Don’t underestimate the usefulness of writing prompts… but maybe, don’t go overboard, either.

I’m trying to get my writing groove back and stimulate my thinking and imagination. I’m sure that’s necessary to get to writing full time and enjoying the hell out of it.

But when my own ideas are seemingly blocked, or I’m stuck with trying to figure out which idea I should resurrect first… it’s a good thing I have writing prompts.

I’ve had a couple of writing prompt workbooks I’ve gotten the past few years, usually in the bargain section of Barnes & Noble. They’ve been helpful, but for a while there, I was flipping to a random page to answer the prompt. That made it a little more fun.

However, before I cut off my spending, and in a desperate attempt to get back into a good writing routine… let’s just say I might’ve gone a bit overboard in finding more prompt and thought journals to add to the stash.

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Now that I have all these, I was trying to figure out the best way to get me motivated to answer more prompts and not get bored, as I’ve done before. I’d use a prompt book for a couple of days and then not stick with it.

So, I figured getting tickets would help. I could have a code for which prompt book and which prompts or page I was going to use on each and then select at random. Some of the books have full-page prompts that are like “complete the story”, which take a while. Some of the books are more rapid-fire answer the question or make a choice. The rest are a mix of poetry writing, answers, and memoir segments or challenges.

I made tickets for each thing. Depending on the book, it might be one item on one page, or a cluster of items to answer or fill out. Either way… getting all those tickets written took a while.

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But the results have been pretty good.

I shake up the shoebox as best I can and pinch some. Then without looking, I draw 10 from that pinch and see what I have, 1 at a time. I do try to have a mix of long and short writing segments, and if there are too many short ones, I’ll pick until I get a few longer ones (usually easy to tell thanks to the book they’re coming from). And vice-versa.

I did this to randomize it as much as I could and make it interesting. More than that, it’s a way to make me do the writing without going “oh, that’s too hard right now” or “boring, don’t want to do it.” Well, I’m gonna probably have some things to write about later that’ll bore me. Even the few I’ve found that fit that description, I’ll read the prompt and think a bit, re-read it and start writing. I might start out with saying I can’t think of anything, but then suddenly I remember something.

The act of writing is VERY good for the memory. I feel bad for the students who “take notes” by taking pictures with their phones that they barely ever look at til test day. When you write it, you own it.

I’m eager for the days when writing takes me into unexpected areas and before I know it, I have new story ideas or avenues of research I want to pursue.

And today I had fun with my new prompt books and box of tickets. I got a lot more accomplished than I thought I would, initially, and am going to keep it going. My rainy-day schedule worked out for the most part, and with much the same weather coming tomorrow, I’ll be ready to go.

4 thoughts on “Don’t underestimate the usefulness of writing prompts… but maybe, don’t go overboard, either.

  1. Stuart Danker says:

    Whoa, your method of getting prompts is pretty interesting. And yeah, writing things down really does help you ‘own it’. I do this thing called copywork where I write down the authors’ works I love by hand. Helps me learn their style. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

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