De-stressing

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it has been a long time...and it’s nice to be back writing on my blog. I didn’t think I would be away this long, but both of my parent’s health took a hit at the beginning of 2017 and it never let up. Here’s the condensed version (and it still is a lot). It was last summer (2016) when I actually posted writing prompts after I first moved back to Indiana from Michigan, and then one of my beloved cats, Graham, got ill and died in October of 2016, and around that time, my dad was having some fluid in the lungs and having to have them drained. Then came January 8th, 2017 and my dad was taken to the ER for bleeding in the bowels. He was in the hospital for 10 weeks straight; during that time he ended up with a colostomy bag.

In early February 2017, my mom was diagnosed with early-stage dementia, by March she’d fallen at home and broken three ribs, so she was in the hospital during the same time as dad. She was discharged first, but had to go to a nursing home for rehab…she was not happy, and she refused to eat among other things. Soon after, my dad was discharged to the same nursing home and they were able to room together for awhile. It became apparent that when mom was discharged she would not be able to live alone. I was still living in Indianapolis and making the drive to see the parents three-four times a week…a little over an hour each way…and teaching five classes. Mom ended up in the memory care unit of the same nursing home. During this time, my dad’s lungs were filling up with fluid again and he was back and forth to the hospital from the nursing home several times. To make a long story short, my dad died on June 19th. My mom did not want to be in the nursing home without dad, she wanted to go home. During the week of my dad’s funeral, she stayed at my daughter, Alison’s, house and I stayed there as often as I could. It seemed feasible that I could move back to my childhood home and be my mom’s caretaker. Everything was set in motion for me to move, then four days before the move was to take place mom fell and broke her shoulder. She was in the hospital for five days, and back to the nursing home for rehab. I was just settling in at the house when the nursing home “kicked her out”…because of insurance limits…without any home assessments, without showing me how to transfer her…nothing.

It’s been a real challenge, but I’ve kept her out of the hospital the required 60 days before insurance will kick in again. She has a lot of issues, and some of the problems we had when I was living here the first 18 years…have been amplified by her dementia. But, I’m learning a lot more about myself than I could have ever known otherwise…because now I see the dynamics I grew up with…and I see why I don’t do well with conflict and why I have always tried to avoid it at all costs. Also, I do have some perks in this situation…like not having to teach so many classes that I can’t do much else. I’m happy that I draw and paint, some, nearly every day. However, I have to be honest, this is the first that I have written anything since my mom came home on August 15th. I’ve either not had time, or I have just had too much in my head to focus. But, here I am…finding my way back to my writing…my therapy (as I’ve always told my students). Also, in the past week I’ve had two people reach out…wanting to have writing prompts, and missing some of the workshops I used to teach. So, this solves my need to write, and I hope it helps others that want to dabble with some prompts.

De-stressing

  1. In your daybook write about one of your most stressful times in your life. What did you do to de-stress? Did you turn to a favorite hobby, did you turn to comfort food, alcohol? How did you handle that time? Are you in it now? Did it make you stronger or are still reeling in some ways from that time? Take that and write for 10 minutes. What falls out on the page, run with.
  2. If you’re working on a novel, play, or short story…remember that life is stranger than fiction…and sometimes life hands us more than we think we can handle. What kind of stress can happen to your main character? Pour it on. Then revise to make it bearable.
  3. Take these words and work them into what you write: dementia, control, sunshine, and cat.
  4. Write about the death of a parent or grandparent and how you processed it. Did it bring back memories that you hadn’t thought of in years? Did it make you wish for a different relationship? Did you find that you understand them more in death than when they were alive? Write on those thoughts/feelings for as long as you can, and then focus on what really is hard…or enlightening. 

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 (or get back to it)!

Lylanne

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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

 

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: 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: No NaNoWriMo No More

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s November 30th – the last day of the month and the last day for NaNoWriMo. I don’t know whether you participated or not, but as you know if you’ve been following along – I didn’t. Not for lack of want, but because of the busyness of teaching 10 writing classes (yes, I’m an adjunct in case that’s not clear), and this being a crunch month with a lot of student’s larger papers due it didn’t allow for a lot of “me” time. However, being a poet and a playwright I can never let any month pass by without writing. I try to everyday…even if it is for 10 minutes or less. That certainly doesn’t get me full-length plays or a manuscript of poems, but it keeps me in good writing shape…just like a little exercise is better than just sitting around wishing to be fit.

