Be Confident. And other worldly advice.

Thursday,  July 24, 2014  •  Prompt #81

 

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As I walked across campus tonight, I saw a yellow banner above the bridge across Varsity Pond. “Be Confident,” it read.

Prompt

Write about a piece of advice, such as “Be Confident” that you heard growing up or as a young adult.

 

Instructions

  1. If no single phrase jumps out at you, write six pieces of advice that you can remember and see if anything resonates.
  2. Or, use one of these phrases.  Save for a rainy day. Turn the other cheek. Look before you leap. He who hesitates is lost. You snooze. You lose.  Cheaters never prosper. Don’t slouch. If first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Fake it ’til you make it.
  3. Use that phrase as your first line.  Write in response to it.  Write for  10 minutes.

 

Variations

  • Have one of your characters offer another character advice. How does the second character respond?
  • Write a short fable for which the last line is a piece of advice.

A Giant Leap

Sunday, July 20, 2014  •  Prompt #77

moon

 

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.

 

 

 

Today’s Prompt:
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.

Additional Writings

  • 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

  1. Gather in an area away from city lights with a good view of the moon.  (Consult a moonrise calendar.)
  2. Look at the moon through binoculars and a telescope. Look carefully.
  3. Take notes.
  4. Move to an indoor area and write your observations.
  5. Did anything surprise you? Do you feel an emotional connection to the moon?

 

City Sidewalks

For Wednesday, July 16, 2014  Prompt #73

 

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Write about an encounter on a city street.

Writing Tips:

  • 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.

Roar!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014  Prompt #72

zoo

Yesterday afternoon, I wandered through Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, the inspiration for today’s writing prompt.

 

Write about zoos.

 

 

 

Writing Tips:

  • 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?

Further Writing

  • 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.

Symbols

prompt for July 5, 2014  Prompt #64

History-of-statue-of-liberty-1

 

It’s (still) the 4th of July Weekend here in the U.S. and I’ve been thinking of  patriotic symbols, what they mean to us, and how that differs from person to person.

 

 

Instructions

  1. Choose one of these words or phrases and write it at the top of a fresh page: Bald Eagle. “American” Flag. (Stars and Stripes.) Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty. Uncle Sam. Or choose your own patriotic symbol.
  2. Write in response to your chosen phrase for 15 minutes.
  3. Need addition direction? Considered exploring “gut” or emotional responses to your phrase or writing about how your response to the symbol has changed over the years.

Follow Up Writing

  • If you are from a country other than the U.S., write about some of your country’s national symbols. Consider, perhaps, how they contrast with those of the U.S.
  • Write about local or community symbols that move you in some way.

Writing Group Variation

  1. Bring in symbols or photos depicting symbols to your writing group — a rainbow flag, a fraternity or sorority pin, a postcard of Smokey Bear, etc. Swap images with other group members. Write in response to them for 15 minutes.

Postponed Until Monday: Further Rant Writing and Variations for Writing Groups

 

Fireworks (Inner and Outer)

prompt for July 4, 2014  Prompt #63

IMG_0703

 

It’s the 4th of July Weekend. Are you a fireworks YAY person or a firework NAY person? Either way, this post should prompt some sparks.

 

Instructions

  1. Write down 2o words or phrases that you associate with fireworks.
  2. Underline one word or phrase that troubles you or feels different in tone that most of the others words.
  3. Circle one word that particularly appeals to you or is the essence of fireworks.
  4. At the top of a new piece of paper, write down the underlined word as your first word.
  5. At the bottom of the paper, write down the circled word as your last word.
  6. Write 100 to 120 words in between — a poem, story or essay.

 

Follow Up Writing

  • If fireworks were an animal, what would they be?
  • If fireworks were music, what style would they be?
  • If fireworks were an emotion, what would it be?

Use the answers to the above three questions to fashion a poem or one-page story.

Writing Group Variation

  1. Did you see fireworks growing up as a child? Share your experiences with the rest of the group (about 3 minutes each) — Where did you see them? With whom did you watch them? Were you delighted, scared, both, something else?
  2. If you never watched fireworks, write about about another summer tradition that takes place at night.

Postponed Until Monday: Further Rant Writing and Variations for Writing Groups