Monday, January 9, 2012

Do You Need Some Prompting?

How many times have you sat down to write and found that your mind just isn't spinning correctly?  It is dead.  You can't think of anything to say and writer's block is threatening to take hold of you and choke the inner writer to  a gory, final literary death.

(Okay yes, maybe a little over dramatic there.  But we all know how utterly horrible that feeling is!)

Maybe you need a prompt.
Put aside the book you are madly writing, take a deep breath, and let your muses flow as you follow a prompt, nudge, sprint, mental throw-up, whatever you want to call it.  Whether is is a sentence prompt, a photo inspiration, a five minute quick write of blabbering... Sometimes what you need more than working on that book is letting your mind relax and remember that: It is creative, and it does love to create.

One book I have found that is full of prompting gems is The Writer's Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction.  It is a little book, jam-packed full of various prompts that get your mind spinning.  Varying between single prompt lines, dialogue, perspective choices, and pick-your-own-path type options, this book is sure to help most any writer looking for a kick to get those juices flowing once again.

Back before I started keeping this blog on a regular schedule, I had another blog that I tinkered with.  Someday I may even resurrect it.  I want to.  I love that blog.  (Hmm...)

In it I mostly posted one of two things: Writing prompts, and writing tips.  Most of my prompts are from The Writer's Book of Matches.  I have to say: What a great experience those writing frenzies were.  If you want to check out the few I posted, click here.

Along with great books full of tips and prompts, you can find online challenges for those days that you need a nudge.

My fellow writer and book lover Ruthie has done just that.  Over on her blog Live Love Laugh Write!, every Saturday she posts a writing nudge for the week.  Her challenge: Write.  Then post your blog link to her linky list, and check out each other's nudges for the week.

It is an awesome challenge, and I plan to start taking part once I get my life back in some sort of working order.  I say you should try it too.  It doesn't have to be long.  It doesn't have to be the most amazing piece of literary gold ever created.  It just needs to be written.  Take a moment to check out her nudges, follow her, and join in the mad writing fun.

Here are my few tips, that I have at this moment in time, for writing from prompts:

  • Treat it like a quick write.  Remember those back in school?  When the teacher would set the clock for 5 minutes, then tell you to keep writing until the timer went?  Do that.  Don't stop, waste time, check your email, ponder the existence of whales...  Just write, until that short piece is finished.  Or close to it.

  • Let the Muse take control.  Prompts sometimes can be hard to figure out.  You might find yourself thinking "Oh, I can't write anything from this prompt."  Well, you will never know if you don't try.  All it is... is a prompt.  Even if the resulting story ends up having nothing to do with the original push, it is still a story, and is still writing.  That is the goal here!

  • Keep it short.  Unless a certain prompt inspires a complete book out of your awesome mind, keep it short.  The story doesn't need to be pages long to be great.  Even a simple 500 word thought could be just the mind dump your creativity needed.

  • Take a risk.  These prompts, challenges, and nudges are just that.  Don't stick to the norm.  If you always write high sci-fi, but a certain nudge gives you an idea for a Young Adult Contempory exploration, then do it.  Who knows, you may find a strength or idea you never knew you had before.

  • Have fun.  Honestly.  There may be many reasons that you write.  Money, peer pressure, pleasing family, fame, an agent banging on your door.  But when it all boils down to it, you are writing because you love to do it.  If you are taking a moment to follow a simple prompt, then do it for the sheer joy of it.  Let it lead, and see where it takes you.

I challenge all of you to try a prompt of some sort this next week.  I know I will.  It has been too long since I last did one.  Just like you take a vacation to get away from life and work, let a prompt give you that short literary break from your masterpiece you are currently hammering out.  I dare you.

And then of course... feel free to share!

Happy Writing!


David P. King said...

I better try a prompt right now. This brain of mine can certainly use a little less spinning. Thanks for the awesomely motivational post. :)

Trisha said...

Usually if I can't find the inspiration, I'll move onto something else and forget about whatever was stumping me. Prompts are cool too though (as I found out last year. hehe)

Live, Love, Laugh, Write! said...

Thank you for the bloggy love :D *hugs* You rock!


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