Category Archives: Assisting Silent Seekers

Acting Prompts

This post is in response to all of the folks who have landed on my page by searching for acting prompts. First of all, a confession: If you’ve never visited my blog before, you need to know that I am a writer, not an actress. However, when I was younger, I bought a book of acting prompts for the sole purpose of using them and applying what I learned to my writing sessions. I have created dozens of creative writing prompts on this site, and I have suggested that many of them can be used as acting prompts as well. Maybe, maybe not. Like I said, I’m not an actress, so I don’t really know what acting prompts are supposed to be like. (The book I owned of acting prompts is long gone, and I don’t remember a single thing from it.) So why don’t you all let me know? Are these any good for acting prompts? Here are the ones that I think might work (borrowed from my prompt disguised series):

Number 1

ActorsIf you have a work-in-progress: take on the role of your main character, and have a conversation with a friend or an unsuspecting stranger 😉

Take on the viewpoints and attitudes of your character. It would be best to try to get into some sort of discussion in which you do not agree so that your character can defend his position, thus revealing his personality and motivations more fully.

If you don’t have a WIP, then invent a personality or base one on a character from a movie, TV show, or book. The point is, step outside of yourself and become someone else.

Number 2

Take a walk, but pretend you are anywhere but where you are or anyone but whom you are. Try to see your town or neighborhood through fresh eyes, as your character would see it. Try to think your character’s thoughts as you go along. You might notice something you never have before, or find a fascinating new twist for your WIP.

Again, if you don’t have a WIP, then imagine yourself to be any person or character you can come up with.

I tried this once on my son when he was young. We were walking, and he became very tired. So I told him to pretend he had to get medicine to someone who was very sick and waiting for him to arrive. It seems silly, but it gave him the courage to keep walking until we got home.

Number 3

Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Transportation museum? Antique mall? Local baseball game? Think of something that’s out of character for you. Find some inspiration for a story or put a character from your WIP into the setting you just visited.

If you use this as an acting prompt: while you aren’t actually doing any acting, I think it’s important to go places and do things that might be out of character for you, as it broadens your horizons and allows you to think in ways that might be important to the personality you are trying to portray.

Number 4

Remember pretending? It’s that fun thing we did when we were kids. See if you can conjure up a little anxiety or fear as you walk. Is someone following you? What about a ferocious bear (if you’re in the woods)? Or imagine that you are on a mission that you must accomplish at all odds. If you don’t find that information you’re looking for, the whole world is going to suffer! Or maybe you are on your way to meet your favorite person, but you aren’t sure they’re going to show up. What kinds of things can you drum through your brain as you take step after step?

Number 5

Here’s one that I think will be really fun for you. And not only will you be inspiring your muse, but you will also be relieving some guilt at the same time. I’m talking about that guilt that comes along when you’re spending time writing instead of playing with your kids. Are you familiar with it? Well, check this out:

Take a half hour to an hour out of your busy writing schedule to inspire a new character in your story. Only instead of staring at the wall trying to come up with ideas, let your kids do the work. Tell them you want to play a story with them, and ask them how they want it to go, and who they want you to pretend to be. While playing with them, follow all of their leads, no matter how crazy or unbelievable, and just see where their imagination takes you. When nap-time rolls around, spend a few minutes jotting down the ideas that you just gleaned from playing a round of make-believe!

Number 6

Research something you know absolutely nothing about. (For instance, quantum physics has some interesting theories.) Pick up a magazine that you would never have considered buying, and flip through it for inspiration.

I always thought it would be cool to build a science fiction story off of a Popular Science article, for instance. I also know nothing about horses. I wonder what kind of inspiration I could glean from  Equestrian? Or a magazine about outdoor survival? Visit your local library or newsstand, and see where your imagination takes you!

Again, if you use this one as an acting prompt, you can get inside the head of your intended character by reading and learning about the things that interest him.

Number 7

Go to a thrift shop and purchase an outfit, or borrow something from a friend that’s totally out of character for you. Complete the ensemble with accessories and attitudes that complement what you’re wearing. Now, go hang out in places that would attract your alter ego, and test out your new duds. Do people treat you differently? Do you treat them differently or feel any different? Now find a quiet place to relax and write about your experience. Apply it to a character in one of your stories. Actually, you could begin the whole exercise with a specific protagonist/antagonist in mind. Just remember to stay in character as much as possible throughout your little expedition.

