Settling IN

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, July 8th was moving day and it went off without a hitch, so that is a relief. Now that the cats and I are in Indianapolis, we’re settling in quite nicely. We’ve been here just a little over a week, and the only thing left to do is unpack one more box of clothes, and hang pictures/paintings on the walls – and it will feel like we’ve never left. I never had a doubt that I wouldn’t feel right at home, and that I do. I’ve even had visitors already at my apartment, and a lot of people that I need to see now that I’m back. It’s funny, I was so anxious to leave this state six years ago, and it’s quite a newsflash to me how wonderful it feels to be back home. I’m happy, and look forward to the opportunities and the creative adventures that await me here. It’s also nice that I have friends in OH and MI who have been in contact with me through snail mail, and social media – it’s all the connections we make with others along the way that makes life so rewarding isn’t it?

Whether you’re going through life changes, mind changes, or just trying to adapt to this ever changing world we live in, here are a few prompts in hopes of helping you get some thoughts on paper:

  1. Write in your daybook about a time that you felt truly settled. Maybe it was/is a relationship. Maybe it was/is a home/apartment. Maybe it was/is a place that you lived/live. Maybe it was/is a job/career. Or maybe you’ve never felt settled – ever. Write what that feels like.
  2. Write about a place that you were anxious to leave. Did you? Why or why not? If you left, did you ever want to go back? As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side…do you find that…that way of thinking has helped or hindered you? Take a character that you’re working with – and see what they feel about where they’re “stuck” in your story/play.
  3. Use these three words in a poem/story/play: unpacking, incense, wine.
  4. Write about a connection that you, or your character, has made – was it a good one? Is it one that will stick for a lifetime? Was it one that should never have been made? Explain.

Enjoy the prompts! If you get something that you’d like to share – post it comments below, or email me at lylanne@lylanne.com

See you next week!

Keep writing,

Lylanne

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Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Time Challenges

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As writers we’re all familiar with facing the unknown…the blank page, the characters we haven’t developed yet, the plot or incident that will make a story sing, or what words will bring this or that poem to life. And, as writers we’re all familiar with the looming deadlines. As a poet/playwright, and even as a writing teacher, I meet these obstacles on a regular basis – if not in my own writing that I want to submit somewhere, but with students that are in a panic because of an approaching assignment deadline. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a creative vehicle or a research paper the results are the same…a sense of dread/panic/hopelessness mixed with a dash of exhilaration (if you like the challenge)...before we finally get something of substance down on paper.

If we’re lucky what we write will eventually turn into something we like and are excited to share with others. And, if you’re not a procrastinator…like I can be, you will have a few days, weeks, or even months to tinker with your work before the deadline arrives. Believe me, I never have months (unless it’s something that I’ve had sent back and decided to revise further to attempt publication or production elsewhere) to tinker with my work before sending it off.

I do like a challenge, and that is why I’ve participated in writing that really puts the pressure on. When I lived in Indianapolis, I participated in something called Masterpiece in a Day. It’s where you go to Fountain Square on a designated Saturday in September, register before 9 am to write a poem or a piece of prose, or create a piece of visual art…anyone that registers has to have their piece completed and submitted by 3 pm and by 5 pm judges announce the winners – hence, “masterpiece in a day.” I was fortunate enough to place 2nd for two years, and 3rd in another…all with poems. The competition is always stiff, and believe me it was a great feeling to even participate and get something written that I could live with…let alone win anything.

So, I knew that I could write under pressure…with a blank page (no head starts) as a rule – and that’s why I didn’t hesitate to jump at a chance to participate in a theatre version of this in Canton, MI (now that I live in Ypsi) on January 8th & 9th, 2016, at The Village Theatre. StageLab24 is billed as a theatre experiment. Here’s how it works: the author shows up at 8 pm, goes through an orientation which includes the rules, such as the plays could have no more than 4 characters, no more than 12 pgs., etc, then between 9:30-10 pm begin writing a 10 minute play. The play was to be complete and ready to turn over to the director by 7 am the following morning.

