Don’t Try This At Home: A Guest Prompt by Cleo Frances Robinson

by | Aug 27, 2021 | Weekly Prompt

Today’s post is guest-curated by our 6-month-old daughter, Cleo Frances Robinson. As you might imagine if you know about babies, Cleo is in a very grabby stage. She goes for everything. She can’t crawl yet, but somehow she can move wherever she wants to go. 

We have a twin mattress on the floor of our office alcove because our niece slept there last week, and the mattress abuts a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase. So I had Cleo on the mattress to play and roll around while our 3-year-old, Grace, sat at the desk and wrote “thank you notes” to her grandparents for the shirt she was wearing, which they gave her approximately half her lifetime ago. 

And Cleo kept grabbing whichever books were in her reach, and I leafed through some of them a little bit before pointlessly reshelving them and pointlessly rotating Cleo around so she’d stop grabbing books, which I worried would fall on her head as she dislodged them. 

Cleo’s current research seems to be in the visual arts, specifically in arts instruction. So I let her curate today’s prompt, which is a kind of collage prompt of visual arts prompts. Cleo did not provide much in the way of explanation or elaboration on how to approach these prompts, so I will offer a few thoughts of my own but mostly leave it to you to play and roll around in what Cleo put together. 


1. From Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

A book about comics-making, about the relationship between words and pictures, about how we perceive the world and how we could perceive the world if we rejected “the flatness,” or the illusory conventions that we have been conditioned to accept. 

“Every language, Hayakawa suggests, ‘leaves work undone for other languages to do.’”

Let this guide idea guide your writing. What undone work is left for your own writing, your own language, to do? Or, what does your writing (your language) leave undone?

2. From 642 Things to Draw (Chronicle Books)

The title of this book pretty much says it all. Every page of this book has a grid of between 1 and maybe 6 white spaces with nouns at the top–nouns you can draw. Above is a list from a random page spread: a chess piece, a short syllable, a window smudge, a half-truth, a doughnut hole, the face of a calculator watch, a volume knob

Include these objects and concepts, or as many as you can, in a piece of writing. 

3. From Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of the art assignment (edited by Paper Monument)

Not all of the assignments in this book–a collection of art assignments from all different teaching artists–offer something to writers, but plenty of them do. I think any writer would do well to take a color walk.