I Tried Creative Writing Prompts and Here’s What Happened

Articles with titles like “What I Learned by Shaving My Head” are my favorite kind. When I click on an article like that, I know that I’m getting genuine thoughts from somebody who is writing about an experience, not just a topic. Nobody wants advice from an inexperienced, self-proclaimed expert. All this to say: you’re welcome. I started to write a cookie cutter blog about creative writing and all the marvelous topics you can find on the internet to help you get started on your creative writing journey, when it occurred to me that I have never actually used writing prompts myself…

So, instead of suggesting you do something I’ve never even done, I decided to try them out. I found a creative writing website called Think Written that provides a unique prompt for every day of the year. I asked three of my coworkers to each choose a number between 1 and 365 and committed to writing about the corresponding topic. Naturally, I disliked all three topics, but for the sake of experiment I went through with it anyway. For clarification, each of the prompts are bolded, my commentary is in normal font, and the actual product is in italics.


89. Facebook or Twitter Status:Write a poem using the words from your latest status update or a friend’s status update.

I don’t poem, so this was a discouraging start. At the suggestion of fellow writing consultant Isaac, I went for the easiest poem of all, a haiku. In a strange twist of fate, it happened to be Isaac’s status that first popped up on my Facebook feed: “This morning, as I sleepily ate my breakfast, I noticed that it kind of tasted like a waffle cone. Y’know, for ice cream. I was eating waffles. I guess they’re called waffle cones for a reason. *facepalm*”

A haiku about waffles; why not?

Waffles for breakfast

Ice cream in a waffle cone

Strangely similar


360. Review: Review your week, month, or year in a journal entry or poem format.

I started this creative writing challenge back on January 8, after having done literally nothing for the first few days of 2016. Oh joy. Since I hate writing poems, I went with a couple of journal entries instead, and this is the weirdness that was produced. I apologize in advance.

Dear Diary,

I’ve been assessing the past week of my life, and I’ve come to a terrifying conclusion: I live a very lowly existence. I have only accomplished three things this week. I’ve gone to work, I’ve cleaned my apartment, and I’ve consumed food. That is it. In my defense, these three things are forcing me into a vicious cycle. I get hungry, so I have to go to work to make money to buy food. When I cook the food, I usually make a mess and I am forced to clean it up. Cleaning then makes me hungry all over again. A vicious cycle I tell you!

As you might expect, upon making such a pathetic discovery, I decided to evaluate my life as whole. I backtracked to examine this past month and I hate to report that my findings are grim; I have spent my time doing only three things. You guessed it. Working. Cleaning. Eating. Panic led me to determine if this is something I have been doing all year long. And it is.

Aside from an occasional scroll through Facebook and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls, I have done nothing with my year except work, clean, and eat. Mozart composed over 600 works in just 30 years of life. Alexander Hamilton wrote 51 of The Federalist Papers essays in six months. Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in less than two weeks. And what am I doing with my time? Working, cleaning, and eating. White crayons contribute more to a coloring book than I do to society. I must figure out something to do with my life!

Dear Diary,

False alarm. Something important occurred to me last night as I lay awake pondering my measly existence. Sure, I may have spent this week, this month, and this year to date doing nothing of significance, but that’s okay. Because today is January 8. The week may be lost but the month and the year are young! Now I must go. It’s Friday night and I have plans.


204. Strength: Think of a time when you’ve been physically or emotionally strong and use that as inspiration.

The best thing that came to mind was the time I was a participant in the I Am Second Race and sprinted past some guy right at the end. This is the essay that memory inspired.

Beating boys is a lot of fun. Now, I don’t mean beating up boys, because that’s just mean. Beating them competitively is something entirely different.

In my heart of hearts I believe that sports are about having fun. Really, I do. They are fun, but they’re exponentially more fun when I’m the winner. In fact, I’ll just be honest and admit that I hate losing. I hate losing more than the Grinch used to hate Christmas. In my early years of playing sports I was taught to believe that any team can beat any other team on any given day (this is especially useful to remember when the Cowboys are playing). I was also taught that competing against boys is no exception to this rule.

