The Return of Promptitude

Yes, I know its Sunday, and Promptitude usually runs on Saturday.  I actually wrote this post yesterday, but between free coaching sessions and a baby shower for my daughter, I never had time to put it up.  So here, you go, a day late, but just as relevant. Planet_earth_australia_264108_l

My son is now home, thank you God, but this past week was dominated by his incarceration stay at the hospital.  The hospital world is not a familiar one to me.  The only time I've been in the hospital was when my son was born and had a bad case of jaundice, and we both got checked into the hospital–him to be monitored, me to take care of him.  (I had both my children in out-of-hospital settings.)

Even though my grandfather was a doctor, nobody else in my family seemed to get the medical gene.  None of us have gravitated to medicine, and there's nary a doctor, nurse, or healer among the entire extended family network of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  So spending a lot of time at the hospital this week, I was immersed in a new and unfamiliar world.

And it strikes me that much of writing is about putting characters in a new world.  The Hero's Journey depends on it, for instance.  The new world is most often exterior, but it can be interior as well.  So today's prompts are all about hospitals and new worlds. And remember, you might be writing about something completely and totally different than hospitals, but sometimes writing to a prompt on an unrelated subject can do wonders for your creative juices.

Here you go:

She walked down the long hospital hallway.

"Time for your next dose," the nurse said.

At least there was a view.

The doctor had a terrible bedside manner.

Modern medicine is a miracle most of the time.

What a strange and different world.

Where am I now?

What happened?

How did I get here?

"Don't worry, it won't hurt at all."

Feel free to write responses in the comments.  When have you entered into a strange new world?  Did you end up writing about it?

Here are a few other Promptitude posts:

Promptitude: Summer Vacation

Promptitude: Super Moon Edition

Promptitude: Whiny Baby

Promptitude: Hair

Saturday Promptitude

Promptitude: Departing for Another World

Promptitude: What Makes a Good Prompt?

 

Photo by Monique72, from Everystockphoto.

Whatever Works

So, we teaching and coaching types love to give advice (except that the true essence of coaching is not so much giving advice as pulling what you yourself already know to be so out of yourself).

I, for instance, love to tell people to do Morning Pages.  (If you don't know what Morning Pages are, they are three pages of glumping on the page all your crap and good stuff as well, first thing in the morning.)

And I love to tell people to use prompts.

I also tell people to do what is most important to you first thing in the morning.  I presume that writing is most important to you.  So I further presume that it is what you will aim to do first thing.

I could go on with my list of helpful things I tell people.  Like, working with your inner critic, not checking email first thing in the morning, knowing your market, the power of prayer and meditation, and on and on.  And, some might say, on.

But here's the deal:

If what I say works, then use it.

If it doesn't, then don't.

But find something that does.  The point is, not everything works for everyone.  But my offerings are based on working with dozens of clients and students over the years.  And how will you know if they work for you until you try them?

Truly, I don't care if your favorite technique to get the words flowing is to stand on your head and rub your belly button.  If it works, do it.  I'm all about getting the words onto the page and I know full well that even though we like to haughtily say that writer's block doesn't exist, it really does.  Because I've experienced it, and so have you. 

But just because it exists doesn't mean it can't be dealt with.  It can.  Keep trying things until you get over it.

Okay, that's my rant for the summer.  I promise.  Now tell me what kinds of techniques work for you to get the writing flowing?  Alcohol?  A nap?  A brisk run?  Chaining yourself to the computer?  I'm all ears.

***Guess what?  I'm offering the book proposal teleclass again this September.  And right now, there are crazy fast action bonuses: an early-bird price AND a free coaching call.  But hurry, because the fast action bonus is time sensitive.  Check it out here.

Promptitude: Summer Vacation

Beach_sand_warm_247390_l Alas, I have been alarmingly somewhat remiss in my project of providing you with prompts.   But seeing as how I'll be on a plane to Orlando tomorrow (for the Suzanne Evans 10K Coaching Club business intensive) I thought I might extract some summer vacation type prompts from my fertile brain.  Even though I'll be working, not vacationing.  And on my birthday, no less.

So here you go:

They ran through the airport.

The plane was late.

The problem with the tropics is the heat.

Ah, sunshine.

Sand has an annoying habit of collecting everywhere.

Her feet hurt from walking all day.

She enjoyed the perfect qualities of a trashy beach book.

Vacations are important because.

Her favorite thing to do on an airplane was…

The car ride made him sick.

*For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free book when you do!  All you have to do is fill out the form to the right.

 

Photo by ohinsanity, from Everystockphoto.

Promptitude: LA

As you are reading this, I'll in in LA.  Not lounging by the pool, even though I am staying in Santa Monica.  No, I'm at the first Suzanne Evans 10K Coaching Club Intensive, working my little tail off to come up with new and wonderful ways to serve my clients and readers.  Yes, you.