I had a few ideas rumbling around in my head by 10 pm, and began typing up dialogue for one of them…I felt like it was going nowhere and quickly decided that I needed to switch gears…in the 2nd play attempt I began thinking it was going to be about a bird sanctuary being held up by a group of rednecks (roughly based off of the Oregan standoff… and represented by one male character since I was limited to characters)…and that a couple of avid female birdwatchers come to the sanctuary and through a lot of comical banter (not so comical to the male) the women drive him off…however,  as any writer knows…sometimes the characters take over and other things happen…and it became a strange love story within some of those other elements…it surprised me, but in a good way. I titled my play, Bird Land.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, and because I also love to direct, I had signed up to direct my play as well…which meant no sleep. Auditions came after breakfast (and TLC Productions who put on StageLab24, provided us, the seven writers, the directors, and the cast with excellent food and beverages the entire duration), and by 11 am – it was time to meet with my cast (Melissa Francis, Lori Ann Dick, & Pat McKabe) that I’d selected and start rehearsals. By 6 pm we had a break for dinner, and at 8 pm the plays went live to the public. It was an exhilarating experience, and one that I’m happy that I was a part of – even if I was at the theatre for over 27 hrs, and awake for a total of 49….

The take away is that time challenges aren’t something that writers should dread – sometimes they can force you into doing some pretty incredible work. And, even if you aren’t happy with what you have – you have a new piece that you didn’t have before…and possibly one that has taken you to places that you weren’t even planning to go! If you ever get a chance to take part in something like Masterpiece in a Day or StageLab24 – do. Even if it’s one time, but my hunch is…you’ll want to do more of it the next time you get a chance.

Here’s a video of the making of StageLab24 filmed by Anna Johnson: Video

Here are some writing prompts to get you writing…or searching for deadlines:

  1. Take a current event (i.e. the Oregon standoff) and write it into a story that you’re already working with, or use it as a jumping off place for your story or play...trust your characters, and let them lead you where they want to go.
  2. Write about your love affair with coffee…or your hatred of it. How did either come about? Was there ever an incident centered around coffee that you remember?
  3. Write about a memory from 30 years ago. Where were you in 1986? Who was in your life? What was your favorite song? What were you worried about? If you’re someone that wasn’t born 30 years ago, or were to young to remember…write a character that reflects on the year for some reason…
  4. Write these words into anything that you write: Freeze/Reunion/Sriracha.

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

 

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: In a Fog

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, but here in SE Michigan we’ve been in a perpetual state of fog for the past…well, four or five days…but it seems like it’s never ending. By the same token, “in a fog” could be taken metaphorically as it is the last full week of most of my face-to-face classes, and with that comes a deluge of final papers, revisions, presentations, and the atmosphere feels really heavy at times; yet, soon that “fog” is going to lift and let in brighter, lighter days ahead, as will the meteorological fog. So here’s to those clear days ahead…where I can concentrate on my own writing, enjoy some friends and family time and, yes, prep for the upcoming semester that starts in January!

For those that are looking for some writing prompts this week, here’s a few for you:

  1. In your daybook, write about how being in fog feels – what type of senses does it bring out? Does it make you claustrophobic?  Does it make you feel hopeless? Does it make you romantic? What does fog sound like? Does it have a taste? This exercise could lend itself to an interesting poem or essay…maybe even a start to a story.
  2. Speaking of fog, what has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you when you’ve been in a fog…weather wise or mind wise? Or maybe there was something that didn’t go so well…getting lost, a wreck, depression…maybe one of your characters can relate to one of these happenings from your own life – or maybe you can make something up for them that is freaky or cool.
  3. An overheard conversation in a restaurant yesterday: “out of four years of college you’re lucky if you get one instructor/professor that you connect with.” Think back to your experience in college, or your present one, or your anticipated one – do you think this is true? Write about an instructor/college professor that you connected with…or one that you didn’t.
  4. Use these words in something that you write: tolerance/Trump/toy.

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: No NaNoWriMo No More

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s November 30th – the last day of the month and the last day for NaNoWriMo. I don’t know whether you participated or not, but as you know if you’ve been following along – I didn’t. Not for lack of want, but because of the busyness of teaching 10 writing classes (yes, I’m an adjunct in case that’s not clear), and this being a crunch month with a lot of student’s larger papers due it didn’t allow for a lot of “me” time. However, being a poet and a playwright I can never let any month pass by without writing. I try to everyday…even if it is for 10 minutes or less. That certainly doesn’t get me full-length plays or a manuscript of poems, but it keeps me in good writing shape…just like a little exercise is better than just sitting around wishing to be fit.

Anyway, with that being said – with several “free” days over Thanksgiving, I got some major things accomplished. I actually got a full-length poetry manuscript put together and sent out into the world! Whoo hoo! Now let’s hope it lands somewhere good. Nevertheless, that was one major goal to have done by the 30th, and I had it completed and sent on the 28th. I also got several packets of poems sent out as well, so we’ll see what happens there. That takes care of some poetry needs, but I fell short of getting the three plays written that I’d hoped to have by today. However, the deadline for those are the 31st of December – so, I bet by the 28th they’ll be submitted…at least that’s my new goal for Dec. What is yours?

