Good day, my fellow writers! It’s Friday once again. You know, in October we’ll be having a Friday the 13th. I don’t know why people fear that day (I know historically why but it’s just a silly superstition to me). Still, I love the name for the irrational fear of Friday the 13th: triskaidekaphobia. Quite the mouthful, isn’t it?
Speaking of fear, today’s writing prompt deals with exactly that: our fears. We all have our unique fears, from things which only send a shiver down our spines to phobias which render us catatonic. Take a look at the Wikipedia list of phobias; there’s a clinical term for the fear of almost everything. I’m personally arachnophobic (very afraid of spiders), ophidiophobic (very afraid of snakes), and somewhat sociophobic. (I’m nowhere near the worst when it comes to any of these but my fears are definitely not within the normal range.)
With all of these phobias, fear seems to be a rich vein of writing material. After all, most readers love a good thriller or Gothic horror story; that’s why Poe sold out in the first place. This prompt will encourage you to mine this vein and go deep into your own psyche.
I’ve done a fear-based prompt with “A Box-Shaped Mystery” before. However, this time I want you dig deeper down beyond the superficial definition of your fear and your reaction to it; I want you look for the source of this phobia.
First, write down your worst fear. I’m not talking about any mild fear you have. What would render you beyond words and actions if you encountered it? Try and make it as close to a phobia as you get, something you know is irrational but you’re afraid of it anyway. Then take a few minutes and meditate on your fear. How do you react when you encounter it? Why do you react that way? Is there something from your past which could explain your fear, or do you not have a clue as to why you’re so scared of it? Spend about five to ten minutes jotting down answers to these questions and then walk away for a few minutes.
When you come back from your short break, look over your notes. Now, use your notes and your continued reaction to the thought of your fear to write a scene, short story, poem, short personal essay, whatever. Really dive into your emotions, tap into that fear and let it flow out of your pen/pencil/finger tips as they hit the keys. Don’t worry about any stylistic aspects or even character/plot/setting development; allow your stream of consciousness to flow onto your paper or monitor.
I know that this prompt may be difficult for people. I have a hard time tapping into things like my fears, and I imagine that others will have a hard time as well. Exploring the source of it will be even more difficult. Nevertheless, such exploration will both help us grow as people and allow us to access a new level of emotional connection in our work.
What did you discover in this exercise, either about your writing or yourself? Did you gain any insight from this prompt that you didn’t get from “A Box-Shaped Mystery”? Write anything worth sharing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.