Prompt Jar: The Humans of New York

JV Icon Prompt Jar

I’ve been following Humans of New York (HONY) online for a few years. If you’re not familiar, it’s regular postings of a photograph with short stories and quotes from people in New York city. Sometimes there is a series on a specific topic, like American Veterans or Syrian Americans.  Occasionally, there’s a post about a famous person.

In this day and age, we can find so much online that’s not true. HONY offers glimmers of the opposite – what you see, along with a short synopsis of text, is what you get. Brandon Stanton started HONY in 2010, first as a zealous photography project. The video is on YouTube but we can’t link it here.

As journal writers, we all know that everyone on the planet has stories. Let’s write and reflect on some Humans of New York. Click on the colored text in each prompt and it will take you to a posting to read before you begin your writing.

“I went to community college when I was twenty-one. I just had an epiphany that I . . .”  Motivation for change comes in many different and surprising ways. Write about what motivates you.

“I thought I’d have greater influence over my child’s mood.”   Can you remember a time when a child was unhappy and you couldn’t make them feel better? Or do you remember a time when your parent tried to help you but you wouldn’t let them? How about when you learned specific skills to work through unhappiness on your own?

“I was born in Venezuela. I moved here two years ago. I want to be President of Venezuela to change things and make better the world.”  Isn’t the hope and will of young people inspiring? As a child, what did you think you’d be when you grew up? 

“Last year I started figure modeling for art classes. I’m plus-sized, so I was a little worried about being nude. I was nervous about everyone seeing my stomach, and my thighs, and all my fat. But apparently my curves… What does accepting your body mean?  When do you feel best in your body?

“This isn’t the first time I’ve owned a flower shop. I owned another store twenty years ago, but it went bankrupt. I was devastated….” It’s easy to fall into negative thinking when bad things happen. It takes continued practice to think positively. Write about three valuable things that happened to you (or because of you) this week.  

“I want to be a stand-up comic. The hardest thing is to find material that’s not just funny—but also true. Funny can just be. . . Write about how being creative (in whatever form) helps you.

“I first ran for Congress in 1999 and I got beat.”  Write about a time you got beat at work? How did you handle the loss? Does having meaningful work make career choices easier?

One Response to Prompt Jar: The Humans of New York

  1. Carol Roberts December 21, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    These are wonderful, Kay! I will get on this list of Humans…I had heard about it but never followed up. This is great timing for me as I look forward to leading a class in Life Story Writing.

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