Writing Prompts: Useful or a Time Suck?

Hello there!  In my attempts to get back to a steady writing schedule, I’ve been lurking (and occasionally conversing) in some writing forums.  I figured the advice from the writers I’m normally in touch with wasn’t working, so why not see if I could find different advice in new places?  Unfortunately, I haven’t found much in the way of new tricks to try, but one constant I noticed was the encouragement to use writing prompts.  So, today I want to chat about how useful writing prompts actually are in the grand scheme of things.  Feel free to chime in at any time!

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My favorite prompts tend to have a visual aspect.

 

In all honesty, I don’t have much luck with prompts.  Of the hundreds I’ve tried over the years (everything from the ones at the end of each chapter in pretty much every craft book to random ones I find online), I’ve produced something readable from maybe three of them.  I’ve written a lot of crap I’ve never looked at again because of them!  But overall, I’m not entirely sure prompts are worth it for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them immensely, especially when I just want to get words on the page, but the majority of them never go beyond a rough sketch.

My favorites always seem to have images attached or encourage you to go forth and find an image to write about.  It’s actually kind of weird.  I think in words and I’ve never really considered myself a visual type of person, but over the years I’ve come to accept that photos and paintings and all kinds of sights inspire me (even more than eavesdropping on conversations does).  On the other hand, the writing prompt that I had the most success with was a poetry prompt encouraging a conversation with God.  It was pretty much the most angry thing I’ve ever written and I still secretly love it to this day.  So, I guess I gravitate toward anything visual or encouraging a dialogue.

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This one saved a project I had planned on never looking at again!

 

Sometimes, I’ll look at a prompt (like the one above) and never actually do anything about it, but it’ll get me thinking about something I haven’t thought about in years.  For instance, I had a story about a host club (please don’t make me explain what that is), but it honestly sucked and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it three years ago, so I scrapped it.  But this prompt made me think about it and now I know how to fix it!  I just have to decide if I want to keep it as a novella or if I want to try my hand at a graphic novel.

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It’s kind of like that.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that writing prompts are mostly a time suck for me, but they’re fun and randomly useful.  I definitely encourage trying them, especially if you just want to get some words out.  You never know when they’ll lead to something good.  However, don’t rely on them because (if you are anything like me) the good can be rare.  What’s your stance on prompts?  Have they been a valuable asset to you, something for fun, completely useless, or something else?  Leave me a comment on here or hit me up on social media!

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