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Liosse de Velishaf
01-04-2014, 05:58 AM
I have a kind of general question.

What do people on AW think are the major goals/benefits of using writing prompts? The context could be a writing group, a creative writing class, something you do on your own for whatever reason.


As someone who has no shortage of story ideas, I often wonder whether doing writing prompts is of any benefit to me.

Obviously forcing you to write something, anything, is a common goal of writing prompts, but are there others, and if so, what are they?

Nymtoc
01-04-2014, 06:29 AM
Obviously forcing you to write something, anything, is a common goal of writing prompts, but are there others, and if so, what are they?

Writing to prompts can be fun. ;)

Medievalist
01-04-2014, 06:33 AM
Because a prompt is external to the writer, there's no personal commitment or emotional tie to the story, so it can be freeing to respond to one. Many writers use them as a fun warm up exercise, for instance.

buz
01-04-2014, 06:37 AM
I haven't used a writing prompt before, but I have used...uh, drawing prompts? :p For doodling purposes. Occasionally I want to draw but all I can think of is the same shit I've already doodled a billion times and I'd rather not keep doing the same thing so...

I guess a prompt can knock me out of a thinking-rut and make me consider things I wouldn't consider, or at least look at things from different angles. It can start with some brief idea and I'll take that single thing and zero in and turn it over a few times in my brain to examine it in a way I wouldn't have thought of--it can be daunting to have to draw a single concept from All of Everything and sometimes a prompt can help with focus. It can also often spawn a bunch of new ideas, like spider babies.

I haven't used one with writing because it tends to take me so damn long to write out one idea :p But I can see how it might loosen one up, so to speak. :)

ETA: I thought about it more and I actually *have* done a writing prompt or two in my day. Ugh my memory is awful. But as I recall, the reason was "for funsies," and kind of like how everyone else says, it can make you think a little differently and try something new.

ArcticFox
01-04-2014, 06:38 AM
Sometimes they get me to push outside my comfort zone and I feel like that is where I make the most progress. When I go back to my "safe zone" I can take those lessons from the prompt with me.

Kylabelle
01-04-2014, 06:39 AM
It's great if you have numerous story ideas; not everyone does, though. And, it might not benefit you to write to a prompt. But the only way you can find out is to try it some and see how it goes, IMO.

I know for me having an externally provided prompt can send me in creative directions I would not take alone. And yes, it can be lots of fun.

Siri Kirpal
01-04-2014, 06:56 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I've only felt prompted to try one writing prompt. It was draw a map of the earliest neighborhood you can remember living in and write a story of something that happened to you in that neighborhood. It was useful...although I didn't use the story in my memoir.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Liosse de Velishaf
01-04-2014, 07:15 AM
It's great if you have numerous story ideas; not everyone does, though. And, it might not benefit you to write to a prompt. But the only way you can find out is to try it some and see how it goes, IMO.

I know for me having an externally provided prompt can send me in creative directions I would not take alone. And yes, it can be lots of fun.

I put that detail in there to make it clearer where I was coming from with my question.


I have used them in poetry, mostly for general inspiration , but not often in prose, and I was wondering if I should try them more for prose.

jjdebenedictis
01-04-2014, 07:25 AM
It's great if you have numerous story ideas; not everyone does, though. Exactly; I'm one of these. I have trouble coming up with ideas and yet I find writing prompts trigger lots of ideas in a very quick fashion.

I've decided it's because my brain loves problem-solving but doesn't spontaneously generate its own problems to solve. I'm pretty happy-go-lucky and disinclined to fret about things, but I'll latch onto puzzles (and problems) ferociously when I run across them--and what is a plot but a big, juicy puzzle to solve?

Little Anonymous Me
01-04-2014, 07:33 AM
I like them, though I don't use them often at the moment. It's fun, light writing for me, and I try to pick prompts very different from what I normally write. They're my mental yoga. :D

DragonHeart
01-04-2014, 07:49 AM
I've used them to help push my boundaries. Left to my own devices I will write in one genre and only one genre. Using prompts and challenges can force me to write outside my default headspace. Ironically the only stories I've had published so far came from self-challenges and neither are in my main genre. Go figure.

