I encourage my students to use character sketches. It’s a simple worksheet with questions about your character’s details - age, height, best friend, favorite food, first job, nervous habit, etc. They can be a great resource for deciding how your character would react, what they would be wearing, and keeping track of how old they were at certain flashbacks.

There are plenty of character sketch worksheets available with a google search. Pick your favorite and use it. Here is a link to one example, but I like to tweak and add my own questions.

Be Scared - It's Good for You

In our happy culture, we sometimes shy away from things that are scary and focus on staying happy. But there is now research that suggests being a little bit scared or stressed makes us stronger. Challenges bring about greater satisfaction, pride in self and help us find purpose. Talking to a new neighbor can be hard but lead to a new friendship. Signing up for tap lessons may feel silly and ridiculous, but just the thing you need to re-energize and let loose.

Have you done something outside of your comfort zone lately? Is there a challenge that scares you but excites you?


According to Aristotle, we are what we repeatedly do. Our small habits are what make us. Who do you want to be? Is there something you want to change or tweak? It starts by making small changes with habits. If we wish we were healthy eaters, that starts with smaller changes. Make it a habit to food prep on weekends, make it a habit to eat protein for breakfast to stave off hunger, make it a habit to carry healthy snacks. Change the habit of driving past your favorite bakery. Change the habit of buying chips. Find the habits, change them.

What is a bad habit you would like to change? Can you break it down into smaller steps? Can you replace some smaller habits with better ones?


We all have our faults and bad habits. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, these faults are what make our characters believable and relatable. These faults are physical and emotional - examples are small ears, knuckle cracking, impatient, always wears inappropriate shoes.

Have fun making a list of bad habits and faults. This list could be pages long! Save it for your next writing assignment and make sure to include some type of faults.


Statistics don’t lie! And they all say we should be more grateful. Gratitude improves our self esteem and our outlook. When we count our blessings, we tend to look at the world through a positive lens, which attracts more positive things to come.

Take a few minutes to list what you are grateful for. Start simple, like a bullseye. Breath. Air. Legs. Health. Dishwasher. Car. Family. Messy house. Mountains outside my home.

Move to bigger things. Freedom. Democracy. God. Faith.

Keep adding to your list throughout the week. Or take a minute to read your list every morning.

Sifting through the Busy-ness

Being busy has become a problem. We are super-women, we try to do it all. But sometimes, are we doing too much at the expense of ourselves? If your life was a company, as CEO would you try and cut some waste? Would you refocus some efforts? Would you outsource more?

Take some time to think about your past week or a recent busy period. What were some time-wasters? Were all of your activities worthwhile? Were there things you don’t need to spend time researching so thoroughly? Were there things that you did out of guilt versus desire? Could you trade the extra $10 to save on gas and time to shop closer/more conveniently? Could you occasionally pay a service fee for additional time?


My favorite thing to teach in creative writing classes is show vs. tell for emotions. This always leads to a really fun game of emotion charades. For this writing prompt, you can use a friend, your kids, or yourself with a mirror.  Pick four or five emotions and list all of the body language traits associated with those emotions. Watch your friends/kids mimic emotions while you guess what they are feeling.

Example - angry.  Their eyebrows form a deep V, they narrow their eyes, they clench their teeth or their fists, they stomp.

Next time you write, instead of saying someone was angry, use these descriptions to depict their emotions.


Detail is an important aspect of any type of writing. Detail makes our sentences powerful and provides description necessary for readers to visualize your words.

Revisit something you have recently written - a FB post, email, report, etc. Find general words like "great" or "a lot" and replace them with a descriptive phrase instead. Why was it great? How much is a lot? If you keep repeating, you can build a very descriptive paragraph.

1. The lunch was great. 

2. The lunch was colorful and delicious, and a lot of friends were there.

3. We had lunch in the kitchen where the table was decorated with colorful zinnias cut fresh from the garden. There was a buffet set up on the island with sandwiches and salads. The pear and walnut salad was delicious, it had an apple cider vinaigrette with a little bit of kick. I had a chance to catch up with a few girls from my old book club and I sat next to a new neighbor who just moved in next door.




Food is all about our senses - how the dish looks, smells, tastes, and feels.  Practice incorporating all of the senses in your writing. Try describing a favorite dinner or lunch that you made. What do the ingredients look like? How did it smell when cooking or eating? How did it feel when you were chopping or pouring or working with the ingredients? What tastes can you pick out and describe? What textures can you pick out and describe either in your mouth or on the plate? How did it sound when you were cooking or biting into it?


The number of community volunteers is dropping, coincidentally at the same time we are being prompted to learn to say no and set boundaries. While boundaries are important, volunteers are also critical to successful schools and communities. But that does not mean that you have to say yes to everything and overextend yourself. Make a list in order of importance of activities that you feel are important to you and your community.  Make a list of your strengths as a volunteer. What are you good at?  What brings you joy? What is easy for you to do?  Can you reach out and secure those one or two positions now?