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 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!