Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Writing Prompts

Hello, everyone!  Today we're going to talk about writing prompts.  I've been doing a daily prompt (just for a couple of days now) at, and to be a good moderator I've been doing the prompts along with whoever else wants to participate.

I have a couple of questions about writing prompts, actually.  I don't know if they're helpful or distracting.  I know that they're a great way to stretch those writing muscles, and maybe they're a good way to get unstuck if you're stuck on something, but what about when you're right in the middle of a project?  I think, for a writer, anything except for working on your current project is procrastination.  I have a novel in the works right now, and pausing every day to write 500 words on some other idea I've had kicking around for a while just sounds dangerous.

Maybe that's just because these are my prompts that are being offered.  The ideas for the prompts that I'm posting are all coming from my notebooks - notes I've jotted down, pieces of ideas that I've had in class.  I might have this note: cracks floating in the air.  That's it, just one line.  But if I make it into a prompt, I will let that small little note in my notebook win, and I will be forced to figure out what it means, or what it might mean.

I can see this as both a good and a bad thing.  On one hand, I get to flesh out an idea that's been lurking in the depths of my idea book for months, and once I write about it I can check that small little itch in the back of my mind off for good.  But what if it's good?  What if I like it?  I wrote exactly 499 words about a first day at the University of War.  Doesn't that sound pretty awesome?  How do I stick with my boring old novel when I can get sidetracked and write about what's going on at the University of War?

What do you think?  Are writing prompts a good way to get yourself out of a rut, or into the writing mood?  or are they potentially dangerous sand traps for your current work in progress?  Can they possibly be both?  

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