And since I am in LA, I figured LA-related prompts would be in order.  (You can go to my post from last week to get the links for all the prompt posts I've written.  I'm too busy being busy to relist them here.)

Ready? Here we go:

He was shocked that all the women looked alike.

Palm trees and blue sky mean home.

It never rains in California.

It is difficult and time-consuming to be beautiful.

There are way too many cars in the world.

"Everyone is rich, or should be," he said.

Amazing how ordinary celebrities look in real life.

The sun set over the Pacific.

She loved the ocean.

The sand felt dry and crunchy beneath her toes.

Have fun.  And if you get bored, check out my Book Proposal Teleclass, coming up soon.  You can read about it here.

Promptitude: Wide Open Spaces

I just got back from visiting southeastern Oregon. 

The east side of Oregon is totally different from the west side of Oregon, where I, and most of the state's population, lives.  The east side is basin and range, gold and brown, mesas, cattle, warm, dry, long stretches of wide open spaces. The west side is green, rainy, lush, forested, hills and valleys, cities, people, business. 

When you live in a green, rainy city, visiting the open landscape of the east side of the state is mind blowing. Vfiles27241

To wit: the photo on the right, which is an image of a dirt road on Steens Mountain, the peak that looms over the entire area.  (It also moves.  Depending on where you are in the landscape, it looks like it has changed location.  It is very agile for a mountain.)

So, for your writing pleasure, here are some prompts having to do with wide open spaces, rainy landscapes, and blowing your mind:

She couldn't believe it.

The road went on forever.

In the mountains, there you feel free.     (With thanks to T.S. Eliot)

Oh my God, really?

Rain dripped from the boughs of the fir tree.

When the car broke down in the high desert he started walking.

Cows mooed loudly as they hiked by the fields.

Snow fell on a cold April morning.

Fields of gold and brown caught the sunlight.

Only one hundred more miles to go.

PS–My friend Debbie and I reserved the Diamond Hotel for a writing retreat in April of 2012.  It is going to be fabulous, so stay tuned!

Promptitude: Rain

It has been raining here forever.  Worst spring in ages. 

Blue_rain_drops_473_l
It is not for me to complain, however, because when I was in Nashville last weekend, the temperatures hit 90 degrees.  And the sun shone nearly every day I was there.  Plus, bad storms hit the day before I arrived and a few days after I left.  (The storms yesterday and last night were truly awful, read more about the havoc they wreaked here.  Love and prayers to all affected.)

But, weather is always good to write about.  (And that's the great thing about being a writer: good or bad, no matter what happens to you, you can always write about it.)  So here are a few prompts inspired by the weather:

When the rain started, they ran for cover.

After the storm…

The sun eventually shines.

Winds howled and the lights flickered.

There's no sense in worrying about the weather because you can't do anything about it.

Snow fell faster and faster.

Heat rose from the asphalt in waves.

Have at it!  What's the weather like where you live?

Photo by Scott Robinson, from Everystockphoto.

Promptitude: Whiney Baby

Baby-scream-pink-69549-l At the beginning of this week, I wrote about fear.

As I've progressed through the week, feeling much better about life, I've also been reading SARK's latest book, Glad No Matter What.

She writes about a process for clearing out fear and other nasty emotions that plague us. First you write a Mad page (or pages), beginning with putting words for the feelings you're having across the top of the page.  Then write out what's making you feel that way, specifically.  Next she advocates writing a Wise page, wherein you write to yourself supportive and pithy bits of wisdom that will make you feel better.  And finally, you write Glad pages, which are like Mad pages, only happy.  Across the top of the page write all the good feelings you have, then write out what is making you feel this way.

The thing is, its easy for people to get disdainful of such processes.  Like the whole optimistic, glad thing.  Even I can find myself rolling my eyes if things get too feel-goody.

But, actually, that's bull.  I think its a conditioned response from society.  If I were younger, and more passionate about rebellion, I'd say its a response from a society that wants you to fit into the great unhappy masses and not stand out.  Because, honestly, doing things such as the above process can make you feel better.  Way better.  And who doesn't want to feel better these days?  I know I do.

So this week my prompts are oriented around journal writing and they are designed to purge worry and fear, which, I have it on good authority, there's a lot of these days.  The key thing with these prompts is to keep going and when you run out of stuff to write, go to the next prompt.  You want to get all the way down to the bottom layer of the fear in order to deal with it.  Here goes.  Be brave:

–I'm worried about…

–I'm afraid of….

–The worst that can happen is….

