Secret Ingredients









Suggestions: read “Spill Theory” before beginning & use a timer that doesn’t annoy you. This series of prompts can be done one at a time (perhaps 10 minutes a day) or in one sitting or “whatever” (as my teenager would say). Likewise, you could give yourself longer periods of time to write each… Enjoy! 


Choose one of the following phrases & write from the first person (“I”) or third person (“She/He”) point of view for 10 minutes:

a secret code
secret ingredients
a secret admirer
a secret compartment
a secret pocket
a secret hiding place
a secret key
family secrets
military secrets
secret lives

Read what you wrote (out loud, if possible). Don’t critique, edit or change it in any way. You have the rest of your life to do that.

Reset your timer for 10 more minutes. Continue exactly where you left off OR switch to the POV you didn’t previously choose.

Read what you wrote (out loud, if possible). Don’t critique, edit or change it in any way.


Choose the strongest sentence/line from either of the above “spills” & rewrite it on a fresh page, as a first line. Write for 10 minutes. Read what you wrote.

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All Things Ekphrastic

Claudia Sperry










In recent weeks, we read Rainer Maria Rilke’s ekphrastic poem, “Archaic Torso of Apollo” & visited Claudia Sperry’s painting studio. Continuing in the tradition of ekphrasis (check out for more info about this tradition), walk through the rooms of your home, noticing any photographs, prints, paintings, wall hangings, postcards, pottery, sculpture, children’s art, stained glass ornaments & etc. Choose one image/object for your writing prompt. You may want to:
1) speak to the image/object
2) allow the image/object to speak
3) write about the history of this image/object—an actual or imagined history of its “birth”
4) write about how this image/object came into your life & your life at the time it did
5) write about various & even contradictory associations you have with this image/object—perhaps associations you have from different points in your life. 
Grab your notebook (& a timer, if you like) & “spill” for 10 minutes (you may want to read “Spill Theory” if you haven’t already).
Read what you wrote out loud, just as we do in workshop, when reading for each other.
Reset your timer & write for 20 minutes:
1) continuing where you left off
2) switching to another one of the above options
3) switching back & forth between #1 & #2, creating a dialogue between the image/object & yourself.
As always, there are no rules—only possibilities! Enjoy…

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