writing prompt

Writing Prompt: Well, what did you expect?

Writing Prompt: What did you expect? #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyOur six year-old has never had “a sleepover.” Until last night, she and I had only been apart for three nights since her birth in 2009. Her first night away from family wasn’t spent on her best friend’s floor and it wasn’t part some Girl Scout event in a church hall. Nope, we sent her to the woods.

We’re blessed to have the Wild Earth organization in our town. They offer legendary summer camps as well as weekend programs all through the school year. We trust these dedicated counselors to care for our girl and initiate her into a forest wonderland that she couldn’t access with her parents clucking “be careful!”

Moira was phenomenal. The youngest kid of the group, by all reports she was up for every aspect of the adventure.

She’s home now and we are so grateful to have her back and hear her stories of the dragonfly she healed, the donuts she ate, and the unicorn she met (the program, Mystwood, has a profoundly mystical element). And yet…

Even after all that magic and bravery and sense of accomplishment, there been has all sorts of frustration and anger and sadness today. As Moira herself said, “I didn’t think I would come home and feel yucky!”

Shifting from a children’s paradise in the woods where fairies cavorted in every tree trunk to a rainy day Sunday with all the same old family rules is hard. Transitions are never without their challenges.

Ultimately, however, this discord is rooted in our expectations.

Our daughter expected the high of her experience to last. We assumed that she would return tired but happy to be back with her folks. At some level, we probably expected her to be grateful to us for sending her somewhere so amazing (yeah, that one is quite silly).

Your expectations - and particularly all the ways those stories are defied - those are often a source of conflict. And, as you probably know, conflict is pretty much essential to story.

Think about when your expectations stirred up trouble or caused you pain. Write into a situation when hope and reality were mismatched. There’s a compelling story in there, I promise...

Learn more about what makes a story compelling. Join me for The Story Triangle, a free online class I am offering on May 11.

Reserve your seat

Writing Prompt: Write Your Way Home

Writing Prompt: Home #365StrongStories by Writing Coach and storyteller Marisa GoudyWhat does "home" conjure for you? Simply free writing on a page beneath that word written in broad capital letters is a potent writing exercise in itself. Today, I drove through a piece of my hometown, eyes welling up at my closest childhood friend's driveway, at the stretch of sidewalk where I fell off my bike and nearly got run over, at the restaurant where I slogged through the worst summer job ever.

Gleefully, I told my daughter about the forest where I met the fairies for the first time in my adult life (they were happy to have me back). I did not point out my high school boyfriend's house or mention the church we thought we'd get married in some day.

I don't have a bed in this town anymore. My dad has moved four towns further out on the peninsula that held me from my first breath. Luckily, Cape Cod has great wide arms to welcome me "home," no matter what beach I land on. This piece of historic Route 6A in Barnstable will always lead the way home even if I have no fixed address along the way.

Now that I have survived the five-hour trip across Massachusetts and dipped down into our "real" home in New York's Hudson Valley, I can almost leave the tears behind. I can almost find the creative spark that hides amongst the yearning and the memories.

Gratefully, I can turn to one of the great mothers of American literature for three views through the prism of home. All true, all compelling, all addressing a different aspect of the complicated subject of home:

  • "You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right."
  • "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
  • "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."

Your turn... write into that simply stated "home" or use one of the quotes as inspiration. Consider submitting your story to the #365StrongStories project.

Writing Prompt: Write Something “Useful”

The bar you set for product development should be the same bar you set for marketing—especially content marketing. People should know what they can expect from engaging your content and how it will help them transform something about their life or business. This cannot be vague. It cannot be hyperbolic. If you want it to be effective (you do), it needs to be incredibly specific and measurable. People need to be able to know when the objective is reached.

A promise to help you live your dream life or “crush it” in business is not a promise that can be kept. It’s not a good value proposition. It cannot be measured.

This comes from a Tara Gentile post that totally opened my eyes to some of my own blind spots when it comes to writing and content marketing. I’ll be diving into all that throughout this week’s #365StrongStories posts.

Writing Prompt: Write something "useful" #365StrongStories by writing coachi Marisa GoudyIn the meantime, I invite you to take a first step toward thinking about how to ground your stories in something real and measurable.

Take an incident or a moment of inspiration from your weekend. Something that made you say “I wonder if that would make a good blog post?” Write down a first draft that focuses on your thoughts and experiences. Then, walk away and come back and craft a second version that helps your ideal client “transform something about their life or business.” Be a bit strict with yourself. Cut away the fluff and refuse to be vague or hyperbolic. Be real and be helpful. 

Send that second draft to me or tag me when you post the final version on your blog and social media!


Writing Prompt: The Most Dangerous Thing

Writing Prompt : the most dangerous thing, #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyAs we prepared for the Easter bunny yesterday, I decided to try blowing the good stuff out of a few eggs (mostly because I cracked half of the hard boiled batch). My daughter looked at me with a mix of horror and hilarity. She declared that what I was doing was "the most dangerous thing I have ever seen!" Clearly, she lives a sheltered life (and I feel pretty proud of that fact), but what about you? What is the most dangerous thing you have ever seen or tried?

Based on this video, I hope you'll see that tongue in cheek answers are encouraged and perhaps even preferred. After all, Easter is a day that can use as much laughter and joy as possible.

Share your own "danger mom" or even "danger bunny" stories on the comments or tag me when you share them on social media.