Number 8

Mute the television. Based on people’s gestures, make up plots and conversations. (My husband and I do this anyways to avoid contrived stressful scenes while watching reality television shows, such as American Chopper.) Then write about the scenario you created.

PS: Be prepared to laugh a lot!

Number 9

Begin a conversation with the next woman you meet. Be it in line at the grocery store, someone you bump into at the park, etc. Write a story based on what little you learn about her life. Try to remain true to her personality, instead of merely plunking yourself into her situation. If you have a WIP, how would your main character interact with this stranger?

Ok, sorry, but this one involves writing, even if you are using it as an acting prompt.

Number 10

Watch a documentary or a foreign film that you have absolutely no interest in. Give it at least 20 minutes of your life, and see if you can’t learn something new. If interest picks up, watch the whole thing, and expand your horizons a bit! Alternatively, you could watch a movie dealing with a new topic or one that takes place in a different culture, even if the movie itself is American-made.

Use this in the same way you would numbers 3 and 6.

Number 11

Explore ways to volunteer in your area; then choose an opportunity, and spend an afternoon helping out somewhere. Not only will it encourage a caring attitude, and facilitate your development into a better citizen, but it may very well spark a story idea or two. How? Well, you’ll be working with new people, many of whom will show up to help for entirely different reasons – community service, involvement in an organization, a former recipient of the service being provided, etc. They all have a story to tell. And if you are lucky enough to meet the people you are ministering to, even better! On top of all that, you’ll be dropped into the middle of new scenery, new dynamic relationships, and new ways of thinking. Give it a try – even if no stories are forthcoming, you’ll be glad you did!

Use this one for the same purpose as 3, 6, and 10.

Feedback? Are these helpful at all? I’m a bit out of my element here.


Homeschool Empty Nest

Now what?

The other day, someone hit my blog by searching “homeschool empty nest.” I can’t say that I have any personal experience with this (my homeschooled son is only seven), but my heart went out to this searcher, and I thought I would brainstorm some things to help.

I do know a few people who have homeschooled their children, who are now empty nesters. My mother, for instance. Her life has always been all about her children. What does she do when they leave home? Why, she makes her life all about her grandchildren, of course! This week, she has been spending the evenings and nights with my brother and his family, and the days with my sister, who is a brand-new mother herself. She lives with my other sister and her family, and she will be visiting our home later this afternoon. She is very involved in the lives and happiness of her grandchildren, and you can tell how much they love her for it!

Another empty nester I know has opened a bowling alley. I can only assume that she had dreams of doing so before, but she has now found the time as well. Do you have any dreams of owning your own business? Perhaps now is the time!

Some homeschool moms have gone on to teach in private schools. This is something that I am seriously considering for myself. Others go to college and learn a new skill, or begin a new career.

What if you don’t have grandchildren yet? Or what if you wish to remain a keeper at home? What do you do with all of that free time?

I know what I would do: write like crazy! Homeschool moms everywhere could benefit from your knowledge and experience. You’ve already been there and know what the rest of us are facing. You could help us answer questions about routine, curriculum, and college.

If you don’t particularly enjoy writing, perhaps you could think back to your youth. What hobbies and projects did you enjoy as a child? A teenager? A young adult? Perhaps you could get started in photography or refinishing furniture.

What about volunteering? Nursing homes are lonely places and can always benefit from a happy face. What are you good at? Is there anyone who would benefit from your services?

Perhaps you could stay involved with a homeschool coop, and teach Spanish, creative writing, or advanced math. Or maybe they just need someone who will be content to entertain the littles while other classes are meeting.

At any rate, set some goals for yourself, and try to meet them. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10?

Anyway, these are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Feel free to add your own ideas! If there’s an empty nester out there, please let us know what you did to keep your sanity!


Start a Creative Writing Class

This post is primarily at directed at people who want to begin a creative writing class for homeschoolers, but I suppose it could be used by anyone.

Someone hit my blog the other day by searching for: teaching a creative writing homeschool coop. Since I’ve done that, and am gearing up to start up again, I thought I’d shed a little light on the topic. If anyone else has any helpful advice for beginning a creative writing class or another class for homeschoolers, feel free to weigh in!

