Friday, July 1, 2011

The Concept.

A few years ago I read Stephen King’s On Writing, which I recommend to anyone with any passing interest in writing. King’s basic advice is this: If you want to be a good writer, you have to read a lot, and you have to write a lot.

Since then, I’ve certainly done a lot of both reading and writing—but almost entirely for the sake of academia. When dreaming about my future, I’ve always wondered how writing will play a part. Will it be my job? Hobby? Claim to fame? Some day I’d love to teach high school English, and I’ve had fantasies about what my syllabus would look like. But my ultimate lesson plan was this: The Friday 500. Every week, my students would turn in 500 words of original writing on anything they wanted. Naturally, certain parameters would keep the smart-alecks from turning in 500 words of, “I’m looking at a tree. Now at a desk. Am I at 500 words yet?” They’d need a topic, or at least a cohesive theme, and I would outlaw the word “very”. Other than that, it could be fiction or non-fiction; it could be an individual product each week or part of an all-encompassing work. For kids struggling to come up with something to write, I’d have a fishbowl filled with paper slips of ideas.

As you’ll find below and in the Archive to the right side, I kept a blog while in Oxford but quit upon returning to the States. To start again, I need some kind of purpose or challenge, one that will stretch me as a writer, but that will also be enjoyable for my readers. If I’m serious about wanting to be a writer, I need to get serious about writing.

The idea: Why don’t I be my own writing student? If theoretical 16-year-olds could turn in 500 words every week, so could I.

The catch: I need a fishbowl of ideas. I want people to enjoy reading my blog, and what better way to do that than to ask you what you want to read? I’m asking you to send me your challenge for the Friday 500.  It could be a topic you want to know more about—I’ll do the necessary research and come up with 500 words on the basics of the topic. You could ask me my opinion on something (current event, book, movie, fashion fad), and I’ll give it to you. You could challenge me to a short story or personal anecdote.

Whatever you want to read, I’ll write. I promise you at least 500 words every Friday.

Leave your challenge in the comments section, or get in touch with me at melodyrowell [at] or on Facebook.  You could send this link to a few people who could have good material to throw at me. But even if I don’t hear from anyone, I’ll continue to write 500 words every week—your help will just make this much more interesting for everyone.

You can find King’s On Writing here.


  1. 500 words about your favourite film ever and why it is? I would also request that you effectively incorporate the word 'fallacious' into your response and try not to make it as lewd as I'd expect from someone such as yourself. I also invite you to guess who posted this. x

  2. What would you tell a high school senior is the most important about life?

  3. In this day of texting, instant messaging, cell phones, Skype, and all other forms of instant communication, what is the value of writing someone a personal letter?

  4. What would Stephen King do if you hit on him?

  5. -What are possible cures for post-graduation ennui?

    -Ways to amuse oneself while working at crappy desk jobs

    -A personal bucket list

    -Best day of your life

    -Worst day of your life

    -Any story about sharing a bathroom with a 7-year-old boy...there has to be something good there.

  6. Stephen King, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Fry, Hamlet, and yer mum are locked in the Burrow. Something dreadful is outside. What happens?

  7. The history of advertising

  8. Cuddle, Marry, Tranquilize, Dress up like Little Bo-Peep. William Barns-Graham, Ross Jones-Morris, Oliver Sheerin and Oli Watson. Choices and why.

  9. Did you vote for Obama and if not is it because you are a racist?

  10. What is your moral standpoint on hummus?

  11. Find a way to write about
    -The history of kisses.
    - sex in the media.
    -The place of curse and slang-words in our contemporary vocabulary.

  12. In addition to my other recommendations:
    - Things you would tell your 13/16-year-old self (you pick which age you would prefer.
    - Why Ron Weasley is a better choice than Harry Potter.
    - Your review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
    - If you had to choose between Ron, Jim, and Booth who would you choose and why?
    - Favorite camp memory.
    - What do you miss most about living in Europe now that you are in the States.
    - What did you miss most about living in the States when you were in Europe?
    - Where/who/what is home to you?
    - "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Write 500 words about what makes you come alive.
    - The book that has had the most impact on your life.
    - Write 100 words about 5 people that are close to you.
    - If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would it be?