Previous Prompts

We publish our literary blog, The Nightingale, twice a month, every month. It touches on a wide range of themes and topics and features pieces spanning fiction, nonfiction, essay, and poetry, and many genres in between. On this page you’ll find some of our previous prompts, which we encourage you to use in your own writing practice. If you  share what you’ve created, we hope you will tag us on Facebook or Instagram, we’d love to see what you create!

February 2020:  Recipe for Healing.

In the middle of winter, a comforting, warm meal can work wonders. We’d like to invite you to imagine healing as a recipe. 

What are the ingredients, and how do they all work together? What kind of dish is it, and what will the finished product be like? 

For the February installment of The Nightingale, we invite you to send us your recipe for healing. It can be literal or abstract, a food recipe for something comforting, like your favorite self-care dish, or the ingredients you use  to make something new in your life. How many cups and tablespoons of self-care do you mix together for the perfect day? What steps have you taken over time, for healing that takes months or years to “cook”? 

We know no two recipes will be alike, and like all forms of healing, different recipes may or may not work for different people. This is always okay, and we know here at The Nightingale that sharing and listening to one another’s stories can be healing in itself.  

We’re always accepting memoir, fiction, essay, reviews, and resources. Feel free to interpret the prompt broadly, and send us a review of a cookbook or an essay on the idea of comfort food at large! 

What is your recipe for healing? 

December 2019/January 2020: Anniversaries.

Some anniversaries we don’t have power over, but to others we can lend more weight and meaning. 

Anniversaries of violence, for example, can be extremely difficult for survivors. A reminder of trauma, whether it be a single date or a time of year, often brings up echoes of the violence a survivor has experienced.  

Anniversaries of healing, on the other hand, can be comforting and uplifting. They can propel us forward into another year of hope, strength, and healing with renewed energy. 

Maybe it’s the day you left a bad situation. Maybe it’s the time of year met a significant person in your life who has helped you heal. Maybe it’s a moment of personal growth, when you accomplished something for the first time or reached a self-care goal you’d been pushing towards. Maybe it’s the first time you decided to call yourself a survivor.   

The Nightingale celebrated its own anniversary this December, as it turned one year old. As we acknowledged the year of healing that we experienced with all of you, we’d like to encourage you to take time to celebrate the healing that has happened in your own life this year.  

Acknowledge anniversaries that take part in your pain, but celebrate anniversaries that help you heal. 

What’s an anniversary you choose?

November 2019: Gratitude.

In honor of American Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, and the coming end to our calendar year, we turned our attention to the gratitude connected to your healing experience.  

Who or what are you grateful for? What people, objects, places, or ideas make you feel thankful, and how have they helped on the journey to healing? How have they helped you in the past or present, and what relationship does your gratitude have with the future?  

Your gratitude can be large or small. You can tell us a story about a moment of hope that changed your life and that you still carry with you. Or, keep a gratitude journal for a few days and share with us what you discover: did your cup of coffee bring you comfort in the morning? Did your pet make you smile? What small thing happened when you were least expecting it, and what did that mean to you?  

Wounds are painful, and we want to take time to acknowledge the things that have helped them to close.  

Where do you find gratitude? 

October 2019: Rewrite.

Writing is our most powerful tool here at The Nightingale, and the way we choose to write our stories is what helps us heal as survivors.  

We challenge you to find an old piece of your writing – a diary entry, a short story, even an email – and rewrite it. Tell the story in a way that reflects your perspective now as a survivor.   

What have you learned in that period of time, from when the original piece was written to now? How have you grown and healed?  

It can be a piece from when you were five years old, or it can be from last month. Anything that you can look back on with fresh eyes and a new perspective. (Note that the piece doesn’t have to stick to its original form. If you’re rewriting a letter or a series of texts, you can imagine that conversation in a different fictional context. Feel free to change the setting, the characters, even the genre.)  

There’s room in retellings to include parts of the story that should have been there all along.  

Rewrite a story that reflects your truth. 

September 2019: Reclaim.

What does the word RECLAIM mean to you in the context of being a survivor, or the conversation around sexual violence?

August 2019: Review.

Write a review –  focus on movies, books, music, or anything that helps with self-care.