The Story of My Life – Writing Prompts – Memoir- 10 Things that Sparked Childhood Creativity

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Writing Prompts

 

 

Last week I had to go downtown for a doctor’s appointment. After my appointment, instead of heading back home on the subway, I decided to walk a few blocks to our huge shopping center downtown, the Eaton Center. I thought I’d grab myself a latte and have a wander into one of our biggest bookstores – Chapters/Indigo, and  have a look around some of the bookshelves. I rarely get out to the bookstores now that it’s become so easy to order what I want directly online, but there’s nothing like being inside the actual bookstore.

Once upon a time a book store was just for books, but now there are home sections filled with pillows, mugs, frames and whatnot. But my favorite part is the stationery section where I happened to get lost in for almost two hours! Did I mention I’m addicted to shopping for journals, notebooks and all their ilk? Well, I found a few notebooks and various other books and items I wanted and realized I’d have to lug all those things home. So I purchased the notebooks and one journal that offered writing prompts, and made a list of the other things I wanted, wrote them down and when I got home I ordered them online to be delivered.

 

I had initially picked up a big, thick book called 500 Writing Prompts. I thought it was a great book to create posts with when my writers block sets in. And then I found another similar notebook titled, The Story of My Life, which is another book offering writing prompts, except they all have to do with answering from our personal experience. I had to get that one. I brought that little gem home and ordered the bigger book along with all the other writing goodies I wanted online. The damage I did in the store was heavy enough to carry on my walk to the subway.

 

So today I’ve chosen to share one of the prompts I randomly chose to fill out in The Story of My Life journal and share it here with you. The beauty of these prompts is that one question can spark a flood of memories. These prompt journals are inspiring and are helpful with aiding us to write about the first thing that comes to our mind without over-thinking.

 

Below is the question asked:

 

Top 10 Time! – List the things you did as a child to express your creativity. What drew you to each one?

 

  1. I created an imaginary world where I could slip into when I felt sad or scared.

  2. I wrote poems since the time I learned how to write. I wish I’d kept some of them. Writing became my secret outlet where I could express my pent-up emotions. I shared them with nobody.

  3. I loved to make up sentimental cards and write love notes to give to loved ones.

  4. I listened to music and sang along to all the lyrics as I took myself into the lyrics. My first idol was Barbra Streisand, and she remains my most favorite icon today.

  5. I loved to bake in my Easy Bake Oven. Sadly, I still suck at baking today.

  6. I loved to play ‘house’ with my friends. We’d put on costumes (usually taken from our mother’s closet), and I was always the mother. It was fun playing house because it was peaceful with no drama, acting out the way I envisioned parents should be with their children.

  7. I was addicted to the TV show Bewitched. I’d watch Samantha intently, hoping to learn how to crinkle my nose to make  myself  be able to disappear and make magic happen.

  8. I used to invent games to play with my siblings, particularly on weekends where we were forced to spend at our grandparents’ house. I was always bored and restless.

  9. I was obsessed with a fascination of high-heeeled shoes. I’d try on my mother’s shoes and clomp around in them pretending I was a beautiful model. This obsession began at age 3.

  10. I would make believe things were better than they were or not as they seemed. I’d cry when my mother went away on her leisure trips, but I never let anyone know how sad I was. I would pretend she was just gone for the day then for the night as each day passed until she’d come home.

 

Do any of you enjoy using writing prompts?

 

 

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  1. Wow! I also created an imaginary world, wrote poems, was addicted to Bewitched, and loved clomping about in my auntie’s high heeled stilettos when we visited! I loved the Eaton Center when we visited Toronto back in 2013. I bought a sweatshirt with ‘Roots’ on the front.

    1. Wow! I told you we had a lot in common Stevie. 🙂 I’m not surprised, lol. 🙂

  2. Several of these catch my fancy, but #9 prompted me to remember a photo I found this year in Aunt Ruthie’s stash: a picture of me in dark curls, holding a doll, and wearing fancy shoes at age 5: the story of my life in a nutshell. Great post, Debby!

