Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

One of my (Pixie’s) favorite books is Mary Robison’s Why Did I Ever, a story told in over 500 chapters. The chapters are incredibly short—sometimes only a few words—and the effect is marvelous. It’s as though you are reading someone’s thoughts as they jump from place to place.

When I learned that Mary Robison had written the book by writing all of the chapters as they came to her on index cards, and then arranging them to become a complete story, I was fascinated and wanted to try it myself. Since then, I’ve always kept a stack of index cards on my desk, just in case I get an idea (or a sentence, or a character name) that I’m not sure how to deal with just yet, but I know I’d like to use someday. Even if all of my index cards don’t combine to create a full story, at the very least I have a pile of ideas waiting for me when I get stuck.

This week, I’d like you to give it a try. Using a pack of index cards (or slips of paper, or your Notes app on your phone, even) write down or draw any ideas that come to you AS SOON as they pop into your head. Don’t edit yourself. Don’t overthink it. Just jot it down and put the card away. After a few days, look at all of your cards. Even if you find yourself thinking, This is terrible, I shouldn’t bother writing/drawing it, please DO! We so often give up on ideas before they have a chance to grow. What seems like a “meh” sentence or doodle on Monday may be the key that unlocks what you’ve been trying to create for months.

Once you’ve got your stack of cards all set, pull whatever you can from them and make your thoughts—which may seem disjointed at first—come together with a little love and creativity. Did you write something that, instead of a story, should become a painting? Did you notice any repetition in your thoughts? Is there any rhythm to your wording that would lend itself to a poem? Send your creations—along with your first name, last initial, age, and location—to [email protected] with the subject line “Creative Prompt” by Monday, August 8 at 6 PM EST. We can’t wait to see how your creativity pieces itself together!

Last week, we asked you to use photos as your storytelling muse. Here’s where the images took you…