Free Download – 2016 Reflection and Writing Prompts

If you are like me, December is a month of making memories and reflecting. I tend to treat the entire month of December as an opportunity to reflect on the previous 11 months in order to set goals for the coming new year.

So, in that spirit, I created a simple reflection and writing guide for you to use. It offers you an opportunity to look back at the past year, with a new focus each day in December (starting a few days behind since I am sharing this on the 5th).

The exercise is simple. Download the image file linked below and save it to your computer, or print it. Then, each day, whenever you have time, look at the prompt for that day’s date, and simply write down the thoughts that come to mind when you think about, say, “family” in 2016. Write down your thoughts, reflect, and think about your goals “family”, or whatever the topic is, in 2017.

2016 Reflection and Writing Prompts

I’m giving this away for free, and without asking for your email address. ’Tis the season 🙂

If you like this, please share this post with your friends and family. Buttons are below to make sharing easy.

I hope you enjoy this exercise!

The Urge to Create

If I take five second of time, and think back to the first time I felt a desire to create something, I only go back twelve years.

Approximately twelve years ago, maybe closer to eleven, I was a junior in high school. I was in “honors english” and loved to read and write, which holds true today. That five seconds of thinking takes me back to a night that I couldn’t sleep. I had an idea. A story. And nothing I did to try to sleep was working. I had to write, otherwise I wouldn’t get any sleep before my alarm went off the next morning.

I had a desk in my bedroom, located at the foot of my bed sometimes, or somewhere else, in a different arrangement of the furniture, at other times. That night I rolled out of bed, shuffled over to my desk, turned on my desk light, pulled out a spiral bound notebook and a pen, and began to write. I’m not sure how long I stayed up writing that night, but I wrote what I had to write, closed the notebook, turned off the light, and laid back down in bed to sleep, which came quickly.

The next morning I remember waking up with a foggy memory of the previous night. After getting out of bed I went over to the desk and flipped open the notebook, reading the first few lines of what I wrote. It wasn’t that bad, actually. Not for writing it on a whim.

That week I would spend time at school and after school cleaning up the story. Adding details, removing details, and going through what I thought was an extensive editing process. Once I had it cleaned up I came up with a title, Freedom Shot, and a subtitle of One Shot. One Man. One Country’s Freedom.

My english teacher, Mrs. Neis, loved it. She would always cheer my fiction writing, and criticize my analysis of Shakespeare. I turned the finished product in for extra credit (103% applied as two test grades) and for her red pen. This is the one and only copy I still have. The soft copy might be on an old hard-drive somewhere, but finding the hard drive may be difficult.

This is a time that I remember having an urge to create something. An urge that I could not quiet until acted upon.

The story I wrote did not stop there. In the same manilla office folder is another story called Freedom Shot. It has the same subtitle, but instead of saying “A Short Story” it says “A John Gloove Adventure.” Apparently I wasn’t finished with the story. This too was turned in and graded. And also marked up with Mrs. Neis’ red pen.

Maybe Freedom Shot and John Gloove is an adventure that will be revisited. Maybe not. The point is that something was created. And that’s all that really matters.

Following the Man in the Trench Coat

Do you ever follow someone for no reason? No reason other than curiosity? I did this the other day. Turns out we were going to the same place, 5th street parking garage, but once we got in our separate cars we went our separate ways.

I was at the corner where people usually go straight across and then keep going straight, or turn left. I usually turn left because it gets more sun in the late afternoon. Trench Coat (his name, since we don’t know his actual name) came from my right, the direction of the Capital building and a slew of other state administration buildings. The trench coat Trench Coat was wearing caught my eye. On this day is was over 60 degrees, the first day that it actually felt really nice outside. Everyone had their coats off, carrying them awkwardly along with their work bag, lunch bag, etc. But, Trench Coat left his coat on. Why?

Was he hiding something? If so, what was it and where did he get it? Maybe he was sick, and genuinly cold? Or, maybe he was from Florida and 60 degrees is coat weather for him? All of these were real possiblities, and had me curious: where would he go?

