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February 2024 “The Deserted Island: Survival When Feeling Stranded”
Our theme for February is “The Deserted Island: Survival When Feeling Stranded”
“Deserted Island”: This may be a game that you’ve heard of or possibly even played before. Let’s use it as an opportunity to test ourselves and not only see what we would do in a sticky situation, but also ask why. Consider playing this game with a friend or family member to see what each of you would do differently in the same situation.
You awake, realizing suddenly that you are face-down in the wet sand, your clothes weathered, and nothing around you but a vast sandy landscape sloping up to a dark forest. You’ve been marooned on a deserted island! As you struggle to collect your thoughts, not remembering how you got here, you notice something down the beach in the surf. When you get to it, you discover that it is a chest. You know that whatever it contains within will certainly be crucial for your survival. Inside, there are exactly ten items. What would you need them to be? What is your reason or purpose for each item?
Let this prompt challenge you and try your best to be practical (an iPad might not make total sense, for example 🙂.) If you are not sure where to start, here’s a sample list to get you going.
“Dead Ends”: One thing that we can guarantee is that, when we feel stuck or stranded, if we don’t get started somewhere then we won’t go anywhere. So, even when we think we may be at a “dead end,” Inspiration or a starting point is usually right under our noses.
Wherever you are, look down at your feet, up above you and all around the room or space and describe what you see. Feel free to concentrate on as much as possible or just a particular area of interest. For this prompt, you are encouraged to bring as much craft to what you write as possible - pay attention to detail, use a sensory lens (your 5 senses), and employ descriptive language.
Free yourself from the constraints of sentence structure or separating your ideas into paragraphs. But if a structure helps you, consider making a bulleted list of what you see. Let the obvious lead you back to that place of creativity!
“A Writer’s Survival Kit”: Every writer has their own way of getting through their own writing process, whether it be an ideation phase, or drafting, or publishing. How do you get through? What tools, structures, rituals, snacks, special notebooks, collaborators, etc get you through to the other side?
What’s in your kit? Reflect on what your writing process is like and what it has become.
1) What kinds of resources and plans do you need at your fingertips?
2) And…what is it about each of those things that makes it SO crucial for you?
3) Lastly, what is it that you still need to be even more efficient in your process? All writers, regardless of their success, make changes to their processes over time. So, what do you still need to add to your “Writer’s Survival Kit?”
In your journal, try one or more of these writing dares:
When we venture into a great idea, it can really take us places. Sometimes, we can find ourselves in places we never expected. Those places can either feel mysterious and exciting, or they can feel isolating and like dead ends. When the latter happens to us, we may experience sensations of hopelessness, feeling lost, paralyzed, trapped, stranded, stuck, or even marooned (as if on a far off island, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by harsh landscape and impassable seas, where we had no intention of going, but where we must, at all costs, figure out how to survive and find our way back again.)
“National Robinson Crusoe Day” is on the first day of this month. It is in honor of the novel by William Defore of the very same name. Published on April 25, 1719, the novel was extremely popular once it was released, and has become a famous work of literature. It tells a story about Robinson Crusoe (a fictitious character based on the true life of a Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who was stranded on an uninhabited island for a few years and had to survive all alone.) The character, Crusoe, is also shipwrecked on an island and begins to spend days in devastation due to isolation. With no humans around, he talks to animals for companionship and must find ways to establish food resources and shelter for 26 years before finally being able to leave the island! Talk about survival.
It was not Crusoe’s intention to be stranded on that island, nor was he particularly interested in having to survive somewhere in a difficult situation, like a reality tv show. All the same, it did become his reality, and it is what he did in that challenging situation that mattered most. He didn’t just survive in a new and different environment with foreign resources at his fingertips, he thrived.
So, what do we do when this kind of thing happens in our writing? How do we find our way back, or (better yet) our way forward? How do we innovate when there seems to be no creativity available to us? How do we do the best we can with what we’ve got around us and right under our very noses?
Well, we are writers, and writers are, among many things, survivors!
You can share your ideas for prompts related to our theme, and check out prompts from your fellow Inklings at this link.
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