I’ve played almost every sport available to me since I was four years old, and I’ve encountered many a male opponent. My all-girls-traveling- soccer team played games against our counterpart all-boys-traveling team on a regular basis. Basketball practices sometimes involved scrimmages against the guys. Driving range competitions at golf practice were usually held between boys and girls. Mixed doubles in tennis demanded that I play with and against boys. And races may give awards to separate gender categories, but when you’re out on the course, everybody is somebody to beat.

I have never once excused a loss simply because the winner happened to be of the male species. Sometimes girls out-run, out-shoot, out-swing, and all-around out-play boys. It’s not a big deal, though the world likes to pretend that it is. Competitiveness is a human trait, not exclusively masculine or feminine. Beating boys is fun; not because I feel like a successful underdog or a redeemed victim, but because winning is fun. That’s all there is to it.


And there you have it; my experiment with creative writing prompts is complete. If you want to give it a shot yourself, here’s the link to Think Written http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/ I can’t say that it’ll be an easy task or that I would recommend you do one every day, but writing prompts definitely have their advantages. It will be a fantastic way for you to sharpen up creative skills you may not have used in a while, and it will definitely boost your confidence as a writer. If you are capable of writing a poem about breakfast food, you are capable of writing about anything.

Written by Savanna

Image credit: http://40.media.tumblr.com/001f8c42ea985c0a777cc2c7820d2376/tumblr_njtpuc6X5t1sg2aiqo1_500.jpg

Productive Procrastination

A pen. A blank screen. Notes. Research. All of these things sitting at the ready. You lift your fingers and put them on the keyboard. Hands trembling, you lift one of them up and place it on the mouse. Minimizing the word document, you slowly, but surely, scroll over to your favorite web browser. Clicking it, you look at the clock and notice that, somehow, two hours have passed. Your tabs read “Youtube,” “Facebook,” and “Twitter.” You have been scanning these websites for two hours! How is this possible? What forces could have altered time to bring you to this moment of regret, guilt, and despair? A lone figure steps out of the shadows. You know him well. It’s Procrastination.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2015/12/04/6358479754663365631524351933_spongebob.jpg

It’s tough to do work. After all, it’s work. Not fun. I’ve never written a twenty-page research paper and then sat back and said “Man, that was fun.” However, it is something we, as students, must do. There are times, though, when we must step away from our task before we even start. While some frown upon procrastinating, sometimes it is exactly what we need beforewe can get started.

Oftentimes, the biggest aggregator of procrastination is stress. “It’s such a large paper,” you cry, sinking into your seat, and slowly becoming one with the chair, “I’ll never be able to finish it!” In this instance, it is vital that you turn that procrastination into productination. What is considered productive? In this case, it is anything that can bring about relaxation. My options typically range from listening to music, to watching TV, to playing video games. Whatever your sweet treat is, use it as a momentary escape. Be careful, and make sure not to lose track of time. Set an alarm and stick to it. If your relaxation period is an hour of Netflix, do not watch another episode. Instead, use that as incentive. Based on the length of the paper, use your relaxation as a reward. For example, Two pages = thirty minutes of Netflix. Whatever the case, remember to balance your time and spend it wisely. Work is important, but don’t forget to take a break every now and then.

Sometimes, the best type of procrastination is procrastination with a purpose. Most often, when people procrastinate, they do nothing of any consequence. Do you have any chores that need to be done? Do you need to get groceries or fix that bookshelf that you keep telling yourself that you’re going to fix? Instead of staring at the same Facebook feed for an eternity, go get things done! If you have nothing to do, start a project. Whenever I need a break from my research paper, or I need to not think about it before I even begin, I decide to write. I know it’s not much of a break, but for me, writing is a freeing and productive activity. Whether it is a website or for my own personal writing, it gives me something to do. These stimulate my mind and put it into work mode without actually working. Once we get into the attitude of productivity, it is easier to write our paper.

