Using Conflict to Create

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I’ve been thinking about conflict a lot lately, it’s all around…it’s in our personal lives, it’s in our careers, and this year, especially, it seems to be everywhere on social media…because of politics and social issues. It can be quite frustrating to live with it all, I admit; however, as creatives we should welcome the conflict and use it to create. After all, for all of the bad reputations us sensitive types get for being snowflakes, we do have the advantage of being able to express ourselves in unique ways to reach others who may or may not think like us (yet!) through our art, poetry, stories, plays, and/or music.

Needless to say, not only do we have to stand up for our “art” to the outside forces who don’t understand us, we also have our own inner demons to add to our conflicted lives…the “am I good enough” thoughts that recur out of the blue,  the “can I create something better than I have” after we’ve we’ve won an award or gotten in “that” publication or won “that” role. Nevertheless, if you’re anything like me, you try to avoid conflict in our everyday lives…but I’m here to tell you we need to embrace it. Not because we want to lead tortured and tormented lives, but because we can use conflict to our advantage in our creative lives…we can create a character that can vent when we can’t, we can write a protest poem or song, or we can take a tough social issue to the stage or to the page.

So let’s use whatever is that source of your conflict to create! I have a few ideas for prompts to help get you started:

  1. Take 10 minutes and write in your daybook about some conflict in your life right this moment. It could be a relationship, your job, finances, spirituality, politics, well the list of conflicts could be endless…so, if you have more than one…make a list and then write the one that really feels that it wants to be explored. Or, write on the most difficult…remember, for our creativityconflict is good.
  2. Write about a time that you were mad at God. Then have your character take that anger and run with it…scare yourself if you need to, but remember it’s fiction, so let it all come out…or maybe you want to keep it real and make it a memoir piece.
  3. Write about a secret that you did not keep. Maybe you betrayed yourself…or someone else. What happened when the secret came out? What if you’d kept it to yourself? Again, this could be a memoir, it could lend itself to a poem, or it could be a character’s confession in a story or play.
  4. Use these words in what you write: Compliments, gaslighting, Sunflowers.

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

Keep writing!


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]

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


Writing Prompt Pit Stop: PoMoSco # 18 Open Book

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Here we are at day 18 of National Poetry Month already! Today was the prompt where we find a book, open it to two pages and then select words and phrases that we want to use, but as with all PoMoSco prompts, there’s a constraint with that! So, the prompt is found below. In the meantime, I had a great time with this as I opened up a book I own about Georgia O’Keefe and the words that jumped out were pretty racy…and fun to work with. I went with it and let the words and phrases I found lead me. I enjoyed writing this poem, and I guess we’ll see if anyone else likes it. Here’s my poem, “Bare Abstract.” Enjoy!

Here is the day 18 prompt, Open Book:

Choose a book or magazine as your source text. Select a two-page spread, scan through the text, and copy down any interesting words and phrases in the order you encounter them on the page.

When you’ve finished, write a poem using only these words and phrases without changing their order. No non-found words may be included in your poem. Poems should be presented in type, similar to a standard poem, and not contain additional visual elements or emphasis (you’ll do that for other badges).

The Found Poetry Review. PoMoSco. Prompt 18. 18 Apr 2015.

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: PoMoSco #13 Picture It!

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Today’s PoMoSco prompt # 13 was right up my alley as it combined two of my loves, art and poetry! It was to make an erasure poem…using art in any way you wanted…. So, here is my Picture It poem, “Extraordinary Common Birds.” Enjoy!


Here is the Day 13 prompt, Picture It!:

Take your inspiration from Tom Phillips’ A Humument  ( and create a poem that’s part erasure, part art.

Instead of simply marking out the text you don’t need, use markers, crayons, paint and other materials to turn it into a picture. Not a strong artist? Experiment with collage, using cutouts from magazines and other sources to obscure your unused text.

Scan your completed work — or take a picture of it — and upload it to the site.

The Found Poetry Review. PoMoSco. Prompt 13. 13 Apr 2015.

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

I plan on being back here next week! 🙂

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As many know if they read this blog,  have checked out my “About” page, or have followed me since early on – I’m an artist and an art lover. Art has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks as I’ve been getting paintings and drawings ready for my stint as “Artist of the Month” at Downtown Latte Coffeehouse here in Toledo, and last week I began teaching painting classes at Michaels.

In addition, I’ve always loved going to art galleries or to the art museums, taking my daybook and writing to art – whether it be to a two dimensional painting or a sculpture. I had been doing this for years before I found the proper name for this type of writing: Ekphrastic.  It’s a hard word to pronounce in a hurry, but it’s a word that you should become familiar with.

I couldn’t write about Ekphrastic poetry without mentioning that my favorite poet, Frank O’Hara wrote many poems inspired by art (after all he was called “Poet Among Painters” and was friends with Jasper Johns, Grace Hartigan, Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers, among many, many others), as well as prose. Here is a link to his poem “On Seeing Larry River’s Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art.

