I’ve been using a book of writing prompts, “5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts,” lately. Starting as a review of the book for the author, my friend, Tarn Wilson, my use of the prompts has been an eye-opener to me.
Writing prompts always seemed like assignments , as in “What did you do on summer vacation?” So, I have always avoided them. But, then, I couldn’t review Tarn’s book without actually using a few of her prompts and so I jumped in.
The past year and a half has been spent finishing a novel and renovating a house—mostly renovating. I have also renovated my now-finished novel, but other than that, my writing muscle has gotten slack. When I started to write, that’s all that would happen—a start. Nothing truly excited me enough to make time to write on a daily basis. Laundry, digging a garden path, painting a wall, planting new trees, shopping and cleaning all superseded writing. Even cleaning out my makeup drawer took precedence.
After writing to a prompt every day for a week, a task I set myself in order for the review, I found that I was looking forward to those five-plus minutes each day. Maybe it was the diversity of the prompts which span many genres, story elements, formats and viewpoints. Maybe it was just following through on a writing task. I’ve never used prompts so I don’t know whether these are particularly wonderful ones, but their diversity certainly intrigued me.
The book of prompts encouraged the reader to write every day for five minutes and to not skip a prompt because it wasn’t in a genre that interested them. It wasn’t necessary to work the prompts in order, which was good for me since that would have made it seem like a task to slog through. Instead, I played with the order by thinking of random numbers between one and five hundred and one ( the number of prompts in Tarn’s book) and writing to whatever prompt was revealed by my random choice.
Playing with different genres, different voices, different formats and different attitudes was refreshing. I remembered why I love to write. I enjoyed the feel of my fingers on the laptop keys and seeing words spool out like a roll of ribbon. And the things I wrote were amazing! At least to me—and that’s all who mattered.
If you’re stuck, if you’re bored, if you need a boost to start, if you want to remember how to play with writing again, try a book of prompts. Keep one on your resource shelf. “5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts” by Tarn Wilson was a great start for me.
I write for a newspaper. I write to tell stories that might otherwise be forgotten. I write to process my world..