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To Prompt or Not To Prompt

Today I wanted to talk a little about writing prompts. How many of us use them?
I go in spurts.
There are times I use them daily, and other times I can go months without using them. I tend to only use them when I feel I’m in a rut. Often this is when I’ve just finished a huge project and trying to develop a new storyline for a new book.
I am convinced they are a necessary part of our writing; at least they are for myself. I have to admit though, I have a love-hate relationship with them.

They can drive me crazy at times.
While there are times I enjoy them, the majority of the time I have to force myself to participate in this exercise.  It takes discipline… and time.

The other day, I started an internal argument with myself over writing prompts and their benefits. I realized. after much debate 😉 that often, some of my best work and ideas come from this most frustrating exercise.

I realized that if this was a struggle for me then it just might be something others struggle with too.
So let’s take a little trip together down writing prompt lane, and see what some of the pros and cons might be.

First of all, let’s look at what some of my personal cons are.

I think for me my biggest con is that they take time.
Time is precious to me.
I’m sure it is for all of us, but I have so many hats I have to wear each and every day that taking what little time I have left to write something that has nothing to do with my “real writing” often makes no sense. I don’t have the luxury of staying home and writing full time… not yet anyway.
Hopefully, someday I will have the ability to do just that, but right now I don’t.
* I have a full-time job that can be very demanding. I often need to work several hours over my 40 hours a week.
* My relationship with God is of utmost importance and I have to be diligent to be sure this relationship is nurtured.
* I have a husband that also works, and although his work is much more flexible than mine. He still can’t drop everything whenever he wants. Our relationships take work… work takes time, so… this time has to be added to the equation.

I know, you have many of these same responsibilities. I’m not in any way saying that I have less time than others do.
What I am saying is that this is life.
There are very few people that can devote all there time to their craft. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t want that. I don’t think it would make my writing very interesting.

The whole reason why we love to delve into a good book is because it touches us in some way where we are at in our own lives. How dull it would be to read and do the same things over and over.
Imagine your favorite food.
Now imagine having to eat that every day.
What if you could only eat that food… every day… over and over.
Soon, as much as we love that food now, we would be dreaming and longing for something else. We may even grow to hate the food we can’t get enough of now.

Time isn’t only one reason why I don’t like writing prompts.
Another is that I often find them boring.
I think the reason for this is because I tend to use the same kind of writing prompt over and over.

Oh, there’s more than one kind you say… there is!
And like I said in the above “same food” reference. Doing the same thing over and over can get old.
Instead of stretching and helping ourselves, we can often put ourselves into a bigger rut than we were before we started using them in the first place.

What then are some of the pros?

First, they can get the creative juices going.
This, of course, we all know the importance of.
We need this “juice” in order to get the job done. But, while this is a very important reason, I have found for myself, it’s not the most important.
The biggest reason is that it stretches me and makes me a better writer. And like any other type of exercise, it takes discipline to keep up with the program.

I like this comparison to physical exercise. there are so many different muscles in our body and each one has to be worked a different way to make the whole body strong. We can’t use just one type of exercise to strengthen every muscle. in the same way, to strengthen our writing, we need a verity of different writing prompts and there are many different kinds of writing prompts and several places to find them.

Right now I’m in a slump.

I’ve finished my book and it’s ready to publish. Getting those rejection letters doesn’t exactly induce creativity.
I’ve started on the sequel and even done some outlining on the trilogy. But neither of those excite or inspire me as the first one did, so I’ve put them aside. I may pick them up again later… who knows.

I have an idea for a fantasy novel that has been hounding me. I have all these thoughts banging incessantly at my mind’s door.
The problem is, that I’ve never written fantasy and I’m not sure how to create a world.

Writing prompts to the rescue!

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1 thought on “To Prompt or Not To Prompt

  1. I understand your frustrations. Time, for me is limited, and doing writer’s prompts can be very time consuming. But sometimes I’ve gotten some pretty good stuff from a writer’s prompt, so it’s like buying a lottery ticket. The time is the cost of the ticket, and the chances of writing a winning piece are the prizes.

    Right now, I’m pondering the idea of starting a website devoted to my writing, something similar what you have done. I’m looking at webhosts, trying to find a host that is reasonable priced and offers all the “goodies” I’d like to have.

    Keep up your writing. I’ll be watching for some of your writing in WVU.


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