Using Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are very useful tools to inspire creativity and get one in the habit of writing regularly. A writing prompt is a short writing exercise to get your creative juices flowing. A writing prompt can be a single word (autumn), a short phrase (I remember), a complete paragraph or even a photograph. You use the writing prompt as a catalyst. The writing prompt can be adhered to closely or used to go off on a tangent.

Some reasons to use writing prompts:

  • One of the hardest things to do as a writer is face a blank page with no ideas. By focusing on a writing prompt, this gives your mind a concrete problem to solve and gets the creative juices flowing. Writing for just ten minutes on a prompt may be just what you need to turn your imagination switch on.
  • You may find that the end result of the writing prompt fits neatly into whatever story you may be working on at the moment. You may come up with a fresh perspective. The prompt may give you ideas from which a complete story grows.  Viola! You have a new writing project on your hands.
  • Writing to writing prompt regularly helps one get into the habit of writing. It’s like any physical muscle, the more you write, the better you get at it. If you think that writing exercises are silly and artificial, and that the great writers of their day like Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jane Austin, or Edgar Allen Poe did not use writing prompts to write their novels and short stories, think again. They kept their writing chops sharp by writing letters, keeping journals, and jotting down character sketches. Even if they weren’t working on their novels, they wrote frequently and so should you if you want to become a serious writer.

Some Writing Prompts

Here are a few sample writing prompts to get you started. Don’t worry about grammar or the end result—whether it sounds good or not. These exercises are simply a jump-start to get you into the flow of writing. Have fun with them!

  • Talk about how you drink coffee. When? Where?
  • Write a lovemaking scene between two people who at first don’t seem to be well matched at all. Put them in a strange place—a garbage dump, a jail, a hospital waiting room. Create an odd circumstance—earthquake, eclipse, fire, and nuclear radiation accident. Aim for an erotic effect, through descriptions, images.
  • Cashmere.
  • Write about a man or a woman who got stood up on a date.
  • Recall a vivid or perhaps recurring dream. Write one page, making the dream as believable as possible. Don’t mention it’s a dream.

Writing Prompts Online

Here are two Web sites you can visit for daily writing prompts: