Tuesday Is Try Day

Second week of trying. Play along if you like.

Prep + Mise en Place

(1) Write a list of 30 things you love right now. If you’re feeling generous, share it in the comments section. If you don’t feel like sharing, that’s understandable. Sometimes not sharing makes it easier to write what you’re really feeling.

Prompts

(2) For your journal or commonplace:

  • Interview yourself. Write out the questions AND the answers. Make it a back-and-forth, where the interviewer (you) works off the responses of the interviewee (also you) in an organic, extemporaneous way. Work quickly, in a finite period of time (15 minutes or so?).
  • Do a short, focused free write (aka: riff + fill) using some shard of language from your interview as a touchstone (or you can use one of your 30 things this week, if that works better).

(3) I’m gonna be taking the next fifteen fourteen weeks to write some nonfiction, so Tuesdays I’ll post the prompt I’ll be working on that week. Here it is:

  • Write a fan letter. In 1903, a 19-year-old student named Franz Kappus wrote what amounted to a fan letter to his favorite poet. He also sent him some of his own poems, asked him if he’d let him know what he thought. The poet in question was Rainer Maria Rilke, who was A) making a name for himself as a rising star in the world of poetry at that time and is B) now considered one of the most important/influential poets of the 20th century. What resulted from Kappus’s initial letter—much to Kappus’s delight and surprise—was a back-and-forth correspondence that lasted five years and ultimately became Letters to a Young Poet. (If you want to, you can read the letters on-line here.) I want you to take a page from Franz Kappus’s book and write a letter to a living artist you admire. Doesn’t have to be a poet. Could be a novelist or a story writer. Could be a musician or a dancer or a director. Etc. And this person doesn’t even have to be famous—Rilke had published a couple of books by the time he received Kappus’s letter, but he wasn’t RILKE yet. (Kappus knew of him mostly because they went to the same school, though they weren’t there at the same time.) The artist you choose doesn’t have to be a megastar. Just as long as this artist’s work inspires you in a real way in the here and now. 

If You’re Bored or Stuck

Fill a page with a “mantra.” Any “mantra.” This doesn’t have to be something some enlightened yogi might say. It can be something Bart Simpson might say. It’s more about the repetition. With that said, try to avoid cynicism or negative self-talk.

Happy trying.

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