Writing for Inner Peace: 9 Spoken Word Prompts to Express Raw Emotion | Michael Nelder | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Writing for Inner Peace: 9 Spoken Word Prompts to Express Raw Emotion

teacher avatar Michael Nelder, Poet, Author, Speaker

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Prompt 1: Origin Stories


    • 3.

      Prompt 2: Vulnerability


    • 4.

      Prompt 3: Looking Glass Self


    • 5.

      Prompt 4: The Body


    • 6.

      Prompt 5: Strengths


    • 7.

      Prompt 6: Shame


    • 8.

      Prompt 7: Humanity


    • 9.

      Prompt 8: Tribe


    • 10.

      Prompt 9: Boundaries


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


    • 12.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Discover the power of raw emotion as fuel for creative expression!

Grab a notebook, you're invited to spend with poet and spoken-word artist Michael Nelder. Through nine free writes and poetry prompts you’ll gain the confidence to get vulnerable, practice mindfulness, and put your story on paper.

You’re invited to learn how to:

  • Overcome fear of expressing your emotions
  • Explore different vantage points of your story
  • Use foundational tips for writing artistically
  • Develop a greater sense of empathy to combat shame

Additionally, the class includes a downloadable, printable workbook so you can follow along with Michael throughout every lesson! 

Each prompt was written to inspire critical thinking and self-examination. Whether you've never written anything before or you've been writing since you were a kid, your story has prepared you for this course! 

My hope is that after completing this class you would be deeply connected to your personal story as a source of inspiration, confident in utilizing the writing tips to strengthen your voice, and convinced that your raw emotions can be a powerful channel for creative expression. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Michael Nelder

Poet, Author, Speaker


Michael is the son of a preacher, writer, and spoken-word artist. At the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, he served as Impact Speaker using the power of storytelling to bring awareness, inspire action, and raise capital to combat poverty. A love for poetry and prose inspired his TEDx talk on the power of poetry in facilitating spaces for self-discovery and identity development.  He’s been invited to speak, perform, and teach at universities, businesses, churches, and prisons. He currently resides in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles, where he enjoys raising his new pup, Luna. To connect visit michaelnelder.com. 

