Friday, January 27, 2012

Writing Prompts: What Are You Afraid to Say?

Untitled by dno1967b
Untitled, a photo by dno1967b on Flickr.
When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.
~Audre Lorde

Essay Prompt: What are you afraid to say? What do you think people are afraid to say or talk about these days? Write a short essay on this topic addressing one of those questions.

Fiction Writing Practice: Write a scene where one character confronts another one with something he or she has wanted to tell them for a long time, but was always afraid. How does the other character react? Write out the dialogue.

Poetry: Write a list poem addressing many things you have been afraid to say. It can be addressed to one person, or it can be a combination of things you are afraid to say to many people. It could also be a list poem of things you are afraid to ask.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Prompts with Snow and Trees

For today's free-write, please start by free-writing from the image for 5 minutes without stopping


free-write for 5 minutes from this phrase:

The snow on the trees reminded her/him of. . .

After 5 minutes, look at what you have on your paper and find a spark you want to explore through a story, essay, poem, song, or ???

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creative Writing Prompts Inspired by Valzhyna Mort

I think the poet Valzhyna Mort from Belarus  (the former Soviet Union) is pretty incredible.  I would like to "share" this video of her poem "New York" which gives an awesome perspective of the city.  I think the last two lines of the poem are incredible, and here is the text if you would like to read it.   Notice how she plays with the theme of a magician throughout the poem. 

 For today's writing prompts, we have two choices. 

Choice 1:  Review the video two or three times and write a reaction to the video.  You can do this in a casual style, writing what you like or don't like about it.  Did any line or illustration particularly strike you?  Why or why not?  You can also do this in a review-like format with a more formal voice.  Writing about other writing (and visual art in this case) is good writing practice, and you tend to become a little more aware of things when you critique other work in detail.

Choice 2:  Pick a city or small town and write a description about it going for 5 minutes without stopping.  You can then make this into a story, or you can do this via a poem with 25 lines or less.  Try mimicking Mort's style, but with your own words.  For example, Mort plays with a magician theme, so is a theme you can use to write about your place?

Let me know what you think of the video.  I really appreciate the comments you have been leaving.

Happy Writing!

If you haven't read much by this poet, I highly recommend her.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Breeze of the Future Writing Prompt

Sandstone Head by blmurch
Sandstone Head, a photo by blmurch on Flickr.
Today, I'm going to steal a phrase from a fabulous Mark Strand poem which can be read on Writer's Almanac today. Please read the poem AFTER you try the prompts.

Free-write for 5 minutes to this phrase:

Let the breeze of the future. . .

After you free-write, you can take what you have written to turn into a story, poem, song, etc.

The phrase is from Mark Strand's poem "A Short Panegyric" and can be read here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Writing Prompts About Hands

hand ~ mano by sunshinecity
hand ~ mano, a photo by sunshinecity on Flickr.
Many thanks to writer Karen J. Weyant for providing the prompts below.

Enjoy and Happy Writing to All!


Writing About Hands, Writing About People 
by Karen J. Weyant

Many people believe that the hands can tell the story of a single individual life. Janet Zandy, in her book, Hands: Physical Labor, Class and Cultural Work, explains this: “Hands speak.  In sign language they do the work of tongue and voice box.  In greeting, they iterate multiple meanings.  They augment orality.  They reveal identity – the long fingers of a pianist, the rough, stubby hands of the bricklayer.  The most advanced technology cannot completely eliminate the daily tasks performed by hands.”

Thus, writing about a person’s hands can be an important step towards writing about a person.
Writing about other people in clear concrete terms (without falling into abstract words such as kind, nice, angry, etc...) is a difficult task.  One way of entering this task is to start with the hands.  Using these two questions, see if you can tell the story of a single life:

1.         Think of a person you know well, and then imagine his or her hands.  What do they look like?  Consider the fingernails, the knuckles, the wrists, the palms, even the veins.  Are there scars?  You can even consider connecting palmistry, or the art of palm reading, into your work.

2.         Imagine these hands actually doing something. What stories are behind these hands?  Are there jobs?  Accidents?  Livelihoods?  How can the actions be depicted to tell a story?

In the past, my students  have told fascinating stories of grandfathers and their farms, mothers teaching piano lessons, fathers and brothers working on their pickup trucks.  Both of these questions may lead you to write a poem, a story, or even a personal essay!  Good luck!

Karen J. Weyant’s work can be seen in 5 AM, Barn Owl Review, Cave Wall, Copper Nickel, Harpur Palate, River Styx and The Tusculum Review. Her chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, won Main Street Rag’s 2011 chapbook contest and will be published in 2012. She lives in Warren, Pennsylvania, but crosses the New York state border to teach at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Writing Prompts

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Since it is the new year according to the standard calendar most of us live by, this prompt will ask you to reflect on something new you want to in your life this year. No, I'm not talking about a new house, sports car or anything tangible. I'm talking about a quality within yourself that will help you in your life.

Do you want a renewal of patience?

Do you want to have more gratitude?

Do you want more time for praise?

How about health or peace?

Do you want more time for writing?

Whatever you would like to add to this new year, I don't want you to just write about it, but I also want you to break it down into some steps that will help make it happen for you. Yes, a map to the goal always helps.

And good luck!

Part 2 is just for your writing goals.

Every year I ask my close writing friends to reflect on their writing. I like them to reflect on the goals they have reached and the success they have received over the last year.

And then, they set writing goals for the new year. And only goals that they have control over. For example, getting published is not a goal---unless you are talking about self-publishing. However, submitting to an X amount of publications is most certainly a goal you have control over, so that counts. The idea is to set goals that you can control, and hopefully, if you stick to them and nurture your writing, you will celebrate some success along the way.

What will your writing goals for 2012 be? Will you write an X amount of new poems? Will you try a new form? Will you revise the last few chapters of your novel? Will you write 3 new short stories? Will you start participating in a writing group or take a class? Will you subscribe to an X amount of journals? Will you set aside time every week for writing and/or submissions? How often will you give yourself time to write?

Set your goals, but first reflect on your goals from last year if you had some and see where you went wrong and right and let that starting point guide you.

Note: It is a good thing to review your yearly goals every 3 months (or more if you'd like) so that you don't lose sight of them. And of course, I believe in weekly goals as well.

And as always, you are free to comment and tell us which writing goal is going to be most important for you this year.

I wish you all the best!!!