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How Worry Dolls Can Help as a Writing Prompt

The little dolls pictured here are Guatemalan Worry Dolls. Guatamalan children tell a worry to each doll before going to sleep at night, then place them under their pillow. In the morning the dolls will have carried their worries away. I bought these when in Sydney at the end of last year and hadn't thought much more about them, until today, when I chose to use them as a writing prompt.

When I looked at the dolls I wondered how they could help me with my writing. I could tell each doll one of my concerns, such as writers block, grammar worries, reaching minimum word limits, plot development and such. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could magically transport each writing worry away as it arises, leaving room in my brain for more creative endeavours.

Writing dolls, so small and delicate they suggest patience on behalf of their maker, remind me that patience must surely be a virtue of anyone wanting to be a writer. Writing dolls, so colourful they serve as a reminder to add colour to every piece of writing, not necessarily literally, but keeping in mind to make the words vibrant. Writing dolls, so small they suggest size doesn't matter, that all ideas can be utilised and expanded upon, limited by only one's imagination.

I think I'll now place these writing dolls, inside their yellow box, on my desk. Next time I need help with my writing, maybe I shall talk to them before going to sleep at night. Who knows what writing may result when i return to my desk refreshed next day.

Image Credit » Personal photo of Val Mills

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bestwriter wrote on February 18, 2015, 11:46 PM

Writing dolls or worry dolls ultimately it is us that we work towards our goals. These could be just imaginary props. As you yourself mentioned in one of your posts just writing whatever comes to mind could remove writing blocks. Are you trying that?

valmnz wrote on February 18, 2015, 11:50 PM

Of course, I rarely have writers block. This piece actually resulted from a piece of ten minute free writing I did with a writing buddy this morning. I wrote what came to mind.

RonElFran wrote on February 19, 2015, 12:21 AM

Worry dolls - what an interesting idea. If some enterprising marketer started making a push to sell them here in the U.S., they'd have a ready made market.

valmnz wrote on February 19, 2015, 12:22 AM

I'm sure they'd be available at the sort of stores that sell ethnic goods. Do you have Trade Aid shops there?

cheri wrote on February 19, 2015, 2:26 AM

Those things are quite small. Is that their actual size?

valmnz wrote on February 19, 2015, 2:30 AM

They're only about one cm in length

arthurchappell wrote on February 19, 2015, 2:31 AM

what a lovely idea and a great excuse to collect dolls too

valmnz wrote on February 19, 2015, 2:42 AM

I surprised myself with the writing that arose from using the tiny dolls as a prompt.

louisechackett wrote on February 19, 2015, 8:55 AM

I used to have some of these many years ago. Not sure where they went!

maxeen wrote on February 19, 2015, 9:38 AM

Whatever helps through that time has to be good.

MelissaE wrote on February 19, 2015, 12:07 PM

My mother has a box of these that she got when we lived in the Panama Canal Zone (now known as the Republic of Panama). Thank you for reminding me. I like the entire idea of children sharing their worries with a little doll.

CoralLevang wrote on February 19, 2015, 12:54 PM

I have purchased Guatemalan worry dolls at World Market/Cost Plus here in the United States. If there isn't a local store, they have an online store and here is the link to worry dolls:

valmnz wrote on February 19, 2015, 9:36 PM

I like prompts that help me not with content, but with my style of writing, making positive suggestions. I could see the use of colour here as being a useful inclusion in what I'm currently writing.

scheng1 wrote on February 19, 2015, 10:18 PM

I wonder who starts this trend of using worry dolls. They must have made a lot of money selling the dolls.

valmnz wrote on February 19, 2015, 10:20 PM

It's an old Guatalalean tradition, so I don't think money had anything to do with it originally. The shop I bought it from certainly wouldn't have been making much money from selling them. But I liked it as a souvenir.

Last Edited: February 19, 2015, 10:20 PM