See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hey everyone, my name is Michael Nelder Henderson III and I'm a writer, poet, and spoken-word artist hailing from Southern California. I created the course The Voice Inside, as a way for people to use poetry to improve their mental health through the power of expressing raw emotion. In the words of Toni Morrison, "It's what you don't write that frequently gives what you do write its power." Whether you've never written anything before or you've been writing since you were a kid, your story has prepared you for this course. This course is broken down into nine sections each one addressing a different topic. Every section contains a free writing exercise, a writing prompt, and a writing tip. I'll also be sharing some of my own story and poetry with you as well. This prompt is about exploring our achievements, our passions, and our strenghts. My hope is that as you watch this course and do the activities, you'll be introduced to the power of your story. I'm excited to take this journey with you. So let's get started! 2. Prompt 1: Origin Stories : Part One: Origin Stories. This prompt is all about examining our beliefs, our origins, and the foundations that make up who we are. For most of us our perceptions were largely formed by our parents and the people who are closest to us when we were younger. We must critically examine our worldview and if the beliefs that we were given were the ones that we want to take into the future. When I was younger my origins began in a Christian conservative household. My dad is a pastor. My brothers and I grew up in church and I even went to a Christian school, by the way, ET was the only PG movie my mom ever let us watch growing up. Fast-forward, I remember being in a Best Western hotel next to LAX for a wedding and watching The Matrix for the first time. And y'all remember that scene with Neo and Morpheus. "You can either take the red pill or the blue pill." And I thought about how for the first time, I thought about my faith, I thought about what I had been taught and if my view was narrow or if there was more out there than what I had been given. 5 minute free write Write! About your earliest childhood memory. On the day before I die, I will collect every butterfly I've ever had in my stomach, And before giving them away to random strangers, I will write lessons learned on their wings like, "the best poets and people are the ones who never learn how to perform." What is poetry? A piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song. And that is usually rhythmical and metaphorical. There's honestly no set definition because it's art. What is Spokenword? Spokenword is poetry that is spoken usually in performance and in a rhythmic manner to communicate an intended message. Prompt: Turn your life into a story and write the introductory page as a poem. Tip: When writing a poem, think about 1, The reason you wrote it, 2, why you're saying it. and 3, what it means to you. 3. Prompt 2: Vulnerability : Part Two: Vulnerability. This prompt is all about assessing our level of vulnerability and authenticity at every stage in life. It's so important because vulnerability pays dividends and really allows us to find common ground with people who might look different, think different, talk different, dress different, and even believe different than us I remember the first time when I learned the difference between vulnerability and authenticity. I was taken a graduate course with a professor named Kevin Mannoia. He said authenticity is telling someone enough about yourself so that you let them know that you're human but vulnerability is giving someone a piece of yourself that they could potentially use to hurt or harm you. Now I want to stop and say that being vulnerable is risky, but the payoff in vulnerability is the connection that you have between yourself and that other person. And so I really want to invite you to choose vulnerability in situations when you have to go deep... 5 Minute Free Write. I am most myself when? I tell my therapist, my biggest fear is hearing myself speak because I'm afraid of my voice not making sense, afraid of filling the kind of messed up I can't explain away. Can explain how I can speak everyone else's language, but can't understand my own tongue, I tell him my words always end up forming crop circles on paper, So good luck trying to figure me out. Prompt, Write about the part of you that no one sees. Tip! When writing a poem remember, use your words as windows! People may never tell you this, but they want to step into your experience, they want to see the world through your words. Give them the opportunity by choosing words that don't just tell people about something, but show people everything. 4. Prompt 3: Looking Glass Self : Part Three: Looking Glass Self. This prompt is all about examining how we see ourselves. For most of us we see ourselves not through our lens, but through how we think other people see us. In psychology, this is called The Looking Glass Self. and it's important that we change our perception from how we think other people see us to understanding how we see ourselves so that we're not limited by our own self-concept. I grew up never thinking I was smart enough. I've always done very average in school. I never was the guy that was getting A's in my class. Even in college, I graduated on academic probation. During college, I did take a liking to poetry and I felt like that was my outlet so I started writing all the time and actually speaking at different places. One event in particular, I remember finishing speaking a piece and someone coming up to me and asking me, do you study theatre? And just kind of being blown away because myself concept and my capability was so limited. and just that one question was basically a counter-narrative to my belief system. 