While many people say that procrastination is bad, it doesn’t have to be. Choose to revolutionize procrastination! Next time you put down the pencil, pick up a book. Next time you feel fried after writing for two hours straight, replace that computer with a pillow and take a nap. Naps are nice.

Written by Alfred

Image credit:

http://lifeislimitless.com/six-causes-of-procrastination-and-how-to-overcome-them/

http://theodysseyonline.com/uvm/10-ways-every-college-girl-procrastinates/237926

He is the Potter; I’m Only the Clay

Hello. My name is Haley, and I am a student at Dallas Baptist University. Today, I’m writing this blog to share something with the world that I’m not very proud of.

I’m an addict. I’m addicted to something so powerful, I lost possession of the strength needed in order to resist indulging myself with it. In fact, over winter break, I transformed from an addict into a full blown junkie.

My name is Haley Briggs, and my drug…is Harry Potter.

Okay, so maybe “addict” isn’t the most appropriate word to describe myself in regards to the fascination I have with J.K. Rowling’s seven-book series. However, anyone who knows me well would definitely say that I’m a Harry Potter fanatic (especially when it comes to the most superlative character, Ron Weasley).

ron weasley

(Beautiful, I know.)

By now, most of you are probably wondering, “Why is this psychotic, twenty-one-year-old college girl still fixated on a series that was written for children?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

When I was in the first grade, my older brother began his voyage through Rowling’s fictional world of magic. At this point, my youth prevented me from reading the world renowned chapter books alongside him; however, I watched as he marveled over Harry’s world and the things that Rowling made possible within it. I was intrigued, but as I aged, I sadly lost interest in Harry Potter and began reading books about princesses and cheerleaders and everything that my current role model, Hermione Granger, would have hated. I was a Muggle, and I didn’t even know it.* Even so, the years went by, and, though I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the movies I ended up seeing, I never really understood how wonderfully enchanting Harry Potter actually was. Until now.

Imagine this:

It’s the first day of winter break. I come home, change into my favorite pajamas, and plop down on the most comfortable spot on the couch, swaddled in every blanket and pillow in sight. I turn on the T.V., start up the fireplace, and begin searching for something good to watch on Netflix. In approximately 8.5 seconds, with a Sonic cup in hand, I convert my parents’ living room into a paradise where I intend to stay until the daunting spring semester beckons me to return to life outside. Nothing could make this day better.

Or so I thought.

A few minutes into my somewhat colossal movie search, a strange figure emerges from the shadows of the hallway. As it moves into the light, I see my brother holding a stack of movies, still wrapped in glistening cellophane. He sets them on the coffee table, sits on the couch next to me, and forms a nest-like structure that is similar to mine.

“Wanna watch Harry Potter?” he asks, nodding towards the stack of 8 movies. “Sure,” I reply. Little did I know, this one word response would change my life forever.

Throughout the course of 4 days, I watched in awe as the characters of Rowling’s imagination grew and learned and lived. In roughly 1,186 minutes, I fell deeper and deeper in love with Harry and his friends. I marveled over potions, daydreamed about spells, and dreamed about jumping frogs made out of chocolate. Amazed, I watched for 19 hours and 46 minutes as witches and wizards mended broken glasses, healed fractured bones, levitated objects, and morphed into creatures of many kinds. In 19 hours and 46 minutes, one author’s imagination, portrayed in a series of motion pictures, clearly defined the meaning of courage, friendship, justice, love, magic, power, academia, family, loyalty, and kindness. I was obsessed. I was addicted. I was certain that nothing else had or would ever exist in the world that could ever compare to Rowling’s creation.

So, let’s flash forward to today.

