Writing Prompts, Helpful or Not?

I’m of two minds when it comes to writing prompts. Some can be helpful and others aren’t. I got a book of daily prompts. It consisted of a list of words that you were supposed to pick three of and write, well anything. That did nothing for me. It made me freeze up and anything I managed to write was awful. I hear that type works for a lot of people and if you’re one of those people, that’s awesome. Continue doing what you’re doing. For me, it makes me feel boxed in and pressured. I have the type of personality that rebels against being told what to do, even when it’s ME doing the bossing around. Occasionally the list of words worked for me. Mostly it was nonsense that came out. I’ll give some examples of these lists.

  • money, great, sort, now, flower
  • torch, pop, swallow, beige, snow
  • kind, wonderful, chicken, yogurt, after

If you’re anything like me you see those lists and think: huh? That doesn’t do much for me. Added that almost everything I write is fantasy, I get nothing. Not one thing in that list interests me. If seeing that gives you the best idea on the planet then you need to buy one of those books that gives you 365 days worth of lists and have at it. Let me know what you came up with.

One kind of prompt can do wonders for me. I saw one recently that said something like – You are given a key that can unlock only one lock, any lock, what would you do with it? I can make a story out of that! Another said – Your character finds something small lying on the ground along their path, what is it and what does it do? I can and did use that to make a cool subplot in a series I’ve been working on. I see that type of prompt as almost a what-if question and I love what-ifs for plotting, characters, anything!

Another prompt I don’t care for is the ‘describe me’ type. Examples: 1. Describe your hometown to someone who’s never been there. 2. Write the rules to your favorite game. That’s boring!

A better one would be: Pretend you’re a rock, tree, building, etc, and tell the story of a momentous event from its point of view. I haven’t tried this one but it’s on my list because that could be interesting.

So some work for me and some don’t Do writing prompts work for you? Please tell me most of you actually get writer’s block too. If prompts don’t work, what does it for you?

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3 comments

  1. I’m 100% with you on the boring vs. not boring prompts! I’ve been using writing prompts, the exciting kind (I can’t stand the lists), as a way to jump-start my creativity and share my writing with strangers online, and it’s working beautifully, for me. Great post. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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