Friday, December 24, 2021

Poetry: Line by Line

Improv Prompt

Four characters take the stage. The first three have the task of creating a new line of poetry to add to the accumulating lines of poetry until a logical or satisfying conclusion is reached. Make no attempt to make this funny.

The fourth person, having heard the first three lines, creates a two line chorus. They will then repeat this chorus each round.

"Why not make it funny?"

"It might BE funny. The guideline though is to make no ATTEMPT to make it funny. The harder you try NOT to make it funny, the greater potential it has."

-- doug smith

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Creativity Booster: Record Your Dreams

I dream about this a lot...

Do you ever wish that you could record your dreams? I remember when VHS tapes first came out thinking that it would be great amid all the programming and saving of spotty TV shows (in questionable resolution) if we could also record our dreams. Think of it -- we could pause, rewind, rewatch, re-experience our favorite dreams (that kiss! that adventure to Mars!) while simply erasing the ones we didn't like.

We still can't do that (yet!) but we could, as soon as we awake, write down what we remember about our dreams. I do that when I can. 

Will we misremember some dreams? Sure. I have no doubt that maybe I influence the way the dream was going as soon as I start to write it down. There's point of view, and then there's perspective. Still, it's fun to capture the best dreams and if part of it is imagined so much the better for our creativity. Isn't it all imagined anyway? What are dreams if not our imagination having fun? They might be processing our inner thoughts, they might be visiting other worlds, they might be visions from above, but there is very often a strong element of fun involved.

And that fun spills over into our waking life, especially when we take the time to write the dreams down. They can serve as inspiration. They can contribute to our creativity. They can get us going.

Record your dreams -- no special technology required, just a pen and a notebook. See how it gives your creativity a boost.

-- doug smith


Tomorrow, when you wake up, pause long enough to recall your dreams. Then, before you do anything else, write them down in a notebook. Sometimes it will be just a paragraph, sometimes a couple of pages. Write them down. And, then the next day, do it again. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Scene Prompt: Steal the Plot

TV Listings

Search for any TV listings -- I like to work from an image of a page from TV Guide, but any TV listings will work.

Randomly pick the description of one show -- don't cherry pick or look for sensible listings -- the improv challenge is to work with whatever you choose. For added fun, ask someone in the audience to pick and read the description to you, without telling what show it describes.

Work with that description AND...GO.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Not a Bit

You don't have to look into my eyes, but it works better if you do.

Of course, those eyes can be alarming. Like a character actor (which I sometimes am) sometimes one eye will look right at you and the other, not quite. None of us are symmetrical, but as Groucho would say to me, you're abusing the privilege.

Or am I?

"You keep telling the same story."

"What story is that?"

"The one that sounds like a Coen brothers movie."

"Which one?"

"All of them."

"Starring Steve Buscemi?"

"All of those."


"That one, too."

"Now I've lost the story."

"Dude, you ARE the story."

I was thinking about another story. It was about the possibility of cousins. It was about the possibility of an unknown grandparent. It was a story about how an all-consuming love consumes all, and then like a zombie just won't completely die but just goes on consuming.

That's not fun.

"People have told me that I resemble Steve Buscemi...but that was a long time ago, before I got old."


"Things are always what they seem until they aren't."

"Exactly. Or are they?"

"There you go again."


"Telling a different story."

"Got it."

"Got it."

"Got it."

"Have you?"

"If you go thru life as if it's a movie, it makes more sense."

"Until it doesn't. I wouldn't want that tedious repetition nonsense of having to gain it all just to lose it all just to have someone to take it away just to go from machine fighting to foot fighting to teeth and nails fighting to the closing credits to..."

"OK then."


"Then DON"T go thru it as if it's a movie."

"I don't enjoy movies about movies."

"Sure you do."


"Has she allowed you to leave your toothbrush again yet?"

"No. But like any bad actor, I've got hope."

"Good. Good. Good. But pack a toothbrush just in case."


-- doug smith

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Curiosity and Questions


Do you like to argue? Whether or not YOU do, you probably can think of someone who seams to enjoy disagreeing. Arguments are contagious. I've gotten pulled into many arguments that eventually went nowhere and didn't contribute any progress to anything at all. So why argue?

