I haven’t been to the circus for a very long time, although the Great Moscow Circus was in town recently. I have, however, discovered a writing competition in which the first prize includes a month’s residency at Berlin’s Circus Hotel. The theme is, naturally, ‘the circus’.
Whether you’re as tempted as I am to enter the 2019 Berlin Writing Prize, or looking for some inspiration to create a piece of artwork, or you simply recall a childhood memory of visiting a circus (or being terrified of the clowns!), I hope you’ll find something here to inspire your creative muse this month.
The writing competition is not for young writers, but these prompts are for anyone, whether you’re 6 or 96.
1. Random Words
Okay, so one of these words is not so random.
Use the following five words as a stream-of-consciousness warm-up exercise, or create a story or piece of artwork which includes them.
2. Life’s a Circus
Have you ever heard someone express, possibly with exasperation, ‘This place is circus’, or even ‘Have you seen the clowns in the place?’ I sometimes wonder if there are clowns sitting in parliament in Canberra, but perhaps that’s being too insulting to clowns …
3. Opposite sides
Ever wondered what it’s like to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’? Or wondered about the truth in the notion ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’?
I only have vague memories of visiting the circus as a child. Instead, most of my recollections of the circus and its performers have come from books, such as Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Haxby’s Circus, which I won as an English prize at school, and even earlier memories of Enid Blyton stories.
How about you? Do you remember visiting the circus?
Sometimes researching a subject can be as much fun (in my case I often prefer it) than the actual writing. Here’s your chance to disappear down the research tunnel for a while.
6. Family History
Do you have an ancestor who may have experienced visiting the circus when it was in town? Or perhaps you actually come from a long line of performers, whose stories have remained untold.
If you live in Australia, searching in the Trove newspaper database might offer up some information about what circuses were in the town or city of your ancestors.
7. Circus with a Difference
What do you imagine when the word ‘circus’ is mentioned? What have circuses been like in the past? What might a circus of the future look like? How might the notion of a circus be twisted in some way in a dystopian world?
Over to You
Which of these creative prompts appeal to you?
Whether you plan to enter the writing competition (which closes on 30 June in case you’re wondering), or choose a prompt for some other creative piece, remember: