Writing Prompt: Strange Stress Coping Mechanisms

By Marilyn Friedman and Alana Saltz

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a crazy week. I just returned from a slow paced weekend in the Bay Area visiting family and have been thrust into the vortex of too much work. Yesterday, I devoured a whole party size bag of gummy bears to cope with my anxiety, and oddly, it calmed me down. The writing prompt at the bottom of this blog post is inspired by my strange way of dealing with stress.

Another way that I stop myself from stressing out is sitting down to write. Luckily, I live in a writing school so I have ample opportunities to create a productive, inspiring writing structure for myself. Join me starting this Tuesday, March 5th, and turn your past heartbreaks into a hefty paycheck. Check out Hookups, Breakups and Miss Connections: Writing the Relationship Essay with Margaret Wappler (Editor of Dame Magazine, LA Times, Rolling Stone)! There are so many places to get essays about relationships published like Modern Love, LA Affairs, and Nerve.

I’m also very excited that next weekend award-winning mystery author David Corbett (Done for A Dime, The Art of Character) will be traveling from the Bay Area and joining us at the Pad for two fantastic classes. Developing Characters That Work for Fiction (Sat., March 9) will teach you how to craft compelling characters instead of plot puppets. And in The Spine of the Crime: Structure and Crime Story (Sun., March 10), you’ll learn the crucial elements of the major crime story types, a character-and-theme driven approach, and develop a mini outline for your tale!

You also won’t want to miss our panel on Fri., March 8th, Crime Scene Confidential: Writing the Belivable Mystery. Not only will I be serving my famous sangria (another great way to cope with stress in moderation), but this event will feature uber writers David Corbett, James Scott Bell (Plot & Structure, Deceived) and Bill Rabkin (“Monk,””Psych”). Get the scoop on the real life cases that inspired their crime stories and learn how to infuse your tales with suspense!

Below are a ton of fabulous class options below as well as a free writing prompt! See you soon.

Note: classes with an asterix (*) will be held at our new, posh Westside location in Westwood!


Fiction, Memoir, and Romance
Memorable Memoir Bootcamp: Make Your True Tales Thrilling
 Journalism, Personal Essay and Web Writing

Personal Essay Clinic*

What Do You Think? Writing the Op-Ed or Cultural Essay*
Getting to “Like”: Crafting A Compelling Blog
Query Letter Clinic: Writing The Pitch That Sells Your Story

Playwriting and Writing for Actors
The You Show: A Solo Performance Intensive
Get Into Character: A Character Monologue Workshop 
Storytelling Bootcamp: A Spoken Workout

Screenwriting
Dr. Ed’s Development Bootcamp: Crafting Your Webisode Calling Card (1 DAY)*
Dr. Eds Development Bootcamp: The Ten Page Workout*

Writing Prompt:
The way a character deals with stress can say a lot about who he or she is as a person. Make a list of three unusual ways you or your fictional character deals with stress. Perhaps you’re like me and eat an entire bag of candy. Maybe you are like Mr. Writing Pad and enjoy winding down by compulsively cleaning the stove. Or you might be like Writing Pad Instructor Monica Holloway (Cowboys and Wills), who maxed out her credit card at the pet store buying a new hamster or puppy whenever she felt stressed and overwhelmed.

Pick one of your stress coping mechanisms. Now add a sensory detail to the activity (e.g. smell, sound, touch, taste). Write for 10 minutes about you or your character doing this activity and include the sensory detail. Make sure to include the event or circumstance that caused your last gummy bear binge, cleaning frenzy or shopping spree. When you are finished, post your story in the comments of this blog!

Don’t forget: share the results of your 10 minute write in the comments of this blog to be entered in the contest for a free class!