Midweek Writing Prompt: Family Interview (9/3/14)

In my classrooms and workshops, I strive to create safe, welcoming writing communities where individuals feel free to explore ideas, stories, and concepts without judgment. After all, we need those spaces to get started. The judgment – of editors, professors, critical friends – will come later. But in the beginning, we need that soft, friendly embrace where anything is possible and everyone loves you. Let’s go there together.

When my schedule allows, I will post writing prompts for you to play with. I encourage you to write something and to share those initial efforts in the comment section, or even your response to the prompt – tell us what happened when you sat down to write. After all, some of these prompts will lead you down a path toward publication – I’ve seen that happen often enough to be confident in that statement.

Give it a try! 🙂


Writing Prompt: Family interview

This prompt is a little more involved, but might produce some great stories and ideas.

Locate your oldest and most lucid living family member. Call or visit that person this week and interview him or her about your family’s history. Dig deep and ask the tough questions. If there is something that no one talks about, but everyone is aware of, ask about that. Try to get your relative to spill the details. (Years ago, one of my students discovered through this exercise that she had a relative in the Klan.) If you know of no such juicy story, then focus on finding out what life was like for this person when he or she was young. What were the circumstances leading up to this person’s courtship and marriage? What were the challenges in the family early on for him or her? Use your imagination and come up with a list of questions that reflect what YOU really want to know. I suggest offering to buy coffee or lunch as well.

At the very least, you’ll learn some new information about your family, have a delightful conversation with a person you likely don’t spend a lot of time with, and may come away inspired to write something. You’ll be happy you did this! 🙂



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