Writing Prompts 101 - article

You don't have to be a professional writer to take advantage of the extremely effective writing tool known as the writing prompt. Understanding how to use this tool can spur creativity while helping you work past blocks.

What is a writing prompt?

A writing prompt is a topic that serves as a starting point for your brainstorming or mind mapping. The prompt can be a single word, a phrase, or even a picture. Its purpose is to give you something to focus on as you write. The best aspect of a writing prompt is that you don't have to stay on track with the original topic and are free to wander off in your own direction.

A writing prompt lets you start writing without any inhibitions or feelings of being held back. You might create simply an idea, a scene or a whole new story. You never know where a good prompt might take you and that's why they're such great tools.

How do I use a writing prompt?

A writing prompt can be a regular writing exercise, something that will help you learn to write for a longer stretch of time and with greater ease. With regular use, it can help you develop the habit of writing while developing some great story ideas in the process.

Next time you're stuck staring at a blank page wondering how to begin your new writing project, take a break and try a writing prompt. The refocusing of your mind on a random topic will help get your creative juices flowing. Even if you write for just a few minutes on the new prompt, you should find it easier to return to your original project.

You can also use writing prompts to develop your own writers' group. Just assign new members regular prompts. It encourages the group to share while strengthening everyone's skills.

What are some examples of a writing prompt and where can I find more of them?

Writing prompts typically look like this:

  • The sun peeked over the hill.
  • The smell of the fresh bread.
  • For sale. Baby shoes, never used.
  • “Did you hear that?”
  • She woke, shivering.

The Internet is a great source of writing prompts. Several sites are dedicated to providing them, so you will have more than enough resources to keep you busy. Some of the best sites are:

  • CreativeWritingPrompts.com
  • WritersDigest.com
  • WritingFix.com

If you'd like to post and respond to others who are writing from prompts, check out the great blogging communities on:

  • SundayScribblings.blogspot.com
  • OneMinuteWriter.blogspot.com

Finally, even your Twitter account can be used as a great resource for providing you with fresh writing prompts. All you need to do is follow one or more of these dedicated users to get access to the tweets:

  • twitter.com/writingprompt
  • twitter.com/writingink
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  • Thank you for this information. I have gone online to find my writing prompts and I must say, there  is a lot of them out there that one can use to write down and turn them into a story. Thank you for this article. I will be turning all of mine into a story or put it in the story that I am hoping to be writing soon.

  • So there is a name for those distractions. Now I know what to tell people when at a loss as to what Im looking at for so long. Or why I listen to the same song every day not just because I like it. You have Identified what I need more of and in other arrangements. Thank you for the confidence that when I am almost done and ready I can have an out of order mess but just have to organize without any holding back
  • This is interesting to know. Thank You!
  • Thank Michael. That was great advice. RAINE