Monday was Labor Day here in the States, and it got me thinking of the adage “Don't wear white after Labor Day.” It's perfect fodder for a writing prompt. Don't see it yet? Stick with me.

Writing Prompt: Write a Fake Adage Origin

No white after Labor Day is a stupid “rule” and one nobody follows. But it made me wonder about its origins.

I don't mean the official origins you can find rehashed in tons of blog posts around this time every year.

I mean the fake origin.

I began to wonder: What if someone, years ago, wore white pants in October and something tragic happened because of it? What if the world came to the brink of devastation, all because of white linen?

Were aliens attracted to all the bright white, causing them to come in for an invasion? Were large groups of people blinded from the sun reflecting off the white clothes and the snow?

What really happened before we couldn't wear white after Labor Day?

Then I started to think of other adages and what their imaginary origins could be. And a writing prompt was born!

Wait, what exactly is an adage?

An adage is simply a little saying that's kind of mysterious. Everyone knows a ton of them, most likely from hearing your grandparents or parents repeat them ad nauseam when you were a child.

Adages are supposed to embody conventional wisdom. Think “The early bird gets the worm” or “Better late than never.”

Now that we're on the same page, on to the writing prompt!

Writing Prompt: Where did that adage come from?

Here's how this silly little prompt is going to work: Think of an adage (or look one up here or just Google some). You might know the origins and the actual lesson of the adage, but I want you to ignore those practical things.

Shut your logical brain off. Seriously. Shut. It. Off.

Now think of why the saying you chose became a saying at all. Remember: No logic is involved in this exercise. Twist the adage's meaning around, turn it on its head, be as illogical and silly as you like.

Then write me a story about that adage's origins.

What's the adage you've heard the most often? Let me know in the comments!


For today's practice, I want you to look up an adage here and then spend fifteen minutes writing about the origins of said adage. Be creative! Don't give me the actual history; make something up!

Share your chosen adage and your writing in the comments and don’t forget to comment on your fellow writers’ work!

Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She just released Surviving Death, her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.

Follow her on Instagram or join her email list for free scares.

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