Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Power of Photographs to Inspire Writing # 6

The human brain processes visuals 60,000 faster than it processes text.

          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.”

Creative Concepts 6

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 a link to For commercial use please contact the author for rates. 

A World without Color 

         Can you visualize a world without color? A world completely devoid of vivid reds, subdued earth tones, bright greens, yellows, or blues. That was the challenge for Cynthia Staples, a writer-photographer based in Somerville, Massachusetts, when she wrote “The Absence of Color.” Visit her blog at .

The Absence of Color

Does sadness have a color?
Muted blue perhaps tinged with gray.
White with ash layered throughout
Like Morbier cheese?
Not Black. Black is beautiful
As are gold, brown, and green.
They indicate life.
Sadness equals absence
Of light and color and warmth.
Arctic white then, yes,
That’s the color of sadness.

       Staples’ poem describes emotional states in terms of color. Describe the feelings you experience when you see certain colors. Try to come up with such unconventional colors as “arctic white” or “white with ash layered throughout like Morbier cheese.” What color descriptions can you think of? In what ways does color affect people’s moods. What are your favorite colors, and how do they affect you?

Keywords: brilliant, lemon-colored, pale, sparkling, dazzling
Possible opening lines: 1.  My senses reeled when I saw the colors in the sky that evening when…
                                       2.  What is the color of happiness?
                                             Blue, perhaps, like a azure sky?
                                             Or maybe it’s…

Coming Next Week 
Diamonds on Velvet

And Don't Miss...

       English teacher Mara Dukats and writer-photographer Cynthia Staples’ poem “White and White.” It’s in Part Four of my twelve-part series USING PHOTOS TO INSPIRE WRITING at and Anna J. Small’s writing assignment in "Viewing and Writing about Photos from Around the World"
       Also, read more about Reflect and Write in the SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Two Books That Will Help to Inspire Writing

         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. This collection will help stimulate discussion that will trigger meaningful writing at many levels.  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 , ISBN 978-1-61821-023-4, Prufrock Press, 2013, 153 pages, $24.95. See more and order at

          Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing is a collection of photographs and writing prompts designed to inspire writing. In addition to the many photos and ideas it presents, this collection includes a section that cites “Ten Ways to Use Reflect and Write” as well as a second section titled “How Some Teachers Use Photos to Inspire Writing” An added bonus is a CD with photos and writing prompts.
        Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner, Prufrock Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-877673-83-2, 118 pages, includes CD, $24.95.  See more and order at



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