Words To Live By 22 Prompts

WEEK ONE: Peace and Gratitude

Discover your safe space 

Think of a real or imaginary space where you feel safe and at peace. Create that place in your mind, imagining it thoroughly, one sense at a time. Now write a detailed description of it using all of your senses. In the future, you might like to return to this place in your mind, closing your eyes, breathing and taking on the calmness. This could be a good place to go mentally, before you write in the future.  

Freewriting on gratitude  

Freewrite for just 2 minutes on the subject of gratitude. Remember that freewriting is all about writing with energy, without paying attention to things like spelling, grammar and sentence formation. Keep your hand and your mind moving, write down everything that comes up (it might be a list of words, or sketched ideas rather than fully formed sentences).

Short poem of gratitude

Read through your freewriting and choose one line to build a poem from.

WEEK TWO: Myself

Poem of the week: A Portable Paradise – Roger Robinson  

Write about your own Portable Paradise. This could be a treasured physical object that you always carry with you, or even a memory or a piece of wisdom or information you draw comfort from. (Alternatively, take a word, line or feeling from the poem and use that as a starting point for your own work).  

Writing about yourself in the third person – write about yourself in the third person, as if you were a character in a novel. What do you want people to know about this person? What makes them special and unique? What do you like about them? What are their gifts and qualities? What sort of setting would you place them in to show the type of person they are? 

Writing a letter of compassion to yourself – Write a letter of kindness to yourself, as if you were a friend or loved one. What do you need to hear right now. What advice can you give yourself today.  

WEEK THREE: Journeys

Writing about a journey. Think of a significant journey you’ve taken. This could be a once in a lifetime trip or a daily commute; it could be the other side of the world or your own neighbourhood; the journey could have been enjoyable and pleasant or difficult. Try to use as much sensory language as you can to really transport your reader. Think of engaging all the senses and adding details that are unique to that place. 

Poem of the week: The Journey – Mary Oliver  

Write a reply to Mary Oliver’s The Journey. It could be a poem (maybe even in a similar style to Mary’s) or even a letter or piece of prose. How does the poem make you feel and what do you want to say in response?  (You could even write something that starts with… One day I finally knew what I had to do…)

WEEK FOUR: People and Places

February Evening in New York by Denise Levertov | Poetry Foundation 

Writing on My Happy Place Think of somewhere that always makes you feel joyful. We’re going to freewrite for 2 minutes on each of the senses… So first, write a list of things you can see there, using as much detail as possible. Is there anything surprising? What can you feel? Is it warm or cool? How does it feel underfoot? What can you feel in your body? Now, think about any smells? Write a list of words that evoke the scents of the place. Now, let’s think about the sounds? Reach beyond the obvious noises and make a list of the subtle things that you only hear if you really listen. What about taste? Breathe in deeply through your mouth. How does the air taste? Can you describe that? Now, take a few moments to write something that really describes this place, using all of this detail. Try to use as much sensory language as you can to transport your reader (using details about everything you can see, smell, taste, feel etc). Keep this place with you and visit whenever you need to throughout the week ahead.  

Write a poem about someone that makes you feel good. Try to really capture their character in your writing. For instance, if they are slow and steady, you might want to use lots of space and regular line breaks. If they are fast, you might opt for shorter sentences or sentences that run together. Think about how you can use punctuation and space to change the pace of a poem (to reflect your subject matter).

WEEK FIVE: Emotions and Relations

  • Think of a feeling you’ve had recently (delight, amusement, affection, shock, physical pain). Write a letter to it, as if it were an old friend/foe, make sure to include some questions. Write answers (in the voice of the feeling!) 
  • Think of a relationship word (eg. aunt, mother, father, godparent, best friend, neighbour) – write it down, think of a place in a house (study, garden shed, kitchen, bedroom, cellar, garden, balcony) – write it down. Now join the words together, eg. My aunt’s study, my mother’s garden shed, my best friend’s bedroom, my neighbour’s garden etc) and write a piece from there. (It might be based on a real memory, or it may be complete fiction).