Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This winter weather is like a broken record and frankly it’s beginning to get a bit stifling! I guess you can tell that when something is on my mind or bothering me I write about it; hence, at least three posts this month alone that have mentioned winter weather in them or included photos of snow in my yard…and everywhere else piling up. We’ve had a record breaking 3′ of snow here in Toledo just in January. Now we’re on target to break the all-time snowfall in a winter…and it sounds like that could happen within the first week of February…and we still have to mid-March to go! Well, just how much can you milk winter for things to write about? A lot. In fact, just driving in the icy tundra to school today I had a couple of new ideas as I saw the interesting sculptures that the wind has made with the drifts. And, there’s been sightings of something new to me: Snow Rollers. Lake Erie ice balls. Thundersnow. All something that could be written about, and I’m sure something that will now be added to my vocabulary.

Speaking of winter and writing, my poem “Winter Noise” which I wrote after our New Year’s Day snow storm a few weeks ago, was accepted and published in Flying Island! I suggest that if you live or have ties to Indiana that you submit to this journal. It has a long, good history. Check it out!

Finally, I do find that I write about weather a lot. I’ve penned many a poem on tornadoes and heat (although, at this moment I don’t think I’ll be complaining about heat anymore…but don’t hold me to that!) and rain…humidity…and have had success with them. I guess I could attribute my fascination with writing about weather because of the imagery it lends, but in reality it goes a lot deeper than that. I wanted to be a meteorologist for a time in my life. As a child I loved science and was fascinated with the clouds, formation and the like. I read up on it, and when I went to Ball State University the first time around I even considered majoring, or at least minoring in it. There was only one problem with that idea…I needed to be good at math. Math, the bain of many of my dreams!!! Have you ever had something in your life that kept you from fulfilling a plan or a dream? Or at least was a detriment? Weather, math, there’s all a connection and I bet you can see where this is leading…into your thirty-first prompt:

“What’s Holding You Back?”

1) In your daybook write about a plan, a dream, a job, or some goal that you’ve had but couldn’t follow through because of some obstacle. What was that obstacle? Is it something you still struggle with or is it something that you might be able to overcome? Why or why not? Did you overcome it? If so, how? A writing like this can lead you into something nice for an essay or a memoir. It also can certainly lend itself to conflict for one of your characters in a story or a play.

2) While you’re thinking about that dream, plan, job, etc., and have written what obstacles have been in your way – why not write how you feel your life has changed because of not fulfilling that particular dream, etc.? Maybe your life took a turn that you never expected because of that, write about that for a while. It will lead to some interesting discoveries.

3) Okay, yes, you can’t let all of this winter weather, cabin fever, snow rollers, etc., pass you by without writing about it! If you have already, write some more! It really does relieve some of the misery…for the time you’re writing. If you just can’t write about winter anymore (it could be holding you back!!), why not muse about spring – write about your dreams of spring…what’s underneath this frozen tundra waiting to get out?

4) After you’ve spent a good 10 minutes writing on any or these prompts, or until you’ve exhausted yourself, then put your work aside for a while. Then come back and re-read it, revamp it into the genre of your choice, and then as always, revise, revise, revise!!! And then send it off if you feel good about it. Don’t hold back!

As with all writing, this “What’s Holding You Back?” writing 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!



Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Well, this winter is certainly tenacious and relentless! I for one am over it, and I know I’m not alone. As I was driving to my classes yesterday…on yet more slippery roads, and walking through mounds of snow that had been cleared for cars in the parking lot at school, but pushed over some sidewalks making it difficult to maneuver…especially while carrying books, a book bag, and a large cup of coffee without slipping or, worse yet, falling and hurting myself (or just making a humorous spectacle for others) – the phrase that came to mind was “I hate winter!” It’s so easy to make that blanket statement, but I have to remember that I don’t “hate” winter. There are good things that happen in January…February…for example, my youngest daughter, Alison, has a birthday tomorrow – and she has brought me great joy. And, in February, my oldest grandson, Codey, was born…and that is also worth celebrating. Amazingly enough, both births happened without the kind of weather we’re having now. I knew all of the stories of “Blizzard Babies” and such, and had visions of not being able to make it to the hospital in the middle of winter (30 miles away) and living in Indiana, as I did at the time…the odds were pretty good that roads would be slick and hazardous. Both times the road were clear to travel, and I feel really lucky about that!


So, maybe it’s not that I “hate” winter – it’s that I don’t care for the conditions of the roads when one has to travel, and the sidewalks when you have to walk…anywhere…to your car, into school, into the grocery, out your front door….


