This Quote from Picasso Will Make You Want to Start Writing Right Now

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Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon.

Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.

Pablo Picasso

Yes, we talk about technique here. And measuring. And the literary canon.

But sometimes you have to put down your ruler, roll up your sleeves, and let your gut write for you.

What are you waiting for?

You don't need my permission.

LET

LOOSE

And watch as art creates itself right in front of you.

PRACTICE

Today, let your instinct and your brain conceive something wholly new.

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please give some feedback to your fellow writers.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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50 Comments

  1. EndlessExposition

    I wrote a conversation between me and the two main characters of my novel (for a prompt in my writing workshop). It’s a little odd, but pretty realistic regarding how this conversation might actually go.

    Alex: So, this is what the real world is like?
    Me: Yup. Whaddya think?
    Alex: I dunno, it’s not that different. It looks like Oak Ridge.
    Me: That’s kinda the point.
    Alex: I just figured it would be more exciting out here.
    Me: Well you’re a writer, you know how it works. You base your settings on your town sometimes. I should know, I wrote them.
    Alex: Yeah. Don’t know why, my town is really boring.
    Me: So is mine, that’s why I write about you two.
    Alex: Two?
    Alicia: Hello.
    Alex: Holy shit! How long have you been there?
    Alicia: Only a moment.
    Alex: You couldn’t have warned me?
    Me: I needed this conversation to go someone. So I brought her. We were just talking about the real world vs. your world.
    Alicia: Ah. Well, it appears to be more or less the same.
    Alex: That’s what I said.
    Alicia: Great minds think alike.
    Alex: I’m a great mind?
    Alicia: I think so.
    Alex: Thanks!
    Me: You two are going to have such a beautiful friendship and you don’t even know it yet!
    A&A: Eh?
    Me: Nevermind

    Reply
    • Brianna Worlds

      Reminds me of me with my characters 🙂 Alicia and Alex sound lovely!

      Reply
      • Reagan

        Yeah, our characters really become our best friends!

        Reply
    • Sandra D

      funny, I love the bit about how the world looks pretty much the same.

      Reply
  2. PJ Reece

    Thanks for the reminder, Joe. We can’t get enough reminding that we have to escape all the conventions… at least in the early drafts of our work. We may even have to risk embarrassing ourselves… because we don’t know if what we’re doing has any merit at all. What I’m writing right now… it could be the worst thing ever written by anyone. It’s frightening. It’s exciting.

    Reply
  3. Ed Pena

    too often, when i undertake the discipline of the written word, i lose focus of thoughts and images swirl around my head random motes and tendrils wending through my brain and i am me regardless behind my eyes the infinite space mechanically my mind like clockwork grinds through logic while deep within me i harbor the secret flame with no beginning and no end that bathes me in golden light and i am me regardless blood and sinew saliva and defecation rending teeth and grasping fingers behind eyes of black and i am me i breathe through lungs moist and wet. i am me.

    Reply
    • Ed Pena

      Ok not fifteen minutes worth just a quick stream of consciousness piece

      Reply
      • Reagan

        Still great! That is us, lost in the world of our own making.

        Reply
  4. Reagan

    Three pens, one that is out of ink. Half a dozen notebooks, some put away nicely on the shelf, the rest strewn about on the desk, and even one dropped on the floor, forming a little tepee under the desk. Papers, strewn on the desk, the shelf, the floor, and every other place possible in the room, every one filled with word, tens upon thousands of them, jumbled around, scratched out and re-written, erased, re-done, and pondered over so meticulously. A chair, turned sideways, where hours have been spent, thoughts consuming, turning the room into everything from a city street to a medieval palace to a historic battleground.
    This is my favorite place, where the real me resides, hidden away until the moment I open this door, welcoming me and urging me to travel to wherever I want. This is the best place in the world. I’m a writer, and This is my home.

    “In all you do, do to the glory of God”

    Reply
    • Miriam N

      Wow I got chills just from reading that. Good job 🙂

      Reply
    • Joy

      Love, love, love this!!!! Thanks for sharing, Reagan.

