Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Open Receptivity by Anne Liu Kellor

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For each essay published by the Literary Reflections department, we share a writing prompt and an invitation to our readers to share their responses with us. Our editors will provide feedback on these responses and we will post our favorites on the blog. This month's writing prompt is inspired by Anne Liu Kellor's essay, "Open Receptivity."


In "Open Receptivity," Anne Liu Kellor writes from a place of calm; alone in a cabin at a writing retreat, she finds the time and space to give herself to the creative process, to let go of her expectations for productivity. Kellor writes, "After four years of constantly being 'on,' in service to the life of another being—and frantically squeezing in whatever writing-related work I can in between—I need to remind myself that it’s okay to not be productive 24-7. That it’s okay to just read and stare out the window for a couple hours, to free-write, breathe, and dream. Every writer needs this. Every person needs this. Time to restore, be kind to one’s self, and to empty out in order to let in new ideas, perspective, and waves of deepening gratitude."

Through this process of "open receptivity," Kellor leads the reader back through her early adult life, as a student, a traveler, and a young mother. She revisits the ways motherhood initially frustrated her writing urge, how she eventually made peace with the dynamics of life with a young child, and found ways to fit writing into that life. Yet, once in her cabin, she is "reminded again of how much I need solitude and silence: time without the Internet to distract, time without children and the prioritizing of others, and time without a never-ending list of to-dos. Slowly, the chatter in my head begins to dissolve as I listen and wait for what comes next."

Write about a time that you've found the peace and solitude to experience "open receptivity." If you've never had such an experience, write about your ideal creative retreat: Where would you go? How would you spend your time? What would you come away with in the end?


Read Anne Liu Kellor's essay here and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by November 5 for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "Open Receptivity" in your subject line. We'll publish our favorites on the blog.

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Andrea Lani writes about the nexus of motherhood and the natural world. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Maine Review, SaltFront, and Brain, Child Magazine, among other publications. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program, a senior editor for Literary Mama, and a Maine Master Naturalist. She lives in central Maine with her husband and three sons.

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