Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writing Prompts

When I woke up this morning, I realized it was my day to blog, and I hadn’t even considered what I would write about. I didn’t do so well with my own daily word count yesterday, either. I think sometimes we all go through down periods where the well runs a little dry, and we just cannot get the words to flow. If you are going through one of these, don’t feel alone because you aren’t. Sometimes additional input is all we need to get our writing brain on the run.

Honori de Balzac (1799-1850) was a prolific writer of the 19th century who wrote from midnight to dawn almost every day of his life, turning out a million words a year. Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was a prolific French writer who wrote poetry and novels at a huge rate. He wrote The Hunchback of Notre dame and Les Miserables if you didn’t know, and he produced at that same amazing million words a year rate.

Well, if these guys can do it, we can too!

The thing is, writing prompts are all around us. We can turn on the news, pick up a magazine or even check out our Facebook account and find a prompt to send us off on a day of some pretty effective wordage. But we have to want to. We have to take the steps to get there. Don’t be afraid to LOOK for a prompt.

This happened to me yesterday. A friend posted an item where you had to list the first line of twenty plus songs. I was off and writing in a minute with some of those.

If you can’t seem to find any of that kind of prompt to get you going, here are some others. This is just a short list, you can make your own.

Write about what you would say to someone who knocks on your door for directions.
Create a list of words and write about them. For instance, empty box, receipt from the store, dirty sock, and floral arrangement. Use those in a story. In fact, I think I will. It just sounds like my character, Shannon Wallace.

Think of a possible scenario. Like, what if you wrecked your car in a church parking lot, what might transpire? Would you resort to cursing? What would the lady in the fancy hat that sits on the first pew think of you?

Examine emotions. Just make it a paragraph using one emotion, for instance sorrow. Make it powerful by using colors and weather and setting. The setting sun in all its fiery glory has inspired many stories about anger.

No matter what sort of motivator you find to get you going, the plan is to GO. Start writing and don’t stop for a while. This exercise for today’s blog took me about fifteen minutes. Over 500 words in fifteen minutes! 500 words is approximately two pages in a manuscript if it has 250 words per page. Not too shabby, eh?


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, you're so right! I often tell my young writers to soak up the inspiration around them. Simply looking around you at work or play can be more than enough - I have enough sad and dramatic scenarios that happen in my work every day to last me a lifetime. Like you said, just turn on the news and you'll have enough fodder for months to come! Twist around some of those ideas, do some "what ifs," and you'll have enough story material for a long, long time. ;o)

Maryannwrites said...

Very good advice, Kim. In addition to your suggestions, I have also sometimes just started typing, free associating, until something started taking shape. I refer to that as "priming the pump." :-)

Kim Smith said...

Good idea, Maryann. I like that term, "priming the pump". :)

Keith Pyeatt, author of paranormal thrillers said...

"Priming the pump" to me often means "turning off the editor." Just write.

Maryannwrites said...

You're right, Kap. We do need to turn off the "editor" when we are in first draft mode.

Marta Stephens said...

And sometimes it really is just that simple! Next time you go to the market, study the person in front of you in the check out line. What might he/she be thinking, worrying about, etc? Write about it.