A Writing Prompt- only 4 steps.

1. List some possibilities:  List the tables in your house/tables where you’ve dined/work tables/holiday tables. Choose the top three that appeal because they were joyous, or tension-ridden, or just stick in your mind.

2. Pick one to write about. Write for half hour. Step away from the writing. Take a break. 5, 10 ,15 minutes. Go back and read. Revise or write more.

3. Expansion Possibilities: Who was at the table, your relationship to them. Where did people sit at the table-at the head? Next to someone? Same place every time? Why? Who talks? Who listens? Topics? Topics avoided? Why? What was the atmosphere? Feeling? How would you/will you change at the next table?

4. What will you do with this piece? Share it? Print it out and frame it with a photo of the table? Send it to someone? Tuck it away for another time?

Free Writing from My Table List

  • Eastside Writing Room – We have different tables as we rotate hostessing. The feelings of creativity, dedication and caring are present at each.

  • Book Launch- A room full of writing friends, neighbors, family to “welcome” a new book. Happy, joyous, grateful.  Lots of food and fun.


  • Teachers Room -Morning coffee held the hum of busyness. Lunch was teachers talking, bustling energy. Wednesday faculty meetings at 3:15 called for more coffee, munching the remaining birthday cupcakes or cookies from a 2nd or 3rd grader’s offering. Various supplies piled in the corner as silent witnesses. This small room held the aroma of old coffee and hard-boiled eggs from lunch. Teachers were creatures of habit, usually sitting in the same place. It was crowded but I always felt a sense of community.
  • Tables Tables Tables- Celebrity, Computers, Dessert, Presentation

  • Work Table – Any surface with four legs and a flat top where you can spread out your “stuff.”
  • Bedside Table Keep a note pad and pencil on your  bedside table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 A. M. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  Ideas at 3:00 AM – yes. Million dollar ideas — not yet.
  • Separate Tables – The peanut table at a school where allergic kids sat to be separated and safe from other food. Segregation for a “sanitary health” reason it may have been, but segregation nonetheless, which carried the subtle but harsh labeling it a much less desirable place until Henry came along, brought his own peanut-free lunch  and changed the “rules.” “I wanted to sit with my friend.”
  • Negotiating Tables – During my teaching career the tables where we met for hours and hours exuded an “us v. them” atmosphere with some room for compromise and occasional openings for pure agreement. It was stressful and yet provided a valuable space for learning about people. 
  • Puzzle Tables – Usually a card table with cereal bowls and cookie trays doubling as containers for categories like “the blues” which could be for the sky until you realize it’s also the blue of a lake.

A lot of ideas and feedback from folks about puzzles. Next post- Puzzling About Puzzles

A 1000 piecer




Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a mic.