free-form writing frenzy #3: creative mistakes

creative mistakes

today’s writing prompt is:

i create problems for myself just so i can get creatively turned on.

ha! this is for you, ray [a lawyer i worked for back in the eighties]. numbers here, numbers there, tumbling all over the place and rarely getting to their assigned seat. number monkeys. taxes unpaid. misspellings. words misheard. it took me years to realize that apart from the fact that i was and still am simply addle-brained (my friend pete quily would say i’m ADD-le brained) (nothing french about that) i also need creative freedom. so if i don’t have it, i will make it. page too white? i’ll add some white-out. law practice going too smoothly? i’ll find some shiny stones to throw on the path. look how they glitter! look how they sun themselves in the light of my “mistakes”. aaah, that was good. that’s what i said after a particularly glaring mistake – only i couldn’t hear it and you couldn’t either. all we could hear was the cacophony of misunderstanding, the screech of logic that planted itself squarely in our path, demanding ransom. “why would you do that?” would you say, would i say, and logic would be happy. yes, that’s a logical question. and then, “how will we prevent it next time?” and logic would be happy again because that’s the next step. only they were the wrong questions, so we could never answer them satisfactorily.

that’s a nice word, by the way: satisfactorily. a little hard to type. oh, and then there was this coworker who would type and type and type with the dictaphone on and daydream while she did it and hardly make a mistake. wow. so impressive. and then another one who said, disdainfully, “i don’t make mistakes”. wow, again. how do you not make mistakes? mis-takes? takes are too boring. there needs to be an over-take, and under-take, a between-take, a take-out, a take-over, a takedown, and all kinds of japanese words that start with take-. the mistake is just the beginning. and so i let my mistake monkey out once in a while because otherwise i would explode, not knowing that what i needed was to cre-ate. mis-take. cre-take. mis-ate. again, how japanese this all looks! that i didn’t know back then either, that i would end up with so much japanese in my life.


for those of you who want to know what this is about, here is elizabeth’s post:

this is the third post in a free-form writing frenzy productivity experiment.

each afternoon for a week i’ll post a writing prompt and some simple instructions. the next morning i’ll post a quote that has something to do with the prompt, so you can take a peek at differences or similarities in how someone else relates to the same thing. some relationships will be predictable or subtle, some off the wall.

make a mental note now, and again after writing. ask yourself:

  • am i productive?
  • am i encouraged?
  • am i creative?
  • am i curious?


  1. be ready to write, word processor open, or pad and pencil in hand. set a timer for five minutes.
  2. clear your mind.
  3. click “reveal writing prompt” below, and look at the prompt for the space of one deep, quiet breath.
  4. as you start the second breath, clear your mind of expectations.
  5. write, full on, whatever comes to you, related to the prompt or not, for five minutes. do not stop to correct anything – just go.
  6. when the time is up, you have to stop.
  7. get up and wiggle. yes, that’s what i said. move. laugh. growl. pat self on back.

you’re welcome to leave comments about the experience and anything that comes of it, including links, but please don’t paste in your entire prompt-generated exercise. what you’ve got right now is a personal thing. what happens next is up to you.

image by m-c


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