Memories: Good for the Soul

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and posted some writing prompts, but I’m hoping with the summer months upon me that I can get some more prompts posted and get back into the swing of blogging again. I’ve got a lot of good things going on, with my full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, coming soon from Chatter House Press, and more good poetry publication news coming soon.

Just this past Monday, my prose poem, “Sunday Drive” appeared at Flying Island…and since it’s a poem about a childhood memory, I thought this might be a good time to revisit some memories for writing. No matter how old we are (or young), we have memories of summers past, with the 4th of July fast approaching, of Independence Day’s past, or of how different America is from years past. We also have special memories of family, friends, pets, etc.

So, it’s good to be back…even with a brief intro – but with some new prompts! Let’s get started:

  1. In your daybook, write a memory from a specific time you, as a child, were in the car with your parents…where were you going? What was on the radio, tape deck, or CD? Who else was with you, or were you by yourself with them. What were the smells, sights, sounds, all around you? Once you have a few things jotted down, formulate your memory into a poem, prose or verse, an essay, or a story.
  2. Write a memory from a time you were in a classroom. It could be from your elementary years, junior high or high school years, or college. It could be that you were the teacher, or the student. It could even be from Sunday School. Again, think about who was there, what made this time stand out to you? Was it a humorous, sad, or scary time? Once you have exhausted the memory, see if it could make a good story or essay, maybe a 10 minute play or a poem…
  3. Write about your first kiss. Use all of the senses and just go until you can’t keep writing. When you look at what you’ve written, could you use that incident with a character you’re developing? Can you write a romantic story of some kind, or a poem?
  4. Use these words in what you write: Sunglasses, bonfire, walking, sour.

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Looking Back, Leaping Forward!

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s a new month, a new year, and it’s a leap year at that…so an extra day to write! It’s hard to believe that this is going into my fourth year of writing this blog. Granted, some years I’ve been more consistent with my posts than others – but every year I start out with the best intentions of writing a blog every week, and sharing a few prompts that might encourage others to write something…anything at all…in any genre. Sometimes I use a photo, that I’ve taken, as a prompt but mostly I use a few ideas that I’ve either observed, experienced, or have found to be tried and true in my own work. I try to always write the prompts in such a way that no matter if you’re a poet, fiction writer, nonfiction writer, or playwright, you’ll find something helpful. So if you’re new here, welcome aboard.

Looking back on 2015, I had challenged everyone to write something everyday at this very time of year. I did pretty well during 2015 in doing that; however, my big change was that I wrote way less poetry and wrote way more short plays. I stayed creative by teaching several creative writing workshops in the region, and I was active every month of 2015 in at least two-three small writing groups a month (I think every writer needs at least one trustworthy small writing group). Some of which I’m the “leader,” and some where I’m just a participant. I did lose a supportive poetry group, Company of Women, at least as it once was, last year with one of my cohorts, and friend, moving to the west coast, and with me moving to MI and becoming more involved with theatre. In theatre, I gained a lot of new friends and new opportunities. I directed five short plays, won two awards – one an audience choice for my play, “Frida Kahlo: Heartbreaker,” that I wrote and directed, and the other was a scholarship at Boxfest Detroit 2015; as a director I was eligible to propose a project (Portable Folio Productions), which was to create a playwriting/directing group that meets once a month, puts on staged readings, and will ultimately culminate in a major production in September of 2016. Nevertheless, I did have several poems published in 2015, participated in National Poetry Month’s, Found Poetry Review‘s Pomosco Challenge (a poem written to their supplied prompt every day) and completed it. I was a featured reader several times early in the year…so all in poetry land was not lost.

Leaping forward into 2016, I have my goals set. If you’ve read this blog before at this time of year, I always advocate setting goals rather than making resolutions…I find goals easier to keep track of and attain. It also comes with a plan instead of “wishful” thinking. I’ve already laid some ground work for this year by submitting a chapbook and a full-length poetry manuscript towards the end of last year. This year, three days in, I’ve written two new poems and have submitted another chapbook submission. I finished three short plays at the end of 2015 that I had committed to writing for 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project ; one was about Peggy Lee, one on Helen Frankenthaler, and the other on Patsy Southgate. Hopefully they will find their way to the stage somewhere. So, the goals that I have in 2016 is to keep up the writing pace of 2015 – and to bump it up. To get a poetry chapbook or manuscript published; to write more plays…I’ve again committed to three more plays for the 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project in 2016. And, yes, this is the year I vow to complete a novel that I started in 2007. So writing is going to take up a lot of 2016, and that makes me happy. What are your writing goals for 2016? I wish you the best in whatever type of writing you do and I hope you have the success that you seek.

