The View From The Window – writing exercise

There are 40 writing prompts in the latest issue of Writing magazine (a publication which is – temporarily, I hope – on my Naughty List because, for the second month running they haven’t printed any of the articles of mine that they have in stock!).

One of the exercises caught my eye:
‘Write what you can see from your window – but you cannot use the letter ‘e’.’

‘Restrictions create possibilities’, writer Jan Moran Neil adds – and I agree with her. This has been proved many times when I do an exercise with my classes in which we pluck 5 words at random from the dictionary and students are asked to include them all in a piece of writing.

Anyway, I’ve had a go. The view is from my ‘study’ window: next door’s house! Not very inspiring, especially on a day like this…

A gloomy April day. It’s raining and windy. Sky is dull – a dirty dishcloth – with no hint of sun. Daffodils bob, a blossoming willow sways.
That old farm building has an uninviting brown door, a mossy roof, dark windows and crumbling brickwork. But a bright pansy pot adds a touch of colour.
I catch sounds of passing cars, swishing and splashing. It looks damp and cold. A frizzy-hair day. I’ll stay indoors, thank you.

It’s really hard not to use ‘the’! If you have a go – and remember, you can’t use ‘e’, not even once – post the result in the comments below. I’d be interested to see what you come up with.

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17 Responses to The View From The Window – writing exercise

  1. Just realised that the ‘willow’ is actually more like a cherry tree (eeek – 3 e’s there!) and you can’t see the ‘pansy pot’ in the photo – but there is one, honest!

  2. Hi Helen, here’s mine.

    It was a day that had snow, wind and rain, that’s all in a morning. A day that would suit lazing in my pyjamas; not going to work. Slabs look shining and glossy though, it’s a long drought, that’s hung around too long for comfort. Birds splash, hyacinths droop, grass is growing from the sprinkling of husks I tipped around onto soil. Wind blasts pots, scurrying around our yard, hot choc is a good plan.
    It’s quite hard not to use the ‘e’ isn’t it? Didn’t realise how valuable our e is. I checked it twice, and still I had a couple of e’s in there. I think it reads more like a poem without the eeee.

  3. Prue says:

    That’s fantastic. Not an e in sight. It looks odd though, as e is so common.

  4. Prue says:

    Wasn’t sure about length – but I had a go. It almost feels like writing poetry. A great writing exercise – thanks.

    A brick building, soaring skywards. Birds fly up and round all day, circling, calling, singing, drifting. Blackbirds, humming birds, sunbirds, Mynahs.
    A man looks out of his window across the road, watching, staring.
    Why? Who is lurking? Waiting? Will it hurt him, finding truth?
    I watch him watching. Both waiting. Birds circling. Sun against dark clouds.
    All for nothing.

  5. sp56h says:

    Love the description. Here is my little ditty.

    Spit of rain on window,
    brown slats, a boundary
    to land with grass uncut;
    spring growth, lush;
    red tulips – a hot zone today,
    poking a thumb at April’s gloomy sky.

    • Heather – loved it … but a couple of ‘e’s have slipped in! ‘Red’ and ‘zone’ – it’s easily done I know. I ran the ‘find’ on Word, to spot any of mine. Perhaps you could have pink or burgundy tulips instead of ‘red’…?

  6. Tracy Fells says:

    This is an excellent exercise in pushing yourself out of the comfort zone, forcing you to explore different words – mine is still in progress. This reminded me of a short story from Carol Shields’ excellent (and funny) collection of stories ‘Dressing up for the carnival’. I can’t remember the title but the story is about a writer whose typewriter is missing 2 vowel keys – so she types her story without them. The pages of the story look odd and you quickly realise that the story has also been written without the 2 vowels ( I think i and e were missing).

  7. JohnY says:

    Looking out through my warm windows today
    watching April rains soak thirsty dry ground
    light plum blossom wind blown foxtrot and sway
    Damsons from Damascus old Romans found,

    My Russian pal Ivan visits by bus
    to try out our Slivovitz, our girls frown,
    this slow mashing plum fruit, no duty for us
    but our burning hot throats croak, distil down,

    No driving tonight, Ivans car stays put
    Slavic plum gin strong as mad charging Ram
    tasting proof is important to us, But
    our girls say this Augusts plums only for Jam !!

    …My window mirrors my thinking within
    …Would Arabs springs uncoil drinking plum Gin ?

  8. Maggie May says:

    I think this is a brilliant writing exercise and I’m going to introduce it to our writers’ group. Thankyou.

  9. Glad so many of you enjoyed this – although, I must say again, that I got the exercise from Writing Magazine – and there are plenty more in there this month!! But we’ll do another one again soon. And I’m planning a book giveaway soon too, so watch this space!

  10. Many thanks for the acknowledgement – and I hope the other 39 exercises in Writing Magazine help. Jan Moran Neil and – prizes for spotting the intentional fib each bi-month.

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