Writers

Writing Prompts for Stay-At-Home Writers: Kristina Tate

Kristina Tate has lived in Arizona, San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, New York City, Australia and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Narratively, Guernica, BOMB and others. She is currently working on a memoir and a novel. Her class, Filling the Well, starts this weekend and has spots available! It’s a generative class for beginning and experienced writers who want to be writing but feel stuck on an ongoing project or are fresh out of ideas.

She shared the following prompt:

“Last month, I was supposed to be on my way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina where my extended family gets together every other year. I grew up in Arizona and didn’t see the ocean until I was twelve, so beaches have always been a magical place for me, and now more than ever I am missing them (and my family). Beaches are the ultimate isolation, transcendent yet grounding. Where families go to find connection, children can play, lovers find each other, or a single person can walk alone, remembering all that once was, hoping for what is to come. Rarely is a beach “just a beach”. 


In this exercise, set a timer for five minutes. Close your eyes and think of a beach, be as specific as possible in your remembering. What does it smell like? Sound like? Look like? Are the waves angry and thrashing or gentle and quiet? Is there seaweed? Shells? Animals? People? You might remember a specific moment on a particular beach (that’s good!). What does this beach mean to you? Remember, even in your imagination–be specific! Details are crucial. Let the thoughts take you wherever they might. If you find yourself drawn away from the water, gently guide yourself back again and again until the timer goes off. 


Now, set another timer for two minutes and jot down everything you remember from that beach. Remember, it’s in the details! Let your mind reach for anything that might be relevant–people, snippets dialogue, the weather, the feel of the sand or rocks, animals, what you might have been feeling internally, or any thing else that comes to mind.


Lastly, spend half an hour recreating a specific scene that takes place on this beach. From beginning to end – don’t worry about something “happening” or a change taking place. Focus on recreating this scene as though you’re watching it on television or better yet, living it anew. If a narrative arch develops naturally, great. If not, that’s also great. This is about capturing a moment and moments don’t always have meaning (yet). “

*

Tune in soon for another writing prompt! Let us know how you’re doing, and how your writing is going, and let us know if you have a prompt to share! Email Susan Moore, Director of Programs for Writers, at susan@literary-arts.org.