I’ve been journaling in fits and starts since I was at least six years old. I can go years without a single entry, and then I have months where I need to journal at least daily, sometimes several times in a day. I have some great long-form stories to tell, but most of the time they are trapped in a dreamlike state somewhere in my consciousness, and unable to self-arrange on a page, so they never make it into a cohesive, readable piece. Sometimes I think I could get these ideas out if I had the right guidelines to follow, the right inspiration, or the right prompt. I write outlines, and I’m a “pantser.” I have no proven, tried-and-true, single method. I love to edit, and I love to write nonsensical garbage from grammar hell. I enjoy producing and directing. I wouldn’t mind feeling a little more fit when it comes to conditioning the writing muscle, though.
One morning, while still working in a creative agency filled with professional writers and artists, I went on a tear, as I was often wont to do, around the office to ask writers and other creatives for their favorite prompts. And, frankly, I got nothing, nada, bupkis. Their prompts were all client briefs, and they had no time or energy for my bullshit.
The copyeditors in the office (also great writers) had a few lists for me, and they were pretty great, but maybe one step ahead of where I was. They had delightfully concrete genre-based prompts like, “This morning, I woke up with different genitalia and…” I read through the lists, thoroughly entertained and delighted, and decided to table it for a while and not try to make the words come out.
Months later I casually mention the stuck stories without arranged words on pages in my meditation class, and I finally become aware of my desire to journal first. Our leader’s eyes lit up with a twinkle.
“Today I noticed.”
And, sometimes, the counterpoint shows up for me, and I think about,
“Today I failed to notice.”
This prompt and it’s other side of the coin always manages the big feelings days when I need to journal, but they also provide on days when I’m not sure I can arrange the words and make with the story.
Side benefits: It also helps me bring some awareness, cultivate gratitude and a sense of the abundance in my life, and generally calm my tits down. NBD
Do you have a favorite, tried-and-true, go-to prompt?