HopeWriters Writing Prompts Continued…

Jan 19: Brainstorm – There are writers who plan extensively before they put words to a page. There are writers who sit down and let it pour out. In medio stat viritus, we learn from Aristotle, in the middle lies virtue. I lie in bed, stare at the mirror that reflects the outdoors beyond the window and I think of what I could write today. I create a short, mental list of the projects that need attention. I consider also the chores, the childcare, the leisure and the healthy habits. A brainstorm must be more than just, “what will I write?”, but “when will I write it?” Brainstorms sometimes occur in conjunction with others. I cannot launch a brilliant writing career without first making sure my husband knows he is in charge during that hour that I pound away on the computer. “How will we make this work?” may have been the most fruitful and productive conversation of my career.

Jan 20: Stuck – The best remedy when I am stuck is to go for a walk, to pray, to reconnect with my children, and take some time to think away from the computer, the pen, the pressure. The distractions of technology clog the neurological pathways making it difficult to think (in a manner of speaking). I must free them with nature, fresh air, and interior silence meant to ponder the mysteries of the universe. I only rarely feel stuck…and feeling stuck, usually says more about the state of my heart than the state of my writing.

Jan 21: Quote – The best news stories are built around the quotes with a little narrative in-between. Unlike non-fiction, reflection, “soul” writing, no one wants to hear your voice in a news story. They want the story, to enter into the moment and see it for themselves. Then you end with a moving quote, the emotional one, the one with hope, the one that makes the reader’s heart soar or ache just a little. Your voice is hidden but present, undetectable but essential. It is the writing that allows the subject to shine more than any other medium.

Jan 22: Inspiration – There is no inspiration without silence. There is no silence in this modern world without an intentional retreat. There are no intentional retreats in this world without some agreement from the community in which you live. There is no community without communication. From silence and communication come the greatest inspiration: communication with God, communication with others, communication with the heart.

Jan 23: Goal – My goal was to use these writing prompts every day. I find myself writing two a day to catch up. Did I fail? No. With all my projects, I begin with an idea. Then allow that idea to take shape. I might have a deadline. Whether or not an editor has one, I set a personal deadline. I could work four hours a day writing, editing, and four more hours a day reading. Instead, I’m working in the cracks to meet my goals, because whatever my love of writing, the goal to produce beautiful, meaningful words, will ultimately fail if I have abandoned my first vocation in the process. The path to achieving goals is not set in stone but takes shape each turn of the way. I used to believe in SMART goals, now I just believe in walking the path, with a hopeful idea of where I am going.

Writing Prompt, Day 11: Feeling – I held my toddler down on the hospital bed while they tried to place an IV four times, over 12 hours. I felt the fear and worry dissipate like the clouds of incense when he passed out of danger. I felt the excitement of heading home, the frustration at screaming toddlers, the rest of climbing under heavy winter covers. To all these feelings, writing seems but a dream, a place to explore the heartache, to dwell in a world of craft, of words. It feels safe, rewarding, and exciting. It is not the world in which I get to live…yet…or maybe, ever. Because those feelings are not the feeling of life. It is life that hurts and triumphs. Writing merely tells about it.

Writing Prompt, Day 12: Progress – Progress? Progress? I defied you, Progress, by simply dropping off this exercise at Day 11. It felt good to neglect something when the rest of my life feels so responsible. I sacrificed the writing. Do I win in the end? Time will tell. I still met my other deadlines and even meal planned for the day. Still a win.

HopeWriters Writing Prompt Recap

I have never participated in a writing challenge before, but this simple short-term challenge from Hope Writers seems the perfect opportunity.

 

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Below are my responses, shared daily on Facebook (for the most part) during the challenge.

 

 

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Jan 14: Word – Do I own the words or do I owe the words? I have a debt to pay to words. They materialize my thoughts, my emotions, unite me to others and help me find unity within myself. Jesus is the Word made flesh, who existed from the beginning, so when I participate in the beauty of words, I enter into life with God. I should not manipulate the words to suit my own needs, without reverence, but rather, humbly approach the vast array of words in existence to try to discover their greatness, their potential, their meaning, and their power to communicate my heart to another heart. In doing this, I draw closer to God, the Son, the Word made Flesh.

 

 

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Jan 15: Morning – That elusive place of quiet, reflection, preparation as the sun rises, coffee is brewed, and as I open the curtains my mind gently expands to take in the beauty of the world and the possibilities of a new day. Then, I hear in the distance, a toddler’s call “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” The six-year-old screams at his little sister, “I’m not stinky!” I climb out of bed to face the world, not as I dream it to be, but as it really is. Where the possibilities for growth are not neatly packaged in a self-help cover, but in the daily grind, the chipped coffee cup, and the world of The Little Way.

 

 

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Jan 16: Draft – The draft is the world of potential, like mornings, like words, where the possibilities are endless. You begin, no idea where it will go unless you have an outline. You sit down, pour out words unless your mind is fried and your heart burnt out. In a tidy fifteen minutes, you punch out into the computer typewriter inkwell words of genius and inspiration, unless you are distracted with a habit of internet scrolling, too many open tabs, and too many open mouths crying out for breakfast. It comes together beautifully. And when you finish, you know that this, this is ready for publication. But finding you cannot stand to read it enough to edit it the three or four times required to make it decent, you toss it out and begin anew the next day. Happy, happy first drafts!

 

 

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Jan 17: Mood – The mood of a piece… I listened to Jars of Clay’s album, Much Afraid, as I wrote my most atmospheric piece of adolescent sentimentality at age 15, parsing through the relationships lacking in my life. A candle creates a mood, the right writing desk, the right ballpoint pen, the background music create the mood. The mood is the effect of the senses on the work output. The writer creates a mood to work. The piece itself only possesses mood when the author is ready to translate this sensory experience to the page. Writing without mood reduces your page to words and descriptions. Mood is where the writing comes alive, allowing your reader to connect on a sensory level with the authors who may be hundreds of miles or hundreds of years away. That is the power of mood.

 

 

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Jan 18: Edit – Writing is the expression. Editing is the work. Like raising children, to edit is to labor to cultivate the raw material that comes from you into something you like, want to spend time with, and who you hope will make enough money to take care of you in your old age.

Daily Prompts to Kick Start Your Writing Year

What is the first thing you let go of when time seems short? I have not yet found the time and space to write and think without a deadline.

In an email, I explained, “I start to feel disconnected from my heart and my thoughts grow disorganized when I do not write. I can hear my thoughts more clearly when I write. There is a breed of folks in the world that are like this from childhood or adolescence. As an adult, it’s become very moving to meet others who from an early age were like this (journaling all the time in junior high, writing stories, poetry, etc). My friend has a daughter who reminds me of myself so I strive to mentor her a bit in it. I wish I had known a writer when I was a kid! For me, and others in this type, it’s harder to live without writing than to write.

It’s the editing that’s work! “When I work, I also feel less like I’m just going through the motions of life, performing tasks that will become undone minutes later (the dish reused, the floor dirty). Being a mother at home matters. My children are priceless and raising them is the most important thing I could do (and they are my retirement plan!). Nevertheless, the day-to-day it’s very hard and work has more immediate rewards (not just the money).”

Two hours into our drive home from doctors appointments in San Francisco, my son refuses me the pleasure of listening to any more podcasts or music. We sit in silence…or in cries restlessness and boredom, in his case…well, in my case, too. I thought back to this email.

If I love writing so much… if it does so much for me…why don’t I do it more often?

This morning, a new email awaited me:

 

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Post a photo and a caption on Instagram. I have not gotten into the habit of using Instagram so I will try this out on Facebook. Want to join me?