We crossed the street at the same time, towards the same sidewalk. I was going straight across the street, he was coming from my right. We almost bumped into each other as our feet landed on the sidewalk, but we both took it in stride. He took a right, so I kept walking straight. The shaded route. Interesting.

I slowed my pace a bit and fall behind him so it obvious I was following him. Where I would turn left to go the parking garage, he turned. I follow. Where I would go in the parking garage, he entered. Turns out we both take the stairs in the far corner of the garage instead of the elevator, even though we pass the elevators right when we enter the parking garage. We both probably had the same though, “Everyone takes the elevator.”

Not only do we take the same stairs, but we get off at the same level. Level 3. It’s where you park if you arrive after 8:00am but before 8:30am. Why does he arrive then? How does he get here in the morning? Does he stop for coffee? If so, black or with cream and sugar?

We walk in the same direction and he becomes less interesting. But it was still an interesting walk, so I snapped a picture (the one above) with the thought to write about it, and here we are.

As I was driving home I couldn’t help but continue thinking about Trench Coat. He drove a fairly simple vehicle, like I do, a silver Honda Pilot. Which actually goes with the way he carried himself. If you look in the picture at the top of this post you’ll see that he walked with his head held high and off to one side. His shoulders slung back, and his arms hanging at his sides like an ape or cave man. A practical man. A Honda Pilot was the right amount of bells and whistles without spending too much, which would make him uncomfortable.

So he was probably a normal guy. Probably worked behind a desk all day like I do. He was older than I am though, maybe late 30’s, early 40’s. Where  is his home? Was it a big house? Town-home? Apartment? Probably a moderately sized single family home. He probably has a garage.

I wouldn’t learn any of the answers to my questions. He pulled out of his space pretty quickly and exited the garage before I could continue my trail, but I still wonder: why was he wearing a trench coat?

Love my Moleskine

This video and the idea are awesome. You just can’t get away from the fact that Moleskine is a legendary company with legendary products and ideas. 
 
Used my Moleskine notebook today to take study notes for The Significance of Christmas series I am writing. As always, Moleskine made the process much more enjoyable. 

Studying with my Moleskine notebook

And so it Begins – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2011

NaNoWriMo2011

“30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon”

My last NaNoWriMo experience was not so great. We had just moved down to Wilmington, NC (actually on Nov. 1) and despite being busy we the move and becoming acquainted with a new area I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo 2009. I did not finish. I have the incomplete manuscript somewhere in my ‘Writing’ folder in Dropbox.

The previous November, 2008, I did finish successfully. I had some 57,000 words and finished early (I believe on 11/27). It was awesome. I loved every minute of it…and was exhausted. I completed the challenge but did not pick up my novel until December of 2010. After collecting digital dust for two years I paid the $25 to have every page printed so that I could mark it up with a red pen. That lasted for a few days. And now it has continued to collect real dust for eleven months.

Now, 2011. A new year. A fresh start. A blank page.

What will this year bring? What characters will emerge? What will the plot be? Only time will tell for all of the above, and that time has begun. Tonight, despite a crazy day, I am will not rest my eyes until I see a word count of 1,667.

Does Technology Help Me Write?

As one who tinkers with a lot of technology this is not an easy question to answer. To answer it, I need to think for a moment about the craft of writing…

Does Technology Help Me Write?

Okay. I’m back. No – technology does not help me write. Technology is merely a tool that allows me to capture my thoughts in their written form. Like the pen and paper are used to capture my thoughts and transform them into the written word on a page, so is any piece of technology (thinking computer, iPhone, iPad when I use that word) to my writing.

What helps me write is coffee; a comfortable chair; silence; and the determination to do it. Then, once I have a comfortable writing environment, I use either my Pelikan M200 fountain pen and Moleskine, my iPhone, my iPad (using iA Writer – a focused writing tool for your Mac or iPad like you’ve never seen before), or my MacBook to capture my thoughts into the written word.