Here are a few prompts to help get you jump started on your writing journey in 2016:

  1. I enjoy the show Downton Abbey, and tonight (in America) is the 1st show of the final season. I believe it hooked me because of the characters and the interesting story lines…and because I love history. In your daybook, write a character or a scene from another period than our own. Develop it as much as you can in 10-20 minutes.
  2. On New Year’s Day it’s been a tradition in my family to cook cabbage for good luck. Write for 10 minutes about a tradition that has been passed down through the years in your family. How did it start? What are you afraid might happen if you don’t participate? Have you ever missed the tradition and the year turned out to be a bad one…or better than ever?
  3. If you write poetry, challenge yourself to write in a different way than you normally do. If you always write free verse, try something formal such as a sonnet, a haiku, or a pantoum (my favorite). If you always rhyme, try writing free verse.
  4. Use these words in whatever genre you write: privilege/January/ scandal.

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! Happy New Year!!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Week 4 No NaNoWriMo

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, we’re into week 4 of NaNoWriMo, but as we’ve established in the first three weeks – I’m not participating in it this year. However, as sad as that makes me, I’m still trying to keep my writing chops honed in during this month, even though I have so many other commitments that take up my time…mainly grading a lot of writing classes! Anyway, this week I have been able to brainstorm and get more ideas down for my three short plays that I’m bringing to life. And, although by this time in this month I’d hoped to have had at least one of the three completed, I have no doubt that after this week that I will have one done before November ends. I’ve also got a few poems ruminating around, and the end of the semester is within reach so I feel certain that I’ll have some new work then too. My only other writing challenge that I made for myself this month is – to have my full-length poetry manuscript pulled together to submit by the 30th as well. I know I can do it, I know I can do it. So, wish me luck! I hope that you’ve had some writing successes this past week!

If you’re following along with me, here are a few more writing prompts:

  1. Since this is the week of Thanksgiving, in your daybook write down the top 10 things that you’re thankful for. Once you have your list, choose one that calls your name and freewrite on that for at least 10 minutes.
  2.   Here in Michigan we’ve had our first big snow this past weekend.     Write about what you love, or hate, about snow. You could certainly write a poem about winter/snow. Heaven knows I have many on that subject, but you could also utilize it in one of your stories/plays, or it could be a trait of a character…that they love, or hate, snow.
  3.  This political season has certainly opened up potential for stories, poems, essays, plays about the absurd. Most we don’t even have to imagine. Sometimes it’s not easy to include political themes in your work, but it seems that now would be a good time to at least be writing down some of the day-to-day happenings for future use in some way. You might just sit down and vent for 10 minutes on something you hear – it might surprise you what comes of it!
  4. Use these words in something that you write:  Adele/ice/turkey

 

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

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged on my own site, but since it’s November and officially NaNoWriMo I thought the least I could do is post something even if I’m not an official participant this year. I have been a winner in the past, but I’ve got too many irons in the fire to attempt to write a novel and to worry about the word count that I’d have to commit to to keep up with all that writing madness. However, as someone that loves challenges it’s hard not to attempt something. So, I’m posting here on my blog to keep at least a smaller commitment than a novel. In April, I do write a poem a day, but I’m not sure that I can even do that this month with 10 writing classes to teach and grade…so what I’m going to shoot for is this: at least 16 poems that can be revised into a chapbook when I’m done, or add to some other manuscripts that I’m working towards. And, I’ve committed to write three short plays before Dec. 31st, and if I can get one or two of those knocked out by the end of this month, I’d be happy. If nothing else, I’m at least planning to get on here and at least write a post a week…and hey…that’s more than I’ve done here since last spring! If anyone wants to at least write more than they’re writing now, I encourage you to follow along.

