Just this week it will be two years since the global pandemic officially began. To me, reflecting on what I have experienced with my family and in the community, it feels like 200 years. So much has happened, it’s kind of hard to process. So, I started writing about it.
I’m writing most days for just a few minutes because it’s what I can manage. I take a prompt and write in response to it. The idea is just open up a creative channel. No rules, no huge goal, just a couple minutes of letting my brain make some connections, remember things and think about possibilities. Join me?
Maybe something I write in my daily sessions will turn into something larger. Maybe something you write will turn into something larger. Who knows? For me the most important part of writing is the most important part of a lot of things: you just have to show up and try.
This year as writer in residence at Anchorage Museum, I am working on the NEIGHBORS project, a collaboration between Anchorage Daily News and Anchorage Museum, meant to collect and create ways to share stories to strengthen community connections. The prompts I am using are inspired by themes and ideas that came up during the project’s first phase, when I spent 6 weeks listening to people from all walks of life talk about what they’ve experienced. Maybe they lead you to reflect on what you’ve been through, maybe they lead you somewhere totally different. Again, there are no rules.
Let’s write. Here’s the plan.
First, your head game: Lots of us have anxiety around writing. We worry about sounding dumb or not being good enough. There’s like a mean English teacher in our brain somewhere judging us. But with what we’re going to do, there’s nobody watching you or grading you. You are just here to explore a topic and see where your thoughts take you. If you want to share it, there are opportunities to do that. If you don’t, that’s fine too. The main thing is: this is no big deal! It’s just 5 minutes!
These writing prompts are inspired interviews with people in Anchorage about how the last two years have changed them. Most of them are words, but a few are common objects, sounds or smells.
The only supplies you need are a notebook you like and a good pen. I recommend writing freehand, in pen, so you don’t get tempted to get all English teacher on yourself by using the delete key. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and just give it a try.
Here are the ground rules:
- Keep going. Promise to keep writing words, no matter what they are, for the given amount of time.
- Follow your stream of consciousness, just write what comes up. Abrupt changes and weird connections are great. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.
- This writing can and should be rough. Grammar and spelling don’t matter. You can write in any form you like – a poem, a list, a scene in fiction, whatever feels right. If a sentence is incomplete, cool. Just keep going.
- If you get stuck, return to the prompt and start again. If it’s an object, you might describe it physically. If it’s a word or phrase, you might try using it in a sentence.
- Don’t cross out, don’t delete, *just* *keep* *writing.*
To begin: Find a changing list of prompts on the project Instagram feed, which I’ll update most days. If you aren’t into Instagram, subscribe to this newsletter for a weekly load of prompts in your email.
- Choose your prompt and write it at the top of your journal page.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. (You can always keep writing if you get inspired.)
- Start the time and write without stopping.
- Read back over your writing and see what parts feel most true or important to you. Underline them. Maybe, if you feel like it, you’ll come back and use one of them as a prompt!
A note on sharing: Writing becomes something special when it exists in community. If you’d like to share your favorite sentence or phrase from your micro-journal, DM me on Instagram or send it in an email and I’ll share it anonymously in Instagram stories and in my project newsletter.
What’s next? Stay tuned for writing revision workshops and exercises.