Anyway, as I was on my way to my creative writing class I decided that a good prompt would be to write about this “hatred” of winter, and actually with both creative writing classes that I assigned it they all came up with some pretty good stuff! For your thirtieth prompt, I’m going to give you the exact same prompt that I gave them in my classes and see what you come up with:

“I Hate Winter, or at Least Despise it a Little!”

1) In your daybook write a list of all the things that you hate about winter. If you’re someone that actually loves winter, then flip it on its head and write a list of what you love about winter.

2) Choose the most interesting thing from your list and write on it for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the subject. This exercise really lends itself to a lot of good imagery…and if you let out how it feels to drive on black ice, to fear you’ve got frostbite, or how it feels to be pregnant during the winter, or of falling on the ice, you can get some really interesting writing – and you’ll probably connect with a lot of others in an audience.

3) You might find that your list itself can be tailored into a “list” poem. If you’ve never written one, give it a try!

4) This exercise can lend itself to all genres, creative nonfiction (memoir), fiction, plays, and of course, poetry. As always, once you have “finished” your writing, remember to revise, revise, and then revise again…!

As with all writing, this “I Hate Winter, or at Least Despise it a Little!” writing 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!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and it’s back to school week for me. I never mind that though as I enjoy teaching. and this semester I have three creative writing classes that I get the pleasure of teaching – so that’s a bonus!

Today, in one of those classes, we got on the subject of music – which if you’ve followed my blog for long – you know always lends itself well to creative writing. The conversation became energized with each one of us talking about the first album/record that we remember owning or purchasing on our own, and then that led into the first concert that we each attended. Personally, my first album was Rubber Soul by The Beatles in 1966.


I had a lot of records by the time I was in 8th grade in 1970, but the first 45 RPM that I remember buying on my own was purchased when I walked to Hogan’s Drugstore, in my hometown, where there was a limited selection of records. However, the money was “burning a hole” in my pocket and I wanted a new record – so I picked the best one of the handful…“Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

The first concert I ever attended was in Fort Wayne, Indiana at The Coliseum. The year was 1973, and the group was America. Do you remember their songs? Perhaps, “A Horse With No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” “Lonely People,” or “I Need You,” sound familiar….

It was a lot of fun talking about these memories and shared experiences…even if some of our experiences were decades apart! But you can bet that I asked my students (and I joined in as well) to pick up their pens and write about one of those “first” musical memories in detail. And, I’m going to prompt you to do the same thing! Here is your twenty-ninth prompt:

“A Round of Musical Firsts”

1) In your daybook write about the first album and/or the first single that you were ever gifted or purchased on your own. Why that particular album, song, or band/singer? How old were you? What connections do you make with that time in your life with this particular album/song/band/singer? Write on that for 10 minutes or until you exhaust the topic.

2) Write about the first concert that you ever attended. Who did you see? Who were you with? Where was the concert? What do you remember about the event? How old where you? Did anything funny happen? Was it an emotional experience? Was this the first of a long line of concerts attended, or did you somehow get out of going to concerts? How did those other concerts compare to that first time? If you stopped attending concerts…why?

3) Write about an album that you wanted desperately, but never purchased for one reason or another. Not enough funds? Another album came out and you got it instead? You were too young to buy it on your own and your parents wouldn’t buy it for one reason or another….

4) As always, once you have “finished” your writing, remember to revise, revise, and then revise again…!

As with all writing, this A Round of Musical Firstswriting 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!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Boy, 2014 sure has made itself known hasn’t it? No matter where you are in the U.S. you’ve been affected by the Polar Vortex, or at least you’ve heard about it on the national news or weather reports. Here in Toledo, OH, we ended up with another 10-13″ of snow (depending on where in Toledo you live), and had wind chills reach 45 below zero – pretty brutal for not even being a week into January before this stuff started, and that snow count isn’t including the 11.3″ we accumulated on New Year’s Day.


Snow as of January 6, 2014

I do have to say that as bad as this winter storm was it was nothing compared to the Blizzard of 1978. I was living in Indiana, a young mom (21) with a nine month old baby, and my then husband, Bill, who owned a 1969 Corvette that he adored. I have plenty of memories of that blizzard, but one that always sticks out in my mind is that the drifts were up and over the Corvette in the drive and the coveted car wasn’t visible. Some neighbor kids, about a week after the snowstorm, were out walking through the snow looking for places to shovel…and I had to yell at them – as they were walking on top of the prized Corvette…something they weren’t aware of. Needless to say, there was a lot of snow and a lot of drifts.

