Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As you may recall from last week’s post that it’s the end of the semester for me, and so I’m not going to give long lead-ins to my prompts like I usually do. Yeah, right, I know; once I start writing I can’t stop. But, I’m going to have to try to be brief since I’ve been grading all day and have another full day of it again tomorrow. So, what am I going to prompt you to write about this week? Well, because it’s in the midst of the holiday season and another semester has ended it’s easy to wax nostalgic, as I seem to do quite a bit, but time passages comes to mind. And because I heard the same “old” song twice in as many days in random places, I’m thinking I should write about that and it’ll all fit together…wait and see.

So, I was on my way to an adjunct meeting last night at 7 PM and had my car radio set to the 70s on 7… and what song should come on? Harry Chapin‘s “Cats in the Cradle.” And, for whatever reason it really hit me in a different way than it had before. Probably because I’m getting older, probably because it’s nearing the end of another year, probably because I don’t see my daughters often enough….


Me and my daughters, circa early 1980s

When I first heard the song and loved it, I was young…eighteen and attending Ball State University my first time around…back in 1974. It reminds me of being in a friend’s dorm room and hearing the song come on the radio…long before Walkmans, iPods, and iTunes. I’ve always loved songs that tell a story, and Chapin’s song certainly does that.

Then tonight I was in a grading frenzy and had the TV on for background noise. I happened to have it turned to The Middle, and the episode was about Christmas, being together (or not) and how fast kids grow up. The song the cast referenced several times, was “Cats in the Cradle!” With that, it seemed that I needed to respond to that song this week, so it’s my cat-alyst for your twenty-fourth prompt(s):

“Cat-chy Lyrics”

1) Write in your daybook about a song that has been with you over the years and how it has changed in its meaning to you, from one decade to another, or for you youngsters – one year to another. It could be about love, it could be how you’ve changed over the years, or how someone else has changed…and if you have more than one of those songs, by all means, make that list. Remember, lists are good and always gives you something to come back to if you need ideas to write about.

2) Take a line or the title from that song (or one of those songs from your list) and either use it as an epigraph for your work, or use it as a jumping off place for your own writing. Or reference the song, or the singer in your work. There’s all kinds of ways to utilize the song. Write until you exhaust the subject.

3) If you’re a parent, write about your child/children – listen to Chapin’s song on the Youtube clip referenced above – write a poem or story that starts from birth to their age now…. If you’re not a parent, think about your own childhood and how your parents have changed over the years. Write for 10 minutes or until you run out of things to say.

4) Take any of these writings and shape them into the genre of your choice. Then revise!

5) As with all writing, this Cat-chy Lyricswriting should be fun! And I remind you that 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!



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