Writing & Weathering

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! So, I don’t know about you, but the weather is always appearing in my poems and journals. Here in Indiana, well since I moved back in July anyway, has been extremely hot and humid, and now in August we’ve had a couple of weeks of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes. This past Wednesday there was an outbreak of tornadoes, and an EF3 ripped through Kokomo – just an hour north of Indy, along with various lesser strength tornadoes near there and around central Indiana. We’ve also had a lot of rain, which has caused flooding the likes that haven’t been seen in downtown Indy and around the suburbs. Whether you believe in climate change or not, and I know most of my writing cohorts do, something different is going on…at the very least, tornadoes in Indiana were usually the norm in April-June…not late August; although, I know they can appear anytime…so it seems the seasons are off by a few months. The tornadoes in Kokomo also reminded me of the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak there, and in nearby towns…the same towns I was hearing named on the weather alerts. I have aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived there then, and live there now – in fact, my now 87-year-old aunt’s house was the only one left standing in a block in Russiaville in 1965...the same house that she still lives in. As a child, and seeing the destruction of those tornadoes, and the tears of my family at the devastation of their friends and neighbors, and hearing the horror stories of that day left an impression on me. I’ve written one poem about that day, but it appears there’s more there to mine.

So with weather on my mind, I figured it would be a good time to use weather as writing prompts:

  1. In your daybook, write about a time you’ve experienced a tramatic weather event, be it a tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, etc. You may even have more than one – so in that case, make a list of those experienced and then write for 10 minutes on the one that seems the most interesting to you.
  2. Maybe you (or your character) are petrified of storms, write about how you (or your character) handle that – especially in public situations when you’re usually a calm and collected person.
  3. If you write essays, you may want to tackle climate change in a more personal way than the political angle.
  4. If you write plays or short stories, you may want to write about a situation that has arisen from a shared weather event. Take into consideration the Starbucks in Kokomo that was demolished; yet, the workers and customers were unharmed because of taking refuge in the bathrooms.

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

 

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

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: 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: 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: 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