Writing prompts are like sea shells…they’re scattered around every beach in abundance but you only pick up a few.
At least that’s what most people tend to think. But here’s the problem: not all writing prompts are valuable writing prompts.
So, it doesn’t matter how many seashells are scattered around your path – if seashells don’t inspire you, it won’t help a bit, no matter how many of them you line up on the windowsill in your writing room.
As all writers are individuals and motivated or inspired by different things, I find it a falsehood to imply that all writing prompts work for every writer.
Some sites like https://dailypost.wordpress.com/ have made it their business to supply writing prompts for bloggers…but I rarely feel inspired by them.
The same with creative writing prompts which are often stale and generic. I don’t want to write about Jenny from the office or Herbert from the corner store.
In fact, I write to get away from those people. I write to escape reality and craft worlds and stories that explore powerful questions that interest me – ‘what if’ questions which transcend reality or even the realm of most people’s imagination.
So, how about starting to share ‘what if’ questions…like: What if every single person in the world was rich? Would that be great or would this cause some interesting problems – culturally for example – that could drive a story?
It strikes me as peculiar that there has been no real innovation in the department of writing prompts. Maybe we need an alliance of genre writers who support and feed off each other.
Maybe we need ‘inspiration pools’ relevant to particular genres. I think that would be pretty cool.
If I never see another picture of a sunset with the hashtag #writingprompt attached to it for the rest of my life I would be a very happy writer.
Here’s a picture of a garden – YUK!
Why aren’t we more concerned with sharing amazing illustrations of non-existent technology, dreamscapes or nightmares to shake up the boring, generic merry-go-round of picturesque Instagram snaps?
Why aren’t we spending time discussing our fears and the inner darkness that most of us grapple with from time to time?
Personally, I find that the best writing prompts are in digital fantasy artwork, in rock songs and in the books I love. And I am not talking about plagiarism here. No, I am talking about discovering amazing ideas that inspire other great ideas.
Finding a great writing prompt should be like picking up a lump of clay and moulding it into the right shape for you. Forget ready made writing prompts.
Forget writing toolkits and daily posts and writing prompts in newsletters. Follow your gut. Pay attention to what attracts your attention. Don’t wait for the #writingprompt hashtag to come along.
What inspires you to write? Where do you find your most powerful writing prompts and what are your recommendations for fellow writers in your genre? Leave a comment below and share your ideas and knowledge.