      Reply
    • Reagan

      Wow, thanks!!

      Reply
    • Bunk

      A great description of the inner person we access to write creatively 🙂

      Reply
  5. Miriam N

    Alright so here’s my practice. I hope you like it.

    I look at the page deep in thought. Something is brewing there, something wonderful. For what seems like an eternity I just stare at it thinking. What could I possibly write to change the world? My fingers drum on the desk the only sound despite my thoughts. In the paper I see promise. It could become anything and everything. Why then is it so hard to start writing?

    Just write something my mind tells me. I pick up the pen and twirl it in my hand. Many idea’s could be expressed in just this one page, which should I write?

    I take the pen lid off and put it to the page. There it remains as I from my thoughts. Many first words come to mind but indecision stops me. Finally I form a word, then two. A sentence forms and look them over. Reading over them I scowl and try again. My thoughts have suddenly gone blank as though starting had drained me of idea’s.

    I look at my watch and sigh. I would have to leave soon. Regrettably I put the paper on a stack and get ready to leave. Perhaps I’ll get to it when I get back I think doubtfully. Heading out the door I shake my head. I’ll get it eventually.

    Reply
    • Joy

      I liked this. It’s amazing how a blank sheet of paper can become something so great, and it’s also amazing how hard it can be to create that first sentence. If we just didn’t think about it so much…. 😉

      Reply
    • Reagan

      The life of every writer. Beautiful!

      Reply
    • Sandra D

      been there!

      Reply
    • Miriam N

      I’m glad you liked it.

      Reply
    • Pedro Hernandez

      This is me on weekends 😀

      Reply
  6. Joy

    Something about the night draws her outside. She steps onto the back porch and slowly closes the door behind her. The rest of her family is asleep, but she doesn’t feel much like sleeping.

    The bright full moon casks a gentle glow on her surroundings. She breathes in the crisp night air and sits down in one of the plastic porch chairs. The sound of crickets breaks the stillness of the night.

    She stares up at the moon. It is larger than usual tonight. She imagines the billions of people on earth that look up at the same moon each night. She feels a connection to the world around her and also to something far beyond.

    She whispers a question into the night air.

    How far does infinity stretch?

    Reply
    • Laura

      Your practice is so insightful. It was really enjoyable to read, especially your concluding line.

      Reply
      • Joy

        Thank you, Laura. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

        Reply
    • Michael Follen

      This definitely brought me into the moment. It’s a nice little snapshot.

      Reply
      • Joy

        Thank you, Michael.

        Reply
  7. Michael Follen

    He practices a moving mediation, where there is no nature, fresh air or animals. Instead he dwells in grit, smoke and blinking red lights. His vessel is simple: 4 wheels, axels and a board. It takes him through the gauntlet of city life. No one can touch him, taxis, oblivious pedestrians or the unexpected turns. He channels water, he bends and molds to the unexpected. Skating through traffic is his favorite. If his skating was observed from a roof top above it would look like water tricking down brick cracks, flowing, finding his way as he goes. He found it liberating to skate through the stuck. Like a flying bird envied from simple bi-peds. In that moment of edging cars, pushing over rocky ground and litter he was free.

    Reply
    • Dawn Atkin

      Love it.
      Push, push, shove ride.
      Carving through the stuck.
      Great metaphor.
      Thanks for sharing

      Reply
    • Laura

      I love the comparisons you use in this practice; they really add another dimension to the piece.

      Reply
  8. Sandra D

    When I was a kid and I discovered I had kids across the street from me, it was like hitting the jack pot and suddenly my summers were fun. And sometimes I’d just walk around their yard. It was early yet, and while the humming bird had already come and paid attention to some hibiscus trees within the gates of my yard, it was competely silent at the Taylors. I never thought much of boundaries when I was young. So since we had played before I didn’t think anything of walking through their backyard and up and down the side of the house until someone stirred and would then be ready to play with me.

