Writer’s Digest‘s prolific blogroll introduced a new feature a couple of months ago: Promptly, a blog updated three times a week with writing exercises to get the juices flowing. I started digging around in the relatively recent archives and discovered a prompt centered around words that have already been written—and published: “Pull a random, seemingly unimportant, out-of-context line from a book, and use it as prompt fodder.”
I did this with A Thousand Acres, the book that inspired me to be a writer. I wasn’t about to page throughout my four-hundred-word copy looking an inspirational line, so I used a random number generator to select pages for me. On the second page it sent me to, I found this:
I don’t know why I was surprised to discover everything changed, since it was obvious in retrospect that I had sought to change it.
As one of my mentors says, when you’re ready, go to the page and write what needs to be written.