Writing Prompt: Ten Minutes of Terrible—A Purge

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Prompt
Spend ten minutes writing the most terrible piece of creative writing you can possibly come up with.

Rationale
This prompt serves several purposes. First, it is meant to be an early semester ritual of sorts, a way to purge so-called “bad writing” from our system so that we can achieve our goals this semester. It also can be really fun and challenging to attempt to write something bad, as it is not something you are asked to do. Finally, permitting ourselves to write something truly awful can give us the permission to lower our standards as writers, which the poet William Stafford claimed was a way to overcome writer’s block.

For Later
1) Analyze your piece of writing truly terrible. See if you can determine the source for why you deem the writing poor—a certain book you disliked that you’re imitating, teachings about writing practices you’ve been taught to avoid during your academic career, etc. Do you think the horribleness of the writing come from aspects of craft, the style, the topic, or the theme? Or something else?

2) Chance at redemption: Come up with a plan to turn your bad piece of writing into something worth working on. Can you revise what you wrote? Expand it? Use part of your writing to lead you in a different direction?

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