    In the far back was a wooden bench and then on the bench was a press. I don’t know the name, but it had a handle that you’d corkscrew right and two steel sides would come together, and left and it would come apart. I didn’t realize all this then. But when you get older and think about things, you realize when things don’t always fit. Like how there were no men at that house but Grandpa who’d lived with Alzeimers for what seemed like a longer then long time. This bench with a tool for what looked like a fit man, but who? The kids have vague memories of when Grandpa knew more, but much of it is during that strange time in a kids life where memories weave in and out like collages. And their father hitched it before they remembered his face.

    I remember being young and starting to forget and I sat in my bathroom while my mother applied her makeup. She’d spend a long time doing that, and I begged her to let me put make up on me. And she always said I was so beautiful I didn’t need it. But I think it must of been an excuse so that I wouldn’t wear her make up.

    My mother said something about how awful her mother was to her growing up and that had perked my interest like hot gossip who was mother before. I asked for more details but she just said I don’t know and then ignored me.

    I asked a few more times but then gave up and turned and looked at the towels. And I became aware of how there are things I was starting to forget. And I thought things would stay together like flipping through a book and reading it all, it seemed like it should be that way. So I felt I had to do something, so with all my energy I focused on keeping those memories forever, making sure they were all important and then I got to keep the seamless timeline.

    But it was all in in vain cause all those memories left anyway. Maybe I even lost more then I would have if I had just left it alone. Or maybe it is the exact same amount.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I feel like your practice describes perfectly the innocence of growing up and not understanding boundaries, physical or social. Great work crafting such an interesting character in only a few paragraphs!

      Reply
      • Sandra D

        Thank you Laura, that means a lot to me.

        Reply
  9. Dawn Atkin

    Picasso

    I’ve heard he was a bastard. I’ve heard he treated his women like rubbish. He picked through them, drew them, left them draped in pose so he could paint. And then he tossed them away. Sketches remained. Sketches of unmeasured thighs and distorted faces. Lopsided smirks that smacked of desire and anxiety.

    I’ve heard he chewed the end of his paintbrushes into slender points that reminded him of manicured nails and ghostly white fingers. The type of fingers unhindered by house wife labour and such things.

    He took no notice of the beauty on surface but carved his eye to the shapes and shadows that haunted curves, gulleys and dimples. He was a pianist of oils and found ebony keys in crooked joints and drunken distraction.

    Picasso crossed the cavern of perfection into tunnels of the unseen. He shone a torch to capture glimpses beyond the naked eye, behind the conditioned lens and beyond the mediocrity of contemporary critique. He flippantly dismissed the need to please and instead thread pencil and paint through the painful distortion of ‘la femme’.

    Even his barley legible pencilled notes admitted he had no other need for them. Women that is. Except, it seems, as intoxicating puzzles of subdued pleasure and sublime models for the distorted canvas to twist its story of angles unmeasured, and moods never before seen by pen. Sliced segments of half angles perturbing the irrational and unsteady line of sanity. Probing behind the corrected perspective to unpick the retracted creative expanse of a spectators mind.

    Picasso saw, wrong side up and blind to etiquette. He painted with a triumphant stroke that brushed the veil away and freed the contorted creative channel.

    The human form, revealed in functional dysfunction, yet still with measured geometric precision.

    Surely if he’d loved his women he would have measured the length of their thighs.

    But would he have painted them?

    Reply
  10. Bunk

    I am riding a great bird, over a city of lights, with my girlfriend. I brought her up here to give her something special. A beautiful Amatharyst Stone as a token of my love. I start putting it around her neck as she takes in the night around her. I then wrap my arms around her waist and she is quite happy. The great bird goes into a dive and we are just over the city. The streets are now basking in filtered starlight. Theatres whizz past with patrons eager for the show. Restaurants where other lovers are enjoying each others company. And stores where would be buyers window shop the latest things. as for Araya and I, we will swing back up to a private hilltop. One crowned with flowers her favorite place in this world. We dismount the great bird and lie next to each other. I lie on my back and she on her side. So part of her, is lying on my chest, listening to my heartbeat. We could lie here for hours in this embrace. Forever intertwined.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Cool practice. I love the descriptions you included: “basking in filtered starlight,” “crowned with flowers.” Great job!

