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Blog > November Writing Prompt: something you've learned recently

The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

November’s writing prompt is inspired by my talent for getting distracted, and a cabbage. You might not think those two things are related, but I’ll explain in a minute…

In November, write about something you’ve learned recently.

You see, just behind my monitor there’s a map of the world that takes over the whole wall. Not Kerguelen cabbage... Peeking behind the top left corner of the screen, a group of funny-shaped French islands emerges in the south Indian Ocean: the Kerguelen Islands. One day, I got curious and decided to Google them…and voilà, this is how I learned that they’re also called the “Desolation islands” and are one of the most remote places on earth. They’re also home to the Kerguelen cabbage, an edible plant that is endemic to the islands, and rich in vitamin C. According to some reports, while the raw leaves taste like cress, the boiled leaves resemble stale cabbage and the roots are similar to horseradish… I bet you didn’t know that! 😋

So what is something interesting that you’ve recently discovered? It could be a funny fact, a new skill, or even something you’ve learned through a postcard you’ve received. Share it with others on the postcards you send out this month!

One year ago today we started these monthly writing prompts, to try to inspire people to write more on their postcards. So… did it work? Did you end up using the prompts throughout the month, or not really? Please leave a comment with your experience below, so that we can evaluate how useful this initiative has been, or how it can be improved.



58 comments so far

Knerq, United States of America
The writing prompts you've come up with are interesting. Something new I learned recently is that humans cannot catch pink eye from cats.

bandcrab, United States of America
I love these prompts! I just learned today about Agamographs, a type of lenticular art prints.

betslets, United States of America
Writing prompts really help me to focus and I've enjoyed having the monthly ideas. Somehow I seldom seem to have a lack of words when I'm sending postcards (or communicating at fact, I tend to go on and on). Keep the prompts coming, tho.
One thing I've learned through Postcrossing is that the World really seems smaller and smaller all the many of us have some amazing things in common we would never know, otherwise. For example, some of us have visited the same places, perhaps even stepping over each other without realizing it.

makeuplover, United States of America
I love the prompts. They are great for postcards and penfriends. :)

gagema, Germany
I always have a look which writing prompt you (or another postcrosser) have suggested for the coming month. Sometimes the prompts are helpful, sometimes I forget about them because I have different items to talk about. But please, go on suggesting!

anxious51, United States of America
I learned in each country that the whole country is different not just in scenery but also in cultures.

meggiew98, United Kingdom
I love the writing prompts! They're super helpful for when I need some inspiration about what to write on my postcards :)

ned44440, Ireland
The prompts are great - keep them coming!!
The most surprising thing, I think, that I have learned through Postcrossing is a lot more about my own country - just by reading information printed on the back of postcards or googling a place I never heard about. Of course, I've learnt a lot about other places too and made some great friends.
I've also learned that a kind word can work wonders. I once responded to a Postcrosser who mentioned low feelings an official postcard I received and I got a reply sometime later that what I said set that person thinking differently about the problem and coming to a happy solution. Positivity is a great thing and I think that is exactly what this site offers.
May the good work continue.

ezredax, United States of America
I learned recently that only 36 countries have a law that states you are a citizen if you are born there. What a revelation! I am 72 years old and always thought if you were born in a country you were a citizen of that country.

FABIO, Brazil
I really like the sketches and I've been inspired by a lot of scanned photos that turn them into my postcards and tell them their origin, it keeps my inspiration alive every day and every moment.
I wish you all a happy November with great posting to everyone.

booboo_babies, United States of America
I like the prompt suggestions, although I do not always use them. The prompts are great for times when the person I'm sending a card to has not said what he or she would like to see written on the card. Many Postcrossers are kind enough to provide suggestions, but many do not.

Jacque53, United States of America
I usually can fill up the whole postcard without any outside prompts, but I have used your suggestions on please keep them coming! I usually write about the image on the postcard or I write about a specific prompt that the Postcrosser wants me to write about. I usually have so much to say that I run out of space on the postcard to say it all, lol!

I do have a suggestion though......would it be possible each month to come up with several prompts, so we have a few more options to chose from each month? That might not be possible, but I think that would help me to use your prompts more often :)

What have I learned through Postcrossing? I love art, so I have been introduced to many different artists from around the world! For example, just recently, a Finnish Postcrosser introduced me to the artwork of Albert Edelfelt, a wonderful Finnish artist!

