Write without thinking and don't forget to post in the comment section.
What's your first take on this prompt? A feeling? A thought? Another image?
Write without thinking and don't forget to post in the comment section.
New Series begins Sept 30th: Picture Prompts to Deepen Your Relationship to the Imagination, the Unknown, and the Unseen!
How to Use:
Look at prompt, pick up pen and write without thinking.
Copy and paste image to your word program and type without thinking.
Print prompt, cut out and paste in your journal. Write without thinking.
Paste your writing into the comment section here and inspire others!
If you have a picture you think will work as a prompt here, email it to me.
Emily's Note: This is an excellent article by the young adult writer, Robin LaFevers.
I wish I had written it!) And it is a great opening for anyone who has joined or is thinking of joining The Power of the Shadow Workshop starting October 5.
None of us makes it through life without some kind of pain and loss and heartache. We are all of us, broken or wounded in some way. Some of these wounds arise from tragic circumstances: the loss of a loved when far before their time, abuse, neglect, betrayal.
But sometimes brokenness happens simply in the way any much used item becomes broken: a handle falls off after too many years of lifting too heavy a load, we crack due to extreme variations in temperature or weather, our insulation no longer insulates, or maybe we’ve just rusted through. Some of our wounds will be self-inflicted as we humans have an astounding ability to get in our own way.
The thing is, these wounds and losses are necessary—as much a part of life as breathing, for without them it’s hard to make the case that we’ve been truly living.
It is in the acquiring of those wounds that we become truly human. As painful as they are—they can also bring wisdom and strength, compassion and humility. If we let them.
They can also bring bitterness and calcification, close us down and shut us up tight.
That is what makes stories so essential to the human experience—they take the creators’ wounds and turn them into something more—a gift that we dare to give the world.
I first came across this concept of wounds as gift in a book by Robert Rohr while researching theology for assassin nuns. And while he writes about spiritual matters, it occurred to me that the concept was equally true and relevant for writers.
While wounds bring suffering, they also allow us to grow and change and transform ourselves into something more. That is one of story’s most important roles—showing us how to do just that with the circumstances that life has thrown us.
This is why books and paintings and drawings and music are so important to us, not only individually, but as a society: it illuminates the pain and joy of life and renders it fascinating and compelling, but also healing.
As writers, I believe this is at the very core of what we do—we take the raw stuff of our pain and doubts and fears transforms them into something that is, in turn, transformative to others.
I cannot emphasize enough how this DOES NOT MEAN all our stories need to be dark or tragic ones. Sometimes the absolute best way to point out such things is with lightness or humor’s sharp bite. Even what can appear to be the most escapist form of art, serves a purpose in that it allows us to attain some psychic space from our own pain for a while. It gives us the breathing room to acquire enough distance to tackle our problems from a stronger perspective. Escape can be an important, natural step in the healing process.
I suspect that writers and other artists are those who are the most fascinated by the world’s quirks and foibles and broken places. Not in a feeding off others pain way, but because it resonates so deeply with the jagged edges of our own broken spots and affirms that this is what it means to be human.
It is our wounds that make us human, else we would all be mannequins, robots, or simply annoying (or boring) as hell.
It is also why writing can be so scary, because that real and true connection is at the heart of our relationship with our readers. So an important (and hopefully comforting) thing to remember is this: Your wounds and scars will often not be obvious to your readers. Life’s painful experiences come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. In writing about them, they don’t need to be the exact same experiences you went through—but rather they simply have to spring from the same well.
It can be hard to learn to accept—let alone appreciate—our own wounds and understand how they can be a gift, both to ourselves and others. This is, in fact, something I struggle with daily, even as I recognize and appreciate the wounds of others, I work pretty damn hard to hide my own.
When you think of your friends and acquaintances—who are the most comforting to be around? Those that live in a closed up state of denial—never admitting to, let alone processing, life’s pain? Or those who have been through some hardship of their own and can therefore offer you wisdom, compassion, and empathy, or simply an understanding silence without the pressure to be perfect.
When you think of your favorite, most beloved books, what truth did they share? In what way did they comfort you or open your eyes to some new facet of the world around you?
This is why it is so important that we tell the stories that arise from the core of who we are.
That we write from our own authentic heartaches and losses. That we take the dross that life has handed us and spin it into something more.
That is what makes some reading experiences resonate so strongly with us—we feel as if we have been exposed to something True and Real.
As the New Year stretches out in front of us, unsullied and full of promise, I wish for all of us the courage to write something real and true. Let that be our gift to ourselves—that we learn to accept that our wounds have value, and that we acquire the courage to share them with others.
Welcome to the New Blog of the Fiction Writer's Journey! On September 30th, I began a new series: Picture Prompts to Deepen Your Relationship to the Imagination, the Unknown and the Unseen! I will be posting new ones, interspersed with articles and entries about Fiction Writing and the Creative Process. Please feel free to post anything you write from the entries and also comment on other's postings. Also tell your creative friends about the new blog! It's all about Writers supporting and inspiring other writers.
I was sent this entry in Maria Popova's blog (brainpickings.org) that shares quotes from Ann Patchett (writer of Bel Canto and other novels) on the importance of forgiveness for a writer. Patchett describes the difficulty of moving the great ideas we have for our stories to the page with a powerful metaphor (killing the butterfly). What follows are a series of powerful and moving quotes from the blog.
Patchett: I make up a novel in my head...This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling… This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.
And so I do. When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing — all the color, the light, and movement — is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book.
Popova: Only writers, Patchett argues, bend but don’t break under this crushing dissatisfaction with how the gossamer perfection of the idea withers as it metamorphoses into the reality of the execution — and that is what sets them apart from those other people who die with their One Great Novel unwritten:
Patchett:The journey from the head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write — and many of the people who do write — get lost… Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.
It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entomological specimen, is achieved through regular practice. What begins as something like a dream will, in fact, stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out….
Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say….
I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.
Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life….
I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again, throughout the course of my life, I will forgive myself.
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