Writing…When Uncovering Old Hurts

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Most former students, and poet/writing friends who know me well…especially in the past twenty years, have known me to be a cheerleader of writing and know that I dedicate myself to writing something each and every day…even if just a few lines or an idea for a poem/play/story…. That held true all the way up until the past few months. What changed? I became my mom’s sole caretaker after her physical therapy at the nursing home was discontinued and she did not want to live there, in memory care, after my dad died in June. So, being the only child I decided that I could do it for as long as I could…physically and mentally. It’s the emotionally that I wasn’t prepared for. You see, I had given myself so much space from her over my adult life that I thought I’d given myself enough time and healing to not fall back into anything toxic she handed out. Well, I was wrong. Yes, she has dementia…and it has taken away the filter that could make her thoughts and opinions (on everything) tolerable. So, I have plenty to write about…but for the first time in twenty some years of doing it to heal, to add my own twisted sense of humor, and to explore things in a different way…I find that I can’t. It’s all too close, and old wounds have re-surfaced that I thought were dead and buried. However, I am looking on the bright side. I may not be able to write about this particular situation now, but eventually I will be able to. In the meantime, I’m using my creativity wisely and I’ve reverted back to my visual art for solace…and in many ways that has been an unexpected gift. Another unexpected gift is seeing (and understanding) why I struggled for so long to find confidence in myself, never knowing how to stick up for myself, or how to state what I needed…because I was never given that chance as a child…. I also have realized that my dad had good reason to be a grouch…and now I wish I had the chance to tell him…“Wow, now I understand.” Anyway, I have hope that my ongoing writing drills and aspirations come back with a vengeance. I believe this is the resurrecting of those feelings in this brief “confession.”

The last post I touched on Conflictbut it was not getting to the heart of the matter… the Hurt.

So, here are some writing prompts to hopefully get you to share (or at least get on the page) your hurt to begin healing:

  1. In your daybook write something that scares you or makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s something about a parent, a grandparent, an ex, a current partner. Usually when things scare you…that’s where the energy is. If you can’t bring yourself to write the truth, then make it one of your character’s problems/concerns/incidents.
  2. Write about a time that you were shocked by something your parent said. Were you a child, a teenager, an adult? What made it so shocking? Was it something about you, your other parent? Something mean about someone you know or a stranger?
  3. Write about a time that you were shocked by something your parent did. Maybe you found out they were having an affair. Maybe they were abusive to you or your siblings. Maybe they were an alcoholic or an addict. If you don’t have a shocking experience, maybe you can create a character for your story or play that is based on having something like that happen to them.
  4. Use these words in what you write: Hurt, Dinner, Mirror, Lilacs.

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

 

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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 lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Plot Your Conflict

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Life. Life shapes a person, life can get in the way of a person, life can change a person. Once you’ve lived enough life you’re going to have so many experiences (a.k.a. conflicts) that will make you a better judge of character, make you know you can survive the knocks and the pain, make you strong and will undoubtedly make you protect yourself a little more…making you appear “tame” and reserved to some. It can also cause one to be cynical...not only of love, but of all other opportunities. It all makes for a lot of conflict that can interfere with making good choices, taking chances, and believing everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to in the end.

Conflict sucks in real life, but conflict is wonderful for fiction, storytelling, drama (for the drama queens!) and even poetry…a writer doesn’t want everything to work out perfectly for everyone/everything involved or it’s going to be real yawner for the reader. Obviously, we don’t want over the top conflict/drama in our own lives, but as writers/poets/playwrights we can all draw from our hard life experiences to utilize in our writing. For writing prompt thirty-nine we’ll take some of those experiences and put them to good use:

Roadblocks and Heartbreak

1) In your daybook write out a list of some of your toughest times in life. Maybe it was the loss of a relationship, or a divorce; maybe it was being fired, losing a dream job, flunking out of college, maybe it was being homeless, broke, or just having one of those years that pull the rug out from under you. Maybe it was something so far-fetched that it causes one of those truth is more strange than fiction reactions…write it down!

2) Choose something from your list and write on it for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject. Take a look at what you’ve written. Can you develop a character that will take on this particular conflict? Is it something you want to explore in an essay, a play, or a poem? If so, work on that until you have a writing that you’re happy with.

3) Once you’ve revised your piece, don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section or at lylanne22@yahoo.com

Here’s wishing you a lot of conflicts for your characters and stories, but a more tranquil life for yourself. 🙂

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As I’m dreaming of springtime warmth and of spring break next week (even though I’m not going anywhere this year), the last thing that I want in my life is conflict. We all want our lives to run smoothly – good days at work, a great relationship, plenty of money, our favorite songs playing in the background all day, laughter, tasty meals, wonderful conversations with friends and family, sweet dreams and sound sleep, you know, the happily ever after type of life.

