Part One: 5 Ways to Approach a Writing Prompt
This post is the first part of a series. Part Two discusses 3 Ways to Use Your Prompt Response and Part Three discusses What to Expect from Sharing Your Work. These are all dynamic posts and subject to periodic updates. Additionally, this post may contain affiliate links.
Please feel free to share any additional writing tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for new prompts every Thursday!
Writing can be incredibly therapeutic. You can realize a lot about yourself by what emerges in your work. Sometimes it takes writing it all down and then walking away for a while before you can come back and make sense of it, but overall writing can provide an escape, a distraction, and/or a sense of complete control when everything else seems chaotic.
Often times I find myself wanting to write as a way to escape into a world I have created, so I can control what happens next. Sometimes it’s enough to be reassured you still have some semblance of control over that piece of your life, even if it’s just for an hour a day.
Some people do sudoku, others do crosswords. I started writing because I thought it would be a fun way to pass the time.
I always enjoyed my English classes, so I opted to take a Creative Writing course in high school. It was one of the most loosely scheduled classes I’ve ever had—we were given a prompt for the day and pretty much left to our own devices from there—and I was hooked. I chose it as my major in college, earned a BA in Creative Writing and turned what was originally my hobby into my passion.
It wasn’t until I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2014 that I really knew I wanted to pursue a writing career. Though there are likely many years between now and when my writing pays the bills, I’m determined to have writing be an essential part of my life. Given my preference for going through life with my head in the clouds, writing provides me with a way to feel productive while completely enveloped in a fictional universe.
Not everyone will feel this strongly. As this section of the series suggests, some people may simply see writing as a quick escape, a way to kill time.
And that’s perfectly fine.
There’s nothing that demands writing be your chosen career path or spiral into the terrible beauty that is a writer’s life. Not everything that’s written is required to be published much less any good, so if writing a quick response to a prompt during your lunch break is what it takes to unwind, by all means, grab that napkin and have at it.
Personally, I would argue that money should not be used as a writer’s primary motivator. Secondary, tertiary sure, but write because you want to, not as get-rich-quick scheme. Some authors write because it seems like such an easy way to make a quick buck, a few might even strike it rich, but writing is something that is usually only done well when done from the heart, not the wallet.
That said, money can be a fantastic motivator. For some people, setting financial goals works wonders for getting down to work and turning ideas into profitable pieces. If you’re driven by dollar signs, by all means set yourself a reasonable figure for a goal and get started!
One of the best uses for prompts is to open a door that was previously hidden behind a forest or covered with drywall.
This is my primary intention whenever I go in search of a prompt. When I’ve reached that dreaded state of “writer’s block” and can’t think of what to do next, prompts serve as a new direction from an otherwise dead end.
I am a master at starting new projects, so following a prompt can get a little dicey when I start down a particularly alluring rabbit hole, but if you attack a prompt in a desperate attempt to break the wall, try not to let it also veer you off course. Start writing whatever the prompt inspires you to write, but then return to the project that requires your attention once you feel that pressure ebb.
Not everyone is a writer. Not everyone wants to be a writer.
So, why should prompts only inspire words?
Maybe your artistic outlet of choice is painting or photography or graphic design. Every form of art can use prompts as inspiration. Yes, the prompts on my site and many others may be intended to inspire stories, but even these can trigger some other form of creativity. A prompt can just as easily lend itself to a photograph as a novel.
It all comes down to what you want to try.
I have seen stunning artwork that was inspired by ideas, thoughts, and words. Not feeling particularly verbose? Look at a prompt and see if you can create something else with it. Maybe even changing the appearance of the prompt itself will be the nudge you need.
Have some writing tips & tricks you’d like to share or see discussed in future posts? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles: