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A few weeks ago I took one of my writer-friends out to lunch for his birthday. He generally writes poetry, but over the past year his focus has shifted to fiction. I realized the same transition surfaced in my own creative writing. I used to write several new poems each month, but last year I may have written a dozen–at most–cumulatively.

I’ve blogged about why I write, but inspiration is different. Some people need a Thoreau-esque connection with nature, others need the grit of a city, some writers (like myself) can scribble away in coffee shops, while many others need silence and a room of their own.

When it comes to writing prompts I have found surprises work best.

I’ve gone to writing workshops where a bag of words is passed around, a setting is provided to everyone, or we are given a set time to freewrite. These are great, but typical.

How can we surprise ourselves?

I find running Poetry on Demand Booths is a surprise factory. You cannot predict what word someone will bring you next.

poetryspark 2013

Writing poems on demand.

When I organize Aromas in Creativity workshops I am surprised by the random memories different smells trigger.

creative aromas

Use aromas as writing prompts.

For me, a simple drive around our town is usually overwhelmingly inspiring. The pastoral farmland, small-town life, and historic home architectures make me want to write.

Chatham North Carolina

One of the many farms nearby.

writing workshop

Writing at Starrlight Mead

Next Saturday I am organizing a unique writing prompt workshop facilitated by poet Bartholomew Barker. Instead of your traditional word prompts we are pouring prompts by the glass. If you are in the Triangle-area of North Carolina, check out Poetry Uncorked! (Registration closes Sunday, January 11th.) The workshop is open to non-poets (I will be focusing on short fiction). We will meet at Starrlight Mead on January 17th, sample 8 different meads (honey wines) and have dedicated time to write. The class fee is $35, includes the tastings, a Starrlight Mead wine glass, a copy of Bart’s poetry book, and a packet of literary journal markets where you can submit your work.