Over the past few months, a lot has shifted in my writing process.

As I’m stepping into new territory, however, both as a writer and a writing guide, I am keenly aware of the lessons I bring forward from my years of study with Natalie Goldberg.

I found myself spontaneously making a list this morning and thought I’d take the next few weeks to share some of that list.

I’ve written about this first lesson before, but it bears repeating.

I never use the words, “writing prompt.”

There’s nothing wrong with the term, but what I learned from Natalie was that a good writing topic is less a prompt than an angle, an unexpected way in.

The right topic holds the possibility of discovering deep truths in the hidden cracks of the mind.

I thought of this point last week as I was hauling out my Heroine’s Journey questions to use for Writers’ Sanctuary.

Every time I use this rubric I think to myself, you’re going to use those tired old questions again?

But I was trying to help my students see something about their projects from a new angle and I knew deep in my soul that these questions were the way in.

To keep it fresh, I tweaked the first one ever so slightly, which had the effect of flipping a switch in everyone’s brains.

The results were magical.

Each writer stepped up and busted through old myths within the first hour of our first class.

As you move into your week and you are looking to cut through your usual ways of writing and thinking, look at the topics you’ve set for yourself and see how you might tweak them.

What shift in language might change everything?

My friend and colleague, Jena Schwartz, does use the term “prompts” and hers are gorgeous, rich with possibility for inquiry. You can find them here.

If you don’t have Natalie’s Writing Down the Bones Deck, it’s filled with her best topics, plus great lessons on writing practice. You can order it here.

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