Writing Exercise: First-Person Singular



Here is a new writing exercise that I used today in a workshop I led. The resulting pieces were quite beautiful. Enjoy and feel free to post comments or pieces!

“In the ethos of Mohawk culture, as in its language, ‘I’ cannot stand on its own—the first-person singular is always part of a relationship. So you don’t say,’I am sick.’ ‘The sickness,’ in Mohawk, ‘has come to me.'”

– Judith Thurman, ‘A Loss for Words,’ The New Yorker, March 30, 2015

With this concept as a starting point, could you begin a personal piece without letting the first person singular stand on its own?

Try not to shy away from a personal subject or experience, but also try not to filter it through the ‘I.’

Give yourself about twenty minutes to do this one.


Here’s the original, and beautiful, article this quote comes from.

Possible Futures


Feeling a little stuck? Confused as to where your narrative is going? Not sure what to do next? Not sure which door to open?

Try this.

Take out a notebook, pad, or paper and something to write with. Give yourself thirty minutes. Write down a list of ten possible futures for yourself. Don’t get too fancy – a few sentences on each one will do. Go as far as you want into the future – be as abstract or specific as you want. Use magical realism, surrealism, win the lottery and decide what to do with the money, use a time machine. The laws of physics and nations do not apply.

The first three will probably be quite easy to come up with. Don’t forget you’ve given yourself a time limit so keep going! You won’t think you can come up with ten, but you can.

I did this exercise and although my list was interesting, it wasn’t compelling. But the next day, I woke up with #11, which is compelling, daunting, and most importantly, fitting. Sometimes we have to clear our own clutter of expectations and pressures to get to what is profoundly tempting and motivating.

Let me know how it goes!

BONUS: If you are a writer, you can try this exercise for individual characters in your story or for your whole narrative!

A reminder that anything is possible:


For information on E. Amato’s writing and editorial services, coaching and consultations click here.


Creativity Exercise – Movie Trailer of Your Life


radio-studio-microphoneSo, this one is a little fun and silly.

It also gets to the same things as the transition and goal-setting, as in, where are you going and where have you been.

Basically, you’re going to write the voice over for the movie trailer of your life. The script for the narration of the trailer of the movie that would be made about your life.

You know, like:

“In a world where people have forgotten how to knit, she makes the bold move of opening an etsy for her handmade goods…”

Okay, maybe that’s not your life, but something is your life. And you’re going to encapsulate for a captive audience wondering whether they still have time to get popcorn.

Try for two or three short paragraphs.

And for fun… we’re going to pick some genres! Here’s how the game works. You pick a number from 1 – 32 and then look at the list below to get your genre! No cheating/no peaking.

The genre is to add mood, style, and tone. It may seem inappropriate or impossible to work with, but make it work. Find a way to make it work for your story. You may find out things about yourself and your life you didn’t know.

Feel free to add genres to the list or choose two if you like cross-genre movies.





  1. Thriller
  2. Whodunit
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Screwball Comedy
  5. Noir
  6. Horror
  7. Epic
  8. Farce
  9. Sex Comedy
  10. Slasher
  11. American Independent
  12. British Independent
  13. Coming of Age
  14. Historical Drama
  15. Melodrama
  16. Gangster
  17. Family Drama
  18. War movie
  19. Biopic
  20. Action/Adventure Movie
  21. Literary Adaptation
  22. Auteur Movie
  23. Caper movie
  24. French New Wave
  25. Neo-Realist Cinema
  26. Disney Movie
  27. Anime
  28. Pixar Movie
  29. Monster /Creature
  30. Zombie
  31. Political Satire
  32. Road Movie

For an additional variable, you can choose a number from 1 – 14 and get a time frame for you movie.