Here are some writing prompts to get you started for December:

  1. In your daybook write about a time that you lost an argument that still makes you mad. What was it about? Who was it with? Perhaps your character can have such a grudge…
  2.  Make a list: 50 excuses not to write. (See? Now you’re writing!) Pick one, and write for 10 minutes…see what comes to mind.
  3. Guns are a controversial topic. No matter what side of the “argument” you land on…utilize it to get yourself writing – maybe it’ll turn into an essay…or a poem…or it seems like a good topic to involve a character, or to have for the theme of a story or play.
  4. Use these three words in what you write: Kennedy/Art/Mexico

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Week 3 No NaNoWriMo

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! So, this past week has been crazy for me as far as personal busy-ness with classes and commitments, and then I got to spend a little time away from all of that enjoying some art…but it was by driving about 10 hrs. round trip, which doesn’t get a lot of my own writing done. However, with that said, I have been inspired by seeing a lot of good art (and some not so good), and that’s never a bad thing – so during the first week I mentioned Ekphrastic writing, and that’s something that I will be doing again this coming week when I can steal a few free moments away. In addition, there were the awful events of Paris, atrocities that are not easy to write about…at least right away…but the one thing we creatives do have, that others do not…is our ability to get our feelings out…whether on paper, on canvas, on laptops, on the stage, etc…, and that helps keep us all going, I believe. So, as you can imagine – I did not get any of my plays written or worked on as I’d hoped, but I do have snippets of ideas and journal writings…and I have to be happy with that for this past week. I hope to write more this week!

Here are a few writing prompts for those of you that would like to use them:

  1. I got to see an interesting art show in Columbus, OH, this weekend called “After Picasso,” and it was a grouping of 80 artists that had been inspired by Picasso’s work…from Warhol, to Johns, to Jay Z, to unknown contemporaries. So, you might want to write in your daybook about one of your favorite Picasso pieces, or maybe he’s not your favorite artist – and you can explore that.
  2.  As those 80 artists did, they used a favorite artist to inspire a similar work. Last  week I suggested that you use a favorite author‘s lesser known character in your work, but maybe this week you can write in the same style, or in the same genre as your favorite author…maybe something a bit different than what you usually write.
  3. Maybe take 10 minutes of your day (or more) and write about the importance of the arts to you. As I mentioned above, arts are important…but, unfortunately, not everyone thinks so. In this crazy world where there’s so much violence and intolerance, maybe write an essay, or incorporate the importance of art/poetry/theatre/music in your fiction, poetry, or play.
  4. Use these words in something that you write: friendship/French/fork.

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Week 2 of No NaNoWriMo

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s been one week since I posted my plans for attempting to get some good writing done this month even though I know I have too much going on to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I feel good that I have actually kept up with writing this week in my daybook, and that I have revised several poems that I’d written and now officially have five new ones to send out somewhere in the world…when I have a chance to peruse some good fits to submit. I feel bad that I haven’t had a chance to write one word of any of the three short plays that I’ve committed to writing by Dec. 31st; however, I do have had some ideas rumbling around…so that means that somethings going to happen soon, right? This week is another full week of commitments in & out of the classroom, grading, an evening meeting, and another visit with a friend out of town – but I’m adamant that I will get writing done each day, at least a couple of those poems submitted somewhere, and at least one of those three plays started, if not finished, by the time I check back in here a week from today. What writing will you get done? Not sure what to write about? Here are a few more writing prompts this week:

  1. Choose a song from your childhood – if possible play it as you write – and allow the memories to flow. In your daybook, write down everything you can remember in a stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about grammar at this point. Stop writing when the memories begin to feel forced. After you’ve drained the memories dry, take 10 minutes (or longer if you need) and write on the best imagery, feelings, etc. If you’re ever at a loss for something to write about, come back to this exercise – but utilize a different time in your life, and repeat the drill.
  2. My favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, once said “find your tribe.” Write for 10 minutes about “your tribe.” Who are they? How did you come together? What keeps you with this “tribe?” Have you ever left, or been left, by those whom you thought were your tribe?
  3. Speaking of favorite authors (or poets or playwrights) – take an obscure character from one of their stories/poems/plays and make them your own. Of course, if you get anything published using this character, give your favorite original writer a nod.
  4. Use these three words in what you write: Bomb/Petunia/Preacher

Remember, it’s better to steal a few minutes here or there to write a little than not to write at all!

