Remembering Jim Carroll in Prompts

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Hey writers,

Here’s to poet, memoirist and rock n’ roller Jim Carroll, who recently died, reportedly working away at his desk. Carroll is perhaps best known for the chronicle of his heroin addiction and youth, The Basketball Diaries, which was raw, disturbing and poignant.

Thus, today, I offer a pair of Literary Roadshow prompts from Carroll’s Fear of Dreaming. If you’re looking for more on Carroll, check out, a site loaded with some great articles about the author from the last few decades.

Also, after three concrete swag-offs and insightful feedback from a few of you, I’ve decided to suspend the competitions angle of Promptly and refocus a bit. Since the beginning, the ongoing competition has cast a bit of a shadow on the blog, and perhaps detracted from what it’s really all about: the prompts, and spurring creativity.

I’ve always wanted Promptly to be a hub where you can come to help break block by picking up some writing ideas, feeding off the creativity and wisdom of others, and delving into some rambling on the writing world by yours truly in the process.

To that end, we have some stirring goods in the works for the near future (including Q&As with authors and guest prompts, Your Story prompts that can land your work in WD magazine, prospective interactive challenges, and more), and of course, your pieces are always welcome in the Comments section of the blog, if you’d like to post them there for your colleagues’ inspiration, thoughts and comments.

Moreover, what would you like to see in Promptly? How could we take things a step further? Give me a shout at writersdigest [at] fwmedia [dot] com with the subject line “Attn: Promptly,” and no matter what you do, have an excellent weekend.




WRITING PROMPT: Something To Cry About/The Siren

Literary Roadshow: Proving that one author’s stray sentences can be another’s writing exercise gold. Feel free take the prompts home or post your stories in the Comments section below.

Write a story inspired by or containing the following, from Jim Carroll’s Fear of Dreaming:

“There, now you really have something to cry about!”
He looks back over at me after a moment of silence, and we begin laughing again. I throw my arms around him and lay my head to his shoulders, continuing to laugh until my tears fall down the lapel of his suit.

[and /or]

When the traffic is still, I lower my hands and pass through.
I arrive before the siren, through the Post Office doors …
yet the siren has been broken, some jealous women explain, and I am far too late.


The October issue of WD is now on newsstands. Check out our community issue here, featuring writing forums, online collectives, bestsellers riffing on writers’ organizations, and even the keys to making the most of a nightmare conference. What’s worth your time these days?