On Writing

2022 Writing Challenge Reveal! Prompt A Day for 365 Days

Happy twenty-twenty-two (that’s fun to write and say!)! That’s a lot of twos too. I’m excited to share my writing challenge for this year: PROMPT A DAY!

Yes! For the next year, each day I will write for 15 minutes using a writing prompt. This is a timed-writing exercise that is meant to expand my writing craft into different genres using unique prompts. I will stop writing when the timer goes off (to Super Freak by Rick James).

How it works:

Set the timer for fifteen minutes.

Randomly choose a book.

Today’s book was chosen by Jett (my awesome son). Books can be chosen by the hubby, the kids – YOU! Oh yes, if you feel compelled to send me a writing prompt, please do so via email (shieldsvanessa@gmail.com). If you could please include the book title, the author and the genre that would be very helpful. I will be writing in the genre of the book. So, for Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, the genre is Science Fiction.

Use the corresponding page and line as the writing prompt.

How the prompt line works: I will use the page number and line that corresponds to the date. For example, January 1st = page #1, line #1. I’m counting prologues as page one (but not introductions – no offence introductions!).

Notes if you’re giving me prompts…

DOES IT HAVE TO MATCH THE DATE? Your line does not have to correspond to the date. For example, if you’re reading a fantastic book and you fall in love with a line and that’s the line you’d like me to use as my prompt, you can share it with me even if it doesn’t correspond to the date.

CAN IT BE ANY GENRE? Yes. That includes poetry too! I know I will surely miss writing a poem a day, so if you’d like to offer me a line from a poem, please do so. Erotica? Send away. Horror? Bring it. (I’ll kill it.) (See what I did there?) Non-fiction. Young Adult. Children’s picture book. Comic book. Mystery. Romance….you give me a line from any book you’re reading, I’ll use it as a prompt.

INCLUDE THE DETAILS: Please remember to send me the book title, the author, and the genre. If you want, you can also include the page number.

Why am I doing this?

You’re wondering this, no? Well, for one, it’s an opportunity for me to continue honing the craft of writing. I love writing across genres, and even though it may seem like poetry is my ‘main’ jam, I honestly feel giddy about writing in any genre. This is a way for me (us) to share books with each other. Each day I will be sharing words from a new book by a new writer. We’ll be building an ultimate reading list for each other! Come the end of 2022, I will have 365 ‘starts’ to stories and/or poems. Basically, I’ll have another huge stack of writing to play with!

Will I ever go back to a piece I started and continue working on it? That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer. Maybe? If the new prompt line fits?

Will I ever choose a book because I’m reading it and/or because I love it…meaning, the ‘randomness’ of the book choice will not be there? Yes, I think this will happen, but I will do my best to have someone around me choose a book for me. I feel like it’ll be a bit more challenging that way.

The writing is Raw and Unedited

Although I will be editing a little bit as I write, just your basic change of word or catching a typo, but otherwise, what you read will not be edited or revised. I can already see something in the first line that I would definitely edit (maybe you’ll see it too?)*. The revisions that happen when I write a poem (from the first draft, hand-written in a journal to a typed out version in Notepad to the final version you see in the post, which equals at least three times I’m editing/revising) will not be happening in this exercise. These daily challenges can take a lot of time! In an effort to keep the choosing, writing and posting to under 45 minutes, I won’t be worrying about editing the words that get written during the fifteen minute time frame. I am ready to share what I write despite it being a very raw first draft. This is an exercise in practice and play and vulnerability.

Shall We Begin?

January 1
Book: Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Science Fiction
Page 1, Line 1

“The tropical rain fell in drenching sheets, hammering the corrugated roof of the clinic building, roaring down the metal gutters, splashing on the ground in a torrent.”

Milicent’s ears twitched as fat raindrops flicked her ears. This rain was in an argument with the sky, it seemed, yelling on its way down, and she could hear every word. Since the vaccination, her senses had expanded beyond what she’d previously experienced. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. She felt more wolf than human, especially in the early mornings. It was early morning now, the best time to go to the clinic before droves of Others would begin lining up to get in. To lift a sleeve, offer an arm, take in another vaccination.

Milicent was no longer allowed to get any more vaccinations. When she entered the clinic, she did not have to wait in any lines. There would be no more clothing choices made for easy access to her upper arm. She was already beginning to feel the sweet relief of a muscle unencumbered by a needle pushing in the trial medication billions of humans refused. Milicent was not afraid of trials. She was born a trial baby. She was raised in a trial orphanage. She was educated in a School for Trial Humans. Indeed, Milicent was comfortable enveloped in anything Trial. Even if it caused bizarre skin reactions, hair or hunger loss, weakness in every cell and bone of her body. Milicent’s body was built to take all the trials any researcher could needle or insert into her.

