D.I.Y. Writing Prompts

By S. C. Green

S. C. Green

It’s great the days writing comes easy. You sit down at your computer/laptop/notebook and the words flow without effort. Oh, to have everyday be like that. More often than not you find yourself staring at the blank screen swearing at the blinking cursor. It mocks you. Damn cursor.

One way to shut that mocking little cursor up is with writing prompts. All it takes is one little prompt to unleash the writing that’s dying to come out. That is if you let it. Just remember that the words you write aren’t important to anything. You can do whatever you like and not fear you’re ruining your current work. Then again, you might write a gem that just HAS to make it in your story. The beauty is, you can stop it at any time. No strings attached. No one to let down. You don’t even have to call the next morning. It doesn’t matter what you write. Time spent writing is not wasted. The shear act of writing hones your craft that much more.

Now you have to be careful finding your writing prompts. It can be dangerous. There’s great potential for distraction while you’re hunting for a prompt. Sure the internet is filled with sites that offer them. I’ve covered some of them in this post. Once you open that browser, you might as well check your email. Then you just HAVE to Tweet and update your Facebook status to tell everyone you’re writing. Oh, and since you’re there you should respond to other status updates. That’s networking, right? Now it’s time to justify being online for so long by doing “research” for that work-in-progress of yours.

You get the drift. You might as well give a mouse a cookie for all the work you’ll get done.

Another option is to get a book of prompts. I have a great one called What If? It has all kinds of idea generating tips from the likes of Ann Landers to Ron Carlson. Again, I have to give a distraction warning. Once I get a book open, it’s hard to shut off the reading part of my brain. Even more so if the book is well written.

So what can you do?

Simple. Learn to create your own prompts. This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. If you can’t get out words on your own, how are you supposed to come up with a prompt? Like this:

1. Prop Prompt

Without getting out of your seat, grab any two objects within reaching distance. Feel free to open a drawer or shuffle things around. If it helps, close your eyes when you do it to add a touch of surprise. Do you have your two items? Good. Now, write a scene that revolves around those two objects. You could make the objects animate, it doesn’t matter. It’s your story, and nobody ever has to see it.

Example: My two items~ a calligraphy pen and a half-eaten, chocolate-covered sugar wafer (don’t judge me). Who the hell keeps eating all of my snacks? This is the third time this week someone has stolen my treats. Well this was it. This was the last straw. I saved those sugar wafers for tonight. And whoever it was didn’t even have the decency to finish them off. They left it half-eaten as if the snack they stole wasn’t good enough for them. Or… maybe they plan on coming back. I wanted to catch the thief, but I knew they only strike when I’m not around. I looked around the room. Ha. I grabbed the calligraphy pen of the desk. The tip of the pen slid between the wafers and into the sugary filling. I pulled the lever just enough to send a stream of ink into the center. Not too much. The chocolate coating would hide the discoloration, but ink could leak out if over done. Ha-ha. All I had to do now was wait…

I know it’s bad. Who cares. The point is I wrote. In fact, I had to stop myself and get back to the post.

2. People Watching 2.0

This a good method if you do your writing away from home. Amy Nichols has even written about here. So let’s put a spin on it. Look over to your left. Single one person out and try to get a feel for that character. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. If you made it up, then it’s all right. Now look over to your right and pick out another person. Gives these two people names and throw them in a scene together.

I’m not currently out and about, so I’m going to skip an example. Also, I don’t want to take up your time if you’re supposed to be writing.

The point is to get writing, and whatever method you use to get writing is a valid one. I hope this was helpful, and please share whatever tips you might have. My writing tool box is never full enough.

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