Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Power of Photos to Inspire Writing #2

Creative Concepts # 2 
If one picture is worth a thousand words, can the same picture inspire a thousand words?

            What do you do when your brain becomes oatmeal, your fingers become lead, and you watch the cursor on your monitor blink endlessly without moving even one millimeter? Brew another cup of coffee? Vacuum the rugs? Take the dog out for a walk? Pray for inspiration?
            “I wasn’t born to vacuum rugs,” writes Elizabeth Guy, poet, storyteller, and co-author of Reflect and Write.  “That’s why, when my brain turns to stone while I struggle for new ideas, I use photographs for inspiration.”
A New Photo Every Week
  Whether you’re a teacher, a student, an aspiring writer, a professional writer, or a poet, you’ll discover that the photos and ideas posted here during the coming weeks will help you overcome the dreaded “writer’s block,” while at the same time inspiring you to create new and exciting works of prose and poetry
            Sometimes direct quotations will accompany the photos. At other times, suggested first lines will serve as motivation for writing. Occasionally, specific suggestions will present challenges. From time to time, keywords will stimulate ideas. For more information about using photos to inspire writing, click on these links: and
            Please note: feel free to download the photos for your personal use as inspiration; for use in classrooms or workshops; or, for use in your blog with credit to Hank Kellner and link to For commercial use please contact the author for rates.

A Boy, a Bicycle, and a Garden Hose

      One way to inspire writing in the classroom is to ask students to list the first words that come to mind when they view this photo. Aspiring writers can then compile a master list of keywords that will help to stimulate their imaginations. For example, the word bicycle suggests any number of possibilities, as do water, child, boy, and hose.
    Thoughts of another writer always provide inspiration for others. And sometimes just a portion of a direct quotation can serve as a trigger for new compositions, as in Walt Whitman’s “Silent and amazed, even when I was a little boy/I remember I heard…” Using this concept as the basis for an opening sentence, students can recall events that occurred earlier during their lives.
            Provocative questions can help to trigger written compositions. For example: Why is this boy not wearing any clothes while he washes the bicycle? What would be the responses of passersby when they see the boy, the bicycle, and the garden hose? Where are the boy’s parents? How would you respond to this situation if you witnessed it?

Keywords: bicycle, boy, childhood, garden hose

Challenge: Write a monologue from the point of view of a parent whose child is constantly creating problems for the family.

Possible Opening Line: I just don’t know what to do with that child. The other day my neighbor told me that …

Coming Next Week

Who is this woman?

Another Source of Inspiration

For more photos and information not included in this blog, please visit Reflect and Write contains more than 300 poems and photos; keywords; quotations; either “Inspiration” or “Challenge” prompts; a “Themes to Explore” section; a “Twelve Ways to Inspire Your Students” section; a special “Internet Resources” section, and more. Includes CD with photos and poems from the book. Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner and Elizabeth Guy (Prufrock Press, 2013), 153 pages, $24.95.  See the latest review of Reflect and Write at

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