Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.


I love the dictionary. Full of things we know, and equally full of things we don’t. When I was a kid, my extended family would gather yearly for vacation at our summer cottage and we kids often played The Dictionary Game.

The game goes like this:
-One person finds a word in the dictionary that no one else knows.
-The players all write out a fake definition, with the goal of making it sound as realistic as possible.
-The player with the dictionary writes out the real definition, then reads all the possible entries, while trying to keep a straight face.
-Everyone guesses what they think is the truth, and points are awarded for correct guesses or for others guessing your fake definition.

For example… which is the true definition for the word ukase?

ukase: an inflammation of the membrane on the inside of the eyeball.
ukase: an edict, especially of  a Russian emperor or government.
ukase: the distorted shape formed by the twisting and warping together of two variant items.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out which are the fakes. And in the meantime, in your journal today, play the dictionary game with yourself. Scan the dictionary for a word you don’t know, then write out strange and wonderful definitions that sound real. Try out different styles and tones. Write some to make yourself laugh. Perhaps one trying to sound like a medical dictionary. Or one being as long-winded and stuffy as you can. In the end, you’ll probably end up forgetting the real definitions, but you might find a new voice.

Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer living in Ithaca, NY. Her essay “Blood Mountain” won the 2017 Notes From the Field contest at Flyway Journal. Other work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including, NewfoundLife in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.

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