Shelter and Write Prompt 10: Write a Haibun

Write a haibun. A haibun is a mix of haiku poetry and prose. To begin your haibun, go outside (but keep your distance from people!) and write 3 haikus (5-7-5 syllables!) about things you see in nature. Perhaps it is the change in seasons, new growth as snow melts, or the absence of cars. What specific images do you notice? Write haikus about the small things you notice, and try to keep your focus on the concrete imagery.

Then, write prose between each haiku about what the images you used from nature make you think about. Why did you choose these specific images? How do they connect to your life right now? How do they connect to the larger picture of our current times?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 9: Changes in Setting

Write about a setting that changes. This could be fictional, or it could be your own setting. 

What is your (or your character’s) current setting? Start small, with a bedroom, or an office. Give us the details so that we really feel like we are there. Then think about how this setting has changed in recent weeks. Are there more people around or less? New smells because of your roommate’s new baking obsession? A new makeshift desk in your garage? How has your immediate setting changed and been changed?

Then go larger and larger: How has your house been affected? Your neighborhood? Your town? Your state? Your country? Bonus points if you can then tie back to the small and the personal at the end!

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 8: Find the Helpers

Mr. Rogers said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Find someone who is helping and write about them. It could be someone doing something big on the front lines, or someone doing something small in your neighborhood.

Who is this person? They could be someone you know, someone you saw on the news, or even a character that you imagine. What are they doing that is helpful and who are they helping? How did they start helping and why?

Why is the thing they are doing important? How does it connect to the larger picture?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 7: The Windows

What is outside your window right now? Sit in front of the window for 30 minutes and record everything you see. Describe the cloud passing by, the way the shadows are falling. Tell us about the birds that pass by and the movement of the sun and the wind. Are there cars passing, or people? Try to paint the picture just outside your window in as much detail as possible. 

As one of my mentors used to say, “notice what you notice.” What do you notice about right here, right now? Why are you noticing those things? What thoughts are spawned by what you see? How is this window also a window into your thoughts?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 6: Look to History

Do some research on a historical epidemic that has some relevance to you. It could be a family story or the history of epidemics in a place you feel connected to, or even one you’ve just been curious about.

Write about the similarities and differences between that epidemic and the one you face today. What are the stories around that epidemic that you feel inspired by? That you can look to for comfort? Where are the connections? What lessons can we learn? 

Find one point of connection that is helpful to you. Maybe it is something different about our current situation that gives you hope. Maybe it is someone from the past situation who inspired you. Write in detail about this helpful point of connection.

For a fictional twist, write a story in which the main character is living in the historical epidemic and comes to similar lessons and connections.

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 5: Taking Comfort

What is one small thing you are taking comfort in right now? Maybe it is a song, a person, seedlings, or the days getting longer. What is it that is bringing you a little bit of solace?

Describe this thing bringing you comfort in great detail. What does it look like, feel like? What does it remind you of? Why is it bringing you comfort?

Then draw connections between this thing and the current situation. In what ways are they similar? How could the thing that is bringing you comfort signify your current state? Can you turn the thing that is bringing you solace into an extended metaphor for your experience, or create a story centered around this comforting thing?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 4: Start with an Interview

Find someone who is affected by COVID-19 in a different way than you are. It might be someone who is taking a different approach to protecting themselves, someone who is quarantined, a local teacher, someone who had plans that have now changed. 

Get their story. What is interesting or notable about the way they are handling the situation?

Use this interview as the inspiration for today’s writing. Perhaps you want to juxtapose your own experience with the interviewee’s experience. Maybe you want to take key words and phrases from the interview and use them in a poem. You could use one detail from the interview to base a story around, or something that was said as your first line.

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 3: The Setting as a Character

Where are you right now? Describe it in detail. Think of both the small setting, like your house, and the bigger settings: your town, your state, your country, your world.

Think of the interplay between you and your setting. Settings often shape stories. How is your setting influencing your experience? What are the different factors at play? What are the connections between your experiences and your setting?

Imagine your setting is a character in the story of your experience of the current events. How do you interact with each other? How are you affecting your setting? How is your setting changing you? Is your setting your antagonist or your ally?

How would your experience be different if you were somewhere else? 

For a fictional alternative, create a story that is heavily influenced by the setting. How does the setting create conflict and lead to crisis? Does the setting influence the resolution? Or does the resolution change the setting?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here. I would love to see what you come up with. Feel free to share here or to tag your work #shelterandwrite.

Shelter and Write Prompt 2: Our Children’s Stories

Think about the current time through a child’s eyes. It could be your child, a child you know, or even a fictional child. 

You could write from the child’s point of view, or you could write about the child from an adult’s point of view.

How old is the child? What do they sense? What do they know? What do they see? How do they understand what is happening around them?

Then imagine this child in the future. How will they remember this time? What are the stories that the child will tell when they describe this time to their own children?

#shelterandwrite

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here.

Shelter and Write Prompt 1: Create a Written Collage

Create a Written Collage: Think of ten small, concrete things that are different in your life because of COVID-19. You want to choose some things that you can experience with your senses, and that you can describe in exquisite detail. 

It could be empty hand-sanitizer bottles, a work project left unfinished, an unused plane ticket, the pile of books you now have time to read, etc. 

Describe each one in as much detail as possible. How has this thing changed in recent weeks? What specifically has brought about these changes? How have you noticed this thing in a new or different way?

Arrange your descriptions to create a written “collage” of current life. Look closely at the small differences around you. Together, they tell a story. What’s yours?

This post is part of a series I am doing that includes 30 prompts for 30 days of sheltering at home. You can read more about my reasoning and also find other prompts here.

#shelterandwrite