Behold: the Magick of the Writing Prompt
Or as I have come to think of it, the equivalent of the Tarot Card for writers.
But let me explain this one.
As much as I love the cards for having been my “training wheels” into the world of intuition, they are just that. A tool to engage on a level beyond the logical mind. The cards have no inherent power. The power is in the process of connecting to the archetypal meaning of symbols.
I came to appreciate the Writing Prompt in a similar way.
A Writing Prompt is a line, or even an object, that is given as a kick-starter to the creative process. While at the Green Mountain Writer’s Conference this week, I was fortunate to be able to take intensives and workshops. In one class, the instructor placed a cardboard box on the table, and asked “What’s in the box?” and this was to be the trigger for our creative process while we pumped out scene s, short stories, or poems.
“What’s in the box?” became the Magick words, summoning our creativity. We all shared our writing and it was amazing to hear how many different responses this prompt elicited.
No one wrote specifically about the box, but rather the box became a Pandora’s Box of creativity.
I instantly thought of traveling to Ireland in June with my partner. How signs filled the airport, reminding us to report any suspicious, unattended packages. It also conjured an emotional, scary experience in Shannon Airport on the way home. The results of this exercise will be posted as another blog.
This blog is about the process. How one way or another, each writer found their way through the box and into a story, like Alice through the Rabbit Hole.
The story didn’t exist in the prompt, any more than a prediction exists in a Tarot card.
Working with the tool engages the subconscious/Higher Self/connection to Spirit, and this is where the Magick happens.
Like other Gestalt practices, what emerges from the creative process also carries a transformative magick because it is shifting energy.
The story emerges from some inner place and in doing so it clears a path, shifts energy, creates tension, and then (sometimes) releases it.
The Magick in speaking the story aloud also cannot be understated. Several pieces I am working on have a different power when spoken aloud as opposed to when the words are read in black and white. As I listened to the stories and poems written by other attendees, a different power emanated from the work which would not have had the same impact if I had simply read the words.
This makes sense in the context of energy in motion (emotion) being connected to vibration of the voice in the body.
Prompts also provide a common medium between thought-mind and Spirit/Higher mind. What is really lurking beneath the surface will be drawn out by a prompt, whether that prompt is a sentence about a Buddha statue with pink nail polish, or an empty cardboard box.
In his book, Of Water and the Spirit, Malidoma Some talks about his life growing up in the Dagara Tribe and then in Westernized boarding schools and the turmoil created for him as two opposing worlds collide in his internal landscape. He writes that the Dagara people have no concept of “fiction” vs. “Non fiction”, a concept difficult to grasp as those in the U.S. fact check each other and try to wrap our minds around “alternative facts.”
He describes that all stories are true, and I would expect that Jungian analysts would understand this view, as, perhaps, would writers. Much in the same way that Stephen King says that all work is autobiographical, and in the way that myths are also truth. To the Dagara people, multiple realms are interconnected and interact with the conscious awareness of individuals in various ways, story being one. Some’s story is beautiful and to summarize it further would be an injustice, it needs to be read in full for the context to really be understood.
Still, it was apparent to me over and over again that the keepers of the gates between consciousness and creativity could easily be bribed into stepping aside using tools such as prompts, and how similar this was to the processes undertaken in intuitive development, that allow us to distract the conscious mind and Ego in order to tap Spirit.
More on this subject to come.