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Writing Prompts and more for At-Home Writers: Friday edition

In the coming weeks, Literary Arts will be posting writing prompts and other news from our teachers and other writers in our community. Today’s writers are Shaindel Beers, Rick Moody, and Jay Ponteri.


Shaindel Beers is a 2020 Oregon Book Award finalist in poetry for her book Secure Your Own Mask. She shared the following prompt:

“One of my favorite writing prompts is one I learned from Kathy Fish. Choose three scientific facts randomly. Now, write a piece of flash fiction where each fact is the beginning of a new section, used to drive the narrative. “

After you’ve composed your own story, here is one of Shaindel’s recently published stories inspired from this prompt.

Shaindel also has this recommendation: “Be sure to check out the hashtag #InternationalPoetryCircle on Twitter, and upload a reading of one of your poems or read a poem by a poet you admire. ”

Here is a link to Shaindel’s #InternationalPoetryCircle reading.


Rick Moody is the author of several books, including The Ice Storm, and The Long Accomplishment: A Memoir of Struggle and Hope in Matrimony. He is also one of the 2020 Oregon Book Award judges in fiction. He shared the following prompt:

“I like to give assignments where people adapt old folkloric material into modern stories. One good way to do this is to go look of folkloric motifs from Stith Thompson’s  Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Choose a motif found there and try to write a modern story that makes use of it. Extra credit for finding ways to use two or three of these motifs in a story. “


Jay Ponteri is the Director of a Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing at PNCA and an Oregon Book Award winner for his book, Wedlocked. He teaches memoir and nonfiction at Literary Arts.

He shared this with us about writing:

“I might be biased, but I think writing is the best art medium to bear witness—most closely, with the most complexity. It might have to do with the directness of language, the flexibility of language as a material. I’m also aware of how the novel coronavirus pandemic has altered my body. My anxiety has increased, fear too—difficult feelings from which to make a writing practice. So I tell myself to lower the stakes. I am keeping a diary of fragments. I make it a goal to write one fragment per day. To help myself feel more grounded amidst the other difficult feelings passing through me, I structure the diary in this way:

  • Dream
  • Observation
  • Memory
  • Story

And I do them in order, one per day. Today I wrote an Observation:

In my building’s lobby I overhear my neighbor speaking on the telephone, saying “The store pretty much had everything. I bought a case of ramen.”

Jay’s reading list:

We’ll be back soon with more updates on writers and writing prompts. Let us know how you’re doing, and how your writing is going.
Email Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org.

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