Updated: Jan 13
Every skill that a person can learn requires a lot of continual practice to get it right. Over the last decade, I’ve written thousands of pages of fiction and thousands more of bail related content. I’ve gotten a lot of practice over the years, and yet it is still not enough, at least not for me. There’s plenty I’ve learned, but I know there’s still a lot more to learn so I’ve come up with an idea to help me continue to improve.
An embarrassingly long while back, a friend got me a writing journal from Piccadilly Inc. Each page has a simple writing prompt and ten unique words to use in the story for said prompt. I love the idea of the book because as I said, practice makes perfect. My problem with it, and the main reason I haven’t used it yet, is that the pages aren’t that big and I have giant, chicken scratch handwriting. I know darn well there is no way I will be able to write a story to meet the prompts criteria on one little page. So, I’ve put off using the book for far too long.
The Fun of Writing Prompts
Even though I set the book aside, I never really forgot about it. Through my writer’s group, I discovered how fun writing prompts are, especially in a group setting. They get you to think up new ideas and write something that you might not have thought of on your own. On top of that, it is fun to see what different things people will create when given the same prompt.
One prompt that my group did together was off of a black and white illustration by Chris Van Allsburg titled A Strange Day in July. The image was of two kids, a girl and a boy, standing on the edge of a lake, skipping stones. The image was accompanied by the tagline: “He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back.”
The results from each member were all very unique. One person created a short horror story that grew into a novella, and then finally into a full-length novel. Another created a scene pondering reincarnation that grew to become part of a larger work on the matter. I ended up with two pieces, one a short story about the kids discovering magic, and another being a dream sequence excerpt from a planned future novel inspired by the first short story I created.
Seeing the different ideas, and how everyone thought, made the prompt a whole lot of fun.
The best part about writing prompts is that they don’t have to be a big deal. Unlike our primary projects, writing prompts are allowed to be short and fun. They don’t even have to be fully plotted out stories! Taking away that extra pressure of worrying about whether it will be good can help clear your mind, which in turn lends itself to better writing.
Time to Write a Little More and to Let Go of Perfection
If you are someone like me, who’s looking to have some fun and improve your writing at the same time, then I highly recommend doing some writing prompts. They are great for practicing and don’t have to hold a lot of weight. They can just be quick little one-offs to get your mind started, or they can grow into something more. Either way, they get you writing, which in turn means you are practicing.
Starting Wednesday, October 7th, I’ll be posting a writing prompt on my social media accounts, and then sharing what I come up with for it here later that day. That’s the plan, anyway. I don’t know if any of the things I create through this will be worth sharing, but to me, that’s part of the point.
A lot of writers out there often get stuck in our own heads, and that prevents us from writing. We all want our creations to be perfect, and so we stress over every minuscule detail to the point that we stop making any forward progress altogether. And that is no fun.
Writing is supposed to be fun, and we often forget that trying to be perfect. So, this will be an exercise in letting go and having fun doing what I love to do most: write.
Would You Like to Join Me?
Since I’ll be posting the prompt, feel free to join along. If you’re feeling extra brave, you can share your results in the comments on the blog post, or on your social media. Let others see what you created and maybe even inspire someone else. You never know what could happen.
If you don’t want to share your results, that’s no big deal. Putting yourself out there like that is very intimidating. Believe me, I know. All that matters is that you practiced your writing. Anything after that is a bonus.