      Reply
  11. Laura

    Hey guys! This is my first practice, and I’d love to know what you think of it. It’s all fiction, by the way, just something I made up on the spot.

    The world never stops. The world doesn’t stop for you, for him, for her, for me. The world doesn’t stop for anyone, and I don’t know if it’s just that it doesn’t care enough to be bothered or if it’s overwhelmed by requests that it keeps going. Either way, the world doesn’t stop.

    I learned that the hard way, and I wouldn’t forget it. I learned the hard way that the world doesn’t get it, that the world is completely and utterly incapable of understanding any sort of human emotion, despite the fact that it is composed solely of humans. Just another of the mysteries of the world, I assumed, one of those things that someone out there doesn’t want us to understand.

    The world made its nature clear to me the day my husband died. I didn’t think it was possible; I didn’t think that there was anything – person, animal, natural force, or otherwise – that had the heart to steal away such a precious creature of the world. But,
    then again, that was before I knew that the world doesn’t care.

    The world didn’t blink an eye when I tried to explain that I couldn’t go on like this, that I
    couldn’t keep going home and unlocking the door to the apartment as slowly as
    possible because I was afraid of what I would find. I couldn’t bear the sheer panic and fear that hit me every time I looked at my son’s innocent face, at the three-year-old who
    would never have a father. I couldn’t bear the fact that I was supposed to explain to him, somehow, that Daddy wasn’t coming home ever again.

    They say a parent’s worst fear is having to bury a child, that there is nothing worse than the nightmare of a baby coffin, but I don’t believe that. There is nothing worse than having the baby but tearing him away from the thing he loves, from the person he idolizes and cherishes and imitates to no end. There is nothing worse than breaking a child’s heart.

    I took a deep breath and crouched down and wondered why no one else in the world was there to help me, to comfort me, to give me the words to tell an angel that he can no longer live the way he’s lived his whole life. And the worst part was that there was no way to tell the angel that it wasn’t going to be OK.

    How was I supposed to continue on, supposed to work and eat and play like nothing had ever happened? How was I supposed to bottle everything up until eight o’clock when I pulled up the blanket over his tiny chin and kissed his forehead and turned out the lights? How was I supposed to let the tears fall and the anger and the pain and the sheer grief of it all spill out onto the pillows by myself? How was I supposed to live
    without my husband?

    And the world kept turning and soon it was like a ritual, and every night I would beat my anger senselessly into the pillows even though I knew it was useless. I would lay back and feel the emptiness beside me and break down until I either cried myself to sleep or closed my eyes to try to imagine him for one more minute. And every morning I would have to shake away the nightmares and put on the mask and go through life like
    nothing happened. And there was no time, no recovery period, because, well, the world just wouldn’t stop and let me catch a breath.

    Reply
    • Reagan

      Wow… such powerful words really get to a person’s heart, and it’s hard to believe it’s fiction. Really great work, keep it up!

      Reply
      • Lauar

        Thank you so much! I’m glad you found my words powerful; that is definitely what I was going for here.

        Reply
    • Sandra D

      very moving. It would be so hard to tell a child that everything won’t be okay.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Thanks for the comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it.

        Reply
    • Miriam N

      Wow… That really got me when I read that. Good job.

      Reply
    • LisaYang

      Your sentences melt into each other naturally, great flow.

      Reply
  12. Jackie

    Love is the expansion of who we are, of truth, of our core being. When we get rid of form, of structure, of material, we are left with a forever abundant spirit and well of creativity. Let it flow, let it bust down the walls of who we are in the material world. Write with boldness, vibrancy and urgency. Write to shine brightly.

    Reply
  13. Dawn Atkin

    So I thought I’d pick a word and see where it took me. I picked ‘casserole’. (As it was cooking while I did my 15 minute practice – 25 minutes actually.)

