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For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. 


Making Mischief in Your Journal

Every child plays Tom Sawyer or Eloise from time to time.  Writing journal entries about mischief to my children was a stress relief for me, and a delight for them when I read them aloud. These entries celebrate my children stretching their imaginations and following their curiosity into the consequences. Writing about their need to follow their impulses against my wishes provided comic relief, and as a creative writer, I loved capturing the symbolic side of mischief making. This entry in my daughter Perri’s journal foreshadows lots of mischief she made over the next twenty years:

To Perrin (age 3 ½), October 4, 1995
It’s a rainy morning, but warm, not too cool; it’s a light, fresh rain. Driving back from dropping Landon at school you are thinking about what you will do this morning – you are thinking about riding your bike.

Last week I was worried about you going too far down the street in front of the house, so I took the chalk and drew a line across the sidewalk showing you how far you could go and wrote:

“S – T – O – P!” to send you back to the safe area.  You weren’t too happy about this boundary being drawn on your freedom.

So, this morning, from the back seat I heard,

“Mom?  Will the rain wash the sidewalk?”

“I guess so . . .”

“Good,” you say.

“Why?  Then what will happen?”

“Then the line will be gone, and I’ll be free!”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, the rain is my friend!

What I loved most about writing ​mischief entries was creating portraits of playmates, best friends, the best of times. One day I found my rhododendron in the back yard had been hacked to pieces. My son and his best playmate, cousin Joey, had been pretending the leaves of the bush were worth a million dollars and they were stealing them from each other.  Writing this journal entry reminded me of my cousin Debbie and all the delicious mischief we made, oblivious of our parents’ concerns, staying up all night and foraging through my aunt’s makeup to play beauty parlor, or running naked through a sprinkler on a daring summer afternoon – these were the best of times. Writing about cousins making mischief made me wish I could have back just one day of my childhood with Debbie, and I realized my son was enjoying something I could only long for – a part of my childhood that was gone forever and far too soon.


In your journal today, write an entry about your child making mischief with a childhood playmate, and pair it with a story about when you made mischief as a child. Write from your own or your child’s point of view in the first person. Use present tense to add a sense of immediacy. Whose idea was it? Who got caught? How? What were the consequences?


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogeditor (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas!  

Kelly DuMar is a playwright, poet, and writing workshop facilitator whose poems have been published by many literary journals. Her chapbook, All These Cures, won the Lit House Press Poetry Chapbook contest and was published in 2014. She lives with her husband and children on the Charles River in Sherborn, MA.


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