I cannot tell you how to write the next great novel. This blog will not be a step by step instruction manual to writing. It will only be a sporadic sampling of the things that help me in my writing. Forgive the irregularity in my posts. Bipolar disorder does have its way with me sometimes. I become paralyzed with self-doubt and cannot write. That’s not the point of this particular post though; so let’s talk about writing prompts and how they can help us write.
It’s no secret that writers use writing prompts to aid them in their craft. I have books, websites and apps that I utilize for writing prompts. I even use images I find during internet searches as visual inspiration. Who says that a writing prompt has to be made up of words anyway? It seems so simple — a few words, or a picture. You might ask, “How can it help in my writing?” Let me tell you.
First, it simply makes us think. If I were to give you the writing prompt “Something seemed different” and said to form a story (or a sketch) from it, believe me, you would have to stretch your creative muscles to come up with something. I used that exact prompt and wrote Metamorphosis — A Kiss from the Sidhe, posted in Dark Wood Scrolls. The writing prompt is wonderful for helping us to brainstorm new and inventive ideas.
Second, it helps with writer’s block. Can’t think of anything to write? Stuck in that crucial scene in your latest WIP? Find a writing prompt. Sometimes we just need to get our mind off the fact that we can’t think of anything to write, or that we don’t know where to go in the next scene (or, at least, we don’t know how to get there). We can’t stop writing. That just stops all progress. A writing prompt is a great little tool to get us over the hump. We might even be surprised to discover that it has helped us to find exactly what we needed.
Lastly, the writing prompt is a fun way to get in that much needed, sometimes dreaded, writing practice. Every artist needs their practice to perfect their craft. Musicians sing or play scales and whatever pieces they are working on daily. They don’t do this because it’s fun, believe me, I was a music major in college. We practice because it makes us better. Writing is no exception to this rule. We must write, write, write to become truly skilled.
For many years, I avoided the writing prompt. I didn’t know how I was supposed to come up with a story from just a few words. What if I did it wrong? Don’t let it intimidate you. There is no wrong. No two people will come up with the same story. Sometimes your story comes out and includes nothing to do with the prompt. The words have made you think of something else. It says “turtle” and you come up with a beautiful story about a stormy sea. That’s the magic of it. It’s just a tool to make you think. As long as you get those thoughts on paper, you’re doing fine.