Writing prompts inspire magic. A beautiful photograph, a story starter or a single word could be just what your imagination needs to get words dancing.
Prompts are also an antidote to the blank page. If you sit down to write feeling uninspired, they could help you get started.
Writing prompts can also help if you’re working on a long project and find yourself getting bored, impatient or disheartened with it. Those feelings can creep in when you and your project have become tired of seeing each other. What you need is variety. Taking time out to dance with writing prompts won’t make you disloyal to your project and can enable you to return to it later with renewed perspective, with your creativity recharged.
Not only can writing prompts be fun, they can help you sharpen your skills.
They may even lead to a piece of flash fiction, a short story or a novel. They can be used to inspire poetry, screenplays and more too.
Find your dance shoes
Writing prompts are your dance shoes.
First you need to find a pair fitting for your mood today. They can come in the form of images, story starters or themes, anything that sparks an idea.
They can be found in many places and you can also make your own:
- Pick an object in your home and write about it.
- Flick through a magazine, choose an image of a person, imagine them as a character, visualise their life, their story.
- Open a book, pick a page at random, close your eyes and point to the page. Build a story around the word your finger lands on.
Notice how you feel when you look at a prompt. Are you experiencing a spark? A warm glow? That means there’s a story inside of you, waiting to be written.
Be careful not to spend too long browsing for prompts though. It can become a form of procrastination. If you’re tempted to do this, tell yourself you’ll look at the first three prompts you come across and will pick the best.
There’s no pressure when you’re working with a writing prompt. So, relax and have fun. Maybe the piece will become something important, may be it won’t. It doesn’t matter. Right now, take the pressure off, pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, take a few breaths then pick up your pen.
Use writing prompts as an opportunity to warm up your imagination. Look at your chosen prompt with every sense, considering all the pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and dialogue that pop into your mind. Write them down in your favourite notebook.
Really stretch. Keep going until no more ideas come to you. Pick the one that inspires and intrigues you the most. Prop it up in front of you.
Dance on the page
Now you’ve picked your idea, it’s time to write. Begin writing 100 words and see where it leads or set a timer for five to 15 minutes and allow space to continue writing afterwards if inspiration keeps flowing.
If you enjoyed writing as a child, remember those days when you wrote for fun and recapture that in your writing now. Be free. Dance with those words.
Polish your steps
Just writing a piece in this way is great exercise for your imagination and is an achievement in itself. Sometimes you’ll write something that’s okay and you’ll just want to leave it at that. Other times, you’ll realise you have produced something magic.
Why not polish it up?
Like a dancer preparing for a performance, you could get your words ready for the stage. Maybe they’ll be perfect for a competition. Maybe you’ll perform them for an open mic. Maybe you’ll build up a collection of words inspired by prompts and bind them in a book.
Whether a writing prompt becomes a fleeting moment of creation or the start of something grand, open yourself to it and let your words pirouette on the page.