Because I recently facilitated the painting of a mural on the side of my garage, I have circles on my mind. For this mural, based on a Kandinsky painting, over 20 members of my cohousing community (plus a few neighbors) pitched in to paint a circle or two. Aged 3 to 60, the painters added their unique perspectives to the mural.
Inspired by any of the circles depicted above, write about
- Orbits. Real or symbolic.
- Targets. Metaphorical and not metaphorical.
- Things that Spin.
- Enclosing and Being Enclosed.
- Write for 10 minutes without letting your pen off the paper. Write whatever comes to mind.
- When you finish, circle a favorite or a disturbing word or phrase and write it on the top of a new piece of paper.
- Write for 15 minutes more.
Stumped? Try including a conversation between two strangers, a man spinning on the ice, a woman spinning a top, or a child rolling down hill.
Thursday, October 2
According to Jewish law and tradition, this year, 5775, is a Shmita or Sabbatical year, when Jewish farmers are supposed to let the land rest. The idea of fallow fields got me thinking about what grows when you don’t actively plant seeds, either physically or metaphorically.
Prompt #1 Write about toiling, perseverance, stepping back, being receptive. Write for 15 minutes.
Prompt #2 Follow these steps to see what emerges.
- Write for 10 minutes inspired by the word “fallow.”
- Write for 5 minutes inspired by the word “follow.” Encourage connections with the “fallow” writing.
- Write for 5 minutes inspired by the word “fellow.” Again, look for connections, either thematically or aurally, with your “fallow” and “follow” writing.
- Look at all three samples. Circle phrases and words that stand out for you. Choose one word or phrase from each sample and write them on top of a new page. Write for 10 more minutes.
For Tuesday, August 12
Walking around Beach Haven, New Jersey last Wednesday, I came upon this fabulous house. Over the next week, walk around your own neighborhood (or a new one) and find a house, townhouse, or apartment building that captivates you. Stand or park in front of it for 5 to 10 minutes, writing down notes on what you see, hear, and feel.
Later, expand your writing by responding to one of these questions (or one of your own.) Let your imagination run wild on this one.
- Imagine a quarrel between two people who live there.
- Imagine a perfect day at home for one of its residents.
- Imagine how the house looked the day that the current owners moved in. What were they thinking, worrying about, anticipating?
For Friday, August 8
From small towns to big cities, window displays hold a special allure. For this prompt, stand in front of a window display for 5 to 10 minutes, writing down notes on what you see, the display’s design, who its intended audience might be, and most importantly, your emotional response to it.
Later, expand your writing by responding to one of these questions (or one of your own.)
- What emotions does the window display bring up for you (or your character)? What does the window seem to promise?
- If you could own one thing in the window, what would it be and why?
- Imagine stealing one item in the window? Who would steal it? Why?
- Is this the kind of store where you normal shop? Why or why not? If not, write about walking inside for the first time. If so, write about passing it by.
For Monday, August 4, 2014
Write an overheard conversation that takes place in this parking lot.
For Saturday, August 2, 2014
You receive an unexpected package in the mail. Continue reading
Write a poem, flash fiction piece or the beginning of a story inspired by this photo.
Incorporate at least four of these words: rough pie slant oboe smooth dirt bolt round home worn road deserted once must broom
Write for 15 minutes.
Wednesday, July 28, 2014 • Prompt #87
The element of time often adds suspense and welcome tension to writing. For this prompt, write about two people who agree to meet under this clock at 3 p.m.
Suggestions and Considerations
- Describe the day’s weather. How does that influence the story?
- Do the two people already know each other?
- Is one person new to the City? Is one a long-time resident?
- Why have they chosen the clock as a meeting place?
- Write for 15 minutes.
More Writing Options
- Write a piece where one person is wealthy and one is broke.
- Write about an illegal or illicit transaction.
- Write a piece in which the second person never arrives.
- Write a piece in which the second person brings a third person.
- Write a piece in which the first person is holding a box.
Tuesday, July 27, 2014 • Prompt #86
Write a poem or flash fiction piece inspired by a vintage illustration of an animal. Click here for illustrations or look for prints at a used book shop or library.
- Use specific, concrete details.
- Capture a moment in time.
- As (almost) always, use sensory details.
More Writing Options
- Try shifting perspective once or twice within the work.
- Write the piece as a traditional ode.
- Write as if you are someone who has never seen this animal before.
Here’s a piece I wrote influenced by both a bear safety pamphlet and this bear illustration.
twigs bugs fruit insects fish carrion.
Look for these signs:
of decayed logs stumps and berry patches.
Tooth and claw high on trees.
She is not far off.
bears do not go
into true hibernation.
Sleep is not deep
a few degrees
in caves, crevices,
Den with me.
© Ellen Orleans 2012
Monday, July 28, 2014 • Prompt #85
Write a poem or short fiction piece in a surreal or magic realism style. This genre introduces supernatural or unbelievable events or abilities into in an otherwise everyday realistic environment. (However you define that!)
Option #1: Write a new piece.
Option #2: Take an existing piece and add a supernatural element to it.
Need more inspiration? Try one of these options.
- A child comes home from school to discover his twin brother in his bedroom. When he left for school that day, he didn’t have a twin brother.
- An urban community garden produces vegetables no one planted and no one recognizes. What happens when an 80-year-old woman takes some home and makes vegetable soup?
- A janitor spills a new cleaning solution on her hands and discovers she can read people’s thoughts. Or heal people’s illnesses. Or …?
- A character wakes up to find he’s turned into a cockroach. (Oh wait, that’s been done.)
Looking for surreal realism inspiration? Read work by these two authors: Aimee Bender and Frankie Elizabeth Rollins.