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

Cha-Cha-Changes

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! What would life be if it was not filled with changes, conflict, and growth? It appears that the older I get that I have not slowed down when it comes to any of the above. Again, I find myself moving…and not just across town…but out of state. I’m packing up my books, my art, and my three cats, and hitting the road. Well, the cats won’t be packed away, but they are in for a long ride of 4.5 hours in their crates. It’s all good, as I am going to my home state, Indiana, and it actually feels right to be “going home” to Indianapolis. If you’ve read many of my blogs here, you know that I’m an adjunct writing instructor. I love to teach, but it’s not gotten any easier to make a living at doing so. It would be grand if I could say I was going home because I’d finally snagged a full-time position, but that isn’t the case. I do, however, have secured adjunct positions for at least three colleges for this Fall.

Yes, I could have stuck with the two or three colleges that I have here in MI/OH, but to be honest, I’m tired of driving across state lines to make a buck, and then losing what I made (read saved to get through the summer months) to state/city taxes (in the state that I don’t live in)…with no guaranteed income during the summer; plus, I just plain miss being nearer my family and a plethora of friends I left behind when I set out on this adventure in my life six years ago. I most certainly will miss the many friends that I have made in Ohio and Michigan, the vast majority are all in my creative tribes: poets, visual artists, playwrights and actors. And, because of those connections, I know we’ll all keep in touch in this social media society that we live in. Not to mention, I really do like to drive and will make the trip back north whenever possible. This is my last weekend in Michigan as a resident, and I will make the move with my howling cats next Friday. Wish me luck! And, who knows – maybe that full-time job is right around the corner…

Because every writer knows that conflict is an integral part to telling any story, or that  tension is needed in poems and plays, here are a few related prompts that might help you get something written regarding your own conflicts or changes in life:

  1. Write about a time that you had to make a decision to change something big in your life. It could be moving, changing jobs, ending a relationship, or going back to school. Mine that writing for an essay or a poem.
  2. If you’re so inclined, after writing about yourself with the above prompt, consider that same conflict/change in regard to a character that you’re working with in a story or a play.
  3. Write about a time that you’ve traveled with your pet(s). Was it a cross country move? Was it bringing the pet home for the first time? How about a funny or crazy time that you took your pet to the vet?
  4. Use these three words in your story/poem/play: packing/money/anxiety.

Have fun with the prompts. If you get anything that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post your work in comments, or send me an email at lylanne@lylanne.com

I’ll see you after the move!

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

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: 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!

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! So, here we are in December already…the last month to close out another year. When we get to this point in the year we have a good sense of where we’ve been, what we wished we’d done, and what we want to do in a new year. It’s also at this time of year, if you’re like me, that we’re coming to an end of another semester. As an instructor that means many things, especially as a writing instructor: mounds of papers to grade, panicky students, grateful students, elation that you’ve made it through another semester, and sadness that you’ll miss some students or a special class dynamic.

If you’re a student (or ever have been a student, you’ll remember) it means crunch time, late nights, all-nighters, elation that you made it through another semester, and sadness that you will miss a favorite teacher, a favorite class, or friends that will go in different directions in the coming year.

Because of the craziness at this time of year, especially this week and next (right on the heels of a late Thanksgiving!) I will be making my intro into my prompts a bit shorter…some of you will like that, I imagine! LOL!

Without further ado, here is your twenty-third prompt:

School’s Out…for the Semester!”

(And, yes, I do hear Alice Cooper‘s song in my head as I’m writing this…)

1) In your daybook write a list of some of your favorite memories of a school year ending (or a particular semester). You can start with kindergarten and go up through the grades if you like. As with some of my other prompts, this will give you a plethora of things to work with later when you feel that you’re having a writer’s dry spell.

2) On the flip side write a list of some of your worst end of school/semester endings. Was it a missed project? Was it the year you got strep throat and missed the last few weeks? Maybe it was a car accident that left you without a car for two weeks to get back and forth to school…right at finals (that happened to me during undergrad!). Maybe it was a break-up with your boyfriend/girlfriend…or maybe you just hated the class and plain bombed it. Write about it now…with some distance…find the humor, or really let the ill-feelings come out…it can make for some good writing!

3) Write about your favorite teacher. It could be a teacher from elementary, junior high, high school, or college – or a teacher from every year. Some are lucky to have one teacher that changed their life. I’m one of those people. I’ve written about mine several times, Ann Johnson, my high school art teacher, who is still one of my dearest friends. In fact, in the book Company of Women: New and Selected Poems, (Chatter House Press, 2013) that I co-authored with Jayne Marek and Mary Sexson, my poem “What She Taught Me” is the title of my section in the book. It is a poem that I wrote in honor of Ann. So, write a poem about your most influential teacher. If you’re lucky enough to still be in contact – send the poem to them!

Here’s a recent photo of me and Ann:

Image

4) Take any of the writings that you got from the prompts above and then hone in on one for 10 minutes or until you can’t write any longer. You should be able to come up with a poem, essay, short story, or a play from utilizing any of these prompts. Once you do that and you’ve written a decent draft, revise! And, then revise again!

5) As with all writing, this “School’s Out…” 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