At age seventeen, Milicent’s antibodies were like uncharted land on a planet called Human Body. She was Bentington’s most sought after Trial Teen, and she felt pride when, yet again, her body would bloom a never-before-seen result from a dangerous new medication. Not all medications were dangerous, but most of them were. But Milicent wasn’t afraid of the danger. She had nothing to lose. No family. No friends, at least not any who lasted. She was paid beautifully for the body she offered researchers. She lived in a place that kept her safe. There was food in abundance. Someone from the Research Office took care of cleaning and groceries. Bills were magically paid. And somehow

*The word ‘ear’ is in the first sentence twice. It’s killing me to leave it! I did not notice this whilst I was writing. I would rewrite the sentence in this way: Milicent’s ears twitched as fat raindrops flicked them. Even that could be further edited to include a metaphor, perhaps. Milicent’s ears twitched as fat raindrops flicked them like big-brother fingers. Or maybe…well, revisions can go on forever, can’t they! Though I will not be sharing examples of how I would revise things, I felt compelled to let you know a bit of my process. It will be hard for me to leave these writings so raw, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

Today was a heavy day. Year-the-new reflection.

At this point of my vacation, I really believed I’d be much more ahead of things. I really believed that I’d have crossed off 90% of the mega list of things to do that I’d specifically left to handle during this time. I have failed. It happened without intention because, believe me, I’d wake every morning with visions of me getting the work completed in my mind. Like it was possible. Like it was easy. Like it was doable.

But friends…goodness, was I ever tired. I let my body sleep in and wake when it was ready (beyond the early morning urination, that is) and it wanted to sleep for 9 or 10 hours a night. The hours filled with ‘doing’ – writing and writing and writing in my journal in an effort to understand what was causing my utter lack of motivation and gusto. I can’t say that I’ve discovered it really. It is not one simple thing. What I can tell you is that despite my brain demanding I ‘get shi* done’, my body refused to correspond. And I did do things. Other Things. Things not on the list.

I started and finished reading an entire book! I mean, that’s like, unheard of! I cleaned out drawers that hadn’t been cleaned out in years. I let the house get messy and let that be okay. I binge watched ‘The Mosquito Coast’ with the hubby. I watched 12 films (that’s nearly 36 hours of pure sitting and resting!). I started walking the dogs again. That’s two dogs at one walk each at at least 15 minutes per dog. That’s going outside in all the weather not matter what. This was an important deal because we (the dogs, the humans) needed (need!) to get outside. I visited with friends and talked for hours. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and only twice did I feel terrible. (!)

I laughed. I cried. I worried. I feared. I didn’t care. I let things go. I grieved. I relaxed. I slept. I danced. I slept some more. I spun and spun thoughts around in my head like doing that would change things. It did and it didn’t. I reflected. I accepted. I prepared for shifted ways of ‘being’ so the ‘doing’ will feel different. I realized that ‘work’ doesn’t have to be something I’m constantly tackling. I realized that in my deepest deeps I know I will get the work done. That I will enjoy the ‘doing’ of it. That it is usually always wrapped in some form of love. That ‘doing a lot’ (aka busy-ness) has become such a natural tendency it lives in my body as such – a natural behaviour. But it is not. And I think this may be part of the answer to the big ‘why’ concerning my motivation. The truth is that it feels unnatural to not be busy. In other words, it feels biologically wrong to simply ‘be’, that is, to not ‘do’ anything that is not tied to ‘work’, even when the ‘work’ is heart work (that is, living dreams, loving, creating).

The mind/body connection then, if rooted in this (false) natural tendency to do, do, do, is constantly in battle when the body wants to rest and ‘be’ and the mind believes it must always ‘do’. Ack. I’m still working (lol) on understanding these…reflections. I’m turning to my journal, to nature, to writing and reading, to prayer and listening for more guidance and inspiration on this discovery.

This is why the weight of the day feels heavy.

When a new year begins, contemplations (old and new) continue. As they should.

I feel a thank you is in order here. Thank you for holding space for this lengthy expression. I can feel it. The holding. It helps me very much.

We’re in it together, aren’t we? The old year…the new year…then and now…past and future…all wrapped up in our fantastic presents. Gifts. Gifts everywhere.

2 thoughts on “2022 Writing Challenge Reveal! Prompt A Day for 365 Days

  1. Thank you Vanessa for this invigorating, soul-searching, challenging and insightful beginning to the New Year. Your Prompt a Day is a wonderful idea and already I’m hooked on Millicent and her endless vaccinations, wondering what happens next.

    I’m glad you gave in to holiday inertia on some level… we all really need some time to unwind this year and let the past year go with all it’s stress and angst. thanks for sharing it all with us, your readers and friends.

    Charis xoxo


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