Spill Your Bag: Writing Wednesdays

Spill Your Bag for Writing Wednesdays

One of the prompts that I give to my students in my Creative Writing course is  to “spill their bag.” I frame it more eloquently (this is academia, after all), but the gist of the prompt is this this:

Rummage through your backpack (or purse, or briefcase, or pocket). What object do you find there that you would be hard-pressed to live without? Why does that object matter? Think beyond the obvious.

For example, you might have a hard time going long without your driver’s license, but beyond the surface-level illegality of driving without it, what else does that piece of plastic say about you? And what doesn’t it say about you? And why do those things matter?

Or, why have you been carrying around that ticket stub for five years? Why was that concert so meaningful and what did it birth in you that keeps you clinging to the two inches of paper?

Or, why don’t you ever go anywhere without gum?

Or, what is behind that door that those keys open?

You get the idea. We live in a material world, and although there is so much more to existence than the material stuff we surround ourselves with, the stuff matters because of how it impacts our lives. Taking some time to reflect on how we relate to the things we carry on our bodies can tell us a lot–and open some interesting avenues for writing further.

And in the spirit of #WritingWednesdays, here is my response:

Truvia. A sugar substitute. It seems ridiculous, really, that I would choose this as something I’d be hard-pressed to live without. It’s not that I couldn’t live without it, it’s just that I have an affection for the plant-based sweetener that far outweighs its surface-level packaging.

I’m easily tethered to caffeine; it’s an unfortunate but normal reality for me. When I was pregnant with Ella, I weaned myself down to being caffeine-free. But since her birth, I have had a cup of coffee or tea nearly every morning. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t jump back on the caffeine bandwagon, but after weeks and weeks of interrupted sleep, I reached for the coffee again. I’m back to a cup every morning. And although it’s just one cup, it’s nonnegotiable. Because I’m the woman who gets a headache–a pounding, all-encompassing, near-migraine level headache–if I forget to have that cup of coffee in the morning. I don’t drink coffee black, so Truvia helps me drink that black liquid that staves off the pain.

Headaches have long been the norm for me, and not just because of caffeine–or the lack of it. I have had horrible headaches for years. I’ve taken pills, I’ve taken supplements, I’ve even been to the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, where doctors do nothing all day but treat people with headaches and migraine. Some seasons have been worse than others, but after having Ella, my headaches came back with such power and consistency that I was in intense pain most days of the week. It was a good week when I had headaches only 3-4 days a week instead of 6-7. I received physical therapy, went to chiropractic care, took medication, made diet changes–you name it, I’ve probably tried it. And although I still have occasional headaches, you know one of the biggest things that has helped me?


Well, not Truvia itself–it’s no wonderdrug–but replacing my other sweetener with Truvia has cut out a lot of headaches for me. (Too much sugar isn’t good for me either, thus the use of sweetener.) The sweetener I had been putting in my coffee had been ricocheting  in my brain and causing horrible headaches. Truvia doesn’t. And so, every morning now, I turn on the coffee maker, pull out one of those little green and white packets, and drink up.

I would also like to take my wallet and my checkbook with me from my purse, but if I only had to take one thing, the coffee has to come first–can I get an amen?

*This sounds like a commercial. It’s not. I wish Truvia would give me free stuff, but they haven’t. They don’t even know I exist.

As a writing aside: The teacher in me wishes to note that I didn’t start out thinking that I would write a bit about my journey with headaches when I considered what I had in my purse. But when you take an unexpected path in writing, follow it!

So, your turn! Spill your bag and share–what would you be hard-pressed to live without? Link up below and share your thoughts! You are also welcome to post any link that relates to writing from your blog, as well. 

If you post on Facebook or Instagram, make sure to use  #WritingWednesdays so that we can find one another. And if you have questions, ideas, or prompts that you would like to share for future #WritingWednesdays, please leave a comment (above at the top of the post). Invite your writing friends to join the conversation!


  1. What an interesting post! I think my wife would enjoy reading this as well. I will definitely send her this way! Thank you

  2. I like this post! very interesting!!!


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    Spill Your Bag: Writing Wednesdays

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