–And then…

–But wait, there's more…

Okay, that's it, I promise.  Phew, nasty stuff.  Take a deep breath and a drink of water.  Don't you feel better?  Sort of wrung out and depleted, but also ready to fill that empty, purged space with good new stuff?  Start with this:

–I'm happy because…

–I'm inspired to….

–What bring me joy is….

–I'm grateful for…

And there you have it.  Let me know how it works.

 

Promptitude: Super Moon Edition

In case you haven't heard, tonight we're having a super moon.  There's all kinds of craziness going on around this phenomenon, but basically the earth's orbit is the closest its been to the moon in 18 years.  Moon_full_moon_248337_l

I'm a moon baby, born under the sign of Cancer, and I've always felt the ebb and flow of the moon.   So the topic of a super moon inspires me.  Thus, this week I offer several prompts for your consideration. 

Most often I use prompts to inspire my fiction writing, or to ease me over a block.  Not as often do I use them for personal writing, because, well, I never seem to have much problem getting words on the page in my journal.

But the moon makes me feel all cozy and intimate, so here are three prompts that might take you into your own life:

Eighteen years ago, in March of 1993, I was…

When the moon is full, I feel….

The things that inspire me are…

And please remember, if you are having a hard time writing, I'd love to help.  Check out my coaching page here, or the Get Your Writing in Gear page here (there's a couple more weeks left on the March Madness sale).

 

Image of moon by tomisted, from Everystockphoto.

 

Promptitude: Departing for Another World

A friend wrote and told me she seems to be surrounded with people who are having their own personal earthquakes and tsunamis.  I, appparently am no different.  So if you are not in the mood for a short, downer post, click away now.  I'll forgive you.

I was going to do a prompt this week around journal writing, specifically, something to do with writing your way back to yourself.

But right now I'm sitting with a dying pug.  My poor sweet Ally's health problems are overwhelming her and she's got a foot in each world right now.  I'm just happy I got to have her for a few months.  And that she is having a peaceful, loving death.

Here's the prompt of the week, snitched from the book of prompts that I'm creating:

And then we came to the end.

Send a little prayer for the safe passage of my beloved writing companion, would you please?

Saturday Promptitude

Promptitude:

How Webster's defines it:  The quality or habit of being prompt, promptness.

How I define it: The habit of using prompts to inspire your writing.

Prompts.  Quit your sneering right now.  Yes, I know that you have a love-hate relationship with them.  I do, too.  Yes, I also know that sometimes writing to prompts leads you far astray from your current writing projects.  Same thing happens here.  And yes, I understand that your worst nightmare is sitting in a writing workshop, being told to write to a prompt, and then being called on to read what you wrote.  Oh dear lord, somebody wake me up, please.  Make the nightmare stop. No, I promise you: NO READING ALOUD HERE. Journal_80101_l

But besides all those bad things I know about prompts, I also know this:

When all else fails, prompts can get you writing again faster than anything else I know. 

Anything. 

Let's face it, what prompts are to writing, the law of attraction is to life: mocked and scorned but very useful.  C'mon, we know they work and we use them all the time, but we just don't want to admit it.  Who wants to be the dork that admits they watched The Secret five times?  Or the one who confesses she writes to a prompt in her journal every morning?  Not me.

But put all that malarkey aside and grab your pen and paper, cuz we-all are going to write.  Right here, right now.  And every Saturday to come.  Because today is the beginning of a regular weekly feature called, you guessed it, Promptitude.

Here are the guidelines (please note, I did not use the word rules, because I don't believe in them):

1. Set timer for an agreed-upon-with-yourself time.

2.  Write.  And by this I mean write write, okay?  Don't stop to ponder or stare off into space or all of those things we do when we pretend we are writing but really we're wondering if Lindsay Lohan is going to jail or not.  Move that damn pen across the paper and keep it going.  Do. Not. Stop.

And now, here are two rules more guidelines that are of vital importance:

3. Don't ponder the prompt.  If I stop to think about the prompt, what I think it means, whether I like it or not, if I should, perhaps choose another one, then the magic is already gone.  So don't do it.  Take the damn prompt already and write.  Its just a way in.

4. Use the prompt with your current project.  Here's the easiest way to do it:   Hold a character or situation from your book or story in your head for a few deep breaths, then start writing.  I know, too simple.  But it really works, I swear it.  And this is my favorite thing to use prompts for, which is to drive myself to a deeper understanding of what I'm working on.

So, are you ready?  Get your timer and your pen and paper and go to it.  Don't think about it, just do it.  Here's the prompt:

When the first snowflake fell, she ran outside naked.

What are you staring at me for?  Go write!

And even though I swore I wouldn't call on you, if you feel so inclined–only if you are feeling it–post your first 100 or so words in the comments.  Or post a comment on your own feelings about prompts.  But I do love it when you comment, so please do.