As previously stated, today I’m writing this blog to share something with the world that I’m not very proud of. I’m writing this blog to admit that, over the course of winter break, I spent 19 hours and 46 minutes binge-watching Harry Potter, another 3 to 5 hours reminiscing about it by reading articles and watching videos on YouTube, and at least another 2.5 hours discussing just how mesmerizing the series really is with friends, family, and colleagues. That’s roughly 30 hours of my five-week break devoted solely to Harry Potter. Wanna know the sad part? Only 9 hours out of my five-week break were spent with the God and Father who created me.

Ouch.

Here I am, a Christian, entirely committed to imaginary friendships made with characters who fail to exist past the bindings of Rowling’s seventh book. There He is, God, entirely committed to strengthening a real relationship with a girl who hardly puts forth the time or effort to do so.

This. This is why I’m so ashamed.

pretty

I love Harry Potter and the qualities I see in Rowling’s writing; however, I find it disgraceful that I often fail to recognize the same qualities written in the Word of God. These qualities- courage, friendship, justice, love, magic, power, academia, family, loyalty, and kindness- were first defined by God in the Bible. From the age of two, I’ve heard and recited stories of Jesus doing miraculous things. He gave sight to the blind, turned water into wine, and brought the dead to life. He walked on water, calmed the deadliest of storms, and gave cripples the ability to walk. He was God in the form of a man, and He died on the cross so that we could be seen as sinless in the eyes of our Creator. We haven’t even gotten to the coolest part; He rose from the dead three days later without even saying “Wingardium Leviosa.”

If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will. All I have to say is this: Harry Potter is great and inspiring and magnificent, but he ain’t got nothing on Jesus. So, from now on, I’m going to be addicted to Him. After all, He is the Potter; I’m only the clay.

*A muggle is a non-witch/wizard, typically unaware of the magical world.

Written by: Haley

Photo Credits: favim.com, thequeenstich.com, & clumsycrafter.com

Valentine’s Day For the Rest of Us

Valentine’s Day is a day of love. It’s easy to think about a day dedicated to the celebration of love and mostly focus on the love we have for our significant others (or lack thereof). On the other hand, the love we have for every wonderful person we know, not to mention the love we have for God, is not to be ignored. With that said, Valentine’s Day is a great time to refocus attention on relational priorities and show love to the people in our lives.

As Christians, we are called to love God first and foremost (Luke 10:25-28). As each year of our lives stretches on, we experience amazing, spectacular, awesome days that make us want to literally jump for joy; we also experience terrible, horrifically awful days that make us want to crawl into a deep, dark hole and wait for the sun to show itself again. God made us to have emotions, and it’s truly amazing that we get to experience a whole range of them, but the truth is that it’s our responsibility to train our hearts to have the joy and peace of the Lord even in the midst of emotional storms (Proverbs 7:1-3; Nehemiah 8:9; Psalm 28:6-7; Philippians 4:10-13). It’s important that we remember this and continue to worship and show our love for God, especially when our lives get rough. We can do this by setting aside time to pray, worship, or dig deep into His word. He knows His children, so it’s not like He’ll forget we love Him if we go a day without reading the Bible, but this quiet time is important for us to have so that we can remind our hearts of His glorious goodness through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:3).

The second commandment God gives to His children is to love others (Luke 10:28). We’re meant to love our friends, our enemies, ourselves, and even strangers. That’s a pretty broad group of people, but the ways we can love them are generally the same: we can reach out to them, in big ways or small, and steadily build relationships with them. Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show our love to the people around us. We can spend the day hanging out with friends (especially if none of us happen to be in romantic relationships), make a nice card as a gesture of peace for someone we’re not on good terms with, or even do some volunteer work to help out some perfect strangers. If we do happen to be spending Valentine’s Day with our darling, we could set aside a few minutes to lift up friends and family in prayer.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is most often associated with the idea of spending quality time with our significant others. On this fourteenth of February if we don’t find ourselves dating or married to anyone, let’s not worry. Any favor we have with anyone comes from God, and He has led the right people to us. If we do have a very special someone, however, that’s great! A little (or even a lot) of romance never hurt anyone. Dedicating a special date to our better halves can be a spectacular way to show them some love. When part of a couple, the important thing to remember about Valentine’s Day is that displays of love are definitely not supposed to be limited to this one day. Though it’s fantastic to use Valentine’s Day to remind our dearests how great we think they are, let’s keep in mind that we can show our love for them all year. Our actions speak louder than our words, so let’s be sure that the love in our hearts rings clearly through everything we do (1 John 3:18).

