Monday, January 11, 2010

In Which I Find Out What Happens to All (well, some) of Those Writing Prompts.

I've been getting some inspiring feedback from the January Prompt-a-Day project, in which I'm emailing a daily writing prompt to anyone who wants to participate.

One writer tells me it spurred her to start a fat new writer's notebook and buy some of the special pens she likes but ran out of a while ago.

Another is going back to writing longhand for part of her writing day.

Another is lopping 15 minutes off her obsessive television news-watching time (hey, sounds like a good idea whether you write or not).

Someone else is using the prompts to try writing small snippets of fiction, after a lifetime of writing nonfiction.

A poet is using each one as a title to a poem she's writing during her commute to work (hope she's on public transportation and not tapping it out on her Blackberry while driving).

And yet another writer has even started a new blog, where's she's posting some of the writing she's generating in response to the prompts. She's titled the blog SFD (in honor of Anne Lamott's advice in Bird by Bird, that's it's perfectly okay to write "shitty first drafts").

Well. When I decided to let blog readers sign up for the prompts – which I send out daily to students in any of my classes -- I didn't know if I'd ever find out what was happening at the other end. So it's been truly gratifying and fun to get these small glimpses.

As for me, at first I thought I'd write to most of the prompts right along with everyone else. But being the one to dream them up means the exercise doesn't have the same kind of serendipitous impact as it does for someone opening an email not knowing what might be inside.

Still, it's making an internal impact. The other day's prompt for example, The kids' table, had me remembering why, when I became a parent, I insisted my kids always sit at the main table (oh yes, several relatives found me rather irritating on this, and I'm sure many other, points)…which made me think about all the kids' tables I sat at as a child (and teenager and young adult)…which reminded that I wanted to work more on an essay-in-development about all of those 1960s and 70s New Jersey Italian-American weddings….

Meanwhile, I've decided to extend the project through February, but with a definite twist. (Details to come at the end of the month). You can still get in on the January action here.

And now, I promise not to mention this again until the end of the month. Probably.


Susan Bearman said...

Oh, I wish more people were posting their responses to the prompts online. I'd love to read all the different ideas and creativity. Good luck, everyone. Thanks again, Lisa.

Anonymous said...

I'm not getting to the prompts every day, but their arrival in my inbox reminds me that my main focus at this desk is to write. Kind of like a meditation bell. Thanks Lisa.

Shaun Hunter, Calgary

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,

Just to let you know that the prompts are terrfic! I was expecting some long winded sentences that bore you to death, but your short, snappy phrases are not only prompting me to write, they are making me write verse again.

It's a bit of self-indulgent, unedited rubbish, but I'm having a whole lot of fun writing it. Looking forward to the rest of the them.

Best wishes,