Writing Assignment: Write About A Tennis Ball

by Randy Murray on September 12, 2014

I keep a tennis ball on my desk. I use it to exercise my left hand to keep up the therapy from repairing a badly broken finger (years past), and to help ease the tendonitis that may be either keyboard or ukulele related.

And it makes an excellent tool to work out the pain in my lower back by lying on it on my office floor.

And it, like the other objects within reach, within view, become objects that I can describe and use as writing prompts.

Describing an object like a ball may seem simple, but there’s much more to describe about a thing than just its shape. A tennis ball has texture. It can be fresh or worn. Soft, firm, brittle, dog-slobbered. There is a very specific tactile quality to every individual ball. Tennis balls come in different colors and have different markings. You could write a description of this ball everyday for a year and find something new every time.

When describing an object in writing the secret to doing it well is to capture your initial impressions without restriction or comment. Just write what you see and feel. Then look more closely and write what you experience. Turn it. Feel it. Smell it. Experience it. Then put it down and write. Don’t try and come up with the perfect words, just write.

If you want to make discoveries through your writing you will need to let the writer inside take over. Looking too long, thinking too much, will get in your way and stifle that writer, that part of you that does see, that knows things. Pick up your tennis ball, and then put it down and write.

For today’s assignment, write a short description of a tennis ball, not to exceed 200 words.

Tennis balls end up everywhere, even in homes like mine where no one plays tennis. You probably have one somewhere. If not, any other ball will do.

Pick up your tennis ball, then put it down and write. For bonus points repeat this exercise every day for one week and write a fresh description without referring to your previous work. After the week is over read through your descriptions and see how your work progresses.

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