If conflict is an essential ingredient of a gripping narrative, is there a place for joy? What does it mean to experience joy anyway? How is it different to happiness? And how do we find it in the midst of life’s challenges?
Whether you wish to reflect on your own life’s experiences or are developing a character and story line for a fictional world, these creative writing prompts are designed to help you contemplate some of these questions in a variety of ways.
1. Warm up: Five words
Create a poem, song, scene, story or image that includes some or all of the following words: poppy, joy, bottle-brush, droplet, window.
2. From Real Life: A Challenge and a Joy
How would you define joy? And how do you think it is similar or different to happiness? To what extent can we be unhappy about our circumstances, but still find moments of joy in the midst of whatever challenges we are experiencing?
What is one challenge you have faced? How did it impact you? What helped you through it?
What moments of joy or gratitude have you experienced?
3. Joyous Objects
What object/s have significance or bring joy to you? Perhaps the joy is in the beauty or texture of the object itself. Maybe it’s your relationship to the person who gifted it to you or the memory of an event or place associated with it.
Write the story behind the object/s.
Include the object/s into your current work-in-progress. For example, assign that object to your main character in a fictional work.
What image springs to mind when you think of joy? Do you have a photo of yourself or a loved one that epitomises joy to you? Alternatively, what images do you find if you search for the word ‘joy’ on free image websites such as Unsplash or Reshot? Do any reflect your own definition of joy?
Choose one or more images as a starting point to reflect on your understanding of joy.
Create a poem, song or story based on an image of your choice.
Alternatively, reflect on the images below. To what extent do one or more of them represent your understanding of joy?
5. A Character named Joy
Create a character named Joy.
In what ways does her personality reflect her name? In what ways does her character challenge our understanding of joy?
Write her backstory.