    1. Hi Marian. Isn’t it funny how a simple question can spark a memory? And nice to know we share our love for shoes. 🙂

  3. Bookstores are dangerous places. I go there with cash only, no plastic. That book sound perfect for you, and what a fun prompt for eliciting memories to write about. I do like prompts, but usually the visual sort. And I can’t use those beautiful journals because they’re too pretty to write in. 🙂

    1. Lol Diana, do I hear you about bookstores. Funny how we get inspired differently with prompts- you with visuals, and me with words. 🙂

  4. Those are fascinating. I have to say, I was not a creative kid. You, though, were wonderful.

    1. Thanks Jacqui. I was lucky to have an imagination to shield me. 🙂

  5. This is wonderful, Deb! I’ve never used writing prompts. I get a knot in the pit of my stomach whenever I see one. I think it’s reminiscent of Sister Mary Agnes and her stern demands 🙂 I write when spirit moves me, although I can see the benefit of using prompts when the mind is blank. You showed great restraint in not buying out Chapters, girlfriend 🙂 ?

    1. LOl T. I know, I was like a kid in a candy store. Glad to say I never had one of those Sister May Agnes characters in my life. 🙂 <3

  6. Never was much into my mother’s high heels, but I did like Bewitched (she was kind of cute for a witch). But writing prompts are great. We use them every week in the Gila Writers Group. Trains you to write fast (four ten minute writes after reading a page of prompts). But you can find your own. Just read the news, quotes, etc. Listen to conversations people freely share (TMI sometimes) in cafes, etc. I’ve made prompts into short blog pieces that may wind up as short stories–like the Fountain!

    1. Thanks John. Some great ideas! I do often get ideas from over-hearing some interesting conversations, lol. Sad to hear you don’t wear high heels. 🙂

      1. Well, I did do baggies and platform shoes 70-71. Could get an interesting prompt about all the young dudes. 🙂

        1. There you go! 🙂

  7. I’m envious of your time in the bookstore – I have to limit those outings or I’ll never get any work done as time seems to fly by there 😉 I like writing prompts, especially when I’m in the mood to write but don’t have a topic.

    1. Thanks Christy. Believe me, I don’t get into a bookstore very often, good thing! Lol. 🙂 I love prompts, they get the juices and the memories flowing. 🙂 <3

  8. I love beautiful journals…they inspire my thoughts even without a prompt! I had a few when I used my golden cross pen to complement them. Digital world, smartphones and iPads have robbed me of all that joy. I also love writing prompts, some are really thought-provoking.
    Lovely post Deb! 🙂

    1. Thanks B. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than writing my thoughts in long-hand then entering them into a computer. Old habits die hard. 🙂 x

  9. Thanks, Debby. I’ve always wanted to crinkle my nose too (or move my ears, something my father could do). Prompts are a personal thing and I find, for me, something a person might say in passing, or something I read or see might work as well, but they can be useful at times. I agree with your feelings about stationery, although these days I try and restrain myself. 😉

    1. Hi Olga. It’s funny how impressionable we are as children. And I agree, prompts can come from anything we’ve heard that resonates with us. But for those of us who don’t get out enough, a writing prompt journal is a fun thing to have. And yes, the trick is to restrain ourselves in a book store. Good thing I don’t get there very often. 🙂 x

  10. What a lovely time in the book store for you, Debbie. I could just imagine you wondering around ogling at everything. Stationary and notebooks can be so pretty, and also so hard to resist. There is something inspiring about a new journal or notebook, especially when they have motivational messages that come along with them. I have a notebook that has a quote on each page for every week. Something to think about.

