Writing Exercise – “You left something behind”

I haven’t posted one of these exercises in a while. In fact, to my surprise, it has been well over a year!

To recap: My longtime writing group (we’ve been together since 1991!) does short exercises to share each time we meet, and in December 2020 I decided it might be fun to start sharing some of mine here on my blog. After about five posts I must have gotten busy in real life and forgotten to post, or maybe we cut back on exercises to make more time to talk about our own ongoing writing projects. In any case, my last “Writing Exercise” blog post was dated March 14, 2021.

Fast-forward to today. This week’s exercise prompt was the phrase “You left something behind.” I always enjoy seeing the very different responses we all bring to our meeting based on the same prompt. I had a lot of trouble thinking of something to write this time.

I’ve been working on an article about creativity and design that focuses on what has been lost by the shift toward psychology and the more linear, “scientific” process of “design thinking.” But that’s a really complex topic. I was overwhelmed thinking about doing something for writing group related to that, even though it would fit the “left behind” idea. It’s a lot of work to produce clear, simple text about a complex subject.

I then started thinking about a short story I’ve been working on. Some of my exercises have been snippets I eventually intend to stitch into that story’s overall “whole.” But I couldn’t think of anything at all related to my story to fit with this “left behind” exercise prompt.

I was starting to get desperate. Time was running out, and I had not yet begun to write anything.

Suddenly at the last minute (pretty literally), I was inspired to try my hand at poetry. Specifically something super short, like maybe haiku.

Now, I know that haiku is far more complex than just its form (three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables). I also know that its subject matter is traditionally nature related, which my poem is not. I did, however, try to approximate the little thought break at the end of the second line that’s supposed to help you gain new insight on the relationship between the first two lines’ subject and the last line’s image or action. Amazingly, once I had the form of haiku, I was able to generate a response to this week’s prompt very quickly.

Everyone at writing group was very kind and said they liked my poem. Karen (who is a poet herself) told me I should post it on my blog.

So I am. And here it is.


Pieces of myself

Severed by fate, now useless

Breadcrumbs left behind.

(Sort of my own, lesser version of Robert Frost’s brilliant “The Road Not Taken” 🙂 )

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Writing, blogging and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Writing Exercise – “You left something behind”

  1. This is beautiful. It really resonates with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wyrd Smythe says:

    Nice! And it seems you understand the actual intent of Frost’s great poem (which is one of my favorites).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.