What’s an “Elbow”?



Nothing gets your attention, or prompts a reaction, like a sharp elbow jab. Whether you’re being jostled by a crowd, roughed up in a sporting match, or getting an emphatic signal from a spouse, friend, or your mother, an elbow jab instantly alters your awareness.

Imagine giving your writing muse such a jab and you’ll have a sense of my new nudge form, the “Elbow.” An Elbow is a fast nudge without set-up, explanation, or directions. I’ll throw one your way, and you write. Simple as that.

I don’t like to make up rules, but here are some simple approaches to making an Elbow work for you: Don’t think too much, just write. Don’t try to make too much sense of the statement or decide how to approach it. Simply get the words down, even if they’re gibberish. Keep your response brief. The idea is to get a flash of inspiration into writing, then put it aside for awhile. You might want to keep a notebook just for Elbow notes. Let some time pass before you re-read one of your responses and you may be startled at what you find.

You could also use Elbows for timed writings of no more than a minute or two. The combination of a short, even surprising prompt and compressed response time can create a stimulating jump-start to your writing session or a cool-down when you’ve been working intensely on something else. Elbows can be fun in group situations as well.

I’ll try to post at least two Elbows each week. Here’s today’s Elbow:

Paint a face on the sun.

Start writing!

UPDATE: I’m finding that posting “elbows” individually is pretty piecemeal. From now on, I’m going to start a single post for a month’s elbow prompts, adding new ones to the same post and doing “What’s New?” updates to check that page.

This post serves as the May/June 2011 “elbows.” I’ll start a new post for July.

May/June 2011 Elbow Prompts

Paint a face on the sun.

Flower petals tumbled among the flags.

Just because it’s June…




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