First of all, since I am already a part of a large homeschooling community, it has been pretty easy to find participants. If you need ideas for finding homeschoolers to fill your classes, or venues in which to hold them, check my post about starting a homeschool choir. Many homeschooling families are constantly on the lookout for fun classes in which their kids can get to know other people, all while learning something valuable. Creative writing is a good choice, because some parents just don’t feel creative, and may look for outside help. The subject matter also lends itself to fun and fellowship.

Depending on what you want to offer, and how large a response you have, you may decide to give classes to a narrow age range, or a wide one. I have found that many creative writing prompts can work with school children of all ages; the only thing that really needs to change is the length of the assignment. The last time I taught a creative writing class, I allowed the parents to decide how much each child would write.

Next, you need to decide how long you want your classes to run. You may want to provide time in each class for a short icebreaker (hopefully involving writing or some other creative activity), review of last week’s homework, a lesson of some sort, a longer period of in-class writing, and a short period at the end of each class for assigning homework. I think an hour would probably be sufficient if you are going with a wide age range. Much more than that, and you will start to lose the interest of your little ones. I would follow a time-table something like this:

10 minute ice breaker,

10 minute homework review,

10 minute lesson,

25 minute write, and

5 minute assignment.

On the very first day of class, you could use your homework review period for getting to know everyone a little and acquainting them with the structure and scope of the class. If you need help figuring out what to teach, you can check here or here for ideas.

You could also choose a theme for your classes so people will know what to expect. Last time I taught a session, I decided to base all of my classes for that session on multi-sensory creative writing. This was something I had been interested in for a while. I had Googled it, but didn’t come up with anything, so I made up my own lessons. This is what I used for my first lesson.

Have fun!

Starting a Homeschool Choir

The first step, in my opinion, is to secure a location. Some churches are open to having their facilities used in this way; just check the yellow pages to find which ones. However, if you intend on charging for classes, I would suggest using a venue other than a house of worship. (I think Jesus would agree with me.) You might find that a fine arts studio in your area would be willing to work with you. In fact, they may also have several clients who are already homeschooled, and may like to offer your services as a branch off of their own. If you are able to bring new homeschoolers into the venue, they stand to gain a profit in private lessons, the sales of material, etc. Some colleges will even work with you. Or you could check anywhere you can think of that has a large room available (community centers, church recreation facilities, etc).

The second step is to decide what ages you will cater to, what kind of program you would like to offer, etc. You may want to work with children and sing mainly simple songs and folk songs. Or, you may want to work with junior high or high-schoolers, and perform works written for SATB, or anything in between. On the side, you may want to teach sight-singing, basic theory, Kodaly, etc. Teach what you know, and don’t be afraid to learn new things. Just be sure you know what you’re doing before presenting it to your choir.

The third step is to find a good accompanist and offer her good money. No matter how talented a musician you are, you cannot offer your choir the undivided attention and eye contact that they will need if you are staring at a piano score. Keep your accompanist happy by keeping her up to date and by giving her all music in advance.

The fourth step is to find homeschoolers to fill up your classroom. Place an ad in the paper, join homeschool forums in your area, join email groups, and look around for websites that serve area homeschoolers. Brainstorm businesses and organizations that cater to homeschoolers. Some local colleges offer classes just for homeschoolers. Instead of looking in their main class catalogue, check “continuing education” or other promising areas of their website. Check with studios, hobby shops, 4H clubs, Boy Scouts, and churches. Don’t feel like you are bugging people asking for references; you will soon discover that you are offering a sought-after service to homeschoolers in the area. Many homeschool parents participated in band and choir when they were in school, and they desire these same experiences for their children, but not at the expense of putting them into a public school.

The fifth step is to find a college that hosts competitions for homeschool choirs. Check with the local Christian colleges and universities. Because a good percentage of their enrollments consist of homeschoolers, it is in their best interest to introduce new homeschoolers to their campus. If you cannot find a college, check with the Christian schools. Sometimes they allow homeschoolers to participate in their own music festivals.

Check back, because I intend to give you tips about what kinds of music to select, how to organize your time, how to teach parts, etc. If you have any specific questions, be sure to leave them in the comments section of this post.