I also remember some super cold winters, with a lot of snow; actually, the year before the blizzard in 1977, there were some constant snows and a string of sub-zero temperatures…and that was not including wind chill factors! I especially remember getting stuck in a snow drift in our 4-wheel drive on a country road while going home from my mom and dad’s house after Sunday dinner. I was eight months pregnant and couldn’t get my coat zipped around my stomach. We had our dog, Smoky, with us and Bill had to walk about a mile down the road to a farm house to call his dad and brothers to come pull us out. While he was gone, the winds were howling, the windshield started forming ice, and all I could think of was the recent murders that had taken place in Hollandsburg. When Bill finally made it back to our vehicle we had to walk back to that farm house to wait for help to arrive, carrying Smoky, and no way for me to really bundle up. It’s a wonder all three of us didn’t end up with frostbite.

As I retell these memories I realize my need to write about them in more detail – the sights, the sounds, the feelings, and I bet as you read about this period of time (and if you’re of a certain age), you will have relatable tales. If you’re a lot younger, perhaps this latest cold snap will give you stories to tell or poems to write too. So for your twenty-eighth prompt:

“A Blizzard of Memories”

1) In your daybook write down some of your memories of a major snow storm, frigid cold, ice storms, wind chills, power outages, or anything associated with winter weather. It could be the Blizzard of ’78, getting stuck in a snow drift, being without power for days, something from this recent “Polar Vortex” outbreak, or not being able to get home from work…your memories may generate more ideas. Just as I’m writing this, I’m remembering other winter weather “incidents” from my life.

2) Take one of your memories and really hone in on it – like I said, get your senses involved. What did you see, feel, hear, smell, and/or even taste during that time? Write about that for at least 10 minutes or until you exhaust the memory.

3) Now take your writing and decide if it fits best into a poem, a memoir/essay, or would it lend itself to an interesting piece of fiction or a play based on your real-life events? Once you decide that aspect, take your time and get that story, poem, memoir, or play written!

4) As always, once you have “finished” your writing, remember to revise, revise, and then revise again…that’s the real craft of writing! It’s your talent and your tenacity that makes the writing yours, so make sure you have your best word choices and have every detail included so your audience connects with your piece of writing.

As with all writing, this A Blizzard of Memorieswriting 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!



Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that 2014 is here…which is a milestone for me…as a high school graduate in 1974! Time sure does fly, and I’m sure I’ll write more about this later in the year as that “anniversary” creeps closer in May. Right now, I’m ready to plunge into the prompts (er, challenge!) at hand…and, no, they’re not going to have anything to do with making those resolutions we all do, or at least think about, as each new year begins. It’d be too easy to write about what those resolutions are…and how many we’ve broken over the years, right? But, that is an idea to write about if you find that intriguing.

Are you ready to take me up on a “mapping out a plan” challenge?

Instead of thinking of those resolutions that we all usually break within a day, a week, or a month into the new year, why not sit down and map out a plan for your writing, or other project, that you really want to do this year. Instead of saying “I’m going to write every day in 2014,” and then when you miss a day and beat yourself up and give up…why not say, “I’m going to plan on writing as much as I can each month, and by March I’ll have X amount of that novel written, or X amount of poems for a manuscript, or have X amount of that full-length play written….” Then if you make that happen, pat yourself on the back and say “Now by June I’ll have X amount more of that novel written, or X amount more poems for a manuscript, or have several 10 minute plays written.” If you don’t make it to your goal for March, simply map out something that you know you are likely to attain!

If you make June’s deadline, then shoot for X more amount of writing in September in whatever genre that you’re working in.

Then for the major mapping planDecember is the month that you will want to have whatever it is that you’ve been working on all year…completed. It’s then that you can submit your work somewhere, or maybe you’ll finish that novel, poetry manuscript, or play by September. What if that happens and you’re done in September? Well, then you can start on another project…maybe one that will only take three months. Or maybe you can plan to participate in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Or maybe you can challenge yourself to another writing genre that you haven’t tried, or another creative outlet…maybe take that drawing class you’ve been thinking about, those piano lessons that you started as a kid and never finished, or an acting class….  No matter what you do, as long as you make room in 2014 to create and reach, or come closer to, your creative goals – then 2014 will be a successful year for you! I plan to take my own advice and map out some projects, and maybe take a workshop or class doing something that I’ve never tried before.

In addition, I’m going to do something a little different this time (and I’ll do this again on occasion), and post a couple of my own photographs for you to use as a prompt. Perhaps they will inspire you to write a poem, or create a short story, etc….the possibilities are endless. Remember, good writing starts with an image…! Here’s your twenty-seventh prompt:

“Images: Move Your Imagination!”


Northern Cardinal in Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark


Full moon over Montreal, from my trip there in August 2011.

Enjoy experimenting with these images and mapping out your creative plans for 2014!

I will be back next Wednesday with even more writing prompts for you.

I hope that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, that you will let me know. You can contact me here.

Keep writing!