About

This blog belongs to Virginia DeBolt. It consists of daily writing prompts (well, almost daily) for writing practice.

But this blog isn’t about me and my writing. It’s about you and your writing. It’s all about the comments. So leave one, why don’t you?

Writing Practice? What is it?

I’ve used writing practice for many years to loosen up my creativity. The idea comes from Natalie Goldberg, who wrote several books explaining the concept of writing practice. Her books include Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind : Living the Writer’s Life.

To practice writing, pick a topic, any topic, and start writing. Don’t judge, don’t edit, just write. For normal practice, after a certain period of time, perhaps 10 minutes, stop writing. For this blog, you are invited to leave a comment with the first 50 words of your writing on the topic. I’ll pick the topics–you write 50 words.

As Natalie Goldberg says, sometimes you get junk doing this, sometimes you get something worth using or developing. It doesn’t matter what you get, it only matters that you write those 50 words. That’s the point: just write.

Another helpful book that will get you started writing every day is Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. This book encourages daily journaling.

I wrote some books about writing, too. My books help teachers of writing and also advocate the rule: just write. My books include Write!: Cooperative Learning and the Writing Process and Write! Mathematics: Multiple Intelligences & Cooperative Learning Writing Activities as well as two more specific to the school curriculum.

In Write!: Cooperative Learning and the Writing Process I provided 10 rules for writers. I’m still using the same rules:

  1. Write.
  2. Write.
  3. Write often.
  4. Write about anything.
  5. Write about everything.
  6. Write about what you see
  7. Write about what you learn.
  8. Write about what you think.
  9. Write about what you read.
  10. WRITE!

70 Responses to About

  1. Kelly Abbott says:

    What a good idea, Virginia. Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking to Dandelife as well.

    A fan,
    Kelly Abbott, Co-Founder, Dandelife.com

  2. davidbdale says:

    A fellow blogger asked me for advice about fiction, and I came up with something similar.
    1. Write without thinking.
    2. Rewrite.
    3. Rewrite.
    4. Rewrite.
    5. Publish.
    6. Regret.

  3. first50 says:

    My journalism teacher used to say the best stories aren’t written, they’re rewritten. But she forgot to mention your rule #6. :)

  4. ltw says:

    first50:

    Thanks so much for doing this site. I just found it via God’s Child at Radio Ventriliquist (http://radioventriloquist.blogspot.com/). I am trying to grow the writer in me and I think this will be a huge help. I can’t wait until I have more time to dig deeper in your site.

  5. first50 says:

    Thanks, ltw. I see on your blog that you intend to write your first million words of writing practice, so you are well on your way to fulfilling the ten rules above. :)

  6. princess says:

    Thank you for giving me the inspiration to keep writing.

    Princess

    P.S. In my other comment I forgot to mention that I got the link to you from Ronni Bennett’s who happens to be with The Agelss Project.

  7. Pingback: A Creative Journal » First 50 Words

  8. carmycarms says:

    Nice blog. I’ve just been reading “The Writer’s Idea Book” and it’s inspiring to see what other people are doing exploring writing.

  9. Tricia Ares says:

    Fabulous idea. I love Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I will certainly be linking to you and spreading the word. Great concept!

  10. Livio says:

    Wonderful words of inspiration to write….your 10 rules are golden rules make anyone get to writing… i will do it and use it.. thanks for sharing…

  11. Kay Dennison says:

    This is great — all kinds of good advice and resources!!!!

  12. Alice says:

    Fascinating choice to blog about. But you’re right. To write you have to write.

  13. first50 says:

    Thanks, Alice. I hope you’ll join us here and contribute 50 words or so now and then.

  14. Kathy says:

    I just found your site via BlogHer. I love the idea of writing prompts. Many times I get the urge to write and end up staring at a blank page.

  15. first50 says:

    Hi Kathy,
    That’s what this site is all about. I hope you are inspired by the small beginning here, and write something longer elsewhere. If you start something here that you finish on your own blog, please let us know so we can see what developed from the germ of an idea.

  16. Edna says:

    I love your site! Thank you for commenting on my story at elderstorytelling … Now that I’ve seen your site I am really pleased that you commented! I have marked this as one I want to return to often.
    Edna

  17. first50 says:

    Welcome, Edna, I’m so happy to have you as a visitor.

  18. prestola says:

    Heh! i don’t follow any specific rules.But i just write..But there should be a purpose for writing.Not just simply write..Writing relaxes me a lot.Its like i share my feelings with the paper for someone to read it.Even if no one reads,that leaves my heart empty of whatever burden i had.well,to say,what you have blogged looks like the rules for an amateur writer:)

  19. lorenitha! says:

    nice place..I can learn more about the words that I use for my english!!
    thanks:)

  20. thiajean says:

    I love Natalie Goldberg and her methods for getting it out there. If I’m ever stuck she’s always there. Write On!

  21. pieceofpie says:

    just found you buy way of pomegranate-tiger link… this is a great writer blog site… i will come back

  22. RLP says:

    I like your blog. May I invite you to look at a blog of mine, which I call Red Writer? It’s at http://www.xmarxthe.blogspot.com and its purpose is, like yours, to promote writing.
    I hope to build a community of people interested in writing.