Mosshumla, Sweden
Hihihi, I know about Kerguelen cabbage, thanks to a wonderful postcard I received some time ago:

I usually don't use the writing prompt as I most often know already what to write when choosing the postcard.
Nevertheless I'm looking forward to the new writing prompt each month. You never know when it might come handy.

Cardexplorer, United States of America
I enjoy reading the prompts. I usually write about something the recipient asked about on their profile. But sometimes it is limited so I use the prompt. Either way it is interesting and I appreciate having it to refer to or learn from. Please keep them coming. Thanks!

meiadeleite, Portugal
@Mosshumla omg, there's a postcard featuring the Kerguelen cabbages!! I'm going to change the image on this post right away. Thank you so much for sharing this — you just made my day! 😍

I always focus on what is indicated in the profile of the postcrosser I am writing. but there are also such cases when the profile is clean and then you have to invent something to describe the place where I live, what is depicted on the card, a clever or funny phrase and even a Japanese haiku :)

Volpe97, Italy
I joined postcrossing in november 2017 and, to be honest, I have never followed any of the writing prompts, though I like them. But I actually have learnt something. Postcrossing taught me a lot more about Europe and the world, enlarging my culture with everyday life in the corners of the world. When they say, you never stop learning, yeah that's true!
I've also learnt to slow down (therefore I'll also send less postcards but cure them more in the details), I've learnt to enjoy things in the moment they happen, for it is better to breathe them in the present day rather than in a memory. That time with the right people is priceless, but we only have one family. I have also learnt not to wait until the last minute to do something. In Italian we say "chi ha tempo non aspetti tempo" that could be translated more or less like "may those who have time not wait for time to pass"
And I have learnt that I'll never be able to control every aspect of my life. All things that I already knew, but maybe not thoroughly, who knows.

Have a nice day everybody.

Darcey1, South Africa
I have been learning about the world! Postcrossing inspired me!

Krystine, China
I recently bought a book called A Brief History of Humankind.Though I'm not reading it at present because I agreed to lend it to a classmate before I finished it,I still have already learned something different from what I used to be learning every day and that also made me think a lot.
The author explained in the book that lots of things we're used to thinking there really was actually only existed in our minds.Such as a country,it does not actually exist in the reality world but in our imagination.We do not call a president or a government building a country,a country is like a kind of religion,some people are smart enough to make up stories and then we just believe in these stories.And so long as we believe in it,we are able to cooperate as a team in the case of more than a billion people.It's magic that people just believe naturally in something that doesn't exist as material.
I also had some questions as I read: Humans definitely need rules to cooperate steadily,but why would some people make rules that completely against the human nature that has been in existence in the past million of years?And how did having no some reasonable human desire just become a sort of virtue?

IzzyB, Switzerland
The writing prompts are a very good help. I do not use them for every card I send, but sometimes and I also use past months ideas. Please keep inspiring us!

Very well, I will try to do it this month with the postcards I send.

BeckyS, United States of America
In September, I celebrated my 60th birthday. I have decided that I have put off learning to play a musical instrument long enough. I have recently started taking Ukelele lesson. So far, I can play "Happy Birthday To You" and part of "Aloha Oe." I'm a hit at parties. ❀ヅ❤♫

Riinka, Finland
I'm currently attending a course aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs so I think I've learnt a lot of new things already! One of the things is that numbers aren't as scary as I thought. I'm very much at home in the world of words, ideas and expressions but numbers have always somewhat intimidated me. Or, to put it bluntly, I've excelled at learning languages but struggled with math. It's good for anyone's self-esteem to notice that you can actually manage something well even if you grew up with some limiting beliefs concerning your talents and abilities :)

Re the writing prompts: I do like them but haven't used them much this far. However this isn't to say they'd be boring, I'm just a tad...self-centered when it comes to writing cards ;) So definitely keep on posting them, they make good conversation topics when you just cannot come up with anything worth writing :)

alison41, South Africa
I think the prompts are a good idea. I haven't used them too often, because I focus on info supplied by the person's personal page. I see many others do the same thing.
Something I've learnt recently? Well, I was preparing a post for my blog about the TV series "Madam Secretary" and I mentioned the ex-Secretary of the USA, Madeline Albright, and discovered to my surprise she was born in Czechoslovakia!
Visit my blog
I blog about anything & everything! in the process I pick up all sorts of info, factoids and useless data, but I enjoy the process anyway.

vlada_123, Russia
I love these prompts ! Sometimes, I can't think of what to write on the next card...But suddenly, come to the aid of prompts! Oh, it's so inspiring, it fills me with new thoughts. If the profile of a person does not say what he wants, what he likes to do, etc., prompts are very helpful! But I do not always use them, because if the profile of a person already has the necessary information, I know what to write :)
Something that I was surprised and interested in? M-m-m... Most recently, I learned that shrews need all the time to maintain a body temperature of exactly thirty-nine degrees, otherwise they will die. So all they do all day is eat.
This information surprised me, because on the contrary I thought that shrews do not eat much...

