Welcome to another Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week’s writing prompt is going to encompass something that has been a common thread through a lot of my poems – Nostalgia.
Some don’t like the idea of nostalgia because it may mean that you’re living in the past (or it may conjure up memories that hurt or depress). As a poet, I don’t find visiting the past a bad thing; in fact, there’s a lot of information about ourselves that we can learn by going back into our past – either by memories, old photographs, yearbooks, etc. there are just so many triggers. Of course, one of my favorite ways of visiting the past is listening to music from my childhood: The Beatles, The Supremes, Sonny and Cher, The Monkees or from high school: Elton John, Carly Simon, Carole King, Alice Cooper, Chi-Lites, etc. I could go through all the decades after that, but I think I’ll just leave it at that. In actuality, any “oldies” song puts me right back in the place I was when the song was popular – for better or for worse. When those feelings are evoked that’s a good time to get the daybook and jot those feelings/memories/images down.
In the last year (I was a latecomer, but now I’m caught up) I’ve become a devoted fan of the TV series Mad Men. It is such a well-written show, with such interesting characters, but another reason I’m attracted to the show is all of the props from the 1960s. During that decade I experienced kindergarten – junior high, so all of the clothes, the cars, the furniture, the events, all evoke memories. Some that I’d forgotten about – for example, the “pedal pushers” that Betty wears early in the series – reminded me of my aunt when she was that age, and brought back memories of specific incidents that I was then able to write about.
Earlier this month The New York Times ran an article “What is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows,” and it shares of how nostalgia can actually be good for you. It also says that instead of making you feel depressed, “reminiscing” can make people “feel better.” I believe that to be true, and my writing shows it. So, this week’s prompt should make you feel better in many ways. Give yourself permission to reminisce, and while you’re at it get a good poem, essay, of flash fiction from the exercise. Here’s your fourth prompt:
Choose one of these “nostalgia” inducing ideas and freewrite for 10-20 minutes. After you have written as much as you can, start shaping your poem, essay, or flash fiction. If you need to add more, revisit a specific from the idea you chose, or play a different song from the same time period as you write more.
A) Take your daybook and a pen/pencil to an antique store and browse through items there. You’ll discover old magazines, old postcards, and items that you will be surprised to “re-discover.”
B) Think of the decade/era you want to write about, play some songs from that time period nonstop as you write.
C) Go through old photographs, until you find one that speaks to you and you have to write about it then and there.
D) If you’re of a certain age, watch Mad Men; or a movie or a TV show from when you were a child. Write in your daybook anything that inspires you – it may be the clothes, the hairstyles, the jewelry – even an actor/actress or character.
As with all writing, it should be fun! If you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.
Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!