5 Minute Free Write. Everyone talks to themselves, write about what your voices say the most. One day at all settle, Will accept them brown and stop wanting them greens, we'll wear this skin proudly and stop undoing the seams, for once, we'll close our eyes and enjoy the sweet lips of our dreams, we'll stop waiting to be knighted and declare ourselves kings. Grandmama use to always say, "baby," "one day, it'll all settle in your soul." Prompt: Imagine your soul as a still lake, what do you see when you look into the water? Tips for incorporating your theme. Typically, most poems can be distilled down to the one line which encapsulates the theme of what you want your piece to communicate. Every other line and your poem should relate to your poems theme. 5. Prompt 4: The Body: Part Four, The Body. This prompt is all about noticing the experiences that we have with our bodies. In her book, Mating in Captivity, psychologist Esther Perel talks to us about how the body is the original mother tongue. And that's to say in a society that prioritizes spoken word and audible communication over what the body and the feeling is trying to share with us, sometimes things and really important details can be missed. March 2020, I'll never forget sitting on my friend's couch and feeling like all the air had been sucked out of a room as reports of the COVID-19 pandemic we're spreading. I remember not being in control of my body, hearing about all the deaths that were happening, And I remember beginning to shake and it wasn't until I lost control of my body that I realized up until that point, I had taken for granted having control over my body. I come to the conclusion that I was having an anxiety attack. And I feel bad because when I had heard of people who had reported having anxiety attacks and losing control over their body. I gotta admit sometimes I didn't take them as seriously as I should have. 5 Minute Free Write. Write the story of your hands. It's hard for me to rest when everything inside beats so fast, hard for me to accept love, When all I've ever known are heart attacks and heart failures, cardiac arrests you see, I'm not used to being healthy, I just make sure everyone thinks I am, But who am I? I always ask myself this question, Why can't this fearful heart accept you're reckless invitation? Prompt. Write about a time when you didn't trust your body. Writing tip, always write for expression, never for impression. 6. Prompt 5: Strengths: Part Five: Strengths. This prompt is about exploring our achievements, our passions, and our strengths. It's important to know what our strengths are because knowing what we're good at gives us the confidence and clarity to decide what opportunities are good for us and what opportunities aren't good for us. I remember uploading a video of myself speaking to my Linked-In profile. And a really big non-profit reached out to me, Inviting me to come interview for a role that they were creating, which would be to help this organization tell stories. After a really really hard interview process, I was offered the position and that gave me valuable feedback that storytelling and speaking was something that was my strength. Did I mention, the the video that I uploaded was me reciting a poem. Five-minute free write: write a manifesto for joy. His notebook pages aren't afraid of his blood disguised as ink, they accept his, "I don't know if I'll be OKs." like cancer patients and radiation treatment, carry his last words like tombstones and forgotten African Muslims, they protect conversations he could never have with his mother or father. You have to understand, god has always spoken best to him, through poetry. Prompt: write about a thing that comes easier to you but seems to come harder to everyone else. Writing tip, dress and clothe every line. Take special care and attention to how you organize words because they are powerful. Words organized in the right ways can literally change the world. 7. Prompt 6: Shame: Part Six: Shame. This prompt is about exploring the origins of our shame to consider how it might be affecting our lives. Author Brene Browne defines shame as the intense, intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. The truth is that all of us have to deal with shame in some form or another. And only by exposing this shame do we find the healing that were truly seeking for. I remember in March of 2017 getting a call from a girl that I was dating, that she was pregnant. I was at work And I immediately knocked on my bosses door because I felt like I needed to take some days off in order to reset emotionally and to have some much needed conversation. Looking at my face, my boss immediately asked, "Michael was wrong?" and I broke down and told her everything. Instead of judging me for what happened, She just listened to what I had to say and said, "Michael, "Thank you for telling me." This one decision does not define the totality of who you are. It was in that moment that I accepted the first bit of healing for the shame that I felt listening to someone who was able to hear me and not judge, but listen. 5 Minute Free Write. Drag your greatest shame into a room and describe how you kill it. A tree never forgets. My dad would say he has never forgotten being afraid of his father, my grandfather would say he ran away to the Navy at 17 because he was afraid of his father. They will both tell me they suffer from depression. And I'm learning, you can quickly understand a forest by examining its roots. But it doesn't necessarily mean the trees will grow any differently, especially when they've only ever tasted blood from the soil. Prompt: write your deepest fear as a forest and all that was lost inside of it. Writing Tip. Don't hide. Put yourself, your thoughts, ideas, and perspectives, and emotions into your poem. People want to connect with you. 8. Prompt 7: Humanity: Part seven, humanity. This prompt is about using our imagination to share the story of our being. Whether you're religious, agnostic, or atheist, think about the parts of origin connected to your belief system that resonate with you. It's important that we share the story of our origin in order to recognize that other people have different belief systems connected to how we all got here. For me, I like