How to use writing prompts

How to use writing prompts

If you have been writing any time at all, there is a chance you have faced the dreaded writer’s block. It has caused many a writer to slam down their pens and toss the paper out by the bucket full. Do not despair. There are ways to get around the sneaky block. One of those ways is to use a nifty thing called writing prompt. Writing prompts are suggested to spark creativity. They are not just useful for blocks, and they can help you focus on your craft. Think of the writing prompt as an appetizer to the main course. Many people start their days with a prompt of some sort.

The use of popular quotations can be inspirational for some writers. There are many books being sold today that are full of quotes. Daily calendars are very popular and sometimes have a quote for every day of the week. You may choose to use something like that to start the day.

Sit down at your desk with paper and pen, or at your computer keyboard, and read the quote you have picked for that day. Think for a minute and re-read the quote. You may even want to say it aloud. The next step is to set a timer for 15 minutes and start writing. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or any of the usual writer’s stops. Let the words flow from your mind onto the paper via your ink pen or keyboard. Don’t stop to analyze the thoughts coming to you, just write!

What you are doing here is flexing your writing muscle. You are lighting a creative fire with the spark of the writing prompt. Allow the words to flow without correction, and after your time is up you can take a closer look at the details. You may be surprised to discover the beginnings of your next article sitting right in front of you. In fact, you may look down and see the beginnings of that novel you have wanted to write. Then again, you may look down and see drivel, but the point is you now have the creative flow going.

Many writers have found the use of visual prompts helpful in sparking their creativity. A writer’s ability to see an object and come up with stories and ideas makes this activity fun and worthwhile. Only a writer can look at a simple wooden bowl and create a web of intrigue and mystery. Only a writer can explain the use of the bowl in a plot to murder a State official. All that from looking at a simple wooden bowl?

Using images, objects, and photos for writing prompts can open up new worlds for a writer to explore. Sit down with an old photo and give yourself a few minutes to take it all in. Look at the background. What do you see there? An old barn with hay to the right, maybe some tools propped up against the fence. Notice the sky.

Is it raining, sunny, or night? If there are people in the photo do they look like they are dressed for work or play, cold or warm weather? It starts to happen right at the moment you begin to look deeper into the photo, an idea or story begins to form. Write down any thoughts that run through your mind. It doesn’t have to be neat and organized because this is an exercise to free your creativity.

Later, when the ideas are scribbled out you can organize them into something that resembles a story or article. Your tale, from that photo, may be one of an old married couple fighting to save their home from repossession. Perhaps your story will tell about the day a category-five tornado raced through the town and destroyed this barn. The possibilities are endless.

Sounds like a wonderful way to expand the way a writer views the world, but where does one find these prompts? As a starting point, your home is a treasure chest full of wonderful things to explore. Separate yourself from any sentimental feelings about that coffee mug sitting on your desk and explore what it could mean to another person. Maybe the coffee cup is alive and would like to talk about the owner’s life. Instead of a fly on the wall, there would be a cap on the desk. Every object in your home is a possible story.

Go outside and walk around. It’s a good idea to take a small notebook and pencil with you on these journeys. Make notes about the weather, the trees, the objects sitting in your yard, or the yard of your neighbors. The old house a block away could be the setting for a best selling novel. Walk by it and make notes about the structure, objects there, any history you can gather, and then pull it all together with your imagination.

Take a trip to an antique shop. Again, take along your notebook and pencil. Walk along the aisles and touch the objects of old. Record any sensations, ideas, and images you get while strolling through the shop. If something speaks to you it might be well worth the money to purchase it for a more thorough exam at home.

Next time you go to the mall sit down on one of the benches and observe the people as they pass by. Wendi Cali relates, Going to the mall is an incredible way to find a diversity of appearance, communication styles, and many other character-building influences. Watch the people, take notes, then when at home in your creative space, you can combine facts from your notes to create a character of your own.

You have at your fingertips a valuable resource for finding visual prompts. Pictures, posters, photos, and illustrations fill the web with color and character. Do a search on an interesting topic from any of the popular search engines. If fantasy art inspires you, do a search on fantasy art.

There should be more than enough images scattered about the web to keep you inspired and writing. No matter which writing prompt style you enjoy, the object is to get your creative juices flowing. Have fun in the journey, as well as in the writing.

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