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!!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop: A Fresh Start, A Big Challenge

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Here we are at the beginning of a new year. I was going to write a send-off to 2014 last week, but decided against it, as I felt that during my blogging during that topsy-turvy year left not too much more to be said. All I can say is I’m thrilled to be in 2015 with a clean slate and a fresh start for all endeavors…including my writing.

As I’ve written here in years past, I’m not one that makes New Year’s resolutions, instead I like to set goals. I have many goals for this year, among them to get more poems published, get my full-length poetry manuscript sent out, get some of my plays staged, etc. But another goal I have is actually a challenge that I share with one of my dear poet friends, Mary Sexson, and that is to write a poem every day…yes, that’s right…365 poems. Not just one a month, which can produce a lot in itself, but this is a daily endeavor. It is a huge commitment, but in sharing it with others it holds one more accountable, much like doing Weight Watchers or some such thing.

Mary and I completed this challenge in 2012 and we both did really well and had so many good poems that came out of it – some that were included in our poetry book, along with Jayne Marek: Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and many were also accepted by a variety of literary journals. During 2013, we were more involved with promoting the book, even though we still wrote poems often. In 2014, we both completed the Found Poetry Review’s Oulipost project during April: National Poetry Month. That project was a poem a day from a provided prompt, it was a fun and rewarding challenge – and one I wasn’t sure I could complete in 30 days, only because of my teaching and other various commitments, but I did and it felt good.

After Oulipost was over, I know I planned to keep writing a poem a day…but it didn’t happen…and during the last four months of 2014 I became more involved with theatre again – I was selected to be a director at the Canton One Acts Play Festival in January 2015 (my directing debut!) and that has taken up time, and I also committed to the 365 Women A Year: A Playwriting Project where I wrote two short plays, one featuring Frida Kahlo, the other Alice Neel.  I absolutely love theatre and want more of it in my life, but I still love writing poems and my poetry writing friends.

Over Christmas I visited with Mary in Indianapolis and we decided we would make 2015 a year we write a poem a day – just like in 2012. Mary says, it makes her “scared and happy all at the same time.” I understand her sentiments. When you think of it as writing a poem a day for 365 days it seems like an overwhelming undertaking, but I can tell you when you get something written it feels good…and when you get to the end of the year and see what you’ve accomplished – it’s a wonderful feeling! I decided there might be others out there that might like our challenge, posted it on Facebook, and we’ve already got another poet from Indy that has joined in…welcome Dawn! It would be cool if others from WordPress joined in this challenge with us this year…

So, here’s the 58th edition of prompts for Writing Prompt Pit Stop to kick off 2015:

“A Fresh Start, A Big Challenge”

1) In your daybook write a rough draft of a poem…each and every day of 2015. It doesn’t mean that it has to be a complete poem, or one that is a masterpiece. In fact, it’s good to just have starts and duds; these can be catalysts into a new, better poem the next day (or someday when you feel tapped out). The point is – you’re attempting a poem a day...and from my experience, you can salvage quite a bit of the ones that you thought were awful at first. It just takes a lot of revising and playing around with word/line arrangements.

2) Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day…simply write two the next and so forth – the idea is just to get more poems written in 2015. If you end up with 52….one a week, isn’t that more than you have right now? Remember, you can get quite a lot written in just 10 minutes.

3) If you write plays too (as I do) or short stories – take some time and write five pages of dialogue a day. If you’re on a roll, map out dialogue for a 10 minute play. Flash fiction, flash creative nonfiction, and so forth can be written in the same way – just take 10 minutes every day and write as much prose as you can. If you’re working on a story already, great! If not, these writings could give you jump starts to ideas that you didn’t even know were there.

4) Find a writing buddy or two or three and take this challenge with them. It keeps you honest, and if you have the chance set aside a time once a month to share what you’ve written – it will really keep you going, believe me. Writing, as we know, is a solitary action…but we all need an audience and what better audience to try new work out on than writing friends that you trust? That means not someone that says “I like it,” and “that’s nice” all of the time, but who really tell you if they think something doesn’t work or you need to add/subtract more; or what it is about your poem/play/story that works for them.

5) As always, I wish for you a successful writing year! If you’re interested, you can always let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge and what you’re doing to keep yourself motivated; if you feel up to it, I’m always open to any sharing of your work, or comments on this blog…or you can contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Check back here weekly as I will be posting prompts to help give you ideas for your writing endeavors.