    Casserole

    Nutmeg and beef simmer in the background.

    Clouds draw close then disperse in time for the black of night to sweep the sky.
    It’s quick crisp cover sets the air into mist and the casserole in the oven wafts warm meaty scent across the room.

    Fire place embers glow a fierce yet welcoming brilliant persimmon orange that warms from
    a distance, that appears to be hot.

    Old friends arrive. Keen in the night air. Brisk incoming jubilation. Solid and firm in hugs and well wishing.

    Red wine, burgundy blood, dribbles down the side of best crystal goblets and olive portifino loaf warms in foil near the crackle of fire.

    Winter rolls across the Milky Way. Studded with infinity and greatness. We gasp.

    Glasses clink. Laughter spills. Goodwill slaps backs and slurps the cold away.
    Steaming plates. Too much food. Too much organic wine. Too much laughter. Too many old stories. All drench the long night into measures of a lifetime shared in spasms, at different times and events.

    There’s a grandchild now. It seems like only yesterday we were maniacs, scurfing on an old inner tube dragged by old rope behind someone’s tinny; over waves in deep water off the coast, getting bleached beneath the beating sun with belly’s full of beer and youth and fearlessness. No sense of any end to life.

    Now the casserole begins to belly rumble and aches to find its place beside the crusty olive portifino and the wine and begin its slow gastric descent. And the thought of pecan pie tempts the tipping scale. Conversation turns. This is the risk now. Do we over eat and bear the digestive consequence?

    More laughter. A few coughs. Another wine. Some cigarettes and coffee. I change the conversation and remind everybody about that time when the rope broke and the inner tube spun over a wave … And what was the guys name that was with us that day.

    Johnny. He’s long gone. Cancer.
    Oh.
    And from the corner the baby gurgles and then begins to cry. And we coo. And gasp. And delight in her chubby ruddy cheeks and the seasons of life.

    Reply
    • Kessrai

      All I can say on this is that you do a wonderful job with the language. Very, very descriptive and vivid.

      Reply
  14. LisaYang

    It is very unlikely that you have ever met me. It is also very unlikely that you have ever met a person that has met me. I am very good at being invisible, at becoming a part of something, at being just the eyes and never an observation.
    When you live my life, you would have more than mere understanding for the word “fraud”. You would look at it and take it apart, you would repeat it so many times that your mouth and your voice couldn’t help but become attracted to it. And then, after some more time, your conscience too, starts to accept.

    I suppose if hide and seek were a profession, I would have mastered it to perfection. It is something I have always been explicitly good at. The point is to balance out hiding and seeking. Too much of one ruins the other. Blend in with the crowd, but be aware of the crowd. Sleep, but never forget to set an alarm. Late is always too late.

    My assignments are very simple: I find everyone I am told to find and then I find everything they are. Every fraud can be a truth in the minds of others. And so am I. As far as they are concerned, their secrets are safe with me.

    I try not to think too much, though sometimes it is hard not to wonder. About what happens to the clients. Those lives I cross and leave like a breeze on a windy day or a flake of snow that melts once touching with skin…

    Skin. Soft, warm, delicate skin. Vanilla with a touch of strawberry.

    I have made a mistake and I should care.
    I have made a terrible mistake.
    And I don’t care.

    Reply
  15. Kessrai

    The short first few days of a little baby cow in an industry milk farm. It’s kinda sad, but I held back, actually. If you’re real sensitive I’d suggest skipping out on this one, but it isn’t the very worst. Unless you’re particularly sensitive it should be okay.
    ========
    It is my first day in life and already I am separated from my mother. She is to produce milk for selling, not for me, and as a result, I am now denied the colostrum I desperately crave. It is dark, dusty, hot, and stuffy in this little pen all alone – not fully alone, but completely, for there are other calves all around me and I can see what each one looks like, but I haven’t a clue what I myself look like to them. Am I small for a day old? Or big? Some of these calves in the little pens around me look big.

