Last week our Operations Manager and Interim Executive Director, Joanna Dasher, started a new blog called 642 Prompts—an idea sparked by a book from The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto called 642 Things to Write About.
Interested, I checked out said blog and book (the first 30 things to write about are posted online) and found one especially inspiring prompt:
A man jumps from the fortieth story of a building. As he’s passing the twenty-eighth floor, he hears a phone ring and regrets that he jumped. Why?
The prompt didn’t have me reaching for the nearest pen and pad of paper, but it did serve as a refreshing reminder that we, being creative writers ourselves, have free rein to come up with imaginative prompts for our students.
This is important because week four is all about encouraging your DeepKids to plant seedlings.
Get creative and come equipped with some interesting and experimental prompts. There’s no such thing as having too many writing prompts or giving your kids too much writing time.
If a prompt fails to strike a chord with them, pitch it. Don’t fold like a cheap suit at their first sign of writer’s block—by all means, push them to overcome the demoralizing blank page!—but know when to throw in the towel. What you deem inventive might actually be pretty uninspiring, and that’s okay.
Keep moving forward. Keep prompting. Keep their pencils pressed to the page.
In 1942, a guy named Alex Faickney Osborn published How to Think Up, in which he presented a technique called “brainstorming.” His method included four general rules, which are great to add to your Culture Circle this week:
- Focus on quantity
- Withhold criticism
- Welcome unusual ideas
- Combine and improve ideas
Now, I don’t aim to discredit the father of brainstorming, but the one thing I think he’s missing is, “encourage imperfection.”
As you work with your kids through the seed planting and brainstorming process, don’t say, “It’s okay if these seedlings aren’t perfect, we have three weeks of revision coming up.”
It should be more than okay. It should be encouraged and expected. Make sure your DeepKids feel empowered to have imperfect writing samples and, as my grandpa likes to say, “If you’re gonna make mistakes, might as well make ‘em at 100 miles an hour.”
Lastly, I’ll leave you with wise words from William Faulkner, which sort of double as a tagline on Jo’s new blog:
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
What’s the most inspiring prompt you’ve ever been given? How do you foster a good ol’ brainstorming session? What’s your favorite place to find prompts? What valuable resources or blogs have you stumbled upon lately?