Weapons in my Armoury – Power of the Prompt

In a boot camp class for NANOWRIMO 2012, I first learned the power of a writing prompt. We started every session with a twenty-minute writing warm-up using a prompt the instructor wrote on the chalkboard. The very first prompt, on the very first class turned into the opening page of the novel I started that year. And it is still the opening page of that unfinished draft waiting patiently on my computer.
That’s right, in 2012, my very first attempt at the mad writing rush through November, I didn’t finish the 50,000-word goal. I was in my last year of University, my supervisor suggested one last revision of my honours paper before the first week of December deadline. I was 30,000 plus words in when I had to bow out. I still kept going to the boot camp class and continued to collect prompts every week.
Prompts are still part of my writing practice. My Sunday morning writing group at times starts with a writing prompt to get ourselves warmed up.
Prompts are a great weapon in a writer’s arsenal. Here are three ways a writing prompt can put a writer on the offensive against the dreaded enemy – the blank page.
1. Words on the page are just that, words on the page. They help defend against writer’s block by putting actual words on the page. One letter at a time, each word gather’s momentum down the page, and before you know it a whole page is full, and another, and another.
2. The rut remover extraordinaire. A writing prompt can also change up a scene that isn’t working well. In this case, using a prompt to change a location, intention, or emotion takes the characters out of a rut. No one likes to be in a rut, I don’t and neither do the characters in my stories.
3. A change is as good as a rest. There are times when a writer isn’t working on a new project but are in the midst of revision and editing. That’s when setting some time aside for putting new ideas down puts a little fun into what can sometimes feel frustrating and endless.
Revision can sometimes seem endless, which is exactly where I am at with my current project. I started sending out my newsletter recently. To give me a bit of a creative distraction I have incorporated a fun way to interact with my subscribers.
Send Me A Prompt
Each month I ask my subscribers to send me a prompt, in whatever form they choose. It could be the start of a sentence, a list of things or ideas, or a picture. Then in the next newsletter I share a short story based on one of the prompts I received.
The next newsletter which goes out on 1 November I am working on a story based on this picture:

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