I had so much fun creating the ABC's of Pandemic Parenting. It combined a few challenges for me: write multiple pieces of flash nonfiction several times a week (a new form for me), use a personally selected constraint in order to jumpstart my thought process (read: create my own prompt because I am generally allergic to writing prompts), a clear beginning and endpoint (there are only 26 characters in the alphabet I leveraged), and some great animal artwork by Eric Carle (pure bonus).
|tiny scene from my life #1:
Clue on rug
Interested in creating your own ABC project? Or, maybe a better question would be, What writing assignment could you craft for yourself to unleash creativity and joy? Some elements you could consider:
Take something, anything, and make it your jumping off place. For me, that was Eric Carle's ABC book. It was handy, lovely, and felt appropriate as a symbol for both how small and specific my world was in the moment I was writing about it. You don't need to overthink this. It could be an object. A series of pictures. The color wheel. A list of trees that grew outside your childhood home. Your top five favorite books or foods. The collection of reusable water bottles that clang together in a cupboard, half of which are swag from previous jobs. Whatever.
You can also use the actual alphabet as a jumping off place. I only just discovered Sheila Heti's super interesting ABC project wherein she took all of her old journals and typed them into a spreadsheet to look for patterns. Fascinating, right? It does not even need to be the alphabet of your first language, or second language. Perhaps it's hieroglyphics. Or an alphabet from a language you wish you knew.
|tiny scene from my life #2:
kitchen window, evening
A writing assignment benefits from constraint, i.e. the constraint of just 26 letters of the english alphabet and the animals that start with each. Constraint actually pushes you to be creative, just as much, or perhaps even more than the wide open blank page. Because it gives you something to react to, think from, shove off from, push against, embrace, whatever. It gives you somewhere to start.
If writing prompts make you itchy but you feel like experimenting, or just need to bring a little more fun into the process of writing, why not try creating an assignment for yourself? I would absolutely love to hear about it.