It should be no surprise that I’ve written many ekphrastic poems over the years; two of those poems were really successful earlier this year. One, “Party Stiff” won an honorable mention at Toledo Museum of Art’s Annual Ekphrastic Competition in May 2013. It was written to the permanent installation, The Party, by Marisol Escobar. The other, inspired by seeing Vincent van Gogh’s painting Bedroom in Arles at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, “The Art of Seeing Value” appeared on New Verse News in early June, and was later explored by Great Writers Steal a few weeks later.

I’m always encouraging my students to try an Ekphrastic poem or a writing. I feel it’s a worthy endeavor (especially for those that don’t take the time to visit an art museum or art gallery on their own!) and can bring such wonderful results. And why wouldn’t it – when you’re putting your best observation skills to work for you…imagery inspired by an image…what could be better? Here’s your fifteenth prompt:

“Writing Art with Heart”

1) It’s ideal to go to an art museum or an art gallery with your daybook, walk through and find the painting or sculpture that you really respond to. That response does not necessarily have to be a positive response, as sometimes a negative  response can bring out some really intense writing, or at least writing that you didn’t expect.

2) Along with the response that you write, make a list of what you see in the painting/sculpture – such as colors, realism/contemporary; what’s the medium? Don’t forget to write the title, the artist’s name, and any other pertinent information about your chosen piece down somewhere – as once you leave the gallery/museum these will become really important – especially as you polish your piece for possible publication!

3) If you don’t have a chance to go to an art museum or an art gallery (although I highly recommend it), you can always use the internet to pull up paintings from different galleries/museums from around the world, or check out a good library book that’s full of art. Another idea is to get postcards of art – they can come in handy too when you don’t have a chance to get away for that museum visit.

4) Once you’ve got your info written in your daybook on your visual piece of choice – freewrite on it for 10 minutes or until you run out of steam. Then as always revise, revise, and then revise again to get your poem or prose piece as lively as it can be.

As with the other prompts, I believe you will find that this works well with whatever genre you choose!

As with all writing, writing about Art 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!


2013: My Year of Visual Art

I’ve been remiss in keeping my artist blog up-to-date. I started this blog last June in an effort to rekindle my passion for creating visual art. I’d like to say that the reason that I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been busy painting, drawing, and experimenting with new mediums. The truth is I’ve allowed my poetry to dominate my time – which is definitely not a bad thing at all. In 2012, I had more individual poems poems published than in any previous year. Also, two friends, Jayne Marek, Mary Sexson, and I started a poetry group called Company of Women which had many “gigs” between May and December and kept us all traveling between Toledo and Indianapolis on a regular basis for our readings. Again, not a bad thing at all.

Then there’s that little thing called employment that keeps me busy, and as an adjunct instructor of creative writing classes and assorted composition classes for two community colleges I have a lot of student writings to tend to besides my own. This is not a bad thing at all as: A) I enjoy my students, and teaching, and B) I need the income.

Toward the end of 2012, I found out through more many medical tests than I ever had in my life that I had a large gallstone and that my gallbladder needed to be removed. This was both a good and a bad thing – it was a good thing that it was discovered before the stone moved to block any number of ducts that would cause me a lot of pain and send me to the ER at any given time. The bad thing – as an adjunct, I have no medical insurance. Having debt is a stressful thing…and as a starving artist through the years I’ve learned to deal with not having money, but the stress is still a burden. But by going back to school I thought that maybe, just maybe, after I had my degrees and was able to teach that those days of financial stress would finally be behind me. Unfortunately, as an adjunct, not so much. I digress.

So what does all of this have to do with my art? Well, it’s a new year – a new start. Three days into 2013, I had that gallbladder removed and I healed much faster than I ever thought I would. And, the surgeon was very good to me and lowered his fees and I have a decent payment plan that I can handle to pay him back. Even though I didn’t have a lot of down time from the surgery, it did give me some time when I could think and plan for this year and the future. In those plans, of course continuing my poetry, but art is set to make a strong comeback. How with teaching and writing? I’m going to make time to create new pieces and experiment. I have some big plans in the works which will be debuted right here later this year.

It’s three weeks into the new year and I’m happy to report that I have a one-person show at Starbucks in Perrysburg, OH, titled “Faces: Pet and People Portraiture,” slated for February and March; I have a new pastel piece, “You’re Giving Me the Blues,” (pictured in this post) that will be hanging in the Music Mania Exhibit at Way Library, also in Perrysburg. Both of those exhibits are graciously sponsored by Prizm Creative Community.

And, I just received word that I will have a one-person show at Downtown Latte in downtown Toledo in October (It pays to be a coffee lover!). So I’m claiming 2013 as my year of visual art, the year where I keep adding more and more work, where I keep adding more places to have my work seen, and where I commit to keeping up my artist blog. You're Giving Me the Blues