Writing Prompts For Today: When Tragedy Strikes

PIN writing-prompts-for-today-when-tragedy-striked

Writing prompts may seem like an odd topic for a week like this has been, but you’ll see my point soon. Is it just me, or has this been a really long week? A string of long weeks in a row?

It started in May for me with a life-and-death health crisis in my family. Then we piled on Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria. Before we could even fully assess the damage and ongoing crises created by the hurricanes, we were torn apart by the mass shooting in Las Vegas this week.

And let’s not forget about how ripped up and raw we are as a nation over politics and all the trappings that go with that. I’ve lived quite a long time; my world has never looked like this before. So, I have one question for you today…

Writing Prompts to Help Ease Your Stress

How do you feel? Seriously, take a moment to quietly sit before this question and search your soul for a truthful answer.

If you’re like a lot of folks, it might be difficult to answer right away. When tragic and horrific events pile on top of each other like they have of late, do you find yourself blurring out a little bit?

I recognize, in my own life, that lately I struggled to stay focused on my work and connected with my family and friends. The shooting incident in Las Vegas was “the last straw” somehow. The temptation presented itself to just sit down and quit for awhile.

Now, granted, I also knew that would be a really bad choice, so I dealt with it positively rather than go down the rabbit hole of grief and overwhelm. But still, I found it helpful to stop and answer that same question for myself: How do you feel?

In true character for me, and in full writer mentality, my vehicle for escape from the overwhelming catastrophes and suffering was two-fold.

First, I prayed. I cried and prayed, but I pulled in very close to the Lord–who is NOT the author of any of the devastation we have experienced of late. Second, I wrote…and wrote…and wrote.

Start the Flow of Healing

In times of crisis, what do you do to get through it all? One of the best ways to help yourself and others is to talk. Communication is so helpful and healing when done well.

The important thing is to recognize your feelings and express them in some way. I am not one to go on a negative rant. There are times when I do go off on something a bit–yes, I admit it. But for the most part, I find great help by talking with loved ones, finding solace and comfort in those relationships.

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” 
― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

As a writer, you have additional options. The truth is, you don’t have to consider yourself a writer to take advantage of writing prompts. That’s good news! Anybody can do it!

Writing Prompts: 7 Questions to Explore

Writing prompts are ideal little nudges to inch you forward from any stuck place. Here’s a list of prompts that will help you get through some of the drama and trauma you may be living with lately:

  • How do I feel about (name the situation to explore)?
  • What positive can I choose to focus on rather than meditating on this tragic event?
  • Instead of staying overwhelmed, what can I do to make a positive contribution?
  • How is this event touching and influencing my life?
  • What is my greatest strength that helps me overcome, and what does that look like today?
  • Describe one factor in this tragic event(s) that has impacted me the most. How does that make me  feel?
  • What is the main takeaway from this tragedy that moves you to live on with more determination and creativity than ever before?

The human spirit is an amazing being! You see us rise above the everyday triviality when the crisis comes. It was apparent in the hundreds of volunteers with boats who rescued countless people and pets from Harvey’s flood waters.

We saw it again when Irma ravaged her way into Florida and engulf nearly the whole state and beyond. Again, in Hurricane Maria, people faced unprecedented dangers to help each other–not just governing agencies, but everyday people like you and me.

And this week again, in Las Vegas, the stories are only beginning to be told of the courage, valor, and selfless love and protection. Strangers helping strangers, pulled together by the bonds of a common enemy and a root of common love and caring.

Such displays stir my heart to tears. My soul cries as it drops into the valley of the shadow of death during each event. And it soars once again in hearing each tale of selfless sacrifice and caring.

And somehow, in spite of all the tragedy, devastation, loss, and grief, life does go on. But it leaves us ravaged and exhausted, confused and traumatized. We are changed by the experience.

There Are Answers

I don’t know if you are a Christian, but I am myself. My greatest comfort is the relationship I have with the Lord. In times like these, He is my refuge and my strong tower of comfort and peace.

And I run to Him, and then I go to my computer or a journal or just a scratch pad, and I write. Free-writing is so suited to times like this.

I encourage you to choose one of the writing prompts above and journal yourself through it to the end. You know when you’re finished. Practice free-writing. Write fast and furious without interruptions for 30 minutes. Just let it flow up and out of your heart and soul. Express it all.

When you’re finished with the writing prompt, save it or throw it away. Sometimes there is great benefit in holding onto things I write. At other times, the best thing I can do with it is rip it up and drop it into the trash. You’ll know what to do with yours.

“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” — Mark Twain

The Outcome

Earlier in the summer I and my family managed to make it through the health crisis. Life improved; death lost again. It left me with a fresh realization of how durable yet fragile life really is. My focus came into sharper laser point on what really matters and what doesn’t.

Other personal challenges arose in my own life as the summer progressed. And even though, at the time, each one felt insurmountable at the time, I have come through each one unscathed. Maybe I’m even a little wiser from it!

I continue to pray for all those devastated by the hurricanes. The process of rebuilding is difficult at best. At worst, it feels and looks like it will never happen. “Too little too late” whispers in hearts and minds. But relief does come. Rebuilding does take place. Once again, life goes on, although sometimes very much differently than it did before.

And now my heart continues to lean out toward those now rocked so aggressively by the horror that took place just a few days ago in Las Vegas. It is still so fresh on all our minds (not that the hurricanes are old news yet).

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” –Erma Bombeck

Writing Prompts Are Your Friends!

So, dear friend, take this list of prompts and do something good with them. Use them  yourself. If you have friends or family members that are open to it, share the prompts with them. Do them together. Throw a writing party–a “let’s get through this together” session. Snacks with a stack of paper and pens is a great door opener to help yourself and others work through the stresses.

Writing isn’t always just about creating a blog or a book or some other project. Sometimes writing becomes a life saver you throw out to yourself and others to rescue the heart and soul of folks struggling with overwhelming emotions.

I hope you find this post helpful.

Thank you & God Bless!



Hi I'am Jane Rucker

Writing is my passion. It consumes me. What a blessing it is to work from my home studio tucked away in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri! I enjoy sharing my life, my faith, and the hidden treasures all around me in these beautiful hills.


Leave Your Comments