In college, I dreaded the assigned writing prompt. Shouldn’t my professor trust my creativity? Did my professor doubt my ability to come up with a decent story on my own?
After begrudgingly accepting my writing prompt fate—and hours grinding my pen to paper—I made an embarrassing discovery.
I actually liked what I wrote.
Some of my best stories came from writing prompts. Even if your gut reaction to a writing prompt is that it’s pointless, a writing prompt might be the solution you’ve been looking for in your own creative writing. That’s because taking on a writing prompt:
Breaks Your Writer’s Block
Hit a wall in your current writing project? Too much left brain or right brain writing can leave you feeling drained. If you’re avoiding writing, step away from your story and shift gears. Pick a writing prompt that’s the complete opposite of your current topic. This will get your brain back into the momentum of writing. Perhaps all your brain needed was a writing breather.
Bumps Your Creativity
Creativity is finding the connection between different ideas in your brain to create a new idea or solve a problem. In other words, creativity is problem-solving. Finding a tough prompt challenges your brain to find the relationship between unlike ideas. Not only will your creative juices be flowing, but you’ll probably find the answer to that problem happening in your own writing project.
Cuts The Fluff
Writing prompts often require a fixed number. You can only have 5 minutes to write or have a 750-word limit. When you have to say what you need to say a lot sooner, this forces you to get to the point. If it doesn’t add value, take it out. Writing prompts train you to not scribble in what doesn’t matter to the story in the first place.
Explores Your Project Outside Its Realm
Take your character out of your story and throw them into a writing prompt, whether that be tossing the character into an uncomfortable situation or getting them to express an opinion on an unexpected topic. Chances are you’ll see your character in a different light and learn something that you didn’t know. Writing prompts allow you to sharpen your character’s personalities and philosophies in a safe writing environment.
Nudges You To Write Daily
There’s too much pressure to write your story every single day. So don’t. Write something else. A writing prompt gets you writing daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes. After mentally warming up your brain with a writing prompt, you may find yourself pumped to jump back into your writing project.
What are your thoughts on writing prompts? How do they help (or hinder) your writing process? Share your experiences below.