Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Writing Prompts



Writing Prompts

How do you feel about writing prompts? They intimidate some writers and engage others. Still others have never tried them.

I think there's a common misconception about prompts - that when you use one, it has to be just so. Unless it's an assignment for a class or for a specific project, I say there are no rules. Just an opportunity to write and perhaps build better writing habits.

Prompts help stretch writing muscles in other directions. For example, I don't write poetry. Writing it never appealed to me, so I don't include it in my lineup. But when tutoring a young student required writing limericks, I found the exercise stretched me. And that was a good thing. Writing practice (of any type) can produce growth and generate interesting ideas for other projects too.

One of the simplest prompts is a sentence. It acts as a brainstorming tool, a story starter, headline, or a hook to draw the reader in.

Try this:

She should have listened to her grandmother.

Or,

He stared at the marigolds in the garden.

Or,

"How much is a pint of strawberries?"

One of my favorite prompts is Hemingway's Challenge. Someone challenged Hemingway to write a six word story. This is what he wrote:

For sale, baby shoes. Never used. 

Not only does this illustrate the six word story concept, it provides great word economy practice.

Want to try a few more? Check out these links:

Writing Prompts 

Writer's Digest Prompts

Daily Blog Tips

Special Note

This Friday post is part of the Blogtastic weekend event from my publisher, Helping Hands Press. Hop over to their Facebook page for more posts from the HHP authors.

Have you ever used writing prompts? How do you stretch your writing muscles? 

Happy weekend,
Karen
 
P.S. I'm sharing tips for writing poetry with kids over at Carol J. Alexander's Homestead blog. Hop over if you are so inclined!

Photo credit: Stock Exchange


18 comments :

  1. Hi Karen - I find the process of having found blogging, but having no apparent skill in the artistic writing direction growing up, interesting as I learn so much about the art .. and think about it. Now I'm more relaxed I'd manage ok if I was in this situation .. and at some stage I'm sure I'll attend a course ..

    The six Words scenario is brilliant and I've seen it done... or seen examples .. but so telling. A challenge that's for sure ..

    Love the crocuses .. cheers Hilary

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  2. I really like writing prompts for poetry - especially picture prompts!

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  3. I haven't used writing prompts much since school. I do enjoy visual ones though.

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  4. Hilary,
    It is interesting to see as adults what things engage us versus when we were children, isn't it? I found I was much better at algebra as an adult when teaching my children than I ever was while in high school. I read somewhere that our minds are not capable of grasping certain concepts until we are in our twenties plus. For me, that's been true for math! lol :) If you ever do the six word story, let me know!

    Keith,
    Me too! Just makes it easier to get a hold of, and that's a big plus! :)

    Diane,
    I can't say that I remember using them in school much, but I may just not remember. In any case they can be a great tool! :)

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  5. Writing prompts are useful when I need to be inspired. I'm always fascinated how different people use the same prompt to come up with such creative pieces.
    Thanks for the prompts and links.

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  6. I don't usually write to prompts but I'm glad I came across this post today as I need a little something to get me going. Sometimes we can keep slogging away on the same thing and get nowhere. Taking another path, writing about something completely different, can get those creative juices flowing for our other work. Thanks!

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  7. Donna,
    That always interests me too - how you can get so many ideas from one little prompt. Glad you found it helpful! :)

    Linda,
    You are welcome! I know what you mean about slogging away. Hope these ideas give you the inspiration and change of pace you are looking for! :)

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  8. Beautiful picture! I don't usually write to prompts, but I do find them to be a helpful and enjoyable writing exercise. A great way to work on our craft! Thanks for posting these. :)
    ~Jess

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  9. I seldom use writing prompts, but I'd like to use them more one day. I think they'll expand into short stories, even novels.

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  10. Hi Karen! I am trying to get used to using writing prompts. I think it's a stretch for me, as I am usually scouring my mind for memories and images. I have the book "Room to Write" which was recommended to me. I do like the idea of entrance sentences. That is better than just a one-word prompt, which is what I am working with now.
    Fabulous Hemingway sentence. Wow. What a mind!
    Blessings!
    Ceil

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  11. Jess,
    I know - this picture caught my eye - so spring like! :) Glad you liked the prompts.

    Medeia,
    I don't do them much either and would like to more. I use them a lot with my teen students; they are a big help to jump start their writing process. :)

    Ceil,
    Well, no one says you must use them but they can be a help. I would like to get back to doing them more. :) I know, Hemingway was something, wasn't he?

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  12. I don't typically use writing prompts, but I can see how they would be beneficial. Kind of gets the creative juices flowing and if using a specific word count, they can help us to be specific in our word choices. Cool concept.

    By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog! It's nice to meet you! :)

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  13. Hi Karen, I did a ten week free-writing course one year, inspired by prompts related to "the houses you've lived in." Such fun to write wherever came to me, from a few words like..."The first bedroom you ever remember." or "the first home you owned."

    Another ten week course came courtesy of the prompts each student found in their personal telephone directory. "Why is the second contact number under D in your directory?" etc...

    Lots of fun and some great writing come from it. Wish I'd had time to do more of those. Thanks for the reminder.

    Blessings,
    Dotti :)

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  14. I'm definitely going to use these. I love prompts. They stretch my brain, amigo. I love Hemingway's six word story. I used that in homeschool last year. I had to write one too. It was loads of fun. Thanks for the prompts! And the linkage. I heart you! :-) xoxo

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  15. I don't use writing prompts. I downloaded a couple of apps on my android but never got around to using them. May be I should. To enrich my writing and/or to think differently.

    Ayesha
    Defining Me

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  16. Kristin,
    Nice to meet you too! Enjoyed your post with Crystal. Prompts are a great exercise for students or a writing group too. :)

    Dotti,
    Those courses sound wonderful! What a great idea - makes you realize that there is so much potential in memories, everyday things, etc. for prompts and all sorts of writing ideas. I'd like to make some time to give those ideas a try. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Robyn,
    Aren't they fun! Love to do them with my teen students. They were a big hit back in our co-oping days. You are so welcome. Love you too! :)

    Ayesha,
    I am very slow to getting around to them but I do like to do them when I have the time. Thanks for stopping by! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  17. I have prompts in my head and frequently use them for my blog posts. On occasion I'll go looking for one just to challenge myself. I came to visit because Janette Dolores 'prompted' me. How's that for a little twist? =0)

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  18. Susan,
    That's a good idea - for blog posts. I may have to borrow that one! :) Life is a series of writing prompts, isn't it? :)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!