Facella, Austria
I really like the prompts. I don't use them for every card but they're particularly nice for those blank profiles. I also ask people to use the monthly writing prompts as inspiration, if they don't know what to talk about and several people have fulfilled my wish. Some prompts are more intersting than others, but I do really like the general idea. Please keep it up!

As for the latest thing I've learned... If you want to get a brand, it's better to have it put on your outer thigh. Getting it on the inside can be risky because it's close to an artery. And you would rub it on your other thigh all the time, which would in turn mess with the healing. The stuff you learn when you do research for a story you plan to write... XD

Wonderwoman12, Taiwan
@Darcey1 , I’m same as you .
I’ve been learning about this world 🌍🌎
Postcrossing had let me find pen pals so I can learn many countries culture and talking to other country’s children , it’s really fun !

Gerda-RD, Netherlands
I've got a card from Taiwan from the Chikan Tower. On the internet I read that this is a piece of the Dutch history. It was a Dutch outpost on Formosa and build in 1653 during the colonization,
I google a lot when I get a card from a village or town and I copy often a text "on" the card at the Postcrossing site.

chelmi, Germany
This sounds like a very good writing prompt. I will write some postcards with things I learned before!

IreneVincent, United States of America
I'm a published novelist. I was Secretary of West Virginia Writers for two years and wrote for two newspapers. What you are calling writing prompts is what I call Thought Starters. Either way, they work well for writers who sometimes have Writers Block.

heidegurke, Germany
I have lately learned, that squirrels eat more bird eggs than crows or magpies. I was shocked!

GayeDoreen, United States of America
The prompts are great because too often I draw the address of a person that has NOTHING listed on their profile and I am at a total loss as to what to send them.

AWEF, United States of America
I really appreciate the prompts! So handy when I’m not sure what to write. Plus it’s “official”, so it doesn’t look like I just started burbling on randomly. 🤭😀 I’ve found that I learn a lot from the stamps on a postcard—science, history, culture, etc.

Flippie, Canada
Sometimes I use the prompts, they can be helpful. I just started a 8 weeks course to learn meditation, it feels OK.

la_luna_pusa, Philippines
I have seldom used the prompts, but I like reading about them anyways. I feel they're very useful in case I get writer's block or I find myself writing the same content and getting bored with what I am writing. Keep up the prompts. I like them. Thanks.

FatimaIgnacio, Brazil
I try to be in tune with the profile of the person to whom I will send the postcard. I also feel good energy in the many cards I receive and it is as if it had been written by an old friend. I feel like hugging them.

shc, Indonesia
Strangers are kind. And if you get some guts, life will be more challenging.
This is what I got from watching youtube :)

Chenoah, Germany
I read an usually like the promts. But I have only a few times come to actually use them. Usually my recipients ask for specific other things, from the go to locations in my city to "What should I do to get my dream job". Somehow the card is always too tiny to talk about all that stuff. 😂

siobhan, Germany
I have never used one of these prompts and I have never received a postcard from someone who used it (for my card, anyway). Even when I'm stuck for something to write, I wouldn't know how to use these prompts. It's just not the way I write a postcard.

KAS, Norway
I have never used one of these prompts and I have never received a postcard from someone who used it (that I know of). I don't need prompts.

fisherman, Ireland
I love the maxicard and the 'something new' I learned today

CheckinJustine, Netherlands
I like the idea. Please keep going with the prompts. In case you don't have any idea what to write about and the addressee doesn't have any requests it can really help.

fisherman, Ireland
Interestingly we have one person on these islands but doesn't aeem to be very active :

SylviaM, United States of America
I like the writing prompts and have used them several times when the Postcrosser to whom I am writing has a blank profile or only a wish list of postcards that he or she would like to receive.

I do like the suggestion above about having more than one prompt per month. Maybe two or three topics would be good.

