Writing Prompts

What are Writing Prompts?

When it comes to writers and their way of writing their stories, their routines only get weirder and weirder. For Murakami, when he’s working on his novel, he gets up at 4 AM to write his story for 5-6 hours straight. Then he runs 10 km or swims for 1500 meters, relaxes a bit, and by 9 PM, he’s asleep. As for Maya Angelou, she used to have a hotel room booked so that whenever she was hit with that inspiration, she’d go there and work on her idea in peace. And for Ernest Hemingway, he would actually stand at his standing desk to get his idea to flow on paper.

Now you’d ask, what is the point of narrating these routines? Well, for writers today, it’s not the routines that are the problem – though maintaining a steady writing schedule is a problem, we’ll get into it later. One of the many problems a writer could face is the lack of story ideas. It’s entirely understandable; to make a novel unique, you need an equally spectacular plotline. Unless your imagination is wildly active, there are not many ways to think of an idea.

A prompt means a little help or a cue given about a topic. In that sense, a writing prompt is where you get a few lines or words on a subject – you can use that to form a story based on that. A good writing prompt has two elements, i.e. a situation and directions. The first element, a situation, is pretty self-explanatory; you get a situation, a setting, which acts as the base for the story. While the situation is prominent in a prompt, directions are subtle. For example, a writing prompt can direct you to write a horror story. The best part? You don’t have to pay attention to whatever direction the prompt gives you! Instead, let your story flow in whichever direction it wants to.

Types of writing prompts

When we talk about the types of prompts, we’re not going to focus on the form but the kind of content. There are many types of writing prompts but all of them can be divided into three categories – creative, non-fiction and essay writing prompts.

  1. Creative writing prompts: This type of prompt is what writers usually search for. It is those pictures with white letters over a black background, inviting you to pen down incredible plots. These prompts can be two lines, a whole story idea, or just one word. Hell! It can also have any setting or genre; as long as it’s fiction, it’s a creative prompt!
  2. Non-fiction writing prompts: Non-fiction writing prompts usually make you write about real situations. These can range from describing personal experiences to writing about a historic event. These can also be used for journaling – but if you’re a creative writer, you can use these for practice.
  3. Essay writing prompts: In an essay writing prompt, the writer is urged to write about given topics in the form of an essay. These are most suitable for students who are always asked to write them in schools and colleges. These prompts will not only make them familiar with writing essays but also test their analytical and reasoning skills.

How are writing prompts beneficial?

Writing prompts are immensely helpful in several ways but the ultimate one is how it helps someone get their creative juices flowing. Not just that – there are many other advantages of this invaluable tool –

  • Prompts are a great way to hone our writing skills:

Whoever you are, an aspiring writer or an already established novelist, writing stories based on the prompts is never a waste of time. For the former, it is the way of building up your writing skills properly so that working on a novel would be easier. For the latter, they can use it either as a fun exercise while penning down their manuscript or just to maintain their quality of writing.

  • Prompts help you with any type of writing:

As mentioned above, prompts can be about anything. Do you want to write fiction? Or want to add a new entry to your journal? Prompts got you covered! Make your search focused on the type of prompt you want and start writing. This factor is especially helpful since it could help you get over your problems with writing a specific kind of genre. For instance, you can’t write mystery stories at all, let alone come up with mystery ideas. Just search for mystery writing prompts and practice every day!

  • Prompts pull you out of your slump and make you focus:

By slump, we mean writer’s block – and we all know what it is. Writing prompts lures you into thinking about something creative. It gives your brain something to work with, making your block disappear gradually. Once you can feel yourself getting out of the slump, it’s only a matter of time before you can think of story ideas on your own. The bottom line is that working with writing prompts is like killing two birds with one stone!

Things to remember while working with writing prompts

To achieve a desirable result in your writing skills you should never stop writing. And the prompts will help you in this immensely! You can employ some tips and tricks while using these prompts to make your writing even more efficient. You don’t have to stress more about these tips; they aren’t rules!

  • Only use these prompts if and when you’re creatively blocked:

Writing prompts are undoubtedly honest, but there is a limit to which they’re good to you. If you become dependent on writing prompts, you are more likely to be unable to write anything without these prompts. There may be a point when your creative inspiration is hindered because your inspiration has a crutch now – in the form of writing prompts. This is why you should use these prompts only and only if you’re creatively blocked – not always.

  • Write without editing whatever comes to mind:

This is not just a tip – it should be treated as a rule! While writing something based on a writing prompt, you should pen down whatever you can think around the idea. Don’t worry about whether it is in line with the prompt or not; if it veers off in a different direction, it’s okay. All you’ve to do is check whether you’ve written a comprehensible story or not. Who cares if it’s not up to your standards? You can always try again tomorrow!

  • If you can’t work with text-based prompts, go for any other form:

Contrary to the information above, writing prompts doesn’t always have to be text-based. They can be pictures – including artworks – scents, or even songs. It is the fundamental knowledge of a creative mind – inspiration can come from anywhere. If you’re one of those people who get more creative after seeing a picture or listening to a song, then you can extract your ideas from those prompts. Whatever the means you utilize, we all know the end goal – to write a story!

Writing prompts are witty, unique, and extremely helpful – may you be a writer, someone who likes to journal or even a student. They dropped in out of nowhere – seriously, even Google can’t tell – but it’s clear that writing prompts are here to stay!