Both Butler and Shortridge are currently on Fall break until the start of next week. While all of us probably needed some rest, I know that our team is ready to get back to Shortridge. And despite the fact that the most meaningful thing we do there is develop relationships with the students, we all also look forward to hearing the work that the students (and sometimes the mentors) produce at the end of the day. But how do they do it? Surely they can’t all just have amazing amounts of creativity just oozing from their overactive adolescent imaginations all the time, right?

Turns out that the answer is yes. Whether it’s a short story, a poem, an essay, or even a collaborative rap, these students always manage to produce some really astounding work. Sometimes, however, they just need a little jumpstart. That’s where we come in.

Every day one of our graduate assistants brings an exercise to help get some ideas flowing. Although most of them focus on poetry, they are all generally meant to be used for all genres of writing. What comes out of the prompts ranges from the profoundly heartbreaking to the intensely cerebral and from lyrical wordplay to just pure hilarity.


And most of the time, the work is a result of the prompt; a lot of the results of the prompts can be seen at the Exclusive Ink website. If you’re interested in a collection of writing prompts and exercises, check out our new Writing Exercises tab, where you can find a bank of some of the prompts we’ve used in the past. Try them yourself or with others – a lot leave room for collaboration.

Inevitably, however, some of our students already have ideas of their own and want to work independently on their own projects, and of course, we don’t mind at all. We encourage them to pursue their endeavors in any way that gets them to express themselves while at the same time learning valuable skills in communication and creative thinking.

Here’s are a couple results of some more independent projects from a couple of our veteran students – and poetry contest winners – Zuri and Paula:

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We love all of the student work, and we love coming up with new exercises to help create a spirit of community in writing, and yet we also know that exercises aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even if the exercise doesn’t necessarily fit their taste, I guess there are always sandwiches.


Contributed by Luke Wortley