Yesterday I made a list of items in my refrigerator. We have an abundance of hummus right now. And we have 7 clementines. I adore clementines. I’m not big on oranges or grapefruits, but I could write poetry about clementines. So I did. Here’s my haiku about the clementines in my fridge:
my orange bursts of sunshine
all seven are mine
Try writing a haiku about something. Maybe something in your fridge.
The basic structure is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Here’s more about haiku if you want to dig deeper: How to Write Haiku
My brain right now feels like the inside of my Vitamix when I’m trying to process cashews into something vegan. It’s churning, and the result is not as smooth as I’d like. There’s a persistent annoying hum of concern. I don’t quite know if I’m doing this whole pandemic thing right, and I’m slightly worried I’m going to break my expensive blender, or my brain, for that matter. So I’m making lists today.
Whenever my writing feels rusty from lack of practice, lack of sleep, or lack of inspiration, I start with a list. Lists come easily. No need for grammar, spelling, narrative arc, or descriptive language. A list you can come back to, and add to as the mood strikes. You can get all fancy with your bullet journal if you want. Or you can just scribble on the back of an envelope. Here’s a list of lists to use to get your writing started.
Choose one and make a list of…
Events you are sorry got canceled
Events you are glad got canceled
People you are worried about
Places you plan to go when this is over
Things you can do for self-care today
Words to describe how you feel today
Meals you can cook from your pantry
What you wish you had in your pantry
Movies to watch
New skills to learn while at home
New skills NOT to learn while at home
What you can see outside that is giving you life
Questions you’d like to ask God
What you are grateful for today
Lists you can make another day
Make your own list….
Then, if you like, pick one item from one list and write more about it.
When I start workshops, I usually tell those gathered that writing is good for our health. Giving voice to the swirling thoughts in our heads can lower our blood pressure. It boosts t-cell production and strengthens our immunity. Those wellness benefits often seem like bonus points. But not now. Physical health is not a given during a pandemic. As the days isolating at home (or working overtime for some heroes) start to stretch out, the need to take care of our individual and collective mental health becomes even greater.
I’m not doing well with my writing habits right now. News, social media, and converting work to online everything – all seem more pressing. I can feel my anxiety rising. Maybe you can too. That’s why I’m dusting off this website and wanna-be writing business I began with some baby steps two years ago. I’m going to start sending out writing prompts so we can write alone or in company with one another. It’s mostly for myself. But I’d love to have you join me.
Here’s a prompt to start from Mary Oliver:
from “In Blackwater Woods”
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.