One of my favorite things to do with my girls is to go on a writing date with them. They don’t get much creative writing time in school and they love writing, but it doesn’t work as well for us to write at home. Too many distractions, especially screens. So, we head on a writing adventure. This is the best kind of special time, a way to share and a way to listen. Here are five fun writing experiments I’ve done with my girls.

1. Subway/Bus Vignettes: You go for a ride on the subway and as people come on and off, you try to write a description of someone who catches your eye. It has to be complete in two stops, no editing, just letting the pen fly. If you live in a big city, this is obviously easier, but you can do it on a bus too if you don’t get carsick.

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2. Music Writing: you both have a phone and headphones, one of you picks a song and you both write to it, and then you switch. When you do this, you can also pick a topic, like ‘mushrooms’ or more specific ‘an oyster mushroom goes on a date with a shiitake mushroom’.

3. Object Writing Date: You go to a cafe and write. You each bring 3 secret objects and at the cafe, you put them in the middle of the table. You have to include all six objects in your poem or story. At the end you read each other’s work, and say only nice things.

4. Hardware Haikus: Go to a hardware store. Look at the paint section, and you each find a paint swatch with a word or color you want to write about. Write a haiku on the back. You can also personalize the colors like, Grandma Schitt’s Hair. And you can take them home and create art.

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5. Cafe character: In a cafe, you each pick a person you’re going to use as a character in your story. Then, decide if it’s going to be a sad/happy/scary story, you race-write it. 15 minutes, as fast as you can write, no worries about grammar, just telling. This one is a lot of fun on long car rides too. Even the sad stories end up being hilarious. You take turns telling them.

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No matter what kind of writing date you decide to do, make sure you have fun. If you read their work, be specific about the things you like and don’t say anything you don’t like. No suggestions. No correcting grammar or spelling. It’ll be super tempting, but if you ever want to do it again, don’t do it. (I say this from experience.) For sure, this is one of the best things I’ve done with my kids. It’s a fun bonding time and for us writer parents, it’s a great way to get in more writing.

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