Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

Hello, Rooks! We (Pixie and Stephanie) are excited to bring you a new, weekly activity! On Wednesday mornings, we are going to provide you with a creative prompt—a blast of inspiration or a funny icebreaker for your inspiration zone. We hope it will help you make an amazing piece of writing or art, which we encourage you to send to us at [email protected] with the subject line “Creative Prompt.” The next Wednesday morning, we will display some of the sparkling gems of creativity you mined from your brains after the previous week’s prompt and will give you a brand new prompt!

We are both writers, so many of our activities may seem based around storytelling, but you can tell stories in ANY artistic form. Express yourself the way you express yourself—in a story, a poem, a scene for a play, a photograph, a collage, a drawing, a video, or whatever moves you. We hope that different prompts will inspire you in different ways, help you create new and exciting things, and get you out of ruts when you are in them.

I (Stephanie) have been using creative prompts to generate new ideas since I took fiction-writing classes, where we would play word games to come up with new ideas for stories to tell. Since then, I’ve used them when I’ve been stuck on a writing project. I look forward to sharing prompts that will do both these things for you.

I (Pixie) have been using creative prompts since fourth grade. A very special teacher of mine made the entire class do 10 minutes of writing every single morning. Her prompts were often weird and funny, and pushed us to be as silly and creative as possible. I think of her often when I get stuck or am not sure what to write next. Prompts kickstart the imagination, and seeing which direction other people take them in is inspiring in and of itself.

The two of us will be sharing prompt-creation duties, and we’ll have some guest prompters in the future, too. And now: Your very first prompt!

Lucky you! You finally got to take that luxury vacation to a distant planet. After spending a few days exploring, you decide to write a letter to a friend back home who has never left Earth. They’ve asked you to be as specific as possible when detailing your strange surroundings. Describe the textures, smells, sounds, and colors of the landscape before you. A few things to think about: What is this planet called? Who lives there? What are the great landmarks? How long do the days last? What’s the weather like? What do the plants and animals look like? How do the inhabitants of this planet move around? Are there any scary places that no one dares to explore? Do the inhabitants have extraordinary powers? Are you homesick, and if so, for what?

It’s super fun to take an ordinary form—like writing to a friend—and infuse it with extraordinary circumstances (like, say, writing to a friend from the planet Bolzar, where everyone is a giant slug with sunglasses and the most popular food is, inexplicably, lima beans with chocolate syrup). It allows you to be simultaneously grounded and unleashed—and have a foot in both worlds, so to speak.

What we love about this prompt is that it lends itself to both fiction writing and visual art. You get to create your own world, and everything in it! Not a bad way to start a day, right? So get out there, brilliant explorers, and don’t forget to send what you come up with (along with your first name, last initial, age, and city) to [email protected] with the subject line “Creative Prompt” by Monday, September 7 at 6 PM EST, please. We can’t wait to see what you make. ♦