Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well with the summer heat or whatever you have to tolerate where you live. Today’s writing prompt, in honor of The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello, will involve a pilgrimage. Not a geographical pilgrimage, mind you, but one of the mind and imagination.
Travel seems to have a strong effect on human beings. I don’t know the science behind it, any neurological effects or evolutionary benefits, but I’ve noticed that people become different when they travel, no matter how slight that change is. My mother and I become happier, more relaxed. My father gets even more stressed and cranky during the actual travel and, depending on the destination, he can either get slightly happier or even worse once we arrive. No matter how our attitudes change when we travel, they do, and that seems to be why people travel so often when they take a vacation (and when they can actually afford it).
Some people even find spiritual benefits to traveling. That’s where the pilgrimage comes in. While a pilgrimage is often considered religious, it doesn’t have to be. According to dictionary.com, a pilgrimage can be “any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay homage”.
In The Beauty of the Fall, Dan Underlight embarks on such a pilgrimage to Fortune 500 countries across the U.S. He’s looking for inspiration and to find himself, and he at least achieves the first half of that goal. I think everyone, especially the creative types, could do with a pilgrimage like that.
What if you can’t afford a pilgrimage? What if traveling that far for that long is just out of the realm of possibility due to money, work, family, and other commitments? Well, that’s what today’s writing prompt is about, going on a pilgrimage without having to leave the house or office.
This prompt involves a lot more writing than usual but I’m sure no one will object to that.
I want you to imagine that you have all the resources and time you need to take on your perfect pilgrimage. Meditate on the matter for about ten minutes and jot down notes. Where do you go? When do you go? What landmarks do you visit?
After these ten minutes of note writing, I want you to step away from the notes for a while, perhaps an hour. Let it all sink in. Then return to your notes and reread them.
Once you’re finished reviewing your ideal pilgrimage, write a story about taking it. I would suggest doing so in the form of journal entries or a log book but do whatever feels natural for you. I want you to imagine that you are currently taking that pilgrimage, not just planning it. Is everything as you expected it to be? Do you experience any bumps in the road? Meet anyone interesting?
Don’t think too hard on the matter or research the locations. Just free write, record whatever pops into your head.
This exercise isn’t so much about accuracy or plot but emotions and character development. You can check the accuracy later and a plot will probably emerge from your subconscious. What’s important is to focus on how you feel during the pilgrimage and what you think would change about you along the way.
I know that this prompt sounds rather complicated and more jumbled than what I usually present to you. I think that it will help you to not only think more about character but to also stretch your imagination by trying to picture places you may not have even been to before.
When you’re done, feel free to talk about your experience in the comments or even post an excerpt from whatever arises from the exercise.
Don’t forget to check out The Beauty of the Fall and read my review of it here.
Enjoy your journey and have a lovely weekend.