Here are a few prompts to get some writing going:

  1. In your daybook write about not having enough time. Maybe it’s not having enough time during the day, maybe it’s not having enough time to relax, or maybe it’s trying to squeeze too many tasks into one hour. What if you’re a procrastinator? What’s your excuse(s)?
  2. Write about your favorite painting. If you don’t have one, go to a museum, find a painting that draws you to it and write about it. If you write a poem check out Ekphrastic Poems.
  3. Write about a food that you hate. Describe it in all of it’s distaste.
  4. Use these three words in what you write: Green/poetry/Egg

As I’ve stated here on Writing Prompt Pit Stop before (and need to remember myself) all you need to do is sit down and write for 10 minutes and you’ll have at least something to work with later on. Get something on the page – and that’s a start. Just like this blog is a start for me on this 1st day of November.

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: Playing the Name Blame

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s no secret that my name is different than most others, and I’ve never met another with my first name…and I get that all the time, people upon hearing my name for the first time saying they’ve “never heard that before.” I take pride in my first name now, but for at least the first 20 years of my life it was a thorn in my side…as an only child, I was extremely shy…and during my elementary school years and even during high school, it was embarrassing to have my name draw attention to me. And it did, on the first day of classes, inevitably the teacher would be calling roll…stop dead in their tracks…and then they would make an attempt to sound out my name, if they even attempted at all (this was back in the 60s and 70s when unusual names were not that common, nowadays this may sound absurd). I would slowly raise my hand and pronounce it for them, as everyone stared at me. Eventually, I did find some humor in it as my other classmates that knew me would catch on to this phenomenon, year after year, and either say it with me or they’d laugh…because friends knew my face would turn 10 shades of red.

As an adult, I’ve learned to treasure my name. Especially, as a creative person who writes and paints because it certainly does stand out. And, even though I used to blame my mom for saddling me with that name for life, I’m glad she did. In fact, in a phone conversation last week she was telling me how my great aunt warned her against spelling my name the way she did when I was born, as no one would ever pronounce it correctly. It turns out, my great aunt was right more often than not (she was a school teacher), but because of the way my name is spelled it makes it even more unique, so I’m glad my mom held her ground.

I’ve written about my name in one poem, with my first name as the title that is in the chapbook, A Charm Bracelet For Cruising (Winged City Press, 2009), and recently because of conversation in my classes with students this year I came up with some ideas for students to write about their names. In one class I have three Kaitlin’s, and even though on my roster they are each spelled different, they all sound the same – hence, when I say their name and they’re all sitting in the same vicinity – they all think I’m talking to them. In my poem, I speak of what it’s like “when someone speaks my name/ no one else turns around.” But, I find it interesting that I will never know what it’s like to have a common name, and what that must be like to share a name….

So for your 59th Prompt(s) I thought we’d have some fun with your names or those of your characters:

“Playing the Name Blame”

1) In your daybook, write about your name. It can be your first or your last. What troubles or misunderstandings has it caused you? How did you get your name? Was it a family name, one that was put together (as mine was) to incorporate both parent’s or grandparent’s names? If you have a common name, what is it like to be in a classroom or a meeting and someone says your name? If you have an uncommon name, what are some of the things you’ve had to resort to to explain your name to others? Pick one of these questions that gave you the most traction, and write for 10 minutes.

2) Write a poem, essay, or a story about your name. You can use some of the freewriting that you got from the above prompt to give you some ideas.

3) If you write plays or fiction, you know that names are really important to your characters/protagonists/antagonists. What do you do when you’re first contemplating a character to come up with their names? Do you do research to see what their names mean? Do you associate them with someone you know that has that name? How might it affect your character if they dealt with a problem with their name?

4) What might it be like if your character (or you) had the same name as a serial killer or some other unsavory person? On the flipside, what if they shared their name (or you do) with someone really popular…a celebrity, a president, etc.? What antics or wants/needs might ensue?

