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 Sunday, August 10
Micro Prompt: Write about giving, receiving or arranging a bouquet of flowers–either wildflowers, garden flowers, or flowers from a florist.
Write for 15 minutes.
For Thursday, August 7
Write a poem or flash fiction piece that includes a sunset.
Playing off of yesterday’s post, try incorporating yesterday’s suggestions or work with some of these.
1. Write from the point of view of someone on the boat or on the island in the photo. Imagine they are eager for the sun to set. Why?
2. Write about the most dramatic sunset you’ve ever seen.
3. Write about waiting in relation to the sunset.
4. Sunsets are often symbols of conclusion or contentment. Try writing a piece in which a sunset conjures up opposite feelings, perhaps of new beginnings, agitation, or anticipation.
For Wednesday, August 6
Write a poem or flash fiction piece that includes a sunrise.
1. If there’s a person involved, write about their interior state of mind.
2. Write about the most dramatic sunrise you’ve ever seen.
3. Write about waiting in relation to a sunrise.
4. Sunrises are often signs of hope or renewal. Try writing a piece in which a sunrise conjures up opposite feelings, perhaps of frustration, disappointment, or despair.
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
Sunday, July 20, 2014 • Prompt #77
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.
If you are old enough to remember, write about where you were when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
- Describe where you watched or listened to the landing.
- Who was with you?
- What emotions did you experience?
Write for 15 minutes.
- Choose one of the following words as your springboard. Write for 15 minutes. Man on the Moon. Half-Moon Bay. Blue Moon. Moonpie. Moonlighting. Honeymoon. Moonshine.
- Write a 200-word fable that features two animals and the moon.
Writing Group Variations
- Gather in an area away from city lights with a good view of the moon. (Consult a moonrise calendar.)
- Look at the moon through binoculars and a telescope. Look carefully.
- Take notes.
- Move to an indoor area and write your observations.
- Did anything surprise you? Do you feel an emotional connection to the moon?
For Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Prompt #73
Write about an encounter on a city street.
- This can be an encounter between two people, a person and a sign, an older person and a toddler, three dogs, or some other combination.
- Balance observation, description, and dialogue.
- Write for 15 minutes.
Book Suggestion: Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Prompt #72
Yesterday afternoon, I wandered through Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, the inspiration for today’s writing prompt.
Write about zoos.
- You can focus on a particular zoo, animal, visit, or a opinion about zoos.
- Or you can write in a more abstract, mixed-up, or interwoven kind of way.
- This prompt lends itself especially well to sensory descriptions: be sure to include the sounds, sights, textures, and smells all around you.
- Explore your emotions and state of being. What was your motivation for being at the zoo? Were you eager or reluctant to be there?
- Shift your perspective with that of one of the animals. Write for 20 minutes.
- Write about being in a zoo at dawn or dusk.
Writing Group Variations
- Visit a zoo and spend time writing there.
- Or swap zoo stories and write from there.
For Sunday, July 13, 2014 Prompt #70
Today is another quick prompt:
Write about your experiences fishing or watching others fish.
- Include sensory details, including sense of smell, about place, time, weather conditions, or what you were wearing.
- Include specifics about the kind of fishing you were doing or watching. Ocean or river? On a bank, from a bridge, or in a boat? Talk about gear, flies, bait and other details.
- Examine your emotions and state of being. What was your motivation for being there? Were you eager or reluctant to take part.
- Include action — large or quiet.
July 6, 2014 Prompt #63
Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson
For this, the final Sunday Shape-Up prompt, I turn to the spiral. As this long holiday weekend included for me both an unexpected funeral and an unexpected wedding, the spiral, with its nod toward the cyclical nature of life seems appropriate.
- On a blank piece of paper, draw a spiral with generous white space between the lines.
- For 5 to 10 minutes, write along the spiral line. Turn the paper as needed. Write freely about whatever comes to mind without too much forethought.
- Re-read what you’ve written and circle a phrase or sentence that stands out.
- Write the phrase or word on the top of a new sheet of (lined) paper. Write in response to it for 15 minutes.
Write in response to one of these spiraled phrases: Spiral-bound notebook. Spiral Staircase. Spiral galaxy. Spiraling in and out.
Variations for Writing Groups
Read about Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Look at photos on the internet or, even better, check out a library book about this land form art. Write in response to it. Even, even better, take a field trip to the jetty! Walk and write. Walk and write. Sit and write. Write some more, then walk back. Bring water.