How about you? What helps you write? What tools do you use to capture your thoughts?

Writing just Write, or to Create Something Beautiful?

Moleskine Notebook

Fellow blogger Veronica, who is also participating in the Post a Day challenge, questioned the practice of this challenge. She asks, “Is it the exercise of doing it daily that is important, or the quality of the posts?” This is something that I have struggled with, not necessarily here, but more with my habit of writing in my journal every morning.

I tend to get stuck in ruts. I write about what I did that day, or the previous day. Mention the weather, blah blah blah. I’ll do this for a week and look back and see nothing but a recounting of my days. Nothing inspiring or awesome.

I believe the value in journaling every day is in the act of getting pen to paper; actually making my hand move across the page. I don’t intend to write anything profound when I journal. I enjoy writing in my Moleskine and especially enjoy using my Pelikan M200 fountain pen. But sometimes, maybe once every two weeks, I’ll write something in my journal that is good. Not great, because my hand writing is sloppy, but just good. Sometimes even profound. And I know that all the crap I wrote before that entry is what eventually made me write that one good post.

So, I guess the way I look at it is kind of like a wood carving. I have a block of wood and my tools. Each day I carve here and there. At the end of each day it still looks like a block of wood, but as time passes, and I am diligent in my daily work on the wood block, the block of wood turns into something beautiful. A work of art. It wasn’t the last day that made it look beautiful, but every single day leading up to that final carving.

Make sense? Any thoughts?

Writing from a Sailboat While at Sea

Yesterday the prompt that I wrote about was five things I am afraid to write about. Today’s prompt is: pick one of those five and write about it.

I should have known!

Probably the easiest one of my five to write about is lofty dreams. For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed daydreaming. I would be scolded in school for staring out the window for too long, or someone would ask me a question and I would not hear it because my mind was elsewhere.

I don’t remember too well what I would daydream about back in the day, but I can tell you what I daydream about today. If you would catch me staring out of my office window, or a window at Starbucks, and would ask me right then and there what I was thinking about, it would probably be one of several things.

Writing

I love to write. Always have and always will. If I have to choose a method of communication with someone, I will always, if possible, choose writing. I enjoy the process of allowing my thoughts time to form themselves into english, and I especially enjoy writing them out, whether on my keyboard or with my Pelikan M200 fountain pen. Not only do I enjoy communicating that way, but also telling stories by way of writing.

Flying

Flying an airplane has always been a dream of mine, and one that I have actually accomplished. If I am daydreaming about this dream in particular, I am probably thinking about having my private license, owning my own plane, and flying with my wife to a remote cabin in the woods by a lake.

Publishing Books

Along with the writing dream mentioned above, I have always wanted to become a published author. More than that, I want to publish material that makes people think. I enjoy reading great works of fiction, the unrealistic fiction with an unrealistic hero (think Ted Bell, Tom Clancy, etc), but when I write I tend to write on a more “deeper” level. If I were to write a work of fiction that would publish one day it would fit more into the literature category. It would be a work that would have a story, and underneath he story would be things that would jump out at the unsuspecting reader to make them ponder a great question of life.

A final dream that I do not allow much room at all due to how unrealistic it is: writing books from my sailboat while at sea (with a steaming cup of black coffee at hand, of course).

5 Things I’m Afraid to Write About

Illuminati

  1. Future plans – by writing it I’m sure they would not come to pass
  2. Topics I do not know much about – I do not like sounding uneducated on a topic
  3. Lofty Dreams – I do not enjoy sounding like the romantic dreamer I can be
  4. Family – a. I value their privacy, b. it is none of your business, and c. it would probably cause family drama, and who wants that?
  5. Matters of National Security – I have always had this fear of publishing something that would have to do with terrorism, or consipiracy theories (like the Illuminati), or some other national security topic, and five minutes after hitting “publish” hearing a knock on my door.
How about you? What are 5 things you are afraid to write about?