The Last Writing Prompt You Will Ever Need

I don’t do writing prompts.

They’re a pointless waste of time and energy. Why? Because prompts are for people who don’t know what to write. They’re a distraction — a way to trick yourself into writing when you don’t know what to say.

And frankly, you can do better than that.

Writing Prompts
Photo credit: Julie Jordan Scott (Creative Commons)

Admittedly, prompts can be valuable — as an exercise. But eventually, you don’t need another day at the gym. You need to sign up for the marathon and run. You need to go play a real game. You need to do something.

Here’s what I find productive — far more than writing prompts (no offense to those who use them):

Write something meaningful and share it

Okay, you may be thinking, why can’t that be a writing prompt?

Because a writing prompt is an exercise. It’s something you do to practice for the Big Event. And I don’t buy that. Because this is it — life is the big event.

Every day, we are living and competing. Not just practicing. We are playing.

Why are you still waiting? Time to show us what you’ve got.

Why keep hiding behind writing prompts?

You have something to say. Say it now.

Don’t wait for permission or a piece of paper to say you’re ready. Do it now. Hit publish on your blog. Send your local newspaper that piece that’s been sitting on your laptop for months, unedited.

Ship. Deliver. Go. Act. Move. Now.

Writing prompts are for people who would rather sit on the sideline than get in the game.

And you’re too good for that.

You want to know how really great musicians get really great? They play a lot of shows. They don’t spend hours in the studio or jamming in their friend’s living room. They book a concert. They force themselves to practice in public.

In other words:

Stop rehearsing, start broadcasting

Put away the writing prompts and write something that matters today. And when you’re done, share it. Yes, this is scary. But it is also how you get very good.

What this does to the seriousness with which you treat your craft is amazing.

  • You will work harder. Because you have to. People are watching.
  • You will be braver. Because you have to. An audience is counting on you.
  • And you will do better. Because you have to. Others are depending on you.

That’s it. No more talking. No more practicing. No more prompting.

You’re already in the game. Will you play?

* * *

Of course, you could always do both — use a writing prompt and ship. And if you need some help, my friend Joe’s eBook 14 Prompts is a great resource.

Just don’t use it to hide. You have what it takes. Get started. Now.

Do you use writing prompts? Why or why not? Share your experiences in the comments.

*Photo credit: Julie Jordan Scott (Creative Commons)

125 thoughts on “The Last Writing Prompt You Will Ever Need

  1. Excellent Jeff! I feel the same way about numerous make-work projects in the writing world. They all detract from doing what we’re supposed to be doing – WRITING! Thanks for telling it like it is.

  2. Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.   Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT
    Your post reminded me about what I preached on Sunday.  Regarding prompts,I never used to use them.  But I did download Joe’s book and have been using it to practice doing regular writing.  Which has been helping quite a bit.

  3. I think I used a real prompt from a book once.  It just felt fake to me.  But I do keep a queue of ideas of things I want to write about…odd thoughts that I want to weave into a story or explore a little further.  On mornings where I’m struggling with words or just feeling blank, I’ll pick something that list and try a 15 minute free write to get things moving.

  4. I’m of two minds about this.

    On one hand, I think it can be a good way to get started with writing. If someone wants to start a blog, that can be a way to start the daily discipline of sitting down and putting words down in a document. So that can be good. 

    And I enjoy the One Word at a Time blog carnival, even though it’s a prompt every 2 weeks. I like trying to think about a unique way to use the one word – it stirs creativity in me to be both bound by a word and freed by the same. And I like the community that is created around everyone writing on that single topic.

    However, I think prompts can also become a huge crutch if you never move beyond them. Participating in a community is beautiful, but as you said, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and not go ahead and star – to not go ahead and just get vulnerable.

    So yeah, I like prompts. But I won’t read a blog for long if that’s all they’re doing.

  5. I’m reading a book now that compares writing to doing other ‘extreme’ things like running marathons, distance sailing and the like and keep reminding myself that I’ve run a marathon so why the fear of pen to paper (or keyboard to screen, as it were) and haven’t come up with an answer!  But if there are posts about ‘commenting props’ like Cyberquill just mentioned, I’m in – in I say! 🙂

      1. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. I think I picked up a ton of books to see if I was doing it ‘right’ then realized there’s only one right way and that’s to start.  Epiphanies! They sure can cost a bit.