We argue to prove a point. We argue to convince. We argue to change behavior. But, how effective is that? Not very.

Whenever I catch myself arguing now, I pause long enough to breathe deeply and think of a question. And then another question. And then another question. 

It's harder to argue with a question.

And with a question, we both might learn something.

-- doug smith

What have you learned today?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Creativity Thrives in the Doing

If you paint, paint a lot. If you write, write constantly. If you sing, sing everywhere. Creativity thrives in the doing.

 -- doug smith

Friday, November 5, 2021

Scene Prompt: Confused In Time


Scene Prompt

Each character believes it to be a different time, epic, and era and must deal with unexpected darkness.

Bonus: add sound effects.

Double bonus: bring the time together at the end.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Writer Sleeps

in a dream

she wrote a revolutionary 


one chapter at a time like

visions trickling thru her hair

wondering "what did he mean when he said that..."


writing it all down

turned the storm walls of calling


the dream walls of joy

"what if novels didn't have to be sad?" she said

-- doug smith

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Picture This: Journals on My Bed



I've changed morning pages to evening pages, when I do them, because other things have gotten in the way of writing first thing in the morning. I still do sometimes, but mostly the journal writing comes at night. 

Is that a good idea?

I'm not sure. I've written so many volumes over such a long time. They prod me, the comfort me, they process me, they inspire me. It's some little bit annoying to think that no one will ever read them. For goodness sake, I don't even have time (or the inclination) to read them so why would anyone else? Unless there is value in the work and a joy in the treasure hunt. 

That could be fun.

Lately as the ticking of mortality peppers the soundtrack of my psyche, I think about once greatly well known people who you hardly ever hear about any more because they are gone (no, dead not gone. They didn't go to Cleveland for the week and they aren't missing.) Bernard Shaw. Gertrude Stein. Salvadore Dali. Ginger Rogers. Hellen Keller. The list is endless. High quality and successful folks now blips in the radar screen of eternity. 

That's life.

Some long gone folks have even passed from fame to loss of favor -- not just forgotten but officially cancelled for non-currently-acceptable ideas. Maybe that makes sense, and maybe its hubris to arbitrate now. But we do that a lot now, don't we? We judge. We criticize. We arbitrate. We decide.

That's premature.

We don't know how it all turns out if it even turns out at all. Believers believe we know how it ends -- but even that's not the ending because there is an entire eternity after that and what happens then hasn't been written about. Yet. Not that we'd have the time, or inclination, to read thru it all. It must be thousands of pages.

Like my journals.

-- doug smith

Picture This (writing prompt)

1. Find a random picture.

2. Write non-stop for 5 minutes and only 5 minutes.

Scene Prompt: The Window

Scene for two people in a public place, like a restaurant, or an office break room, or a place of your choosing.


"I couldn't help but look thru your window, and I saw what you did."


Friday, October 22, 2021

Scene Prompt: In the Basement


In the basement

You wake up on the floor of a strange basement. You see two doors. Behind one door you hear strange noises. Behind the other door you can see a person or body of a person on the floor.


Make It Easier


Learn to improvise

Learn to improvise and a thousand other important things suddenly become much easier to learn.

-- doug smith

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Picture This: A Walk In The Park

Allaire Park

 "It's not a walk in the park," goes the expression, except that this was. This was an epic walk in the park because of when we did it and where we were in our relationship, a relationship that wound up tighter than it had ever before (because this was a second time around) and then unwound in front of us only to weave itself into a cozy, loving, shared understanding.

I don't understand it. But there you have it, it seems to be a shared understanding.

We don't say everything that's on our minds these days, but those days, in that walk around Allaire State park, we said everything. We said it with our voices. We said it with our smiles. We said it with our bodies. We talked it all thru and it felt exactly right.

What do you do with perfection when the threads come loose? What do you do with the magic when the trick is discovered? What do you do with the walls that rebuild and double?

"Would you change anything about this?"

