Author Archives: csandage

“If You Sing That A Lot”: A Recipe for Writers

If you want to write, stop worrying about not being able to write, or what to write, or what not to write. Give up not having enough time. Not being good enough. Not being young or old enough. Stop obsessing about … Continue reading

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Prompts for Writer’s Block

In response to comments from a few workshop participants about challenges they’re hitting up against in the writing process, here are a dozen prompts for days when you’re bored with what you’re writing or not liking your work, generally feeling stuck or asking yourself who … Continue reading

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When I Was Born

Below is a list of prompts inspired by the memoir I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb (Little, Brown 2013) 1. Write in first person as a character, or as … Continue reading

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A Good Knife and Chocolate

En route to a warmer climate for winter vacation, you end up stranded on a desert island paradise for 1 year. I know, that may sound rather inviting right about now. What 3-7 sentimental objects from your home would you most want/miss/be … Continue reading

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“Learn to Sail with Your Dad” & Other Family Recipes

When I read Melissa Queen’s “Learn to Sail with Your Dad” over at Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, I enjoyed the way in which it’s genre-transgressive, appears in numbered sections (which could be ordered in several different ways), and speaks to “you”—always an intriguing choice.  To … Continue reading

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When You Are Most Yourself

Here’s a powerful yet brief poem and the related writing prompt that I offered at a one-day writing retreat held last week at a private home in lovely Becket, Massachusetts. This poem is from the anthology Poetry 180: A Turning Back … Continue reading

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The Portrait Prompt

                                                                                                                                                          Concept: create a portrait of yourself as— a solo character, or a character in a specific relationship, or a character in a particular family or community Strategy: describe a painting, drawing, or photograph—of you alone, with another, or in a … Continue reading

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Love’s Errand

(“Love’s Errand” by American artist Elisabeth Moss) I was hungry for painting—for thick, textural layers of color—and so I invited the artist Elisabeth Moss to visit one of my writing workshops with some of her recent work. She brought five works-in-progress and displayed them throughout the space. As participants arrived, … Continue reading

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Risking (Versus Ranting)

O. Span. arriscar, to venture into danger “Risking” is based on a writing prompt that poet Edwina Trentham brought to her recent Hill-Stead Museum workshop on the challenge of writing political poetry. Thank you to Edwina for graciously agreeing to share this strategy with readers of Write Like a River. … Continue reading

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The Closet Artist

     1) Write in the voice of one of the two girls portrayed in the photograph—as the girl, or as the grown woman looking back at the photo of her childhood. 2) Write in the voice of a woman who observes … Continue reading

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A Girl’s Motto Is…

                                I created a list of sentence beginnings that appear in Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Notice how deceptively simple yet loaded they … Continue reading

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Returning Home

                Here are two writing prompts inspired by my reading of Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River. This rare image is from the cover of her first Aventura Edition (1985) that I’ve enjoyed since college. I was surprised to realize … Continue reading

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Ten Again & In A Tent

Excerpt from Nikky Finny’s “Resurrection of the Errand Girl: An Introduction” “Not a girl any longer, she is capable of her own knife-work now. She understands sharpness & duty. She knows what a blade can reveal & destroy. She has … Continue reading

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Writing While Walking

Yesterday, I needed to write. And I needed to walk. Thinking I could write in the late afternoon, after the sun slid behind the mountain, I put on my boots and filled a small pack with water, dried mango, an extra … Continue reading

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The Secret Life of Images

I’m reading Traveling with Pomegranates, Sue Monk Kidd’s travel memoir that she co-wrote with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. Although she’d never written a novel, part of the narrative is about Kidd’s experience of being “pregnant” with The Secret Life … Continue reading

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Remembering Summer’s Opium

                        1) To continue the theme of writing about photos from childhood, read David Trinidad’s poem titled “9773 Comanche Ave.” Here’s a direct link to where the poem lives within … Continue reading

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Voice & the Old Photo

Opal in Texas, 1929                 I’ve been reading Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir by Sue William Silverman. Yes, I’m referring you to Sue’s work once again; no, she’s not paying me. I studied with Sue in graduate … Continue reading

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A Rare Opportunity

              During the recent holidays, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life yet again with my wife and daughter. I love the proposition at its core: imagine you’ve been given a rare opportunity to see … Continue reading

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The Secret Life of a Black Shoebox

              I have a black shoebox in which I keep a random assortment of items: my father’s baby shoes; a silver cigarette case and lighter he brought back from Vietnam to give to my … Continue reading

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They Don’t Make Submission Guidelines Like They Used To

              The following prompt was adapted directly from the submission guidelines of the intriguing online journal Defunct: A Literary Repository for the Ages.   Write about something that has had its day: defunct magazines, defunct technologies, … Continue reading

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