Category Archives: Prompts

Day Eight – June 25, 2018 – Ma Maison

If you’ve done the Free Writing Challenge before, you’re probably not surprised to see this eighth prompt in your email inbox. I like to follow the Cajun tradition of lagniappe or a little something extra and give you one more chance to write.

Many of you know that I was in South Louisiana for three weeks, first tending to my mother and her medical needs and then celebrating the life of my dad following his sudden death. As I traveled the backroads of Cajun country, I became fascinated with the wide variety of homes I found there—large, small, new, old, shotguns, mansions—some situated right next door to each other. I began taking photos just for fun.

Those images, some of which I’ve included in this prompt, made me think about the people who called each place home. Who were they? What were they like? Why did they choose these homes? What did their homes say about them? I wondered.

So, let me ask you. Take your current home or one from your past and tell us what this house says about you. Was this a place of your choosing or someone else’s? Did you love or hate those four walls? What history does this home hold for you? What unique feature of this house stands out in your memory? Do you have a particular story associated with some aspect of this home?

These questions should give you plenty to write about, but the power of our writing comes when we focus in on one story and tell it in detail. So that’s my challenge for you today. Use the questions as a springboard to launch you into a narrowly focused story that we can experience as you did. Happy writing.

Day Seven – June 24, 2018 – Sprints

Welcome to day seven. So, what do you think? Has this challenge been helpful to you? I hope it has. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading your stories each day. Even though I haven’t been able to comment on your entries this time around, I’ve been truly impressed with the way everyone has written their responses. It has been my pleasure and privilege to walk with you these few days.

So, on to today’s prompt. You’re either going to love this one or hate it. I hope you love it. I like to do this writing exercise I call sprints. It involves writing with short bursts of energy on given topics. Each sprint lasts only for one minute. When given the topic, just write whatever comes to mind. Don’t put a lot of thought into it and don’t reject anything. Just go with the thought that enters your mind no matter how crazy it may seem.

I am going to give you five words or phrases. After I show you each word, I’ll set a timer and give you exactly one minute to capture your thoughts. Once the sixty-second mark has been reached, the next subject will appear. Got it?

Do you have your pen and paper or laptop ready to go? I urge you not to play the video until you can do the exercise. Even though we love being in control, the element of surprise in this assignment serves a great purpose.

I encourage you to use the video below to give you the topics and keep track of the time for you. If for some reason, you’re not able to watch the video, click here for a document to see the words in the sprint exercise and time yourself. Just don’t scroll down until you are ready to begin. You will see one word per page.

Ready, set, go!

 

 

Day Six – June 23, 2018 – Cats and Dogs

Some folks are dog people, some are cat people. There are those, too, who have no interest in pets whatsoever. In any case, there might a story that explains it.

Write a cat or dog story. What has been your experience in living with a cat or dog? Is there a specific memory that comes to mind? Write about it. Was it funny, sad, scary, irritating?

If you don’t care for dogs or cats as a result of a particular experience, write out what happened. Did this influence your choice in having future pets?

What have you learned from dogs and cats? What is most intriguing? Most frustrating? What do you love most? What kind of relationship have you formed with a cat or dog in your lifetime?

photo credit: eliduke Portland: Luna & Simba at The Jerkstore via photopin (license)

Day Five – June 22, 2018 – I Am a Memory

We all have memories of others. Some memories are tender and treasured. Others are painful and linger longer than we wish. Have you ever thought about being a memory to someone else? Who holds a memory of you?

Perhaps you have written about the many adventurous experiences you had as a young child with a grandparent, sibling, or friend. Have you ever considered how this person might recall you in those same memories?

What is the memory? Focus on a specific memory, a fixed point in time. Play it out on the page. What were you like to them?

Day Four – June 21, 2018 – I’ll Show You How

Could you teach someone how to finger knit in two minutes or less? Could you teach someone how to perfectly dice an onion or how to expertly tie a bow on a package?

Today, I want you to write about what you could teach someone to do in two minutes or less. How would you teach them to do this? Who taught you to do this thing? Is this something that you do every day or once in a while? Why is it important to know how to do this?

