I have been working on devising prompts that help writers work with seemingly unconnected images and anecdotes from their lives. Here are five of these prompts meant to help you use the arrangement and juxtaposition of images and anecdotes to build toward insight in your writing. Presented together and titled, the sections you write become larger than the sum of their parts:
1. Put scrabble tiles or children’s letter magnets in a pile and pick one. What letter did you pick? What day is it and what must you do today? How does the letter you picked go with the day? Title your entry by the day of the week: “U is for Tuesday,” for instance. Then write about what you will do or have done on the day you are writing. Next, write a new section meditating on how words or names of things with “u” in them make you think about the day.
2. Take a product out of your cupboard. Write down its name. Now use those letters and write a meditation: i.e. Oatmeal: O A T M E A L. This item will inspire a seven-paragraph piece in which each paragraph begins with a word that starts with one of the letters in the word. Title the entry after the item, “Oatmeal” for instance.
3. Imagine that where you are living is a place you have come to visit. Select someone to whom you might write postcards from this place. Write a series of postcards to this person similar to the kinds you would write if you were traveling as a tourist–include observations, vignettes, snippets of history, anecdotes about your “travels.” Use a title for this entry like “Messages to Frank from Troy, North Carolina.”
4. Think of things you haven’t shared with someone close to you. Write about them under a title like: “Never Mentioned” or “I Wished I’d Thought to Tell You.”
5. Find the five most repeated nouns you have used in your journaling this month. Write a short paragraph about each of these words and what extra charge they hold for you. When you are done with the paragraphs title the entry. A one-word title like “Panorama” could draw the paragraphs together highlighting the idea that you have begun to reflect on your deepest concerns.
Sheila Bender is an author, poet, writing coach, and writing consultant. Learn more about her at www.writingitreal.com. Sheila wrote the content for the Writers Add-On.