writing prompts

Each month at the Listen To Your Skin erotic reader series + open mic, I will offer a new writing prompt based on the next month’s theme. Each previous month’s flyer appears below, in order of most recent first.

If you’re into generative, body-based writing prompts, sign up for one of my monthly generative workshops, wherein we usually complete 4-6 separate prompts. I often give an “experiential” option, something you can do, with/for your body, before/during/after you write. The prompts in the workshops (and also, the retreats) will be a little more involved than the general thematic prompts associated with the Listen To Your Skin open-mic series.

February 2022 theme: “These Rooms Don’t Know Our Skin”

This month’s event will present featurettes pulled from two groups: our very own Listen To Your Skin regular attendees and members of G. Kagan Trenchard’s writing group for trauma workers, These Rooms Don’t Know Our Names. We’ll begin with a brief writing exercise based on the prompts used in G.’s group.

January 2022 theme: “are we having sex yet”

When does sex begin? Is sex strictly bodies on bodies in bodies, under or over or behind? Is it like a river, flowing from a trickle in the mind, before other flows form? Before you’ve even met your lovers? Does it happen in the space between you as you breathe without touching? Is it conceived in a kiss, or at the moment of consent? Even if it’s not sexting, is great conversation sometimes sexual? And if so, why do we even draw distinctions between romantic and platonic sex? And when we’re not having sex, it feels like we may never get to again. Our feature, Brendan Constantine, wants to know, y’all: ARE WE HAVING SEX YET?

November 2021 theme: “sex & ecstasy”

This month, we’ll explore le sensuel numineux, the tantric channel, embodied rapture. There’s sex, and there’s ecstatic sex. Sex that transcends, transforms, transports, enlightens and cleanses. The body is our temple, the meeting place between the self and the divine. Come join us for the last literary sex church of 2021, as we contemplate the sexual as sanctuary.

October 2021 theme: “sex & horror”

This month, we’ll share sexy stories best told in the dark. Come shiver and be scared sexy with us. Our features will take us to the edge of our seat, our skin, and beyond into both ethereal and visceral explorations of Eros and Thanatos. Frightful delights await those of us willing to peer past the veil between this and the Other Place, imagination’s abyss, the fertile muck we come from and return to. What if the Boogeyman were Casanova? What if you were caught by the Witch w/ the Enchanted Wood? Who would you conjure for lover, back from the demon dead? Would you say their name three times in the mirror, no matter the cost? What secret hunger lies in wait under your bed only to creep into your dreams and devour you in your sleep? Dress up as your favorite evil or sexy dead person and win a prize for best costume!

September’s theme: “sex & disability”

It’s often assumed that those with chronic pain or disability don’t have sex, or even want to. Ableist assumptions can increase feelings of isolation and shame. While it’s true that sex can be impacted negatively by chronic issues–lessened sensation or mobility, fatigue, and a greater chance of victimization–this is not the only truth. Cripping narratives of sexuality offers a way to improve self-image and re-envision sexual practice. We can imagine a broader palate for sex, one that includes less heteronormative acts or genital focus. And this could benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.

August’s theme: “electric sex”

We’re amped for August’s theme: Electric Sex with the incredible Leah Noble Davidson. We’ll explore sexual electricity: that undeniable, cell-deep ZING of the perfect first kiss and the charge lovers conduct and pass between. The sweet shock of trying something new. Electro stim! Supercharged orgasms! Sex toys!

July’s theme: “original sin”

July’s theme is original sin, or religion’s effect on sexuality, and is a partnership with Take The Fruit, Flood The Desert, a new anthology, which seeks submissions of creative work related to religious trauma & spiritual abuse. What messages did the church give you about your relationship to your body, sex, relationships, and boundaries? Tell us about your experiences with purity culture and church-related sexual abuse. How have you healed and reclaimed your identity or pleasure after being told earthly delights come from sin? As always, open-mic readings welcome on any topic related to sexuality, but if you’ve experienced spiritual abuse, consider writing on theme, so your work can be considered for publication in the anthology!

June’s theme: “fairy-tale sex.”

10-line erotic fairy tale! Compose your own original, erotic flash fairy tale! Give this line-by-line writing exercise a try! Don’t think about it too hard, just write what comes as fast as you can. You can edit later!

LINE 1: Describe a detail of the magical setting (are you/is your character in a dale, a castle, a forest, etc.?)

LINE 2: Describe something about that setting (e.g., weather, temperature, the quality of the light, temperament of the people, etc.) that’s being controlled by a magical being or force (inside or outside you/your characters)

LINE 3: Have another character (or multiple characters) enter the scene; describe at least two concrete or specific sense details about them (only one can be sight-related)

LINE 4: Have someone do something with their or another character’s body

LINE 5: Line of dialogue (someone says something)

LINE 6: Someone else does something with their or another character’s body

LINE 7: Description of physical reaction and the emotion tied to it (use a metaphor, if you like)

LINE 8: Someone realizes something they desire/don’t desire

LINE 9: Same detail as in line 2 about the setting (weather, temperature, the quality of the light, temperament of the people), but different/evolved

LINE 10: Line of dialogue

May’s theme: “transaction.”

This month’s theme is “transaction.” They say you gotta give a little to get a little. What does it mean to give and get in erotic exchange? What, exactly, gets passed between lovers? Time is spent, maybe money. Spit is swapped, sometimes stories. We change hands, trade validation or flesh or hope toward a possible future. Where is the line between exploitation and agency? What remains after exchange?

April’s theme: “golden repair.”

This month’s theme is “golden repair,” referring to the ancient Japanese art of repairing pottery. Our features will offer unflinching expressions of the brutal, the broken, and also the beautiful, piecing together perspective with skilled poetic technique. Sexual vulnerability can be pleasurable and empowering, but also perilous. How do we make ourselves whole again after abuse, loss, or transition? How do we embrace our history, the scars and marks it’s made, as part of our overall design?

March’s theme: “kink.”

This month’s theme is “kink.” Do you/your characters have unconventional fantasies or practices? What pushes those buttons? Bondage, leather, group sex, role play, food, feet? What’s under the kink: intimacy, shame work, native curiosity?

February’s theme: “sexual superheroes.”

This month’s theme is “sexual superheroes.” Here we cum to save the day! With great passion comes great responsibility. Who’s your intimate champion? Your superhuman crush? What’s your kryptonite in bed? Have you ever been rescued, or rescued yourself, in a sensual way?

January’s theme: “self-sex as a practice.”

Writing is a practice. So is sex. January’s theme is “self-sex as a practice.” Has Covid changed the way you masturbate? How has your experience of arousal been affected by the pandemic?

Explore memories/fantasies you have of self-pleasure, disappointing or divine. Maybe you lack the drive toward self-touch? Write about that. Or write from the point of view of one of your body parts demanding more from you.