What better time than summer to celebrate the terrestrial. For this week’s creative prompts, our theme is land. Take a few minutes, or more, to consider the earth we wander—or art it out, whatever your medium may be.
How should you choose your prompt? Don’t waste time waffling. Give them a quick read, pick the one that immediately makes your mind start to rumble, and get started.
- Take off your shoes, and set your feet down on a natural surface (grass, sand, dirt, stone). Describe the experience in tactile terms.
- Earthquakes can deform railroad tracks in surprising ways. Write about a powerful force—physical or otherwise—that forever alters something, but does not break it.
- Consider a geographical elevation that is not a mountain—e.g., a hill, a mound, dunes. Can you create a narrative in that shape, one that doesn’t follow the traditional triangle to a peak?
- Using Google Earth, zoom in on your childhood home, and write verse or prose about it.
- Write a piece composed entirely of questions about dirt, soil, and rocks.
- Draw a map of some land you know well, whether thousands of miles of national forest, or the small space of your childhood backyard fort. Annotate with words, sentences, or fragments of stories that took place on that land.
- Use old maps here or here as a jumping-off point. Think on forgotten place names, shifting boundaries, and the use of color.
- Include multiple cartographic terms in verse or prose.
- Imagine the land beneath you as it was 100 years ago. Or 1,000. Or 1,000,000. Describe one small thing that was different, and also one huge thing.
- Print out a map on which to mark places you’ve lived. You can do this macro (by city) or micro (by house). Include every place or just places from a certain timeframe. Connect the dots and consider the resulting shape in writing.
You can also pick your own land-related prompt. Maybe you know a plot of land better than anyone else on earth, or maybe you’ve lost land, sold it, or given it away. Don’t be restrained by our options.
And remember: this is just a prompt. Maybe what you write becomes a short story, or the opening to one. Maybe you just end up using one sentence, or one phrase, or one thought from what you create. Or maybe this is just what you needed to get yourself moving and your mind rolling. No matter what happens, you know you created something today.
Did you miss earlier prompts lists? Here they are.
[Photograph of Missoula by Submittable team member Kelly Hart]