Anyway, with that being said – with several “free” days over Thanksgiving, I got some major things accomplished. I actually got a full-length poetry manuscript put together and sent out into the world! Whoo hoo! Now let’s hope it lands somewhere good. Nevertheless, that was one major goal to have done by the 30th, and I had it completed and sent on the 28th. I also got several packets of poems sent out as well, so we’ll see what happens there. That takes care of some poetry needs, but I fell short of getting the three plays written that I’d hoped to have by today. However, the deadline for those are the 31st of December – so, I bet by the 28th they’ll be submitted…at least that’s my new goal for Dec. What is yours?

Here are some writing prompts to get you started for December:

  1. In your daybook write about a time that you lost an argument that still makes you mad. What was it about? Who was it with? Perhaps your character can have such a grudge…
  2.  Make a list: 50 excuses not to write. (See? Now you’re writing!) Pick one, and write for 10 minutes…see what comes to mind.
  3. Guns are a controversial topic. No matter what side of the “argument” you land on…utilize it to get yourself writing – maybe it’ll turn into an essay…or a poem…or it seems like a good topic to involve a character, or to have for the theme of a story or play.
  4. Use these three words in what you write: Kennedy/Art/Mexico

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: Rocking a Playlist

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been exactly a month since I’ve written here. That’s out of character for me. However, I had been talking about change during the summer and, by gosh, I got some change. All good, I left the community college where I had been teaching for the past four years, and was hired by a larger community college, Washtenaw, and within a week I was also hired at a Eastern Michigan University. So, I’m now teaching for three colleges and have eight classes; it will mean less stress over money for a while, but it does cut into my time. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining!! I like both of my new schools, but I’ve been busy with a lot of new preps and every time I think I’m going to get a chance to write the week’s Writing Prompt Pit Stop I find myself doing some other task…or needing some sleep. But, here I am today stealing a moment so I can get my blog back on track. My only quandary now is deciding what day is going to be best to post. Wednesdays have worked for years, and I really would like to stay with that day to keep consistent; yet, here I am posting on a Sunday. So, what I will do is try to post another on this Wednesday – but if I find that doesn’t happen, maybe the weekend will be a better option, we’ll see.

I’d had an idea that I was going to post last week, and didn’t get the chance, so I’ll post it now. As a person that enjoys making listsof things to do, list poems, etc., and because I’ve seen (and participated) in those lists of 10 favorite books (or books that have left an impact on you in one way or another) on FB and Twitter, I have decided to jump on the bandwagon with a list challenge of my own. It stems from not only my love of lists, but my love of music and how it can move you…in memory, in mood, etc. So, finally, here is your 53rd prompt:

“Rocking a Playlist”

1) In your daybook, list the top 10 (or more, the idea is to get writing) songs that have had an impact on you and why. You can even write those lists from one of your character‘s perspectives that you’re working with in a story, novel, or play.

2) It might be a good idea to go back and list the top 10 from different times of your life (or your character‘s), say from first memory of a song to 8 years old, from 9-14 years old, from 15 – 21 years old, and so forth. Or maybe by decade.

3) You can flip that list by making it the 10 most hated songs and why. Have you ever had the experience of loving a song, and then it was played to death (by you or by the radio) and you ended up never wanting to hear it again? Those songs might be fun to write about. Maybe you identified a song with a love, or an event...and later on the love broke off with you or the event took a turn…and now that song conjures up negative memories rather than positive….good things to write about.

4) If you don’t like to make lists, write about a specific song until you run out of things to say about it, or maybe you love (or hate) a specific type of music…maybe you love classical music and despise country. Maybe you used to hate country music, and now that’s all you listen to…this could be interesting explore…for yourself, or for your character.

5) Once you’ve written your lists, pick something that jumps out at you and utilize it to the fullest. Remember to revise! Any of these prompts can lend themselves to a piece of poetry, an essay, part of a memoir, a short story, or a play. If you’d like, share your lists here in comments.

See you here Wednesday!