Valentine’s Day is a super great time to remember the love we have for others and to practice acting it out. Whether we have a Valentine or not, a day especially intended to show all the awesome people around us that we love them is a pretty amazing excuse for a holiday. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Written by: Becca

Image credit: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/40555924

One in a Million

The sounds of lively conversation are evident from the front door. When I enter, the sweet scent of cake fills my nose, and I inhale blissfully. I step into the kitchen to find my whole family—all nine of them, plus my grandparents. My brother and baby sister are chasing the colorful balloons bouncing around on the floor, and two of my other sisters are balanced precariously on chairs, hanging crepe paper streamers on the walls. My dad is setting food on the kitchen counter; the party pack from Raising Cane’s barely feeds us all, but I can’t wait to taste the tangy dipping sauce on my fries. My mom is telling my sister to smile for the camera, and Sis, standing in front of the huge, decorated sheet cake on the counter, obeys with an excited smile.

This is her day. She chose what we would eat for dinner, she selected the colors of the balloons and streamers, and she even got first dibs on the Wii earlier that day, a right wrested from my nine-year-old brother. She got to go out with Mom, just the two of them, and pick the perfect decorations, ice cream, and cake mix. As the whole family eventually gathers to sing “Happy Birthday” to her over her candlelit cake, she knows she is special and loved.

The next day, life goes back to normal. The balloons and streamers still hang over the kitchen table, but there is an argument over what we should eat for lunch. My brother makes it to the Wii first and plays for over an hour. Mom has to take the baby and maybe one or two other kids with her to the grocery store. There is no longer any special individual treatment; each of us is once again focused on the family as a whole.

Sometimes, even for those who don’t share a house with nine other people, we feel like the everyday scenario is all there is to life. We just… exist; we blend in with the masses and simply fulfill our stations in life without splendor. We feel as though we are just another cog in the clock of life—average and nothing special.

“Everyone’s special, Dash,” Mrs. Parr tells her discouraged son in The Incredibles, only to hear him mutter, “Which is just a way of saying no one is.”

Like Dash, each of us has something to offer the world—something special that no one else has. Think about that for a second. It may not be super speed, but every single person in the world has something completely unique about him or herself that separates him or her from everyone else. Every single one!

My friends and I recently decided to begin a video project we had wanted to do for a while. When it came time to decide how we were going to accomplish our goal, we quickly realized that all four of us had completely different ideas for how the project should look. It was annoying and frustrating to work through, but also amazing, for in that moment, four unique ideas—four approaches to the same problem—were simultaneously taking shape.

Yet while we often crave uniqueness, we also need cooperation. Our individual offerings must be combined to reach our goals. In the video example, each of us had ideas that would not work for one reason or another, but when one of us failed, another one stepped up with a better idea. That’s how ideas work. In fact, that’s how the Writing Center works. We, as consultants, have different strengths than our clients do, but when we work together and combine those strengths for a paper, the end result is a stronger paper. Even the Bible illustrates this principle in the book of Romans: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5 NIV). Although the Church has one mission, each individual has a unique contribution to that effort.

So, if you’re feeling like an average Joe as you read this, and if you take nothing else away from this post, know this: you are loved, you are special, you are needed, and no one else can do what you do as you do it. Isn’t that awesome?

Written by Catherine

Image credit: http://www.darlynnsdanceunlimited.com/birthdaypic.jpg