Saturday, July 23, 2011

Expectations and daily prompts

As some of you might or might not know, I manage a small writing group on a website called Reddit solely for daily writing prompts.  It's called /r/promptoftheday, and if you've never been, you should check it out.  I update it daily with a writing prompt out of either my own head or my notes, and very rarely a reader will send me a link that they think will make a good prompt, and usually I will use it.

 It has a much larger readership than anything else I do.  With 252 (as of today) subscribers, that's 252 people who see something that I have some up with and shared every day.  It's a lot of pressure to keep giving these people quality submissions.  I've been doing it for three months now, and I've exhausted my simple ideas and have turned to using the ideas that I was saving for my own future short stories and possible novels.

But you know what?  I love it.  Managing something so small and yet so much larger than anything else I do is quite a bit of fun.  It's anonymous, mostly, which means that everyone can see my username on the site (Lego_my_Lego) but it doesn't connect at all to anything else I do, which includes this blog.  It's a daily creative endeavor that I have to work at, much like this blog and other writing, and it's something I do for free and simply for the joy of it.  I'm not trying to peddle my own work, and I only link to outside sites if there's something there for others to use as a writing prompt, and I've only ever linked to my blog in accordance with the rules I set up for the community (provide a link if your work is above 500 words - so much easier to read that way, and it keeps everything so wonderfully uncluttered).

Why am I saying all this?  What does this have to do with writing, or blogging at all?

Good question.  Because it's something I do for free, and because I do it just because I want to share and motivate others, my expectations aren't nearly as high as for my other projects.  I do and always will hold myself to high personal standards, but because it's just for fun I can let myself relax and just shoot off whatever I'm thinking about that day.  Prompts have been simple, they've been complex, they've been genre specific and they've been genre-mixed.  It's something I can do just because it's fun.  I don't do enough of that, I think.  And it benefits people, to get their writing muscles working, and it benefits me to get my writing muscles going.  It's also really helping me with something I'm calling 'writer's greed', where I don't want to share my ideas with anyone, in fear that they'll be stolen.

I'll tell you something.  I've posted some ideas that I've had for stories, and not once - NOT ONCE - has anyone posted a response anywhere close to what I was thinking at the time.  Writers are too creative to steal stories.  It's not in our nature.  Ten writers can see the same thing, and get thirty different ideas.  If I was braver, I would write prompts based on what I'm writing, just to see how many different ways a person can take the idea.    

If you didn't follow the handy link I provided for you above, I'll share something with you - here's the prompt I posted today.  If you get a mad hare, feel free to respond to it!  Comments are always open here, or, if you have a Reddit account, sign in and post it there!  If I've made one person think about writing today, my job here is done.  Thank you, and have a great day!

There are two ways to get off world... the legal way, and the other way.  A character in dire straights has just learned that they cannot get off the planet using conventional means. What do they do when they learn what they have to do to still get into space, and what's waiting for them there that's so important?
The 'other way' can be as vanilla (bribes?) or as grotesque (selling freshly skinned corpses?) as you want. Be creative, and feel free to rearrange the details of the prompt to tell a good story. Surprise me.

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