  6. Reminds me of a post I read once about businesses who incorporate way too many meetings to talk about what needs to be done instead of spending less time talking about it and more time doing it.  Too many meetings (or writing prompts) distract us from actually sitting down and accomplishing the goal.  Thanks for the reminder. 

    1. great analogy. that is exactly my point. just like meetings can be a good means to an end, they are a waste of time as an end in and of themselves.

  7. It seems to me that using writing prompts is an attempt to borrow someone else’s passion.  To write with passion requires a subject that inspires passion and thoughts about it that are burning to get out. 

      1. Thanks. I think I worded that more strongly than I should have. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to work off a writing prompt. Perhaps it would have been better to say that before writing on the prompt, make sure that you’re working on your own passion for the subject. 

  8. I have used writing prompts on occasion. I’ve found that they get my creative juices flowing so I’m ready for the “real” writing. I kind of see them as a warm up, like stretching before a work out. But I do see how they can be used to hide behind.

    1. That’s a good healthy way to think of them, Jamie. I’ve used them before, too. You’re right; they can be somewhat useful. But they’re not the real thing. If all you do is stretch without working out, you’ve missed the point. And that’s what some writers do, unfortunately. They keep stretching.

  9. Sorry, Jeff, can’t buy it. Not using writing prompts is like saying Liberace did not need to practice playing the piano. He practiced four hours every day.

    1. Hi Wayne. Thanks for the comment. Obviously, this is a controversial post, and I’m not shying away from that. I wanted to stir up some conversation and challenge some assumptions about writing. So I appreciate your disagreement. I really do. 

      To me, there’s a difference between prompting and practicing. (I am a fan of practice; I tried to make that clear in the post.) 

      A lot of writers use prompts to hide. They’re not practicing for anything; they’re just stalling. Liberace practiced, because he was preparing to perform. Writers need to do the same. 

  10. This is a very interesting post. However I think it limits the concept of a writing prompt to a formal approved idea from an “authority.” Personally a writing prompt could be a song on a radio, a road sign or a provocative blog post. But isn’t that what inspiration is, a personal writing prompt, a temptation to write.

    Jeff you are very correct. Writers need to move beyond the exercise and ship the work. But we should also responds to what prompts us to write.

    Thank you for your consistent, generous words of inspiration. And example.

    1. Catherine, I love the idea that anything can prompt you to write. I agree. I get prompted every day by what I see, hear, and experience. This post was directed at the use of written prompts to help writers get started.

    1. thanks, Kimanzi. I agree. Whatever works. Unfortunately, a lot of aspiring authors are using writing prompts, and they’re NOT working. Yet, they keep using them. Sounds like insanity to me.

  11. I think that prompts encourage me to say what I’m thinking more than distract me from what I should say. I tend to be content with expressing my thoughts and being transparent, so I feel like I run out of things to say (or repeat myself ad nauseum), and so prompts broaden my horizon a bit.

  12. I read about a musician who was not the best singer, but he performed and sang anyways. He says that after 1,000 live shows, he voiced changed and he was able to sing well. He actually learned how to sing, something I thought would be impossible, by singing.

  13. Just a quick note to tell you, THANK YOU! A friend of mine turned me on to your site and it was exactly what I needed to help me find that mojo I seemed to have lost. Your posts are engaging and inspiring without being “prompting”…. It helps me be me, but better – without fear and writing for myself once more. Thank you!

  14. Hm. I have mixed feelings about this post. First, I admit I didn’t like the tone. This time round, I find it sounding a tad hostile.  And I’m a bit surprised by it, because I tend to love your bold statement. They are usually my most favourite from yours, especially when sometimes you say something that
    many people would find it unpleasant to read upon. These will get me evoking and reflecting, but for this one… I know you already said it’s not that pointless, but then why mention it first then? I find that sentence is unneccesary.

    Okay, maybe I am indeed offended, but that’s not important.

    I like that the main thing you are conveying is doing the real work, which is shipping.  Yet I do not agree that shipping should be done right away. Certain amount of practice still has to be accumlated, and writing prompts help a lot, because it is a form of practice.

    To me, writing prompts are more the stepping stones, that “one mile” for the epic journey of the thousand mile.  Personally, I find most writers hide by not writing more than using prompt. At least the writer bothers to write. He’s still showing up.
    Not writing is way more dangerous.

