PROMPTS AND CRAFT TIP
Craft Tip + Prompt: The Writer’s Altar
“The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in this seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.” – Patti Smith, Just Kids
Writers work so often in the fields of imagination, memory, and the unseen (but felt!) realm of language, so it can be helpful to get grounded in the material world.
Take a moment to set up your writing desk or writing spot as if you were setting up an altar to your writing practice. Clear away any junk, consider relocating favorite books to be near you, place photos of favorite artists/ creators, and any other special possessions. Make your writing desk a place you actually want to go to, one that feels sacred enough for the work that will take place there. You can consider adding other “altar” elements: a candle, water, something of a favorite color. Bonus points if you open your laptop/ computer (if you use one to write) and clean up your desktop or files.
Looking just at today, write five things you heard, saw, did and one thing you mused on. Write these elements in list form. Then, chose two at random to write a story, poem, piece. This prompt encourages us to use daily life as a prompt itself.
Prompt: The Haunting
What is something that haunts you? This can be an event, person, place, or time…something you just can’t drop no matter what.
Using the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing), give flesh to your haunting. Describe the event/ person, etc so vividly it comes alive. Really lean into this ghost! Then, write about why or how it haunts you—or invent it.
Sarah Herrington is a poet/ essayist/ writer with work in the New York Times, LATimes, Tin House, Poets and Writers Magazine, Yoga Journal, Entropy, O the Oprah Magazine and other spots. She’s the author of four nonfiction books and collection of poetry via Bowery Books/ the Bowery Poetry Club. She leads Mindful Writing Workshops and teaches creative nonfiction at Catapult and Sackett Street Writers. www.sarahherrington.com insta: @sarah.herrington