Using Writing Prompts

Prompt: Are writing prompts a useful exercise, or do you find them to be too limiting and/or hokey?

My Response:

I find writing prompts to be incredibly useful, especially when no ideas are coming and you feel writer’s block coming on. Often it seems like we are boring people to ourselves and we have nothing original or interesting to say. But everyone has something to say. And sometimes, a random writing prompt can bring forth or spark a memory that longs to be written down and explored.

We all have tons of memories floating around that are worth noting, remembering and digging deeper into. I like the fact that you can use writing prompts over and over again. For example, the writing prompts In Writing Down the Bones, like “I remember..” and “I don’t remember,” etc. I also find the same thing in Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book of Days, which has prompts for each day of the year that can be used again and again. It’s an endless source of inspiration.

I don’t feel that prompts are at all limiting, because you can always change and modify them to your liking. I think they are useful for sparking new imagery, new phrasing, maybe a poem or a new character/dialogue for a story.

Sometimes all you need is one line or a scenario or a word to set your imagination going, and your pen flying across the page. I’ve always loved writing prompts and will always use them.

I’ve even kept a notebook specifically for collecting prompts and another notebook specifically for my responses to prompts. I think any writer can turn any prompt into something they can use, and produce good writing from it, or at least  fresh writing.

Prompts solve my problem when I know I have the urge to write but no ideas are coming, or nothing interesting happened to me recently that I can write about. It satisfies the urge and gets me back to self-expression, which is really fun. Without prompts, I probably wouldn’t get around to writing as often, and that would be painful for me. I think prompts are fun because they are unpredictable, you never really know where they will lead once you get started.


September 7, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing.

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