  23. On Da Road says:

    I enjoyed your blog and appreciate your advice & the comments people have left as well. I am a newbie, wanna be writer .. just trying to write at least a little bit on some project each day.

    Thank you!

  24. illimiaccerry says:

    There was this guy see.
    He wasn’t very bright and he reached his adult life without ever having learned “the facts”.
    Somehow, it gets to be his wedding day.
    While he is walking down the isle, his father tugs his sleeve and says,

    “Son, when you get to the hotel room…Call me”

    Hours later he gets to the hotel room with his beautiful blushing bride and he calls his father,

    “Dad, we are the hotel, what do I do?”

    “O.K. Son, listen up, take off your clothes and get in the bed, then she should take off her clothes and get in the bed, if not help her. Then either way, ah, call me”

    A few moments later…

    “Dad we took off our clothes and we are in the bed, what do I do?”

    O.K. Son, listen up. Move real close to her and she should move real close to you, and then… Ah, call me.”

    A few moments later…

    “DAD! WE TOOK OFF OUR CLOTHES, GOT IN THE BED AND MOVED REAL CLOSE, WHAT DO I DO???”

    “O.K. Son, Listen up, this is the most important part. Stick the long part of your body into the place where she goes to the bathroom.”

    A few moments later…

    “Dad, I’ve got my foot in the toilet, what do I do?”

  25. wintervssummer says:

    I very much love summer :)
    Someone very much loves winter :(
    I Wish to know whom more :)
    For what you love winter?
    For what you love summer? Let’s argue :)

  26. What a pleasant surprise! I just started a blog here a few days ago, specifically for the purpose of stimulating some “practice” writing. But in drafting my first entry, I spent nearly two hours on the first paragraph. Finally I had to admit that practicing “writer’s block” wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

    A day or so later I came up with an idea: Write a sentence. Any sentence. Then just follow where your imagination leads you. No rules, or expectations. Just try to capture (roughly) whatever ideas or images flow, one from another.

    Sound familiar?

    I’ve done two pieces using that formula in the past two days. Neither of which are particularly interesting, or well written. But at least it’s a start. The key, of course, is to dispense with any and all preconceptions, limits, or judgments regarding subject, content, treatment, or style…or anything else, for that matter. As you’ve said in endless ways: Just write! (As with piano exercises, the music may not be interesting, but at least it strengthens your fingers.)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I admire and appreciate what you are doing here. I look forward to participating in some of your 50-word exercises…but only after I’ve jacked up my basic skills at least a notch or two. Hopefully by consuming a little more of my self-prescribed “one sentence plus” (baby) formula. :)

  27. first50 says:

    William, One thing about writing practice is that you take any topic, a random word, a passing idea, and just go. Get moving. Once you’re going, you’re often surprised by what comes. That’s why I love it. I love that challenge of just starting no matter what the topic; just start and see what happens.

    I hope you’ll find some ideas here to get you started. If you use any of them to post to your own blog, please share the link with us here so we can see what happened with the idea.

    One of the loveliest parts of writing practice with other people is seeing the diversity and beauty in what comes out of a seemingly meaningless prompt.

  28. Elmer Thomas says:

    Hello Virginia,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your talents with all of us.

    I have a blog post that I think would work well on http://www.BlogHer.com in your Tech Blog there.

    If you are interested, please send me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the blog post. It is titled: “Giving Back to the Givers in Tough Times.”

  29. Angel says:

    I love this site! I used to teach english, and this is one of the activities we used. It worked well for getting 16 year old minds going.
    I just found the site and hve very much enjoyed reading it.

  30. Pure Fiction says:

    Hi, I just found your site via robertfrostsbanjo.blogspot.com, via totalfeckineejit.blogspot.com. Your site’s great. I’d love to take part – I’ve been writing for years, but I don’t get much of a chance to bounce off other writers where I’m based. I’ll be back :)

  31. first50 says:

    Pure Fiction, welcome. I look forward to seeing your contributions.

  32. Marvie says:

    i love to write about random things, but it feels there’s always something missing. Sometimes i go beyond what i want to discuss and eventually lose focus on what i am trying to point out. I am your new fan :) I’ll certainly read the book you recommended and hopefully get techniques that would help me become a more effective writer.

  33. Larry says:

    I write every day. I dream and I write. I see and I write. I talk about things and then I write. But it seems I never come up with the good stuff as other writers do. Whats up with that? I guess I’ll never know but one thing for sure I’ll write again and again Until my fingers can’t type anymore.

    Three Word Wednesday

    © Moon_Designs
    All Rights Reserved
    1994–2009

  34. Love your blog. I’m adding you to my blogroll as we speak! Keep up the great work.

  35. Julie says:

    I just discovered your blog and find it fascinating! Thanks for putting something wonderful like this out for the world. I just subscribed to your feed; I can’t wait for more! I write http://www.thepencilsharpener.com, a new writing blog that includes prompts and articles on craft and technique and creativity. I anticipate linking to this wonderful site in a future post. I appreciate what you do; this is a fabulous, inspiring resource.

