Picture This Writing Prompt

I really liked the comment that StuckHereWithNoTV left on this post. It reminded me of a writing prompt from a weekend writer's retreat on Cape Cod that I attended some time ago. In one of the sessions, the leader brought a stack of photographs and post cards with artwork on them. Each person took a photo or card and wrote for 10 minutes or so. Then each person passed their card to the person on their left and took a card from the person on their right and wrote about that one. And so on.

The results are interesting because the mood of your writing really changes depending on the mood and style of the artwork you're looking at. So, for example, the writing prompted by Philippe Halsman's Dali Atomicus is different than the writing prompted by one of Monet's water lilies paintings. And sometimes you look at what you've been handed and groan because you just know it won't inspire you to write anything interesting. Then the next thing you know it's time to pass the picture to someone else and you don't want to give it up because you're on such a roll.

Of course, you don't need to go to a writer's retreat to do this exercise, as StuckHere reminded me. Inspiration can be found anywhere if you just open your eyes and your mind and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I was really flattered that she found her inspiration in my photograph, though, especially since this site is all about words and pictures.

I mean, how cool is that?


Robert said...

I used to teach non-fiction writing, but have limited experience with writing fiction (other than this year's NaNoWriMo). Do you attend writer's retreats often?

Gienna said...

Not as much as I'd like to, for sure. But there is something about being with other writers and actually writing (as opposed to thinking about writing, wishing you had more time to write, and promising yourself you will do some writing very soon) that inspires good work. So if you have the time and the money, I'd recommend it. If time is a factor, one-day writing workshops also often produce good results--I've done a lot more of those than I have longer writing retreats. If both time and money are factors but you have a lot of motivation, then doing these kinds of writing exercises on your own or with a few other people who are interested in writing works, too. For this one, all you need is some postcards and an egg timer.