  1. Now
  2. Ten years from now
  3. After your death
  4. Before your birth
  5. When you were age 9
  6. If you were born 100 years from now and are the age you are now
  7. If you were born 300 years earlier, but are the age you are now
  8. Your college years (or equivalent time)
  9. Your high school years
  10. Twenty-something
  11. Thirty-something
  12. Forty-something
  13. Thirty years from now

Again – feel free to add some more to the list.

Try doing the exercise more than once, with different genres and times — it may reveal different aspects of your life, dreams, goals, and personality.

And make sure to read the voice over you’ve written in that special movie trailer voice over voice we all know and love – maybe play some music in the background!

Have fun! This one is for fun!

For information on E. Amato’s writing and editorial services, coaching and consultations click here.

Goal Activation Exercise: “I don’t want to…because…”



Feeling blocked around a creative or work project, or something on your endless to-do list?

It happens. Totally. It’s happening now. To me. To the person next to you. To your cousin.

Try this exercise. Instead of fighting the task or letting it ring round in your head with non-starts and guilt, possibly along with a host of other things you don’t want to do, confront it.

Get some paper and a pen. At the top write:

I don’t want to….because….

Then simply fill in the blanks. Name the thing you don’t want to do or start, and then write all of the objections — rational, irrational, absurd, truthful, painful — you’ve been harboring toward that task..

If you’ve got resistance to more than one task or project, go ahead and write on them all.

When you’re done, take some time to breathe, meditate, go about your day – don’t make yourself touch those tasks (although if writing down the objections makes you suddenly see through to doing it, so much the better!).

As a follow-up exercise, once you are feeling deactivated around the objections you expressed, go back to each item and ask the following:

Is this still a good thing to do?


Write your answers. See if movement starts to occur with your goals. See if any of the goals themselves are out-dated or no longer relevant. If so, let them go and stick with the ones that are still useful.

For information on E. Amato’s writing and editorial services, coaching and consultations click here.

Letter to the Future – A Visioning Exercise



How is 2015 going? Having trouble getting checked into our goals? Finding blocks to envisioning the future you want to create?

This exercise can help. We did this one once in The Wednesday Ladies, a creativity group, and I found it very helpful in removing limits.

Write a letter — to yourself, your bestie, partner, sister, brother – whoever you are most likely to want to open up to — and date it FIVE YEARS FROM TODAY. Yes, a letter written five years from now, telling the addressee about your life – where you live, who you live with, who you love, what you are doing. Project yourself into that future you in the day to day. Find out who you are going to be.

Enjoy and don’t think too much!


For information on E. Amato’s writing and editorial services, coaching and consultations click here.

11 Questions to a Better 2015

Almost the new year...what's your plan?

Almost the new year…what’s your plan?

Visioning  often feels like a luxury. This time before the close of the year can be slow – take some of it for yourself – set priorities and goals, get yourself checked-in to the new year and how you would like it to unfold. Life is life – it might not go the way you want it to when you want it to, but it definitely won’t go in the direction you want if you don’t choose a direction and cleave to it.

You can do these as timed free writes, if you like. Give yourself 3-5 minutes for each. Or just write on each until you don’t have anything left to say. You can do them in a few sessions – don’t pressure yourself out of doing them!

Put on some music, close a door, sit back, and be real with yourself.

  1. What do I like about my life right now?
  2. What interests me, excites me, brings pleasure or fills my emotional bank account?
  3. Where in my life am I doing these things?
  4. What am I grateful for?
  5. What are the most significant changes, accomplishments, shifts in my perspective, etc. from where I was a year ago?
  6. What would I really like to see happen in my life in the next 12 months?
  7. Based on the big picture of the last 12 months (the last year) how would I like my life to look different 90 days from now?
  8. What change between now and then would make a huge difference to me?
  9. What are the most important things the person I want to become is doing?
  10. In which areas of my life do I most want to focus my time, energy, and efforts over the next 90 days?
  11. What opportunities are available to me now that might not have been possible before?

For information on E. Amato’s writing and editorial services, coaching and consultations click here.