Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Feel | Story Prompt: from the book “The Tent” by Margaret Atwood

Write It Out: Instruction Video

‘I was given a voice. That’s what people said about me. I cultivated my voice, because it would be a shame to waste such a gift. I pictured this voice as a hothouse plant, something luxuriant, with glossy foliage and the word tuberous in the name, and a musky scent at night. I made sure the voice was provided with the right temperature, the right degree of humidity, the right ambience. I soothed its fears; I told it not to tremble. I nurtured it, I trained it, I watched it climb up inside my neck like a vine.

The voice bloomed. People said I had grown into my voice. Soon I was sought after, or rather my voice was. We went everywhere together. What people saw was me, what I saw was my voice, ballooning out in front of me like the translucent greenish membrane of a frog in full trill.

My voice was courted. Bouquets were thrown to it. Money was bestowed on it. Men fell on their knees before it. Applause flew around it like flocks of red birds.

Invitations to perform cascaded over us. All the best places wanted us, and all at once, for, as people said — though not to me — my voice would thrive only for a certain term. Then, as voices do, it would begin to shrivel. Finally it would drop off, and I would be left alone, denuded — a dead shrub, a footnote.

It’s begun to happen, the shrivelling. Only I have noticed it so far. There’s the barest pucker in my voice, the barest wrinkle. Fear has entered me, a needleful of ether, constricting what in someone else would be my heart.’


How do you feel when you write about something that really matters to you? Does writing about it make you feel scared or excited, anxious or elated? I’ve felt all of those things, for sure. What helps me to keep on writing in spite of (or sometimes, because of) those feelings is a sense of curiosity. Curiosity about why writing about one particular thing can make me feel anxious or scared, while writing about something else can make me feel excited or even elated. Being curious and examining what changes for me can help, maybe not to resolve feelings of discomfort, but at least to understand them better. Understanding them can help me realize that perhaps I’ve made things out as a ‘big deal’ in my head – and they don’t need to be. Through writing, and reviewing, and being curious, I gain clarity and often, a new perspective.

Best of all, when I feel strong emotion of any kind after reading back anything I’ve written, I know that I’m writing what is real and true for me – and that is a great feeling. That makes me feel like I’m finding my voice.

How lucky are those who have found their voice, who use it, and are not afraid to share it.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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