    The first prompt caught my eye, and I think that’s because of the introvert in me. So often I like to disappear from reality and create a world in my mind – where there are no crowds, no loud noises, a place where I wander til my heart’s content and I can think what I want to think 🙂 That said, this post of yours is already a prompt for me to write something here 🙂

    1. Hi Mabel. Us writers are easy marks for pretty journals. I also think many writers are introverts, and my imagination began at a young age to escape family discord.
      I’m glad to hear this prompt also inspired you. Thanks for sharing here. 🙂 x

      1. There’s something special about pretty journals. A new beginning, a new outlook with a positive view. I’m definitely an introvert, and writing is my best way of expression 🙂

        1. So true Mabel. And like many writers, we feel more comfortable expressing ourselves by the written word. 🙂

  11. I too have a stationary obsession, can’t get enough notebooks, pens and beautiful notes. Your prompt made some memories surface for me too. I loved to paint but would get frustrated when I couldn’t get the exact picture. I had a spirograph too and loved making pictures with that. Imaginary friends and also two friends from the farms up the road we used to try and make rafts to sail on the river. xxx

    1. No wonder you’re a writer Adele. 🙂 And, oh, I loved Spirograph too! 🙂 <3

      1. Me too it was awesome. xxx

  12. I’ve never heard of writing prompt notebooks. I’ve always had a journal, but I’m not faithful in writing in it. They remind me of some the writing courses I took. The instructor would give us a prompt and off we would go. Then the prompts started to get harder when we had to use point of view, etc. Great brain workout and exercise for writing.

    1. HI Chuck. Thanks for visiting and chiming in. I’m enjoying this memoir prompt journal. Look out, I’ve only just begun, lol. 🙂

      1. Mmmm….that reminds me of song I use to know. 🙂

  13. I love writing prompts and have collected quite a stockpile of them from my teaching and workshop days. My posts on 52 memoir prompts has close to 25,000 views now. It’s the rockstar of my blog, and I should post more prompts to see if they will get good traffic as well.

    1. Thanks Jeri. I have to check out some of those posts.:) I want to be a rockstar like you, lol. LOL xx

  14. Great post, Debby. I have a stack of beautiful journals that I never write in, ha ha…I have no idea why. I usually write in plain, old school notebooks. Maybe I think I’m saving those journals for something special. I invented imaginery worlds also, both my sisters were quite a bit older, and I spent a lot of time by myself growing up, so I guess imagination was mandatory. Bewitched, you say, I loved that show! I never got the nose thing down, though 😀

    1. HI Lana. It seems many love to collect journals then find them too pretty to write in, lol. But these writing prompts journals are made just for that.
      I write my books and blogs and longhand before they’re transferred to the computer. Needless to say, I have tons of those spiral notebooks for that. I take the pretty journal notebooks on vacation. As for Bewitched, I’m beginning to think many of us were captivated by her. 🙂 xx

      1. At some point, I’m going to have to pick up those pretty journals and take a stab at them with better handwriting than I use for the spirals 😀 xo

        1. Lol, give them the love they deserve. 🙂 x

  15. We share 1,4,5,6,7 and 8. I think as kids we would have gotten on very well, too <3

    1. Wow! Go figure my friend. Why am I not surprised? <3 xo

  16. Sounds like we were much alike at that age, Debby. I loved bewitched too! Sad, that you had a careless mother who only thought about herself and wasn’t there for you. My mum has always been a diamond, even though she had a very tough childhood herself. She never let that make her resentful or unkind, quite the opposite.

    1. Hi Marje. You were blessed my friend. It sounds like Bewitched was popular for many of us, for whatever our reasons. <3

  17. I couldn’t live or write without writing prompts, Debby. ‘Glimpses’ would never have been published and the stories in it that did not require a writing prompt would still be in a file on my computer. They are still there now, but at least they get to go out every now and again when somebody reads the book.
    Lovely memories, although 2 hours lost in the stationery department sounds almost like a trip to Narnia. I worked in the stationery department in Selfridges for a few years and it was certainly a great department to work in.
    Weekend hugs to you.
    xx

    1. Thanks Hugh. I wonder how many books were conceived by writing prompts? Nice to hear we both get inspired with prompts. 🙂 Oooh, that sounds like a fun job working in Selfridges! Happy weekend my friend! 🙂 <3

    2. Hugh, had I worked in the the stationery department in Selfridges I might never have taken home a paycheck – lol.

      Again, I loved this post, Deb, even though I rarely use prompts personally – other than the ones provided by blog comments and life itself, that is.

