughing loudly. When you look over at him, what does he say?
3. Write a beginning of a short story that is at least half a page long. In three days, without looking at the first version, write the same beginning. Now compare the two versions. Are they much different? Is one better than the other?
4. If you’re a man, write how a woman would describe an ideal man. If you’re a woman, tell how a man describes his ideal woman. Make this a conversation between two people, and set it in a bar.
5. Find a poem you like. Make a story out of it—one paragraph or many pages.
“…what I want to say to anyone who wants to write: You feel the call. That’s the most important thing. Now answer it as fully as you can. Take the risk to let all that is in you, out. Escape into the open.”