Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday Writing Workout: A "59 REASONS TO WRITE" Warm-up

Jo Knowles’ writing warm-ups are but one of many ways Kate Messner gets teachers walking the walk in her not-to-miss Thumbs Up book 59 Reasons to Write (Stenhouse, 2015).

The author of middle grade and YA novels including READ BETWEEN THE LINES, SEE YOU AT HARRY’S and JUMPING OFF SWINGS, Jo Knowles revved up Teachers Write campers’ engines each Monday with her Writing Warm-ups. 59 Reasons to Write shares many of them with readers, including today’s Wednesday Writing Workout, one of Jo’s favorites.

Jo holds a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and she teaches in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University.  Her awards and honors include NY Times and ALA Notable Book distinctions and the PEN New England Children’s Book Discover Award. 

Thanks to Stenhouse – and – Jo for their permission to present the following warm-up as today’s Wednesday Writing Workout.


Esther Hershenhorn

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A Jo Knowles Warm-up 

One of my favorite exercises to help people get started is to have them describe the kitchen of their childhood.  If you moved around a lot, choose the one that has the strongest memories.  Place your child self in that room.  Now:

What do you see?  Describe the room in as much details as you can remember.

What do you smell? Was yours a kitchen of delicious odors?  Or was it rarely used?  What kinds of foods were cooked?  Did you like them?  Why or why not?

What do you hear?  What kinds of conversations took place in the kitchen, if any?  Were there moments of joy?  Arguing?  Worry? Love?

What do you taste?  What are the strongest tastes you remember?  A morning bowl of cereal? The batter on a spoon? Who made the food?

As you write, you will likely notice a plethora of memories flooding your brain and your heart.  Seize these and write them down.  Describe them in as much detail as you can.  Soon, you will discover a story taking shape.  Grab it!

Jo Knowles

59 Reasons to Write

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