Putting words on a page can be a daunting task. Sometimes the words flow like a spring river, other times they trickle in like teenagers arriving reluctantly to class. The […]
Putting words on a page can be a daunting task. Sometimes the words flow like a spring river, other times they trickle in like teenagers arriving reluctantly to class. The worst, as all writers know, is when they refuse to come at all. You know the words are there, floating around untethered in your mind, but every time you reach for them they float away, as though you were grasping at loose feathers. You date the page. Add a title. Nothing follows. You begin to wonder how words could elude you so effectively–aren’t they just symbols? You know you have ideas, but your ideas have dug their heels in like a stubborn horse and refuse to enter this world. What now? How do you get that horse out of the barn?
Prompts are a great way to put a carrot in front of that horse. They open windows through which to look upon your ideas in a new way. A prompt takes away some of the pressure of getting started and gives you a toehold on that blank page. There is one prompt in particular that I return to time and time again. I learned it in college, and I have used it often over the years to summit the mountain of writers block.
The prompt is: Here and now I am
Simple, but effective. “Here and now I am…” brings the writer into the moment. It blocks off the past and future, allowing the present to reign over the page. All you have to do is look around, take note, and write. Where are you? Who with? What’s the sky doing? Anything interesting or unusual happening around you? “Here and now” brings the world around into sharp focus, and sharp focus is required to bring others into the world you want to write about. Details and big picture are given equal treatment. How hot is your coffee? How settled is your mind?
So, put the past and the future aside for now. Pick up the present in one hand and a pen in the other, and give it a try. Here and now, where are you?