Take the time to warm up

A Story Mode Writers Room starts with a short writing exercise to shift everyone into creative gear.

1. Choose one of the following prompts.

2. Set a timer for 3 minutes.

3. Have everyone write a long-hand response, keeping pens moving without stopping until time’s up.

If time allows, one or more participants can share. If not, just write, smile, stretch, and move on to the business of workshopping.

1.     “I thought it would be easy.” Describe the first time you did something and discovered it was harder than you thought.


2.     “There I was, flat on my back.” Take that scene and run with it.


3.     “I turned around one last time and saw …” Write whatever comes to mind.


4.     “The first time …” Tell us about a career first. First day, paycheck, first commute, first boss, first big mistake. Be detailed. Take us into that moment.


5.     Make me believe. Tell us a lie and make us believe it’s true.


6.     “It’s [TODAY’S DATE], and I can’t stop thinking about …” Tell us what’s on your mind. Maybe one thing, maybe many. What’s occupying your brain today?


7.     “Smells like …” Write about something you smelled yesterday. Describe it so vividly that we can smell it, too.


8.     “I did it without even thinking.” Describe a moment when you acted on impulse.


9.     “There ought to be a law.” State your case for a new rule or regulation. Should it apply to your team? Your community? The whole world? You decide!


10.  Team tattoo. Big news: everyone on your team is getting the same tattoo! Bigger news: you’re the designer! What should be permanently applied to everyone’s skin? Why?


11.  “I look around the room and realize I don’t know any of these people.” What happens next?


12.  “It was a tough lesson.” Write about that time when you learned a valuable lesson … the hard way.


13.  Animal mash-up. Choose two animals that probably don’t belong together. Imagine they DO get together and generate offspring. Tell us about the resulting creature.


14.  Excuses, excuses. Tell us why you cannot possibly get any work done today.


15.  Help wanted. Pick one task you hate—a job you wish you could avoid at work, at home, or wherever. Now, write an enticing ad to recruit someone else to do that task for you.


16.  “I could have been …” Tell us about the career you might have pursued, if not for the work you do now.


17.  Unusual witness. Scan your surroundings and focus on an object—a clock, pen, chair, whatever. Assuming that object’s voice, describe something that took place recently.


18.  A good cause. A quirky, long-lost relative just left you $1,234.56—not to keep, but to donate to a “really good cause.” Where will you donate, and why?


19.  “I never …” In extraordinary detail, tell us something you never do.


20.  “I can’t live without …” Pick one device, appliance, or object (not a human—a thing) that you consider absolutely essential to your daily existence. Tell us all about it.