Oh, hello there. This post (which has been cued for over a month now) is brought to you by coffee and the letter W. Today, I’m here to introduce my Super Awesome Easy Writing Prompts System, guaranteed to produce mind-boggling results in just moments. Seriously–just
watch the infomerical read on.
So, sometimes–actually a lot of times–my brain stalls and writing cannot happen with a stalled brain. But at a writer, momentum and daily routine is important. I need to write, even if it’s just a line or two. I’ve used a lot of cheats and prompts and block-busting exercises over the years, but I come back again and again to this easy one. All you need is an index card box with dividers and three stacks of around 50 index cards. I personally use a different color for each stack of cards since I’m a visual learner, but any old cards will work.
Each stack will have one kind of word: one stack for evocative nouns, one for character ideas and archetypes, and the last for verbs. I sat down with a friend and we brainstormed together to generate at least 25 of each of these. For example:
Nouns: cat, trunk, carriage, tome, mountain, meteor, ship
Characters/Archetypes: child, mage, flight attendant, warrior, Artemis, mentor, father
Verbs: sing, leap, slice, murmur, clang, wrest, run
The idea is to create a box of words that you can use to generate writing prompts for when your Muse is on the can. To create a prompt, I pull three cards and to write a piece based on what I draw. For my own prompts, the rules are simple: one card from each stack, no less than 100 words of writing total, and writing for no more than an hour. What does this accomplish? Lots.
Finite and specific prompts take the pressure off the stressed-out writerly mind. They create a specific assignment with clearly-defined parameters–three words to generate 100 or more words of writing in an hour or less. There is nothing at stake and no pressure for the work to be any good. Exercises like these free our subconscious minds from SRS BIDNESS mode so that they can play, play, play. Without the pressure to create a masterpiece but just enough structure to give us a nudge, we can come up with some remarkable raw stuff and break through blocks like Drano through clogged pipes. Instead of that paralyzing, blank-page terror we can regain momentum.
Finally, writing prompts can be super-duper fun even when writers block is not an issue. When writing starts to feel more like drudgery than happy-squee-funtimez, I know that I need to take a break. Seeing a project to completion involves a certain amount of trudging, sure. Completing/revising a manuscript is worky as heck. But losing that sense of wonder and excitement is a very real danger for a lot of us. Exercises like this keep the fun alive and keep those fingers dancing over the keys!
Are there any exercises or tricks that you use to get your writing out of its rut and to give your Muse a shot in the arm? If so, I’d love to hear them. Happy writing, ya’ll! <3