to think about this one scripture in the Bible that talks about the fact that we are God's workmanship. That word for workmanship translated in either the Greek or the Hebrew is poem. I like to believe that god, took that sort of intention in creating us just like a writer would take when constructing his favorite poem. 5 Minute Free Write. Write a letter from the mirror to your face on a bad hair day. It's been a long time since my tongue has scraped to prayer. I can't figure out if I have words to say or is it that I can't feel what I'm saying anymore? Has too much life gotten in this space between my heart and your voice? Everything is so loud. My deepest fear, I'll get to the end, and realize you were right there in front of my face and I couldn't hear you talking. Prompt, write a letter to your ancestors, telling them your truth. Writing tip, tell your own story, it's what sets you apart from everyone else. 9. Prompt 8: Tribe: Part eight, tribe. This prompt is about recognizing the people closest to us that make up our community. As the saying goes, we are the average of the five people who we most closely associated with and so our bank accounts. If we're honest, for a lot of us, our friends often times feel more close to us than family. I'll never forget the day that Nipsey Hussle died. Not just because he was murdered in cold blood or because I really liked his music, but because in college, I remember my best friend roommate at the time, Geoffrey Ornelas introducing me to Nipsey Hussle's The Marathon mixtape in his all black Chevy truck. We would listen to that mixtape so many times. And what that represented was a place and a home, away from home. 5 Minute Free Write Wrie about a mother's or fathers or mentor's words that changed you. My friend Jeff asked me where I saw myself in five years and I said, what if it's less about where I want to be and more about how I need to feel. Then he drew rolling hills on a napkin and told me,"this is how you experience emotions, huh" "your highs are really high but your lows are really low." And I started crying until he flipped the same napkin upside down and said, "what if you got it all wrong," "what if your valleys are really your peaks," "and what if your peaks are really your valleys," or what if it's all just the same, like the neediness of your soul just mirrors god's infinite ability to give. Prompt: Write about the person that makes you feel most like home. Writing Tip Don't be afraid to be deliberate in your poetry. If there's something that you want to say or communicate, fight to get the message out. 10. Prompt 9: Boundaries: Part Nine: Boundaries. This prompt is about exploring boundaries in romantic relationships. Now I think it's important for people to understand their strengths and liabilities when it comes to loving and being loved. I'll never forget my first serious relationship. I came home one day to my then-girlfriend sitting on the couch looking at me cross, and I asked her was wrong. And I glanced at the coffee table and saw my journals sitting there. She told me she had read through my journal and that she was disappointed because I didn't share with her what had been going on. In that moment, I felt my face get hot, beads of sweat form on my back. And I came to the conclusion that she had violated one of my boundaries, where I had crossed off the lines of my territory. She had basically jump over and hadn't asked me. And so I've come to the conclusion that it's important that in any relationships, romantic, platonic, or otherwise, that we're constantly setting boundaries and clarifying where we began and where we end a relationship. Five-minute free, right? Right. Someone directions on how to level. It was Your Love that I remembered. Loneliness made me want to forget the ink smudge on my cardboard heart. Homeless will work for food. I always wonder why no one could read it, but you guessed the world doesn't care what's beneath scan anymore. And everyone's walked out of 711 with a brown paper bag before. But you never try to change me. Just helped me count the changes. And that's when I knew the only corners I'd ever had to face alone will be the ones from your mouth. God knew I couldn't take any more signs because we're only getting older. The world's getting more complicated. We make war just to make love. And we don't even know what we're fighting for. Dysfunctional. Dad always says most people are together based solely on their dysfunctions. And maybe it's true. I'm broken your tone. But this park bench is a lot less empty when I'm sitting on it with you. Prompt startup home with the most beautiful smile I ever saw. Writing to remember, your poem begins before your pen or pencil ever touches the page. 11. Final Thoughts : Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. I hope you found this course helpful, liberating, and healing. I'd love for you to stay connected with me. You can visit my website at michaelnelder.com and join my mailing list or find me on Instagram @michaelnelder! If you like this course, please let me know or share with a friend. We all have a story to tell. Sometimes we just need a little help unlocking the voice inside. 12. Update: Hey everyone, My name is Michael Notre Henderson the third. And I'm a writer, poet, and spoken word artist hailing from southern California. And the words of Toni Morrison, it's what you don't write that frequently gives what you do, right? Its power. Whether you've never written anything before or you've been writing since you were a kid. Your story has prepared you for this course. This course is broken down into nine sections, each one addressing a different topic. Every section contains a free writing exercise, a writing prompt, and a writing chin. I'll also be sharing some of my own story and poetry with you as well. This prompt is about exploring Archie meets our passions in Australia. My hope is that as you watch this course and do the activities, you'll be introduced to the power of your story. I'm excited to take this journey with you. So let's get started.