Greetings, fellow writers. A little while ago, I posted a blog that included some writing prompts, promising it would be a regular feature on my blog. Well, I’d hate to disappoint you… so here are some more writing prompts I’ve found around the web or dreamed up on my own.
You participate in a Space Time Capsule program. You can include a letter up to 5 pages long and 4 personal items. What does your letter say, and what items do you choose?
Start a story with this line: “No one else can ever know about this.”
What is it you think about when you stare for a long time into a starry night sky? (Source
Remember, just pick one at random and write for 15-30 minutes. Let your pen (or keyboard) take over; get the work of your great imagination on the page! Don’t forget to share your own prompts in the comments or email them to me to be featured in a later post.
If you want to look up more writing prompts, here are some sites you can check out:
Until next time… ciao!
Today, our world lost one of the most wonderful souls: Maya Angelou gave up her ghost quietly in her North Carolina home this morning.
Not only was she an accomplished writer, Maya Angelou wore several hats during her 86 years on Earth. Known for her poetry, she was also a civil rights activist, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, actress, professor (Wikipedia). She published seven autobiographies and was an accomplished poet, in addition to earning several awards and honorary degrees between 1970 and today.
When I say “writing is therapy,” I can’t help but think of Maya Angelou and how she started writing. If you are unfamiliar with her history… she experienced something so traumatic during her early years that prompted her to become mute. Her strength came out in words, giving hope to so many others around the globe.
At age 7, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, who was later beaten to death in an assault that some believed was carried out by Angelou’s uncles. The trauma of the rape and her assailant’s death left Angelou mute for six years.
She began writing during that silent period. She would chronicle the first 17 years of her life in the 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which her friend, writer James Baldwin, had encouraged her to write.
The book, which covers the racism Angelou had faced in the 1930s and ’40s and her fantasies of being blond and white, is considered an American classic. (Reuters)
Patrik Henry Bass, an editor at Essence Magazine, says “when we think of her, we often think about her books, of course, and her poems… but in the African-American community, certainly, we heard so much of her work recited, so I think about her voice. You would hear that voice, and that voice would capture a humanity, and that voice would calm you in so many ways through some of the most significant challenges.” (NPR)
Oprah Winfrey, who considered Angelou to be not just her mentor but also a very dear friend, will always remember how she lived her life: “She moved through the world with unshakable calm, confidence, and a fierce grace.”
Harold Augenbraum, the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, stated “we share the gratitude of so many for Dr. Angelou’s contributions to literature, human rights, and social justice. Her legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to.”
My favorite Angelou poems will always be Caged Bird and On the Pulse of Morning, which was made famous when she wrote and recited the poem for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Give these a read/listen. Hear her voice shine through her words. Share your thoughts in the comments section, if you’d like.
Her work and words are forever etched in our history and she will not be forgotten, but remembered and celebrated for generations to come.
It’s National Poetry Month! Now is the time to celebrate our poet roots and refine those writing skills by creating new work or refreshing/revising some of your previously-composed poems. If you’re a regular reader, you know I love asking if a poem is ever complete… but really, is it ever complete?!
There’s just shy of two weeks left, and I’m going to continue making the most of it by jotting down short poems and attempting to generate fresh lines to work with. Grab your journal, open up Word or your blog, and get some words on the page. Feel free to try the form I’m about to share with you!
I recently discovered Cinquain, which is a form of Japanese poetry. It’s a short poem of 5 lines and 22 syllables. The pattern is like so: two, four, six, eight, two (2-4-6-8-2).
American cinquain, created by Adelaide Crapsey, was influenced by both the popular Japanese poetry forms haiku and tanka. She imposes a stressed iambic pentameter on the lines in the following pattern: one-stress, two-stress, three-stress, four-stress, one-stress. Here’s an example of her poem, Niagara. Read it aloud to yourself and try to add the stresses to gain the full effect.
I enjoy looking around the web for writing prompts to keep my creative juices going. I have a few favorite places to go that always provide something obscure, fun, dark, or just plain ridiculous.
To me, the prompt isn’t as important as the writing that follows. Don’t do what I used to do – spend entirely too much time choosing a good prompt. The idea is to be taken by surprise and to let your creative mind do the talking. Think of it as improve – don’t plan the piece; write off the cuff. Let your mind take the lead when you choose a prompt and develop it into a story, a poem, a song, a piece of prose, or whatever your soul desires.
Some of my favorite spots on the web to find writing prompts:
Here are some writing prompts I have found online or made up on my own. Get started by writing for 15-30 minutes non-stop using the prompt of your choosing.
To escape a zombie attack, you have to go live in the woods by yourself. Make a packing list. (Source
You receive a mysterious email and the subject line reads “Everything you know is a lie.” (Source
“This discovery will change the world, if it doesn’t destroy it first.” (Source
Stay tuned – this will become a regular feature on my blog. If you’d like to feature some of your own writing prompts, just email them to me or drop them in the comments. Happy writing!
Is a poem ever complete? This question is one I have struggled with through most of my years of writing poetry. As much as I love revision, it’s worth locking things away or sending them off as complete, because I might go back in and change things again. I have works I considered final at one point or another, only to find myself revising it yet again, years after the fact. I learned that it is okay to do that with poetry; however, we must come to a point where we feel it is time to share with peers and colleagues. Most of the poems I have posted here are considered complete – but I cannot guarantee that a year or ten from now that will still be the case.
A few years ago, I began to assemble a tool a toolkit of sorts that is comprised of tips, tricks, and suggestions from poets I have read over the course of my education, to help my poetry become more complete. In this toolkit, aside from revision techniques, I have added ways to draw more substance with my words, by way of freshening language and creating vivid, tangible images for my readers.
Now that I have the basics for this toolkit, I can take a better look at my work after the fact to see if I created a better poem by following the advice of my peers and the experts. A mantra I use when composing poetry goes like this: “Create. Freshen. Revise. Repeat.” It gets me through the process from start to finish. (more…)