Another Fiction File for you fiction writers today. The copywriter in me has been left out in the cold lately, at least as far as the blog goes. So I’ll have to do something about that.
Enough dawdling. Let’s get to it, for today.
I was inspired over the past day and a half by a writing prompt at the Long Ridge Writers Group forum. It took me a while to get something together, and submit it. Which got me wondering…
Why do I even care?
It’s just a prompt, right? One or two sentences to get your creative juices kick-started. Posted by someone who had a great idea.
But could it be more than that?
Here’s three reasons I’ve come up with why writing prompts are worth it, even though they may seem like a distraction.
They focus you. Since each prompt is typically only one sentence in length, it’s short enough to get things going. That means you can spend 500 or 1,000 words on it and be done. And then you’re fired up to tackle your other projects for that day, or research, or come-what-may on your writer’s schedule.
Or if you’re feeling really super, polish that first prompt attempt into a full piece, and send it to an online magazine, or post it to your blog.
They’re gold for the times when the ideas run dry. We’d all like to say we don’t have those days when trying to type one sentence feels like torture. But there are times that life, health, or other issues crop up to put the hurt on the ol’ writerly motivation. A writing prompt could be just the thing to squash that drab feeling, and spur you to put some words on screen or paper.
A done-for-you starting point. This is a continuation of the last point, really. Since someone else did the work of getting started (one of the most difficult parts of writing itself), you don’t have to worry about it. Pick up where they left off, and run, run, run–er, that’s write, write, write.
Bonus: Infinite variation. Who says you can’t write one (or four) different variations on the same prompt? Different characters, backstory, settings, overall plots, what-have-ya. They all work well. Make Suzie a Martian in one story, and a firefighting shape-shifter the next. Anything goes, which is what makes fiction so neat. The other half of that sword is sticking to the lore/background you’ve created, but that’s another post or two entirely.
And sometimes, by the way, writers NEED a distraction that doesn’t involve a restaurant, TV, a movie, and so on (even though those are great sometimes).
There are times I’ve found myself spending more time “off” than time “on” if I’m doing a “take-a-break” activity I really enjoy.
I’ve been toying with the idea ever since I started Fiction and Copy Decoded of doing a writing prompt every Friday. Maybe it’s finally time to get going on that.
How about you? Do you like to use writing prompts to give your brain exercise (or take a break from current projects)? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.
And remember: if you need inspiration, a prompt could be just the thing for you–it’s just like taking somebody’s inspiration right out of their brain–without all the messy aftermath.
Until next time,