We have been getting writing prompts since we were small children. Schools start us early, with fill-in-the-blank stories, and gradually step us up from there. The next steps include writing our own stories with blanks for others to fill in, or prompts meant to inspire creativity with no word limit or page length, or creative prompts that ask us to write a story in a certain amount of words. Even our writing homework assignments are a form of writing prompts, giving us specific topics or questions to answer.
Writing is important. As aspiring authors or well-established authors, we’ve already decided it is more important to our livelihood than it is to others. We have stories to tell.
Authors are constantly honing their craft. In any field of expertise in life, the only way to improve is to practice, and keep up with the changes that occur within the field. As an author, you have to write regularly to get better, and there are a lot of different options for that.
One of the best available options an author can use is a writing prompt. A quick google search for ‘writing prompt’ will produce hundreds of free prompts. These can be narrowed down even further – there are writing prompts for every genre, trope, and aspect of writing one could think of. This is an invaluable tool for an author.
1. Writing prompts give us the ability to practice our writing.
As I mentioned above, the only way to get better is to write continuously. And while any kind of writing is a step in the right direction, focused writing is a better tool to help us improve. While you work on your current manuscript, improving your writing isn’t the foremost focus. It’s good to take small breaks to focus on areas where we may be weak. Prompts are a good way to bring our weaker skills up to snuff.
2. Prompts can be focused on a specific type of writing.
When searching for writing prompts, simply adding the type of prompt you want can narrow down your focus. Say you’re a romance novelist, and you have trouble with horror writing. Search for suspense or horror writing prompts, and get to work. It helps to shift your mindset into writing a different genre, and can make you stronger as a writer. Who knows, it could come in handy when you least expect it!
3. They are easy to use and free online.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Using a prompt is great for writing, sure, but it’s easy on the budget. No one wants to pay for something unless it’s necessary, and writers typically don’t have that many nickels to rub together. This is a great way help yourself as an author and save up for the costs that really matter when it’s time to publish.
4. A good prompt can spark an idea for a new manuscript.
Writing prompts are great resources all around, but one of the most invaluable things they can give us are new ideas. Sometimes, little gems are hidden away in our minds, and writing prompts can unlock them simply by giving our creative juices a stir. They get us to write, and force us to expand our scope. You never know what you’ll find when you start writing.
Something as simple as a writing prompt can gives us rich and complex ideas and practice, helping us to learn and grow as authors. If you’re lucky enough to be part of a critique group, as well, have them look over your practice writing sometimes. Critique groups, blog posts, and other writing groups giving feedback on practice writing pieces tells us how far we have come and how far we still need to go. For more information on critique groups, see Joan Hall’s post: Critique Groups.