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The Desk Drawer

The Desk Drawer - Writing Exercise Workshop

If you’re looking for a creative spark to ignite the flames of your writing, you may have found what you’re looking for. Clean up that desk and get ready to write!

Rolltop Desk Closed

The Desk Drawer is an interactive email-based writing workshop, with membership ranging from fifty to sixty writers. Its purpose is to encourage writers to hone their skills in a noncompetitive, but accountable, environment, where we can each learn what parts of our writing actually communicate what we meant to say, what parts don’t, and thus grow as writers. Being part of this writing exercise group is free, but it takes work!

We will post one writing exercise per week -- some for fun, some for learning the writing craft, and some for learning about yourself or the world around you. To respond, follow the writing exercise’s directions. Post what you’ve written to the group. To stay on the list, you are required to submit at least three posts per month. They can be either 1 SUB and 2 CRITS, or 3 CRITs.  We prefer an overall ratio of two or more CRITs for each SUB but we realize that you have a life, too.

You must spellcheck your work -- repeated SUBs or CRITs that have not been spellchecked will be grounds for removal from the group.

To accommodate those on the list who cannot access HTML mail, all posts to the list must be in plain text. Also, no attachments are allowed.

Since most of us sort our e-mail by subject, you must follow the subject criteria:
        SUB: Exercise #/your name      
        CRIT: Exercise #/originator’s name
        XSUB: identifier/your name
        XCRIT: identifier/originator’s name    
        STYLE: (discussion of writing style, and questions about how others do things)
        MISC: (everything that doesn’t fall into one of the other categories)

In addition, the list administrator will use two more subject prefixes:
        ADMIN: for notices to all members
        EXERCISE #xxx: for the writing exercises

Admission to the group is based upon proven writing ability. This doesn’t mean you must be published in The New Yorker, just that you are willing to write in recognizable English, spelled correctly and punctuated reasonably. To join, submit a writing sample of between 100 and 250 words to, based on the writing exercise included at the bottom of this page (Writing Exercise #1). Please do not send your sample as an attachment.

We will let you know within a few days whether you have been accepted for the list. (Email isn’t perfect, so if you don’t receive a response within a week, send a note to

(For information on what all those abbreviations mean, see our FAQ page. Use the Back button on your browser to return here.)

Please note: This writers’ group is very active and we do not recommend using your work email address, or any address where email volume could be an issue.

Writing Exercise #1

Everyone’s heard no two snowflakes are the same. No two people are the same, either. What is it that makes you different from the people around you?

Use this writing exercise prompt any way you want. Answer it literally, answer it with a self-characterization, use the first line as the starting or ending line of a story, or center a tale around snowflakes. Go with whatever strikes the flame of creativity.

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