Friday, June 26, 2015

What prompts your writing?

Last week my friend Robin and I were talking about what gets us writing.  Julia Cameron's Morning Pages (three pages written each and every day, by hand) came up; I talked about my 10 mintute free write habit, which sometimes shakes things loose (and sometimes doesn't).

These days I've been thinking about writing prompts, those one or two line suggestions that push you to write about something you might not have thought of, or in a way that makes you acutely uncomfortable ("Using words of only one syllable...).  For one of my sabbatical projects I've been reading books and lists of writing prompts (yes, I have read, cover to cover, 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts and am well into 642 Things to Write About) and imagining writing prompts for scientists from the prosaic  — "Describe your research in 2 sentences." — to the wacky — "There is a button in the hood.  No one knows what it does.  Do you push it?  Why or why not?  If you do, what happens?"

Interesting things I've found along the way:

So what prompts my writing?  Sometimes those 10 minute writes, often an image.  A walk can shake things loose.  I keep a little book in my bag where I scribble down my own private prompts (which I admit that sometime later I can't alway read or remember what I thought was so inspiring — what was I thinking when I scribbled down "tea on Tuesday/Sherlock/watchmaker/became, not veiled" last February? I've no idea at all.)

What about deadlines?  I know some people who swear by deadlines as inspiration, but I find they provoke more terror than prose.  I have a whole slew of deadlines coming up, for some very interesting projects (including a bilingual one — woot!).  I asked Math Man last night to remind me that no matter how interesting the project, I'm booked up until late August!

What prompts your best writing?

1 comment:

  1. An image often prompts me. When I used to write poetry, it was a visual process, and making visual art feels akin to this.