Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Mind Drift and Writing Prompts
Letting our minds drift is a good way to stir our creativity. A major pull of reflective writing is the freedom to drift, letting one idea, one image connect with another–seeing a rocking chair in a magazine ad and having it call up a memory of rocking on a screened porch in the South, sipping sweet tea and snapping green beans. Thinking about green beans brings the memory of the rows of beautiful home-canned green beans my mother put up every summer and stored on the pantry shelves, saving them for delicious meals later in the winter. That memory makes me wonder whatever happened to home canning? Do many people still home can their vegetables, or is it cheaper and easier to get them at the grocery stores?

Letting the mind drift from one image to the next can provide multiple writing prompts because a single image can touch so many memories or may resonate with the present or even the future. From the above rocking chair seen in the ad, we could write about rocking chairs in general and feelings we associate with them, or about their practical uses, or maybe changes in the style of rocking chairs. We can explore our own memories of rocking chairs and the people that sat in them, which could lead to writing about those different individuals in our lives or perhaps about different places we’ve lived.

Thus, one image–the rocking chair–can lead to another image–the green beans, which can then touch off other memories or call up questions we could have. Thinking of green beans may make us ask what types of green beans are grown today? Do gardeners still grow pole beans? Are green beans good for us and how do we cook them? Are green beans favored in any particular cultural cuisine? A single image can often prompt such questions, and questions automatically lead to further writing. So, we may feel like we have nothing to say when it comes time to write, but all we need is one image. What is your image? What questions does it provoke? What memories does it call up?

Respond to this posting and suggest an image that could be a good writing prompt.

In the month of March I’ll be posting reflections about road trips, and I’ll offer a prompt each week and invite anyone and everyone to write a response to the weekly prompt. Take advantage of the opportunity to write and I’ll choose the best ones to post on the site during the month of April.

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