Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Writing Exercises

Written By: Jessica Morrell

Exercise: I remember….

©Jessica Morrell

A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” Franz Kafka

“…For the writer there is no oblivion. Only endless memory.” Anita Brookner

I remember being surprised at___________________________

I remember (Allen, Julia________________________________

I remember screaming _________________________________

I remember trying to understand__________________________

I remember dancing____________________________________

I remember trying to convince____________________________

I remember holding____________________________________

I remember how the whole world changed___________________

I remember shouting/yelling_____________________________

I remember wondering__________________________________

I remember wishing____________________________________

I remember waiting____________________________________

I remember dreaming__________________________________

I remember worrying__________________________________

I remember hearing  (evocative sound, song)________________

I remember smelling __________________________________

I remember finding (truth, object, person)  _________________

I remember seeing ___________________________________

I remember the taste of________________________________

I remember caring____________________________________

I remember avoiding__________________________________

I remember being afraid of _____________________________

I remember a sinking feeling ____________________________

I remember the pain __________________________________

I remember avoiding __________________________________

I remember how his (her) skin felt_________________________

I remember that he (she) smelled like ______________________

I remember that her dress was red ________________________

I remember that his smile _______________________________

I remember my teacher’s advice __________________________

I remember the heat ___________________________________

I remember the cold ___________________________________

I remember the first time _______________________________

I remember cooking ___________________________________

I remember trying to reassure ____________________________

I remember the wail of __________________________________

I remember the fear was overwhelming _____________________

I remember digging ____________________________________

I remember listening ____________________________________

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Seed Phrases

© Jessica P. Morrell

Use these phrases to trigger your imagination or memory. Often it takes only a few words to start writing, to discover themes, to trace a path to the past.

You told me that__________________________________________________________

I always meant to _________________________________________________________

Whenever I remember______________________________________________________

If only I’d known_________________________________________________________

My mother always warned me_______________________________________________

I never realized___________________________________________________________

As a kid, I believed________________________________________________________

As a kid, I liked___________________________________________________________

As a kid, I never__________________________________________________________

I can barely remember _____________________________________________________

I knew it was over when ___________________________________________________

Snowfall always reminds me of ______________________________________________

My grandmother was ______________________________________________________

My grandmother’s house smelled like _________________________________________

My grandfather did not ____________________________________________________

Whenever I try to _________________________________________________________

But they loved each other __________________________________________________

Sometimes I cannot help myself, I ____________________________________________

I always longed for ________________________________________________________

The smell of _____________reminds me of ____________________________________

In our neighborhood lived __________________________________________________

That old photo reminds me that______________________________________________

I’ll always regret that ______________________________________________________

I’ll always hope that _______________________________________________________

Whenever I remember______________, I wish that ______________________________

Since ____________ ended, I _______________________________________________

Looking back, I realize that _________________________________________________

We were friends once ______________________________________________________

It was a silly thing, but _____________________________________________________

I laughed until I cried ______________________________________________________

I stood alone _____________________________________________________________

My last sight of __________ was ____________________________________________

I risked everything ________________________________________________________

I never looked back _______________________________________________________

My dreams reveal _________________________________________________________

When the rain began ____________________________________________________

I learned humility when ____________________________________________________

I learned gratitude from ____________________________________________________

I learned ambition from ____________________________________________________

If I could do it again, I’d ___________________________________________________

My family traces their______________________________________________________

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Writing Prompts

Jessica Morrell ©

“A writer’s problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.”  Ernest Hemingway

  •  Write about a relationship where one of the partners is a sports fanatic.
  • Write about overcoming a bad habit.
  • Write a story about someone who does not know his biological parents.
  • Write about a cooking disaster.
  • Write about a sexual disaster.
  • Write a scene or story where an elderly character is fascinating and alluring.
  • Write a scene or story where a character is hiding his/her true motives.
  • Write a scene or story about a character who has a deformity.
  • Write a story or  essay where someone loses a beloved pet.
  • Write a story or essay where someone gains confidence.
  • Write a scene or story where a dream comes true, but the results are surprising or shattering.
  • Write about a family where a member has been missing for years.
  • Write about a person or character who uses his/her sex appeal to get what he or she wants.
  • Write about a character or person who runs away.
  • Write a scene, story, or essay about a turning point in someone’s life.
  • Write a scene or story where a long-hidden lie shatters the lives of people involved.
  • Write about a funeral or wake.
  • Write a story or scene which features a natural disaster.
  • Write about how a child changes an adult’s outlook
  • Write a story where a character fears commitment.
  • Write a sex scene that is not explicit, but is still sensuous and exciting.
  • Write a scene where a character refuses to believe the ugly truths about another character.
  • Write about a character or person who has acquired hard-won serenity.
  • Write about car that seems to be cursed.
  • Write about how a person’s or character’s opposite traits drive a partner, co-worker, or friend crazy.
  • Write about a wedding where the attendees are unhappy with the union.
  • Write about a wedding where the attendees are thrilled about the marriage.
  • Write a scene or story about someone who is needy or clingy.
  • Write a story or scene where a third party tries to break up a relationship.
  • Write a scene or story where trees or flowers play a prominent role.
  • Write about a person or character who has problems sleeping.
  • Write about a character or person who seems to have lousy luck.
  • Write about a person or character who has terrible personal grooming.

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Writing Practice: ideas to spark your imagination and memory.

© Jessica P. Morrell

List all the jobs you’ve ever worked at. Write about the job that was most difficult, fun or challenging. What did you learn about yourself? What did your misery and disappointments teach you?

Write an action scene where a character encounters an enemy.

Write about an important discovery that you made about how yourself and how you deal with pain, confrontation, or fear.

Write about a family story that has been repeated often. Try telling it from a completely different point of view such as a friend of the family or an ancestor.

Make a list of all your teachers and classmates from your childhood.

Write about a room or house from your childhood, work to make the details come alive.

Write about a time in your life when you were most afraid.

Write a guideline listing the ten essentials qualities of being a real man or real woman.

Write about the worst argument you ever participated in.

Write about what your ideal life. What would it look like if your daily routine, relationships and circumstances were perfect?

Make a list of unanswerable questions.

Write about a relationship or friendship that soured or ended badly.

Write a scene from a time in history that you always wished you had lived in.

Write about an event in your life as if it were a dream, including surrealistic or bizarre aspects.

Write a letter to someone from your past and update them on what has happened in your life in the last few years.

Write a story that begins “I am waiting for the plane to land and….”

Write a story that is narrated solely in dialogue.



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