5 Writing Prompts to Start Sharing Your Muddy Story

If you have a story you feel called to start sharing, but you don’t know where to start…. start HERE. 

These are 5 prompts to get you thinking about your story in a different way this week. Write them in a journal, in a Word document, or over on Instagram. Just start to get them out into the world.

1. “Something that has always been TRUE about my story is _______. But now that I’m older, I know that __________ is the TRUER version of that.” 

There is a great writing adage that says the drafts of our story go through versions of True, Truer and Truest as we dig deeper and look at it from all the different sides. We may have thought something was True about our story growing up (and to a certain extent it IS)…but now that we’re older and we know just how HARD being an adult is, we may see it from a more empathetic eye. What is something that has become TRUER about your story the older you get?

2. “When I think of that time in my life, I think of the color _______.” 

Is it red, is it blue, is it a sea of GOLD shirts 60,000 strong in a stadium. Is it the sky above you during a really hard scene? Is it the color blanket you wrapped your first born in? The color we associate with a scene in our memory can be celebratory… or heartbreaking. Take it a step further and make the color a repeating symbol throughout the passage (red, burgundy, crimson, blood).

3. “Tell me a time when someone said something in passing to you that has become a rule of life for you.” 

In my book Dirt I talk about trying to cut corners washing the dishes when I was little (only rinsing the grease off but not washing) and how integrity is often not seen, but felt. My Grandma Goldie told me in that moment that “how you do anything is how you do everything” and that has stayed with me ever since.

4. “Write about your story through the eyes of an inanimate object.” 

In Dirt there is a scene where I write from the perspective of the blueprint drawings I would sketch as a little girl wishing that our trailer could be converted into a two-story home. “There once was a blueprint who dreamed of being a real house. Everyday she would draw and re-draw her dimensions. She would stare at her plans and wish for someone else’s. Something grander, more ornate. She preferred walls to windows, and never missed an opportunity to become more closed off.”

5. “Write something where you don’t end up looking perfect.” 

Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir famously said “the best memoirists are the ones who are willing to punch themselves in the face first.” Start with something that shows me you are going to be honest with me as the reader, something that shows you intend to show up on the page just as you are flaws and all. This can be a scene you regret, something that shows your own selfish thoughts, owning up to a pain you caused someone else.

Your story matters. I can’t wait to read it.

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