    Not the one in the pen right across from me. He looks small. Only as big as me, but somehow I know he is not so young. He has a distinct black patch on his shoulder – and so, I think I should call him Black Shoulder. I look at him, and realize he is laying on the ground and seems terribly in pain, groaning a bit sometimes, and as the men squeeze between our cages, I soon realize they look at him but otherwise ignore him.
    They know he is hurting.
    I don’t know what it is that is making Black Shoulder cry, but it isn’t separation from his mother. He raises his head from the ground to look at me and all he can say to me is, “White-Patch.”
    After a moment of trying to understand I look at the ground and see a shard of glass. I am a cow, I realize. And I have a black head, except a white patch on my forehead. I look back at Black Shoulder and realize he has called me after this.
    “Black Shoulder,” I moo back quietly. After this I realize this little bull before me has flies about his skin, biting and worrying. I don’t know how I know, but I do.

    It just occurs to me that Black Shoulder is dying.

    I don’t know what to do for him, and I simply lay down as well as I can, trying to avoid the glass on the floor in the dark, dank room, and I rest my head on the metal rods that make up my little cage. I do this and I keep Black Shoulder company as he lays on the ground, and I wonder if there is glass under him.

    After two days Black Shoulder is only worse. He kicks feebly and he groans loudly, ears flipping and eyes rolling. For the first time in my short life, I realize, I simply wish he would die so he wouldn’t hurt anymore.
    But Black Shoulder doesn’t die.

    After another day, he is still alive. And then I hear the yelling and the indignant men who I’ve seen hit other cows and calves, with several people walking ahead, stone-faced and radiating an emotion I’ve never experienced – rage.
    They start opening cages then, and the men that hit keep yelling, but the angry ones begin leading calves out of the barn into whatever it is beyond – something green and bright.
    As they work their way down toward me, I realize what this means. It means that we will leave and maybe, somehow, I feel that Black Shoulder, even as weak as he is, might still go on. I crane my neck through the metal rods and he kicks his way to get his head through his own, and I touch my nose to his forehead.

    Reply
    • Starlight11

      This was a sad read with an air of hopelessness. Very nicely written Kessrai.

      Reply
  16. Starlight11

    Her eyes were closed and her face was tilted towards the warm sunlight bathing her face. Her eyebrows were lightly creased in relieved joy. The weight of the world rolled off her shoulders and a contented smile lit up her face. Inhaling deeply from her mouth, she twirled in the middle of the meadow. Opening her eyes, she giggled with joy as the trees surrounding the meadow began to blur together. Finally stopping, she swayed as the world around her kept spinning.
    She looked down at the ragged, worn clothes she had been wearing to protect herself from the cold wasteland she had just emerged from. Shedding most of the layers, she noted that she was not instantly assailed with icy cold winds. The sunlight cascaded over her pale skin and she giggled in euphoria.
    Closing her eyes once more, she focused on the sounds around her. There was a lovely singing sound mixed with a gurgling and bubbling sound. She decided to follow it. She followed it into the trees and down a hill. Once she reached the source of the sound, she noted with amazement that it was strikingly clear, running water, a stark contrast to the stagnant brownish water she had been accustomed to. From the depths of the water, she could hear a clear and resonating singing voice.

    Come child, lay down your burden
    Step into the water so clear
    I know you have been downtrodden
    The end of that burden is near,
    Just step into the water so clear.

    The idea of relief pooled in her mind and she hazily followed the voice. One step after the other she walked to the water. She stepped in and the cool, gentle water lapped at her feet. The song faded further into the water and she waded after it. The water came to her knees, then to her waist, then to her shoulders and finally, over her head. Tendrils wrapped around her ankles, keeping her there.

    Come child, lay down your burden
    She began thrashing.
    Step into the water so clear
    Her lungs began to ache for oxygen.
    I know you have been downtrodden
    She accidentally swallowed mouthfuls of water.
    The end of that burden is near,
    She gave up struggling.
    Just step into the water so clear.
    A large group of bubbles made their way to the surface.

    Reply

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