    Julie

  36. rdl says:

    read natalie goldberg years ago and the artists way is on my nightstand waiting patiently to be read. Love your rules!

  37. Earls says:

    Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me? Can you sing them now?

  38. Mellenee says:

    I think this is a great site. I need help writing daily and you have presented a fun and new way for me to do that. I look forward to unlocking my creativity by responding to your prompts.

    • first50 says:

      Welcome, Mellenee, I hope you enjoy it. I really love seeing what people do with my prompts and am often in awe of the variety and creativity of people’s responses.

  39. princess says:

    I know, I’ve been AWOL for long. But I always think of this your “wonderful project”. Today I am thankful I found time to visit it again! Happy holidays to you, Virginia!

  40. Little.Steps says:

    Thank You!
    I love this exercise it is just the thing for a little chicken like me. Little chicken has a way to step out in the WWW.
    I have much appreciation for your thoughtfulness.

  41. this is very cool. I forgot how i ended up in this blog. :) but this is really a good start for me. :)) thank you! God’s will that I came to your blog :)

  42. fermaria says:

    Hi! I´m an argentinean teacher, specialized in Human Values Education and I love writing too! I wanted to know if you have e-books available for your Write! series. I find the educational proposal really appealing for children and I´m sure it´s a great educational resource for teachers too.
    I write a lot in Spanish and I have a writing digital magazine at wordpress where I share my stories for children based on inteligent Human Values (I find many times stories which pretend to “teach values” loose their aesthetic value as literature and I do my best to avoid that).
    If you agree, I´d like to propose my readers to write their 50 first words. Thanks for the idea! I´ll link them back to you too (in case they read/speak English they can take part of your blog). You can check mine at http://panzallenacorazoncontento.wordpress.com
    I also write a bit in English, at amararama.wordpress.com, in case you want to check who I am.
    Thanks again, love,
    Fernanda

  43. first50 says:

    fermaria, I do have a collection of the writing prompts from the blog. You can find out more here. It’s all in English and not free.

    But using the blog archives is free, and you can find all the same material that way.

    I’m not making any effort to teach values. This blog is strictly about ideas to prompt writing.

    I’m glad you’re here and hope you enjoy the writing prompts.

  44. leahdalley says:

    Love your site! I am entering a few writing competitions (just for fun) and your site has helped me massively thank you, I will be coming back :D

  45. gryphonboy says:

    Oooh, I love the idea behind this blog. I’ve recently decided to write my ‘one’ book and have chosen to use wordpress as my publishing platform. I’m using 250 words per day as my ‘just write’ target. Once I get to the 70/80k mark I’ll start on the re-writing. :-)

    So far I can honestly say that the ‘just write’ philosophy is so true. without it I’d still be talking about writing a book rather than an 8th of the way through it.

  46. Aurora says:

    Love the just write philosophy, it works for me. Thanks for the great reminders!

  47. My First 50 / from: I.O.U. Love

    The scent of cheap scotch on his breath helped make his decision. He had no qualms about loaning me his body. I slipped into his right arm then the left, and oozed my ethereal body into the rest of him. It wasn’t perfect; but it was going to work.

  48. kaydennison says:

    Dang, Virginia!!!! I’ve been away too long. Thank the mention of this in the latest Writer’s Digest (or not) for getting me back.

  49. kaydennison says:

    Indeed!!!! It’s in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest in an article called “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Brian A. Klems & Kristen Grace and #3 is First 50 Words and it reads:

    “Looking for a quick morning cup of writing? Stop by Virginia DeBolt’s website where she delivers new prompts regularly and asks to write 50 words on each, following only one rule: “Don’t judge, don’t edit, just write.”

    According to the authors, First 50 was one of over 4,300 nominees.

    I would think that they should have notified you but I guess not.

    I’m just delighted for you — and glad to be back here.

  50. kaydennison says:

    I was soooo delighted to see you at #3 and hoped that you would be, too!!! I’m glad to be back. I forgot how much I enjoyed my morning cup of writing.

    Don’t forget that you are always welcome at my blog — the Groaner of the Week is alive and well along with my usual potpourri!

  51. kaydennison says:

    Glad to see the WD Award in your sidebar!!!!

  52. Fay says:

    This is a great site … Thanks so much for your generosity and sharing with us!

  53. I have been brainstorming and developed the thought of writing. Writing about life experiences. This includes many experiences, work, play, school and many others.

  54. Write on, right on.
    Right here, write here.
    Write now, right now.
    Right there, write there.
    Right at the table, write.
    Write right in the car.
    Write on the left.
    Write on the right.
    Write? Right.

  55. Elizabeth says:

    This is the best website EVER! I love it so much. :)

  56. Just found you via Google search, and thrilled I did! Just what I was looking for!

  57. I love the idea of this blog and it has been a big help to me, as I am sure it has to others! Thank you for having it! I’d love to see more people find you, so I have nominated you for the Liebster Award! Thanks again for all the prompts!

  58. I realize that my blog has become a kind of writing practice for me as you describe here. In if I focus on things that are engaging me in the moment and explore them. Thanks for creating this blog!

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