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Day 11: 12 Days of Blogmas

Myths and Expectations of Prompts

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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!

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Day 10: 12 Days of Blogmas

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In light of all of this time talking and sharing prompts, I think it would be a great time to start a monthly prompt open submission.

Now, let me preface with I am not an editor or publisher and this is just for fun and maybe a little publicity for your own writing. But here’s the gist of the idea.

I give you a prompt at the end of the previous month (about a week before the month of January in this case) and you have three-four weeks to work on a prompt and write a shiny new thing.

Then, the last week of the month (01/24-01/30) you can send your lovely shiny new things to me and I will publish them on my blog.

There’s no real pressure, but there’s a deadline if you want it, to help spur the creative flow, and a chance to share your work, which is always a good thing. Heck, I might even do it with you!

The reason these prompts are so important is because they’re fundamentally designed to help you where you need to grow in your writing. Do you need help learning your character motivation or past? Use this prompt: Write a scene describing your character’s bedroom/personal space. How is it decorated? What sentimental items do they have saved from their childhood?

Or how about needing help with a current work in progress where you just can’t seem to get anything written down that you like?

imagesUse a prompt and apply it to the world/characters of your work in progress. That way you can stay in the mindset of your work in progress, but focus on a different aspect of the writing to help inspire you back to your main story: Write a scene where your main character goes on an all-expenses paid vacation. Where do they go? Why? What do you they do when there? Do they need sunscreen because they burn easily?

Prompts are undeniably an underrated tool in a writer’s tool box. Up there with copious amounts of reading and forums/facebook groups for writer-based discussions. It’s practice and a chance to build some new content. Just give it a try. What harm could it do?

Here are the three selections for this month, which all come from Awesome Writing Prompts. Again starting this week you have until the week of 01/24 when I will accept any length of a story and publish it for everyone to enjoy your new shiny!

1.Use this line of dialogue somewhere in your story: “Well, at least I don’t have to worry about feeding and caring for a unicorn anymore.”

2.Use these three things in a story: nail polish, a VHS tape, a book of spells.

3.Write a story about snow that isn’t snow.

You can send your stories to Amyoung0606@gmail.com along with a short write-up about you as a writer.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

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Day 8: 12 Days of Blogmas

Merry Blogmas! First, check out this glorious Christmas photo. Isn’t it amazing?

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Third Rule of Prompts:

Don’t always go stag. Trying taking a friend date to prompt.

This is a good rule for school dances, family events, and when writing a prompt. One of the first goals I had in this 12 Days of Blogmas series was to share the appeal and the justification for my love of prompts and hopefully inspire others to start using them as a tool to improve their writing.

It was once again with Janice that the aha moment reached me about the secret treasures of prompts. It was, I believe, the first or second workshop when we began the prompts. We were given 20 minutes to write as much as possible and then we would volunteer to share with the class.

For me, writing sprints are enjoyable and difficult. I enjoy the pressure and the force of being under the clock, but my brain doesn’t always catch up and I end up getting hung up on a word or phrase, or just completely blank out. However, the prompts help me to get past that. In several of the workshop prompts I managed to get whole pages written and while this was exciting enough for me, I was also thrilled at the idea of seeing the quality and personality of my new peers in the group.

And when it came time to share our newly minted pieces, I was struck by how diverse the ideas were. This is one of the biggest reasons to do prompts with others. You can see and enjoy the magic of the human brain and how each person brings something new and wonderful to the table.

Rion, who I have mentioned in many previous posts, easily brought me the most joy and surprise when doing the prompt sprints. They are so well-read and filled to the brim with creativity that it seems otherworldly to know they can develop 5 to 10 PAGES in that short 20 minute period.

Now this is drastically different, by comparison to my one to two paragraphs (maximum 1 PAGE) that I averaged per sprint. And while I may put a little too much time into each word, Rion’s brain is lightening fast and they are able to deliver magnificent quality work for a first draft. I mean, I couldn’t find anything even remotely bad about it.

But back to the point, it was even more thrilling to see how differently our stories had developed from a similar beginning. By the end of the semester I was convinced that I needed to start a group where my friends/writers could join we’d do a prompt a month and share it with one another. For privacy’s sake we made the group on Goodreads where we could post as much as we wanted and our unedited work wouldn’t be consumed by readers other than ourselves. It was somewhat necessary at the time because we were just getting started.

It ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made social media-wise. I loved the interaction, the togetherness built from the exercises, even though it lasted only three short months.

I challenge you minions to take a prompt from the interwebs (or my last post) and ask a friend to do one together (cowriting a story can be an interesting experiment) or do a small competition with one another to see who can get to a certain word count by a certain time using a prompt.

In other words, prompt together. Write together. Enjoy this festive time to write something new.

Happy Reading and writing!

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