Sunday, June 8, 2008

Prompt writing before she's famous

june 8 2008

Today I suddenly had some flashbacks about a long time ago.
I was referred to a magazine by my Dutch language teacher at school, because he was impressed by my writing.

Before I was admitted as one of the writers I was confronted with a rather strange system I've never experienced anymore:
The main editor would ring me up at 11 in the evening, give me a few words, and requested an article on his doormat as early as 8 in the morning.

Ofcourse I sat down immediately and tried to write something to be in time.
Trying to please him took me away from my sleep, and I dozed of with my head on the table, only to be woken up by the alarm at 7.

Like the words had taken meaning in my sleep, I wrote the article, frantically bicycled through the town to get the product of his wishes on his doormat before 8.

The same evening he called me again at 11, gave me some words, and the same instruction.

I just went to bed, with the alarm on 6.30, wrote the article and threw it on his doormat.

That same evening he called again, but before he said one word I asked him how much he would pay. He laughed and told me to have a nice night of sleep.
The next morning the alarm went of at 6.30, because I'd forgotten to put it later, and I couldn't help myself.
I sat down, wrote an article, and posted it in his mailbox before 8.

He invited me a few days later for a meeting.
He turned out to be the best teacher in journalism I've ever had.

Why he made me write these articles?
To teach me that I could work under stress.
He intended to order me around as long as I didn't stand up against him one way or another, hoping I would ask how much it paid, because he was told by my teacher I wasn't bussiness-like enough.

He and I had a great way of sensing what the other wanted, and we worked for over 10 years with respect for each other.

I came across the blog Before I'm Famous where J. Scott has found a way to train herself in writing stories of 1,000 words maximum.

She asks readers to give her a name, a gender, and a genre so she can write and explore her writing.

Like she says, using some minor prompts are a great way to experiment in writing and discover ones own strong and weak points.

I hope she'll find someone like my head editor: a critical reader who never stops to feed her inspiration and trigger her skills.


  1. That's a wonderful story to tell laane, I learned from this :p

  2. Thank you for sharing these memories. It's great to have a good teacher. And what a great way for your first writing prompts :-)

    I am also a regular reader of Before I am famous. ;-)

  3. HI, my first 2 years in college I had the same professor for three different writing classes. The first time I met him, I liked him but when I turned in my assignments I always recieved lower grades when I thought my work to be better than some of the others. At the end of the semester I wrote a controversial article, took a lot of risks and low be hold I recieved my one and only A. I took creative writing with him and it was the same deal until I wrote one story. It took me awhile to realize how he was pushing me to take risks and become a better writer. I guess he believed there was more to me than just some college student taking some required classes.

    I will blog u back!


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