      I use my prettier notebooks as Journals – typing actually accesses a different part of the brain than does handwriting, so my more personal writings are always hand-written. I put my lists and random reminders in cheap notebooks to save a few bucks – but I find that I am actually able to write articles directly on the computer (I type faster than I write, so I’m grateful for that).
      xx,
      mgh

      1. I’m the say way with my notebook choices, pads of paper for them, pretty notebooks for writing in. I just feel more creative writing by longhand because I am a fast typist but I find I just get slowed down when I stop to think while typing. Writing the pen just flows, even if it’s fluff fill in I keep going and edit when entering into computer. Just a thing. 🙂 xx

        1. Well it seems to be a “thing” that works well for you. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 🙂
          xx,
          mgh

          1. I’m tryin’! 🙂 xx

          2. From over here it looks like you’ve got most of us beat in the “succeeding” category.
            xx,
            mgh

          3. You are my best cheerleader!!!! 🙂 xo

          4. Two bits, four bits – yea team! 🙂
            xx,
            mgh

  18. Fantastic post Debby .. I certainly have used people and experiences from my childhood as prompts for stories. Sounds like an amazingly useful book and loved your ten prompts for creativity.. Barbra check, Bewitched check, High heels check.. Will reblog next Tuesday.. ♥

    1. Lol Sal, I knew we sisters from another mother, lol. <3

      1. I still think it would be interesting to compare family trees at some point.. or take a DNA test on Ancestory and that would be funny!! ♥

        1. Oh, that would be something Sal! I’d love to 🙂 <3

  19. A great post, Debby. I have never thought of, or hear of for that matter, writing prompts until I found Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo blog. From her I learned about these things and met lots of other bloggers who use writing prompts. I really enjoy them now.

    1. That’s great Robbie. They are wonderful for stimulating new ideas; especially when the well is dry. 🙂

    1. Thank you once again Sally, for sharing. <3

  20. Childhood memories 🙂 When we lived in Finland we had huge windows. Birds often flew into them and died from the impact. Us kids would hold funerals for them – the whole shebang. My brother was the priest, my sister and I chief mourners. Our yard was littered with little graves complete with crosses made from sticks. The other abiding memory is having an ant eating competition with one our neighbours kids. We poked a stick into the nest and licked them off. I won. I can still taste them when i think about it 🙂 definite lemony tang…

    1. Wow, nice to see this prompt stimulated your own memories. Really, though, eating ants? 🙂

      1. Seriously – probably hundreds. I used to follow in Mum’s footsteps too after she’d done the rounds of spraying flies. I found the dead ones on the window sills and ate them! It took her a while to work out what happened to all the dead bodies. Ugh 🙁

        1. Omg. Well I guess what didn’t kill you made you stronger. And I’m sure there was protein value in them too.:) x

  21. This is so precious, Debby! I have to order this book. Thanks so much for sharing! ❤️

    1. Thanks Natalie. I’m so glad to have piqued your interest. I love writing prompts. You never know where those short sparks of ideas can lead. <3

      1. Debby, I’ve just recently started using prompts. Fascinating how the creativity unfolds. I have a habit of editing as I write, but I’m slowly breaking that nasty little tendency! ❤️

        1. Fabulous Natalie, lovely to hear you’re using the prompts.Yes, so important not to go back and edit until you’re done,tempting as it is. That’s another reasons I’m glad I write in longhand, I just keep the pen gliding along and look back when I’m done. That’s how I write my books too. 🙂 <3