I can’t wait to learn about your hidden expertise and talents. 

photo credit: marcoverch Draufsicht von Zwiebeln in einem Sack via photopin (license)

Day Three – June 20, 2018 – My Do

Jim Morrison, songwriter and lead singer of The Doors, once said, “Some of the worst mistakes in my life were haircuts.” Do you relate to that statement?

Today, I want you to write about your hairstyle. What does your hairstyle say about you? Is this a new hairstyle for you or one that’s tried and true?

How has your hairstyle changed over time? Has your hair ever helped you feel a part of a group or disassociated from a group? Have you had a favorite hairstyle representative of a bygone era?

Tell me about your hair through the ages or just one hairstyle you’ll never forget.

photo credit: classroomcamera DSC04478 via photopin (license)

Day Two – June 19, 2018 – I Never Thought I’d Ever

I never thought I’d ever…

Today, I’d like you to complete that sentence.

Write about something you did that you never thought you’d do. What did you do? Why did you do this? How did you feel doing this? How did you feel afterward? Did it change you in any way? What do you think doing this thing says about you? Continue reading

Day One – Monday, June 18, 2018 – Wunderkammer

Last year, a contest was published in The Writer magazine, and the contest writing prompt has stuck with me ever since I read it. I thought it would be the perfect first prompt to get you excited about our week of writing.

As some of you may know, I’ve recently given and attended talks about micro-memoir, or the art of writing memoir under 1,000 words in length. Today, I want you to write a micro-memoir piece about a wunderkammer, which is a 16th century cabinet (or room) of wonders. Continue reading

April 1, 2015 – Surprise!

Surprise! You didn’t expect to hear from me today, did you? No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. In South Louisiana, we have a custom we call lagniappe, and it involves giving a little extra gift, something unexpected. So this is my lagniappe to you–one more writing prompt you weren’t expecting. It is one that I hope you find helpful today, and in the weeks and months to come.

I want you to pick a room or a place in or around your house. Go with the first place that pops into your head–a kitchen, bedroom, hallway, garden, front patio–any place will do. Write down what you picked. Now, really think about what that place in your home means to you. How do you utilize that space? What do you like or dislike about it? How has your idea of that sort of space changed throughout your life?  For example, maybe as a child you loved to watch a parent cook in the kitchen, but now your kitchen is hardly used because you don’t enjoy cooking.

Now, go ahead and walk to that space in your house. Look around and find three items from that space that call to you. You can really choose anything. Listen to your first gut reaction. There may be a reason your subconscious is taking note of these particular objects. Go back and write down the three items you chose.

Describe your three items. Write down any memories or feelings you have about them. Do they remind you of a special time or an important person in your life? Take us back to the moment you obtained them. Once you’ve done that, choose the one item that has the richest story potential and write that object’s story.

If, in the future, you are ever stuck and need something to write about or an idea to get your juices flowing, just pick another room in your house and another few objects. You’d be amazed how many stories reside in the rooms of your home and in the objects you possess.

 

photo credit: Christopher Barson Interior Associates Project: Spring Valley Residence via photopin (license)

March 25, 2015 – Earth’s laughter

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The earth laughs in flowers.” Isn’t that a lovely thought?

March 20th ushered in the first day of spring. Although the weather may not feel spring-like where you live,  it’s hard not to think about flowers and gardens and new life at this time of year.

Gardens are places that really do engage all the senses. Do you have a green thumb? Do you enjoy spending time working in or visiting gardens? Tell us about a garden experience you remember and try to include details that make us see the vibrant colors, smell the floral aromas, hear the wildlife, feel the textures of the petals, or taste the edible plants.

Maybe you’d rather write about a favorite flower or a special or significant bouquet you once received or gave. Flowers are used to beautify wedding ceremonies and birthday parties. They are sent to celebrate births and promotions. They are often given in sympathy or received with an apology.  Write about a time when a flower purchase or gift was particularly meaningful  to you.

 

photo credit: Will’s Ringwood Rosie via photopin (license)