ColorfulCourtney, Germany
I was at first a little bit skeptical of the idea, but I really like how it has been implemented. I have my own "writing prompts" on my profile, and I do not think I have received a card that used the Postcrossing ones. This is a positive for me, because I was a little bit afraid that people would start writing about things I personally have not so much interest in hearing about just because they were the "topic of the month," but this has not been the case.

I have used the prompts twice that I know of (maybe I have also subconciously used them when I was "stuck" with half a card still left to fill) when faced with a blank profile. This month's is the best, I think, because you can always learn something new about the postcard you are sending, write that, and it does not seem at all forced! (Plus you get to learn something...)

Personally, I like that you have only one suggestion per month because one can always look back to previous months if they need more ideas, and the list keeps growing!

Knitchic54, Australia
Yes love that idea! I am never normally stuck for something to write on my postcards but this prompt will add a new dimension!

NancyXU, China
haha, I like the prompts, it let me know the meaning of "prompts".

HM, Netherlands
During hunting bargains and postcards in charity- secondhandshops in the countryside I found two red cabbages, failing on the road.
First time I have cooked red cabbage. It's not my favourite but nice to cook something new. The lady next door I gave the 2nd.

HM, Netherlands
I am a remote islands lover. And like to read about them and about the discovery of them. About Kerguelen years ago 1994? a book by Jean-Paul Kauffmann was issued in Dutch translation, titled Kerguelen. I guess in other languages there are more books available.

Sometimes I receive postcards with some writing about the monthly prompt. I wish this writingprompt blog can continue.

ACEA13, United States of America
I don't often use the prompts - because I often know what I want to write about! - I have so much to write! - but I *do* love having the option of the prompts, and I enjoy discovering the new prompt each month. And, on occasion, I'll make use of them - different ideas are always fun!
Keep up the good work!

elikoa, Singapore
Ehm to be honest, I never use the prompts. I cannot understand how it is possible to not know what to write, there is so little space on a postcard that as soon as I've described it the space is over! I am used to writing as small as I can and on occasion I realised I didn't have that much to say to some profiles, but something else always comes up.

I think someone used the prompts on sending to me once and I spent several minutes thinking "why on earth is this person telling me what she has for breakfast", before thinking it might have been a prompt. It was just too out of the blue... "Hi I'm so-and-so from This Place. For breakfast I have..." :P

reisegern, Germany
The idea of the writing prompts is really nice and I love to read the blogposts about them - sometimes it makes me start thinking.
So far I have never used one of these prompts, as I always had other ideas what to write. But every now and then I read through the prompts (the recent one and also older ones) and find inspiration - even if I end up writing something totally different.
Unfortunately I have never received a postcard from someone who used the prompts, that would have been nice. Maybe I'll change my profile a bit soon and encourage people to use the prompts.
Please keep up with the prompts, if you didn't get tired of them :)

ratztamara, Hungary
I really like these prompts and use them quite often, so please, keep them coming :)

Sfander, Canada
I have never had to use the writing prompts. As my father once said to me..."don't you ever get tired of talking?"...and that's just how I write my cards...Just like I was talking to the recipient. I have learned that I generally can't get all that I want to say onto the card, but I generally can squeeze the most important part of my thoughts onto it. Most seem quite happy with my words.

I must admit to feeling disappointed when I get a 'Happy Postcrossing' greeting and that's it type of card, but I'm really hoping they read this blog and maybe get some good ideas from the monthly prompts in the future.

Franzl, Switzerland
Why not ? Can help ! I've just received a card from a German girl who learned me what was "washi tape". I didn't know anything about it, looks funny ! I'm know starting with scrapbook, fulled of washi tape ! Great for winter time job ! Vielen Dank liebe Julia !

Bookhuntress, United States of America
The prompts are helpful when someone has not given any ideas for what to send or write about. Even if I don't use them all the time they are still inspirational. Thanks for keeping them coming!

For those who want to look at more than one prompt, you can click on the tag "writing prompts" and see suggestions for the past months. It is at the bottom of the post for the monthly prompt.

vara81, Germany
What a great and interesting prompt! I learned something about a former industrial area I visited 3 days ago not far from the place I live. It is kind of a lost place today but it is the worlds deepest potash mine. A stunning 1525 meters deep but I never heard about it before.

WordNerd, United States of America
If I think to use the prompt, I do it in the reply area of the card registration. There just isn't enough room on a card.

(I learned that the poop of Wombats comes out in cubes. Who knew?)

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