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: A Fresh Start, A Big Challenge

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Here we are at the beginning of a new year. I was going to write a send-off to 2014 last week, but decided against it, as I felt that during my blogging during that topsy-turvy year left not too much more to be said. All I can say is I’m thrilled to be in 2015 with a clean slate and a fresh start for all endeavors…including my writing.

As I’ve written here in years past, I’m not one that makes New Year’s resolutions, instead I like to set goals. I have many goals for this year, among them to get more poems published, get my full-length poetry manuscript sent out, get some of my plays staged, etc. But another goal I have is actually a challenge that I share with one of my dear poet friends, Mary Sexson, and that is to write a poem every day…yes, that’s right…365 poems. Not just one a month, which can produce a lot in itself, but this is a daily endeavor. It is a huge commitment, but in sharing it with others it holds one more accountable, much like doing Weight Watchers or some such thing.

Mary and I completed this challenge in 2012 and we both did really well and had so many good poems that came out of it – some that were included in our poetry book, along with Jayne Marek: Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and many were also accepted by a variety of literary journals. During 2013, we were more involved with promoting the book, even though we still wrote poems often. In 2014, we both completed the Found Poetry Review’s Oulipost project during April: National Poetry Month. That project was a poem a day from a provided prompt, it was a fun and rewarding challenge – and one I wasn’t sure I could complete in 30 days, only because of my teaching and other various commitments, but I did and it felt good.

After Oulipost was over, I know I planned to keep writing a poem a day…but it didn’t happen…and during the last four months of 2014 I became more involved with theatre again – I was selected to be a director at the Canton One Acts Play Festival in January 2015 (my directing debut!) and that has taken up time, and I also committed to the 365 Women A Year: A Playwriting Project where I wrote two short plays, one featuring Frida Kahlo, the other Alice Neel.  I absolutely love theatre and want more of it in my life, but I still love writing poems and my poetry writing friends.

Over Christmas I visited with Mary in Indianapolis and we decided we would make 2015 a year we write a poem a day – just like in 2012. Mary says, it makes her “scared and happy all at the same time.” I understand her sentiments. When you think of it as writing a poem a day for 365 days it seems like an overwhelming undertaking, but I can tell you when you get something written it feels good…and when you get to the end of the year and see what you’ve accomplished – it’s a wonderful feeling! I decided there might be others out there that might like our challenge, posted it on Facebook, and we’ve already got another poet from Indy that has joined in…welcome Dawn! It would be cool if others from WordPress joined in this challenge with us this year…

So, here’s the 58th edition of prompts for Writing Prompt Pit Stop to kick off 2015:

“A Fresh Start, A Big Challenge”

1) In your daybook write a rough draft of a poem…each and every day of 2015. It doesn’t mean that it has to be a complete poem, or one that is a masterpiece. In fact, it’s good to just have starts and duds; these can be catalysts into a new, better poem the next day (or someday when you feel tapped out). The point is – you’re attempting a poem a day...and from my experience, you can salvage quite a bit of the ones that you thought were awful at first. It just takes a lot of revising and playing around with word/line arrangements.

2) Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day…simply write two the next and so forth – the idea is just to get more poems written in 2015. If you end up with 52….one a week, isn’t that more than you have right now? Remember, you can get quite a lot written in just 10 minutes.

3) If you write plays too (as I do) or short stories – take some time and write five pages of dialogue a day. If you’re on a roll, map out dialogue for a 10 minute play. Flash fiction, flash creative nonfiction, and so forth can be written in the same way – just take 10 minutes every day and write as much prose as you can. If you’re working on a story already, great! If not, these writings could give you jump starts to ideas that you didn’t even know were there.

4) Find a writing buddy or two or three and take this challenge with them. It keeps you honest, and if you have the chance set aside a time once a month to share what you’ve written – it will really keep you going, believe me. Writing, as we know, is a solitary action…but we all need an audience and what better audience to try new work out on than writing friends that you trust? That means not someone that says “I like it,” and “that’s nice” all of the time, but who really tell you if they think something doesn’t work or you need to add/subtract more; or what it is about your poem/play/story that works for them.

5) As always, I wish for you a successful writing year! If you’re interested, you can always let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge and what you’re doing to keep yourself motivated; if you feel up to it, I’m always open to any sharing of your work, or comments on this blog…or you can contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Check back here weekly as I will be posting prompts to help give you ideas for your writing endeavors.