Writing exercise 1

Audio version of text
A photomanipulated collage featuring a darkskinned Maasai person with close-cropped hair and ornate beaded red and white jewelry. The person wears a white spacesuit and stands against the night landscape of an unfamiliar planet. A text box next to the person reads: Tribe: Maasci. Age: Version 12.2. Gender: Loading. This piece is part of the Maa-Sci series by Jacque Njeri.


The guidelines for this writing exercise are adapted from the Picture Game as curated by K. Tempest Bradford:

The Picture Game is a 10-minute writing exercise.

  1. Take a few minutes to just look at the picture.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  3. In a notebook or new word processing document, write something inspired by the picture until the timer runs out.


During the ten minutes of writing, do I have to describe the picture, make a scene based on it, or…?

You can write however you’re moved to write. The point is to just go, go, go for ten minutes and let whatever comes out of you come out. There is no wrong way; there are no best practices.

Also, don’t worry about writing something good or impressive. Just write.

However, for the purposes of this exercise and so we can practice using neopronouns, when writing about this photo, I would like you to please write from a third-person point of view and use at least one set of neopronouns.

Do I have to share what I wrote?

No. The purpose of this exercise is for you to feel safe practicing without pressure to share your work. However, please feel free to post your work outside of the classroom; after all, it’s your work. But you don’t ever have to share what you wrote with anyone. You can keep it secret and safe.

The most important part is to reflect on the questions below. Excerpts may help to clarify and illustrate your discussion responses, but they are not required.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you like about using neopronouns here? If you did not like anything about using neopronouns, you may say so and express why in question #3.
  2. How was using neopronouns similar to and/or different from using traditional pronouns?
  3. Did you encounter any difficulties? If yes, what kind? If not, what, if anything, do you think may have contributed to your comfort with this exercise?
  4. Was this writing exercise different from focusing on an external character like in exercise #2? If yes, how so? If not, how were the exercises similar?
  5. (Optional) Did you encounter anything surprising or unexpected as you worked? If yes, what did you encounter?
  6. (Optional) Any other comments or observations you’d like to make about this exercise?