Myths and Expectations of Prompts
I will disclose that these myths and expectations are not held by the community as a whole, but this is to explain all sides of using prompts as a writing tool and the doubts you may have. As we all know there are benefits and disadvantages to everything. So, here are the misconceptions about prompts and their value to a writer.
1. A prompt is just a writing exercise, it can’t actually help you if you have writer’s block.
Nope. While the act of using pre-set prompts is a writing tool used both in the classroom and at home, it doesn’t negate the power of writing something without any deadlines or pressure. This is essentially what a prompt exercise provides. A guided (meaning not staring at a blank screen), guilt-free writing session solely meant to help your creativity back on the rails, so that you can write stories again. Does every prompt result in a great new story? No. But on the off chance that it does, it can be a welcomed surprise to add to your portfolio.
2. A prompt is great practice for amateur writers who have nothing to work on, but I don’t have time if I’m working on my current novel, story, etc.
Also, not entirely true. There is a time for focus and a time for distraction. When you’re focused too much on a piece, you can end up losing your momentum, your mojo, your creativity. A prompt is a productive way to relax from your work in progress and sometimes necessary. It can remind you what it feels like to be excited about a new idea (which tends to wane in the middle of a novel length piece). Again, there’s no pressure involved in a prompt. It’s just writing a new idea to give you new inspiration and creativity.
It’s that simple. If you’ve been writing a piece for long time, you deserve, no, you need a break. And if a night out on the town, reading a book on your TBR list, or watching some TV is TOO much of a break (as it can be if you are on a deadline or trying to meet a certain goal), a prompt is a fun way to keep your mind going without thinking TOO much about the pressure.
3. Prompts are great to get good practice with writing, but all I’ll end up with are a bunch of useless scenes from stories that don’t make sense.
Bzzzzt! That is an incorrect answer. I have, in my short obsession with prompts, written three short stories (albeit still under revisions), a prologue for my novel (three separate prompts into three separate scenes), and and entire chapter of a future novel (currently on ice). How is that for successful. Could there be more success from the prompts I’ve tried? Absolutely, but just like any normal writer idea, some are not meant to come to fruition. But any prompt can give a new story life or bring new energy to one you’ve been working on.
I successfully managed to write five prompts specifically in the world of Dollhouse Daughter. Only three made the cut, but unlike anything my peers and mentor had seen, I managed to apply five completely different ideas to one world, one set of characters, one story. And that can mean the difference between writer’s block and writing a new scene you didn’t know you needed. All thanks to a writing exercise you found online.
Now, I know most of you are indifferent on the topic of prompts, not many of you are raging against the promptmachine for being unfair and useless. But their importance is far undervalued in terms of allowing you to flourish as a writer, especially in times of blockage, drought, and overall difficulty while writing.
And sometimes they’re just fun!
So, check out my prompt submission for the month of January, and give it a shot.
Also, look out for my last, if not grossly belated, Day 12 of Blogmas where I combine all of the Blogmas prompts into one story. And it’s a full story, too. Mostly. I think. Let me know what you think!
Happy Reading and Writing!