Posts Tagged ‘writing prompts’
Autumn is here and it requests our attention. At each change of season, I turn to Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude by Alan Jones and John O’Neil. Seasons of Grace traces gratitude through the metaphor of the four seasons, encouraging readers to practice gratitude in new ways. It’s a remarkable book that has taught me so much about the power of gratitude as a foundational practice.
They begin their chapter on Autumn in this way:
“The fruits of the harvest are gathered and stored. The trees shed their leaves and reveal their true forms. The days grow shorter and darker, reminding us of how brief our time on earth really is. It’s autumn: a season for reflecting on what it means to be truly alive, and for giving thanks for the gifts an authentic life bestows.
It’s no coincidence that autumn and authenticity are linguistic cousins. Both share the Latin root aut-, meaning “to increase or grow.” Autumn brings the harvest bounty: the earth’s increase. Authenticity brings the reward of increased self-knowledge and awareness, of a life augmented (another word cousin!) through integrity. As autumn represents the ripening of the crops, so authenticity represents the coming into maturity of our characters. The link is gratitude, which allows us to ground ourselves in humility and recognize our authentic nature. When we live gratefully, we become more truly ourselves.”
Autumn presents us with an opportunity to reflect on our inner and outer harvests. Here are some writing prompts to feed your creative impulses as you explore the gifts of fall:
-Look at the following two words—autumn and authenticity. What connections between these two words do you sense?
-When do you feel the most authentic? Alone? With others? At work? In nature?
-Write about the gifts from summer. What came to fruition? What didn’t? What are you letting go of for fall?
-How do you typically celebrate the autumn season?
-Finish the sentence: If I were living more authentically, I would…
-What are the 10 things you’re grateful for right now?
-Explore the list of seasonal words and phrases below. Pick one or two words or phrases that carry the most energy for you and free write about them for 5 minutes. Then choose one or two words or phrases that carry the least energy for you and free write about them for 5 minutes.
I’d love to hear your reflections on any of these prompts!
Seasonal Words and Phrases
Inner and Outer Harvest
Light and Shadow
The out breath
The in breath
Change of color
Change of form
Wheel of seasons
Season of preparation
Living in gratitude
The harvest is stored
Lady of the Sunset
Ripening into autumn
Gathering and storing
Wonder and Awe
Winds of Change
Posted April 13, 2012on:
I am always amazed at how much insight a spontaneous writing prompt can yield. In my ‘First Thursdays’ writing group, we come up with a prompt generated on the spot, freewrite for 5-10 minutes and share. We also critique 3-4 pages of work we’ve brought. Yesterday, my dear writing buddy Al offered this prompt: “I like it best when…” We put pen to the paper for 8 minutes.
I wrote a list:
I like it best when I’m in charge.
I like it best when I find a book that makes language feel fresh.
I like it best when I work in the background and help others—but also acknowledged for a doing a good job.
I like it best when others believe I’m smart.
I like it best at home, hanging out without any makeup on, in comfy clothes, with plenty to eat in the fridge.
I like it best when I have uninterrupted writing time that fuels long spells of imagination.
I like it best when I’m healthy.
I like it best when I have a new book that I’ve written, hot off the press, in my hands.
I like it best when I wake up with a line for a new poem on the tip of my tongue.
I like it best when I have cooked a sumptuous Indian meal.
I like it best when I laugh so hard with a friend that I sound like I’m snorting.
I like it best being inundated by the lights, sounds and smells of a Las Vegas casino.
I like it best right after a facial.
I like it best when I hear from a former student who tells me about their achievements.
In reading over my list wonderful contradictions and tensions are present. My writing group pointed to the tension in my statements between liking to be in charge and wanting to play a supporting role. I see a tension between my enchantment with casinos (I lived in Las Vegas for two years), and therefore intense stimuli and the joys of solitude that accrue through the practice of writing.
Tensions and contradictions are what make humans fascinating and writers mine these facets of personality to make their work emotionally compelling. Try this writing prompt and see what you discover about yourself. Or, you can apply this prompt to the fiction that you write. How would your main character answer the prompt? What contradictions and tensions from the character’s list could you draw on to deepen a conflict or plot development?
Winter Solstice is a perfect time for writers to take stock of the light and dark aspects of their writing. So much of writing (and creating more generally), is about cultivating the willingness to explore the unknown, uncharted and mysterious places of the imaginative psyche. Often it feels as if we are in the dark. During winter, we can review our writing accomplishments of the year and plant dream seeds for the future. As we turn inward into the muck of our own fertile landscape, we mirror the outward cycle of the earth.
The prompts below can support your writing practice during the winter:
My writing that is most afraid of the light is…
The writing that wants to be born in 2012 is…
Creating support for my writing life during winter looks like…
The time I felt the most joy in 2011 when writing was…
I am most of proud of my writing practice in 2011 because…
The writing seeds that are growing in the deep dark are…
A negative belief I have about my writing that I could release into the light is…