I love writing prompts (or exercises or timed writings or writing practice, if you prefer). There’s great value in allowing yourself the freedom to follow your thoughts and the words appearing before you on the page as you write based on the prompt.
The value, beyond the fun of creating something new, exercises can also be valuable to your current work-in-progress, your desire to start writing something new, or your overall skill at the craft. Here’s what I mean.
- Prompts can help you work through new characters, or discover new characteristics of existing ones.
- Exercises help jump-start your ‘writing brain’ by letting the words flow from a single thought or scene.
- New scenes can be created (using existing characters or new ones). You might also find a place in a scene to work in that monkey-with-an-IPad sci-fi twist you’ve been thinking about.
- And then there’s the fun of creating something new and filling a blank page or screen with something you pulled out of your muse on the spur of the moment.
At a workshop I’m holding at c4Yourself Gallery in Cincinnati on April 16, we’ll be doing some writing exercises, which should include some or all of the above. What it won’t include, however, are the following ‘Interesting Writing Prompts’ I came upon. Enjoy, but please don’t hurt yourselves.
- Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man’s friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.
- Imagine if your favorite character from 19th Century fiction had been born without thumbs. Then write a short story about them winning the lottery.
- A man has a terrifying dream in which he is being sawn in half. He wakes to find himself in the Indian Ocean, naked and clinging to a door; a hotel keycard is clenched in his teeth. Write what happens next.