5) If you’re interested, I’m always open to any sharing of your work, or comments on this blog…or you can contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Time-Out from the Rat Race

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It certainly is a joyful time of year (for most people) and there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, planning, family, friends, gift wrapping, last minute shopping, daily commitments, meetings of all kinds… and we get so bogged down in everything that we’re doing that we forget to take time out…not for the season, (that was last week’s prompt topic)…but for ourselves; especially as writers and artists we get caught up in doing everything that we’re “supposed” to do, that we don’t relax…reflect…and create. It may not seem like there’s time with the “to do” lists we all have the rest of the year, let alone around or during the holidays. However, I’m here to tell you that to keep your sanity you need to take some time to yourself – even if it’s only 10 minutes a day to jot something in your daybook, or to draw or paint in your art journal or on a canvas. I think you’ll find that if you tell yourself – 10 minutes – it takes the pressure off, and once you are into whatever you choose to create…you’ll find that you’re relaxed, you’re enjoying yourself, and you might just allow that 10 minutes to turn into an hour or two. After which, you will feel refreshed, inspired, and ready to go on with all of your other obligations. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a poem out of it, an idea for a new story, novel, or play, or for a new painting series. The point is, you’ll never know until you take a few minutes to yourself…and create. So my 57th prompt is to challenge you to do something creative for yourself:

“Time-Out from the Rat Race”

1) In your daybook write whatever comes to mind. Maybe you need to get something off of your chest that’s been bothering you, maybe you just want to write a letter to someone who’ll never see it, or maybe you have an idea that you’ve mulled in your mind for a while – get it down on the page or the canvas. Commit to 10 minutes, and stop there if you need to, but if you have the urge to keep going – do it.

2) As the holidays draw nearer…write a poem about how hectic they are. Or, how much you love the busy-ness. Or, how lonely you feel. Or, what makes all of the hustle worth it.

3) Try your hand at making a new “Scrooge” or “Grinch” character without infringing on them.

4) Just write or draw for the mere joy of it. Have Happy Holidays!

5) If you feel up to it, I’m always open to any sharing of your work, or comments on the blog…or you can contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

I plan on being back here next week! 🙂

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: KISS: Keep It Short, Storyteller

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s been way too long since I’ve written here, and I do have good reason. I’m super busy, but I’m not complaining! I’m happy to be busy: Teaching a lot of classes, Writing my own stuff, Directing a one-act play, among other things; and even though I think I can do everything that I want to do, and do it well…I come close, but sometimes something has to give…and unfortunately it’s been my devotion to this blog. Nevertheless, I refuse to give up on it as I know that there are those that utilize the prompts that I post, so I’m not promising to be here weekly, but I will pop in and post as many as I can, whenever I can.

With that said, and knowing all of us have a lot of things we juggle in life besides our writing, it got me to thinking about writing less. No, I’m not advocating that you stop writing so much but, instead, that you write shorter pieces. You see, if we all set out to write a novel, a full-length play, a standard short story, an epic poem, when we are busy it’s easy to become overwhelmed and instead just give up on writing at all.

I know that I steal away moments during the day, to write snippets of poems or an idea. And, lately, I’ve been working on a scene of a play in whatever stolen moments I can get. It does work, and those writings may not be finished pieces, but I know that when I do have more time I can go back in and clean them up…add to them if they need be, or maybe some of them will fit into the new brief genres: Flash Fiction, Short, Short Plays, Six-Word Memoirs, etc. These new genres are becoming all the rage, and there’s more and more places that are publishing these types of pieces.

Stealing time away to write is nothing new, one of my favorite poets, Frank O’Hara, wrote poetry on napkins during his lunch hour and some of those became collected as the Lunch Poems, and Ernest Hemingway has been attributed to writing one of the first six-word “novels:” For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. And, I was told to be “more concise,” more than once by my late Shakespeare professor,  that “it’s a meaningful art.” Check out a few of these for reference: Smith Magazine, Poetry Tweets, Brevity, Flash Fiction, 10 Minute Plays, Haiku. With this idea in mind, here are your prompts to try your hand at artfully concise writing.

“KISS: Keep it Short, Storyteller”

1) In your daybook write for 10 minutes on a story idea or a poem. After 10 minutes is up see if you can write that story/poem idea in a concise way: 140 characters, 6 words, flash fiction, a 1 page play, haiku style? Go for it!

2) Take some of your writings that you’ve done from other prompts, here on Writing Prompt Pit Stop or elsewhere, and see if you can turn one of those into a concise, short, short.

3) If you feel it goes against your grain to write anything shorter than a 12 page story or a 40 line poem, explore that in your daybook. Interview yourself – or your character.

4) Share your concise works here in comments if you’re so inclined – or try to find a home for them. There’s always a contest or opportunity for your work somewhere – if you keep revising your work, believing in your work, and seek that place out.

See you again, soon!