However, if your characters have lives that run smoothly in the stories that you tell it will be a real yawner for your readers. The audience wants your character(s) to overcome some obstacle no matter how small…as my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, said, “Every character should want something, even if it’s a glass of water,” and “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order for the reader to see what they are made of.”

So this week try something different in your writing – like really shake things up in your character’s world. And, if you write poetry instead of stories, you’re looking for tension…between words…images…don’t write sing-songy rhyming poems unless you’re looking for work with Hallmark. 😉

Image

This hawk in my neighborhood causes conflict to songbirds and other small creatures. (Ignore the snow in the background as I’m trying to refrain from mentioning winter. ;-))

Conflict and tension – good to use in your thirty-sixth prompt(s):

“Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!”

1) If you’re writing short stories, creative nonfiction, or plays – what obstacle(s) can you give the character(s) that you’ve created? Don’t hesitate to use something that’s happened in your own life and amplify it in your character’s situation. Is that new sweetie they met online…married? A pervert? 400 lbs? Using someone else’s photo? Have they taken a risk in business or with money they shouldn’t have? Have they shared a secret that they shouldn’t have? There are so many conflicts to use, and as Vonnegut suggests…they don’t always have to be mind-boggling, it could be that they just want something simple but they’re going to have to work to get it…like that “glass of water.”

2) If you’re writing poetry, you can create tension with words and images. How about an unexpected metaphor? If you do like to rhyme – mix it up a bit…make up your own rhyme scheme that creates an unusual tension. Use enjambment in free verse (something that I like to do that sometimes baffles some of my own poet friends, but I like it – what can I say?).

3) As in my photo above, I stated that the hawk creates conflict in nature. Take a look at some of your own photographs – of nature, of family, of friends, what do you notice in the picture that is either a natural conflict, or gives you an idea to conjure some up in a story or a play? In my photo – it’s just a hawk. But I know he’s in my neighborhood where I feed birds, and I see small rabbits and squirrels in my yard….

4) Write in your daybook on any of these prompts for 10 minutes or until your subject runs out of steam! Once you get a good sense of your story/poem/play/essay – then write it out, type it up, and then revise, read it out loud, see if it sounds like you want it to sound. Revise again!

As with all writing, this “Road Blocks and Pot-holes Everywhere!” 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!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week is going to be another short one since I want to get this written on Wednesday, and I’ve had a lot of writing and other good things going on this week which has borrowed more time. In my own creative writing class this week we’ve started to workshop fiction pieces, so we’ve been talking a lot about conflict and tension in stories. Conflict and tension are also good for all other types of writing genres as well. If everything was always easy in life, or for your characters, life would be pretty boring. My favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, said that you should be a sadist: “no matter how sweet and innocent your leading character, make awful things happen to them so that your readers will see what they’re made of,” and more of his advice for writing short stories can be found here.

That’s why we see a lot of the same types of story lines over and over. Take love stories for example: will the protagonist get the man or woman of their dreams? There’s always some obstacle coming at them…a third person, a war, parents not approving,  and the list goes on and on.  If Romeo and Juliet were free to date and had no interference what fun would that be? Shakespeare was a master at conflict. Think Othello, Hamlet…and the list goes on and on with his works…. In addition, in stories we root for the underdog, we like to see people overcome hard/bad situations, or see bad things happen to good people and watch how they cope…it makes us feel, well, human.

So with conflict and tension in mind this week, here is your sixteenth prompt:

“Trouble, Trouble Everywhere!”

1) I like to give my students three words that aren’t always connected but can create conflict just by the nature of the words. One particular set always gets some interesting works from students in no more than 10 minutes of class time, and sometimes those pieces go on to become their workshop pieces with fiction or drama. Here are the three words: Priest, Prostitute, Movie Theater.

It’s always amazing how different each person takes those words and makes some fascinating things happen. You can utilize those three words, or come up with three columns of words for yourself…sort of what of these things don’t belong with the other…and your can always mix and match…the third column should be an interesting setting of some kind.

2) Or: Think of a sticky situation and put your protagonist right in it…write for 10 minutes in your daybook.

3) After you’ve written from the three words, or from the sticky situation, expand it where you can…cut out things that are unneeded, and of course, revise, revise, revise!

Both of these prompts can be made into fiction or drama, but you can also utilize the same ideas with poems and creative nonfiction as well.

As with all writing, this “Troubled” 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!

Lylanne