For my school, we’ve reached the final four weeks of online classes before summer break. It has been a strange time to be a teacher, student, parent, or anything, but yet, we persist.

Some of my classes have translated to online curriculum better than others. Recently, as I was reflecting how to wrap up my Creative Writing class, I felt a bit at a loss. Without the face to face interaction and sharing, without being able to pass around stacks of books, without annotating by hand with the document camera, without being able to view and discuss a film clip at the same time or provide art supplies for a visual project, my normal unit plans simply were not going to translate. More than that, they are not what my students really need right now.

As I’ve watched many of my students struggle to adapt, feel crushed under the loss of their senior year milestones, and manage their responsibilities at home, I’ve been wondering what the right answer is. How can I push them forward and teach them things about writing while also being empathetic to the fact that the situation we are in is not, in any way, normal?

I decided to return to my roots. I’m talkin’ WAY BACK roots–the reason I’m an English teacher, the reason I’ve written obsessively all my life, the reason why I am such a believer in art–writing heals. Writing provides the chance to play and transport yourself, and your reader, wherever you like. Writing is a place where you can hear your own voice. This was what I decided was ultimately most important for my students to take away.

So I came up with this.

The Escape Writing prompts I’ve developed are a set of nine open-ended imaginative writing prompts. Students can use each one to create nine different individual flash fiction pieces, or the prompts can be used as an interlocking set, to create one longer piece of fiction when all assembled together. Each prompt is designed to achieve a sense of being elsewhere–wherever our minds wish to take us. They can be used to seek comfort, excitement, wonder, and surprise.

For anyone who would like to use them in your teaching or your own writing, I’m providing them here. Please let me know if they are a help to you.

Stay safe, stay well, keep imagining.