  22. I think my own “writing prompts” come from some of the comments on each of my posts. I don’t really think of them as “prompts” but, after reading this post, I realize that they do serve that function. Interesting to learn you like to use prompts – but I can’t believe you ever experience writer’s block.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    1. It’s surprising what can become a prompt for us M. Comments are stimulating because they’re conversation, I think people like you and I thrive on conversation. 🙂 Yes, I am sometimes plagued by the dreaded writer’s block, but I’m armed now, lol. 🙂 <3

      1. I’m shocked – lol. And here I was thinking you leapt ALL tall buildings in a single bound. 🙂

        Good to know you’re human — *and* that you understand how to jump start your engine when it stalls. (But maybe you could interpret a short spate of writer’s block as a cue to take some YOU time!)
        xx,
        mgh

        1. Lol, you do make me laugh. Yup, it does happen to the best of us sometimes, but those prompts are like inserting a fresh battery! Time out you say? Hmmm, what would that be like? I’ve threatened to do so many a vacation, but am seriously contemplating for next winter. (Oy, so far away, lol.) You make me smile my friend. <3 xoxo

          1. Getting to know you through your blog, I’m guessing that, for you, time “off” would probably mean writing a different book and reading a few dozen others – lol.

            I could be so bold, however, as to suggest a shopping trip, hahaha 🙂
            xx,
            mgh

          2. LOL woman! Ahhh, shopping is always great therapy! 🙂 xx

  23. Great post, Debby. I’m always looking for prompts to use on a creative writing course I teach and this is very helpful. I also spent ages trying to twitch my nose like Samanatha convinced if I could only master that I’d be able to do magic.

    1. Hi Mary. Glad this post gave you a good idea for the writing course. And, I’m astounded by how many here also loved Samantha and her twitch. 🙂 x

  24. I love this Debby. It really made me think about the creative things I did as a child. I’ve used writing prompts a few times and found them very helpful, but had not thought of using them as a means to accessing memories. You’ve brought up quite a few reading yours. I loved Bewitched too! And I made my own doll house out of a cardboard box, complete with furnishings. There is no end to what we can write about if we are stuck with prompts like these.

    1. Hi Molly. So glad you enjoy the prompts, I love them. This prompt journal is fun for memoir writers, and the other is great for general writing prompts. It really comes in handy to stimulate the imagination. Yes, possibilities are endless. 🙂

  25. On the catch up here today. This is an amazing post Debby. I so wish we had known each other growing up. I loved Bewitched. We all wanted to b be Samantha and wiggle our noses. Such a clever prog. BUT shoes? My lord my nan had wonderful shoes. I used to love walking up and down her hallway in them, imagining I was a model…. Anyway wonderful post. xxxxxxxxxx

    1. Omg, so are we twins??????? LOL xoxo

  26. I’ve used prompts from time to time, but most of my thoughts get stuck in my head. LOL.

    1. Okay, you’re so funny! You cracked me up. The prompts are supposed to help get them out of your head, lol. 🙂 🙂 xx

      1. Yep, but mine is rather thick. ?

  27. What great shopping finds. I think we’re going to hear more from this expedition.

    1. Thanks Norah. I think you just may, lol. 🙂

      1. I look forward to it. 🙂

  28. Wonderful. We have one remaining bookstore in Ithaca, NY, an owner financed coop since you know what’s happened to all independent bookstores. We have a Barnes and Noble and a few used bookstores, too, but I love the independent Buffalo St. Books. (I remember the Eaton Center from trips to Toronto.)
    I’ve attended a writing class for 8+ years. The woman teacher offers writing prompts (sparks) for in class writing and also for short pieces we can bring from home (perfect place to write first drafts for blogs). I began the class to write my grief. It took a few years to realize I was also writing a book. I’m always working on new material there, including pieces I’m submitting to competitions and journals and what may be a new book. As always, I go with the spark that grabs me and run with it.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Elaine. Writing prompts come in many forms whether instructional, from a book or purely from life’s observations. Often a prompt can take us well into writing a book if continue to go deep. 🙂 x

  29. I meant one remaining “independent” bookstore…

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