Many of you are gifted musicians, whose hands can finger those black and ivory keys with all the fluency of a conversation.
I wish for that.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d walk up to the piano in my parents’ parlor, sit on the stool feeling inspired – longing to flow creatively and melodiously with that instrument – only to quickly realize in the next moments that inspiration isn’t enough. My fingers just don’t know what to do. Even with the sustain pedal, the sounds come out awkwardly in dings and bangs. I don’t know how to play, and I don’t understand the language of sheet music.
That’s what I’ve been thinking of as I sat down to type on these black and white keys. Do you ever feel like this when it comes to pondering, writing, or journaling? You feel meditative, intellectual, introspective, melancholy…. but you don’t know how to entertain it or how to let it flow?
The world is full of ways to stimulate the soul and then draw that creativity out of us. And whether you’re most interested in improving the mind or improving your skill as a writer, I have recently discovered the beauty of writing prompts:
simple questions or exercises which compel you to think on paper.
I found a five-dollar notebook (the binding broke on day-one of its use) with all sorts of helpful questions and prompts. Here, I’ll show you! Here are some really fun exercises I did just the other day. Some questions are from the book, and some were my ideas as inspired by it. My personal answers are written below.
“If your mirror could speak, what would it say?”
“Do you ever notice that slight, critical look in her lovely eyes? How she stands hesitating in front of her image? She has the prettiest gray-blue retinas (for which many people have complimented her), yet these blues flit only to the gray circles beneath them. What a funny thought; to find the dark more intriguing than the color. Or the pores more interesting than the structure of the face. Or the fly-aways more noteworthy than her full, voluminous body of tresses. I wish I had my own image. It’s just me, the Mirror, who is supposed to reflect what I see; who or what is she trying to bear the image of?”
“Describe what a ‘sixth sense’ feels like.”
I couldn’t hear it, nor see it. It had no flavor or smell. It was something intangible, but it was still detectable. Like an inner “knowing.” It’s that ability to feel someone’s eyes on the back of your neck; or an unexplained expectation that soon becomes reality. It’s when the body reacts to something before that something ever presents itself. It’s something you can’t explain, and yet something you can’t easily dismiss. While the five senses react to our physical surroundings, it seems the sixth sense must also be in tune with something deeper… such as the heart, and conscience.
“Describe the color blue as if it was a person.”
Blue is a masculine, refreshing sort of fellow. A true gentleman. He can be both royal and innocent; mature and boyish. Blue has no great inner need for attention, yet he is quietly the life of the party… indeed, he’s an agreeable character of the spectrum who tends to be a great favorite. Everyone seems to like Blue. And he’s a fabulous mixer; that’s probably why he’s a pallet (I mean, party) staple. He gets along especially well with those from whom he is most different (such as Miss Red and Monsieur Yellow), and when they mingle, the world is a more colorful and diverse place for it.
“How does one ‘think outside the box’?”
I’m not often good at thinking outside the box. People tend to be formulaic, and repeat what we’ve seen and known. I suppose that’s what the “box” represents. So to think outside of the usual methods (or perspectives, aspects, angles, etc.) is to mentally deconstruct the box and to envision adding new dimensions to it. I think the more productive question, then, is how to add new dimensions to the issue, or the box, at hand. Perhaps we ought to start with a two-part question: What often-unnoticed ways does the issue relate to the world, and how can those become avenues used to change or speak to it? Then see where it leads.
That’s it! It starts with any question, simple or profound (I like the profound ones). Then you just start writing from the heart and see what takes shape, whether it’s as short as a paragraph, or long as an essay.
Whether or not you believe you’re a writer, you are a thinker. And that is enough inspiration to get your digits moving – whether with pen and paper, a vintage type writer, in the Notes app on your phone, or with your keyboard. Prompts probably aren’t mostly about writing; I think they’re about engaging the mind. (But if you do them often enough and with enough attention to your writing style, it can certainly improve skill as well.)
And this is only one method in our big, vast world of how to be fluent in your creativity ❤
It’s your turn. Please let me know in the comments which prompts you found the most interesting, and leave a few new ones for me if you think of some! Furthermore, how would YOU answer the example prompts above?
Plus, here are a few more, if you’d like to give it a try:
- “Does a name influence one’s personality? How and why?”
- “Describe your brainstorm sessions.”
- “What do you think the phrase ‘rose-colored glasses’ means?”
- “Do you believe you can teach an old dog new tricks? What would be your approach?”
- “How does your intuition serve you? Do you put merit on ‘gut feelings’?”