The Task At Hand

basement artist

Here’s 6-year-old me in a BIG smock provided by longtime family friend Helene Hemmendinger. Eric H. is working the other side of the easel.

May 30, 2014  Prompt #30

Do you have a favorite item of clothing that you wear for a particular task? A gardening shirt, a well-loved apron, a pair of road trip blue jeans?  This item of clothing will be your touchstone for the following prompts. If you don’t have a particular garment that fits this description, choose something that is meaningful to you in another way.

Ann Brashares wrote an entire series of books that revolved around a pair of blue jeans — The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Of course, the books are not really about the pants; they are about friendship, loyalty, and growing up.  What larger themes will emerge from your writing?



  1. For five minutes, write a physical description of your clothing choice. Describe its style, fabric, and color. Does it have tears or stains? Where and when did you acquire it?
  2. Put on the item of clothing. Do you feel connected to the task for which you generally wear it? (Time to bake raisin oatmeal cookies! Time to weed around the stoop or feed the horses!) Write about your connection to the piece of clothing, how it came to be your painting, hiking, or “clean the gutter” garment. Write for 15 minutes.

Further Writing

  • Write about someone else’s “go-to” clothes. For instance, my father had a pair of frayed blue shorts he gardened in for twenty years, until my mother decided they so worn-thin they were “obscene.”  She tossed them.

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Each member brings in a piece of clothing they associate with a particular use.  For a few minutes each, talk about your clothing choice with the group.
  2. Next, for 15 minutes, write about how you feel when you wear it.
  3. Fictional turn: write about someone who panics when they cannot find a specific piece of clothing. Can they not go out on a date because they can’t find their green high-tops? Do they give up on working in their studio because their perfectly worn, perfectly paint-splattered Oxford shirt is missing?

What did you think of this writing prompt? Share your thoughts.

One thought on “The Task At Hand

  1. Fun! I have a huge, finely-woven cotton men’s shirt, light blue with darker blue stripes of varying kinds. I use it on butterfly days to keep the hot sun off of me, and it works wonders. When I put it on, I go looking for my camera to go for a hike where I may become very hot. It reminds me of long hikes in the desert of the middle of Baja where it was 103 and I was ok with a white men’s shirt (a great deal like this one) to catch the wind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s