Writing Prompt Challenge: 642 Things to Write About 


This is a challenge that I posed to myself yesterday. I thought about it last night before bed, this morning on D-Line, and this afternoon as I trudged home with groceries. I have officially accepted the challenge. I even told someone- my fiancee- that I have begun this challenge, so in my mind, there’s no turning back. I don’t like to quit things that people know about.

Prolific-writing younger me would be appalled at the scarcity of words- creative fiction, poetry, essay- that I’ve put forth in the last ten years. If I had to give excuses (which I don’t), they would be the things that every former-writer would say: Work, relationships, mental blocks- AKA life- get in the way. Certainly I have a richer life than I did in comparison to when I was a shy teenager who wrote obsessively, simply because she loved it, needed it, and saw no more fulfilling way to spend alone-time. And yet aren’t these experiences I have gained the very things that should inspire more art? Why can’t I combine that inner spark with the way I now see the world?

I attended a short-story writing class here in Seattle a couple months ago, and we were asked to explain our background with writing. It was painful to finally verbalize to a room full of strangers that I was there because I had somehow lost my passion and was looking for an ignition switch. I was hoping the class would be that thing. Maybe it was- I’ve signed up for more. But I also bought this book recently, called 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto.

So. The challenge? Write about the things. All 642. It’s an exercise in every sense of the word. People don’t generally WANT to excercise, but they reach a point, perhaps, when they must, and it transforms their lives. Maybe.

I thought about starting this challenge on my blog, but it is a place that hangs heavy with guilt and abandonment. Medium will be a fresh start- just writing, no associations, and no excuses.

I know not all of the prompts will be fun or interesting to me- too bad. I aim to turn each and every prompt into something, even if it’s a list or a poem or maybe a rant. These are prompts, nudges. “Hey, you.” Something to get the words out there, to flex a very underused muscle as of late. Some products will be terrible, some won’t (I hope). The goal? To complete all 642 prompts in 642 days (or thereabouts… I mean, come on).

But the ultimate goal is to have these prompts kickstart me to write MORE, not just for the purposes of this challenge, but organically. I want to get back to that place where I had to write in the same way I had to eat or sleep.

Before I get started, I’ll sign off this intro post with a quote by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, who has written one of the best (and most underrated) books about writing that I have ever come across, Zen in the Art of Writing.

“By living well, by observing as you live, by reading well, and observing how you read, you have fed your Most Original Self.” -R.B, “How to Keep and Feed a Muse”