"No. Because then it wouldn't be this, and this is nice."

"Do you regret anything about the big changes we made?"

"What good do regrets do?"


I'd drink to that, but my liver seems to object. Just one more aging crumbling falling leaf in a beautiful forest.


-- doug smith

Written using the prompt Picture This: 

1. Select a random picture

2. Write nonstop for five minutes only and then stop.

Scene Prompt: Versa Vice

Scene Prompt: Versa Vice

Scene Prompt:

Six adults must fit into a car better suited for fewer, smaller people. Your mission: sell the car to the world's most reluctant world leader.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Some Place I Used to Live


Someplace I used to live

In the end we left because the bathroom was about to collapse into the garage. That wouldn't be good, and it wasn't my garage. It was the neighbor's garage and one day he showed me how the ceiling of his garage showed clear signs of imminently falling on his car, his bike, or his head. He was concerned.

Other than that, we liked the apartment on Wedgewood, even though it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Even though the steps up to the second floor were rickety. Even though the kitchen appliances were right out of the 1980's and small. It was our place and that mattered.

We weren't exactly chased out of the previous place -- a beautiful and spacious home in Gunbarrel. But we had to do something. In the end, after living thru the whole move, I know that I should have talked about it more. There were options to discuss. Maybe it wasn't necessary for both of us to move. Maybe I could have subsidized the rent for a while (afterall, I did pay double rent for about six months to ease my guilt about leaving, guilt that should have told me I shouldn't be going, but I did...)

My office was set up in the back of the living room. I had my books, a desk, and my laptop. It got me started (again) in my business of delivering training and eventually I was able to leave my job at the grocery store.

It was some place that I used to live, when I lived thru the second biggest change of my life.

-- doug smith

Picture This:

1. Find a random picture

2. Write without stopping for five minutes only.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Shortcut to Drama

Here's your shortcut to instant drama:

Always say exactly the wrong thing and be easily offended.

Yeah, that should work every time. And even when it doesn't: drama.

-- doug smith


another unbroken line

 the unbroken line steers

thru you unaffected unphased

sense of purpose


on purpose

                  over and over

again: you dream of something

meaningful, light not (yet) focused

covering you which is to say

       uncovering you

layer after layer

          the sounds like velcro

          unclothing disrobing


hey is that you? is that the you

you wanted to reveal?


does that you, catch you, as

     much by surprise as

the rest of us?

douglas brent smith

Saturday, May 1, 2021

An Actual Toilet On A Throne


an actual toilet on a throne

Sure it's important. You do want to be comfortable. Maybe  you like to have a bit of status afforded to you in those highly meaningful moments.

"Don't you mean hours?"

"Well, maybe minutes, not necessarily hours..."

"But they do all add up."

"Yes. But I have another concern."

"What's that?"

"Bumping my head. That doesn't look like a lot of clearance. I wouldn't want to be deeply involved in reading a big article in the NY Times only to rise suddenly and crash into the ceiling."

"It's never fun to crash into the ceiling."

And that was only one shortcoming. We did consider renting that place. There were so many wonderful artistic touches. Rooms that seemed to be sculpted into the floor plan. A balcony with a view of much of the house. A rear deck with exotic tiles. Shelves like artwork. 

But as we decided we realized it was an old place and we are not master carpenters. We're not even submitter carpenter repair people. We'd just break the place more.

But hey, how about that throne?

Picture This

1. Find a random picture.

2. Write for exactly five minutes.

There Is No Boredom


image: doug smith

How could you ever be bored when there are always new pictures to draw, new questions to ask, and new patterns to discover?

-- doug smith


When the robots come you'll want to hold a human's hand.

-- doug smith

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Poem: either / or

we do not always (read: seldom) have

choices or

            opportunities to call

chances for how

            the outcome arrives

alive in expectations we 

    genuflect gyrations to

promises unkept and either swept or

    wept away

you swept me off my feed all

    enthusiastic and smiling (a smile that

    feels endless) ending

spending our hearts ration of 

    rational being

beating so out of tempo either

        two hundred beats per minute

or paused to a stop       


--- douglas brent smith