I haven't used them for this purpose but I know it's sometimes recommended by others to use prompts as a way to get out of a rut with a particular story. The results of the prompt probably won't make it into the draft but it can help explore and expand on plot points, characterization, etc.

shakeysix
01-04-2014, 07:51 AM
I read them even when I don't have time to write one because I like to see how my fellow writers respond. I love to read the different approaches, the different voices, especially if I know the poster.

I was on a forum some years ago where we mainly did prompts and that was a great confidence builder for me. There were no crits, just individual responses and that made for a pleasant, ego free environment. I saw what others could do and I enjoyed showing off, when i could--s6

alexaherself
01-04-2014, 04:07 PM
To me, they're a confidence booster: a way of reminding myself that I can "produce stuff" and "be reasonably entertaining".

bearilou
01-04-2014, 04:19 PM
Many writers use them as a fun warm up exercise, for instance.

Yes


To me, they're a confidence booster: a way of reminding myself that I can "produce stuff" and "be reasonably entertaining".

and yes.

Mainly, I do use them to limber up my brainmeats, usually first thing in the morning.

Fruitbat
01-04-2014, 04:47 PM
What do people on AW think are the major goals/benefits of using writing prompts?

As someone who has no shortage of story ideas, I often wonder whether doing writing prompts is of any benefit to me.

Obviously forcing you to write something, anything, is a common goal of writing prompts, but are there others, and if so, what are they?

I write a lot of flash fiction so I go through lots of ideas. Sometimes I really do run out.

Also, I like to go to the calendar tab on duotrope and use those prompts because they come with a built in place to send the story. It's good motivation, for me anyway.

Cathy C
01-04-2014, 05:39 PM
They're a great way to try other genres of writing. I like to write for themed anthologies for the same reason. :)

bearilou
01-04-2014, 09:43 PM
Also, I like to go to the calendar tab on duotrope and use those prompts because they come with a built in place to send the story. It's good motivation, for me anyway.

Oooh. I hadn't considered this. I must give it a try!

Jamesaritchie
01-04-2014, 09:44 PM
Fun is one reason. I suspect they also help those who eventually reach the point where others come to us with ideas they want turned into stories or movies.

ironmikezero
01-04-2014, 10:30 PM
A prompt can set your mind on a path that leads to unanticipated inspiration in a direction you might not have otherwise pursued. Never underestimate the scope and inherent value of an unfettered and lightly prodded imagination. An idle muse may lie in wait - you may become the happily surprised victim of a serendipitous ambush.

jeffo20
01-05-2014, 03:16 AM
My writing group uses a prompt. I find it is often helpful in that setting just to get me going. Sometimes I come into the group with an idea and ignore the prompt, sometimes I need it (and sometimes, the prompt just doesn't do it for me and I end up writing about my pen, or something that catches my eye or ear).

ON a side note, it's interesting to see how different people in the group get such different things out of the prompt, and it's also interesting to see how sometimes we all seem to lock in on the same things that then weave through the bits we write.

Becky Black
01-06-2014, 02:07 PM
I'm someone who can get an idea from a Tweet, or a Live Journal comment, or some random input like that. But give me an actual "writing prompt" and my brain shuts down cold. I got nothing. Some kind of performance pressure reaction maybe. So, yeah, they're not something I use. But if you get something from them, go for it!

DancingMaenid
01-06-2014, 03:04 PM
- It can be a neat challenge. When you work with your own ideas, you have a bit more freedom to tailor them to what you want to do. Part of the fun of a prompt, to me, is figuring out how to work within the confines of the prompt. Or trying something new.

- It can be a fun exercise that doesn't usually involve too much commitment.

- It can be a communal, social activity sometimes.

- If someone doesn't have a lot of ideas of their own, prompts can help give them inspiration. Though I have a lot of ideas, I find that prompts can provide some framework that I find helpful.