    The beginning is always fragile, and must be handle with care. Baby steps are vital for beginners, and is the critical point before people gain the momentum, the faith, and the required skills to do the shipping. I still think the skills need to be fulfilled to a certain standard before the shipping can be done. After all, when it comes to shipping, the audience is the world, not
    simply writing to family, friends or privately. No matter what, somehow
    the market has to be put into concern if one must ship.

    1. Hi Low. Didn’t meant to offend, but I did mean to challenge.

      Writing prompts may work for some, but for me they’re a waste of time. I’ve used them before. And they worked all right, I guess.
      But now I’d rather write for an audience; I would rather practice in public. There’s no better place to learn. If they work for you, good; keep using them.
      For me (and many other writers I talk to), they’re an unnecessary distraction.

      1. I’ve been to some writing conferences where well-known, widely published authors have warned that blogs tempt us to publish too quickly–that bloggers probably haven’t taken the time necessary to revise and arrive at a quality finished product (these have been authors with little to no online presence). What do you think of that stance? Do you see your blog more as a laboratory for experiments in writing, and does blogging–or practicing publicly–distract you from other writing projects?

        1. Hi Ann. This is true. And it’s not. 

          Blogging is an opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less. You can use that opportunity to sloppily release whatever you want, or you can use it to publish yourself (before others will) and demonstrate that you have what it takes.Of course, we see both on the Web. There are plenty of loudmouths with a blogging who are just contributing to the noise of the Internet.

          And then there are those who are careful about what they say and share their ideas with excellence. 

          The evidence for the latter group is obvious: writers who are doing this are partnering with publishers to amplify their voices.

          To answer your last question(s), I do see my blog as a lab; it’s not where I publish stuff that I would send to a magazine. Rather, I try to serve the community and use it as a sounding board for new ideas.

          And yes, blogging can be a distraction. But so can email or Facebook or TV. It’s what you make of it that matters. There will always be distractions. There will always be reasons to not ship. Those who push through them will win, regardless of the medium used.

          1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Jeff. I agree with your comparison-contrast of ways people can blog…and opportunities for bloggers to make the most of it.

            I’d love to read this to those authors and see how they’d respond. I suppose they’d continue to argue against blogging, especially because they don’t have the need (they’ve already developed their platform and partnered with publishers).

            Nice summary at the end. May we make the most of our time and our tools.

  15. I agree. And then I don’t.

    On The Write Practice, we use writing prompts as a tool to teach writing. If you are just learning something new, the best thing to do is practice it right away to get a feel for it, develop some “muscle memory,” and get better at the craft.

    Also, every professional athlete and musician practices. Practice is a requirement to do their art. They can’t perform if they don’t practice.

    That being said, if you don’t perform your practice becomes an exercise in futility. The best practice is done with the performance in mind, and if you put off the performance, you will not improve.

    So I don’t agree. But then I do. Thanks for sharing 14 Prompts. And thanks for encouraging us to ship. I love it.

    1. Thanks, Joe. I relate. That’s why I put the “okay, not really…” clause. Practicing is helpful insofar as it’s preparing you for something. But I’ve heard of people using writing prompts for years without ever actually shipping something. There’s something that happens when you put your work on display for all to see: You take it seriously. That’s why I appreciate what the Write Practice is about: writing and sharing. (I don’t disdain practice; it’s essential, but only as a means of preparing for the “real thing.”)

        1. Marion Roach Smith speaks to this in her book The Memoir Project. She has years of experience coaching and teaching writers; there’s a lot of wasted time and effort in over-practicing. That’s why blogging can be such a gift.

  16. I tend only to use writing prompts when I’m working on poetry. They force me to write in a different style. That’s important to me because I hate to get stuck in a particular form or way of writing. Prompts, at least in the way that I use them, bring freedom to my writing. They cause me to think a little differently or to explore an idea from a different angle. The aim of such prompts is to produce something that’s of publishable quality, but the results are hit and miss as, I suppose, most writing efforts are. It would be nice to write a successful post or poem every day, but it’s unlikely to happen.

  17. I am always challenged, encouraged and motivated by your posts (whether I agree 100% or not). Thank you for writing for real. I am ready to play the game.

    PS…I do find prompts to be a distraction.

    1. love it, Shelly. And thanks for sharing your opinion. I hope you don’t always agree with me; if you do, then I’m probably not doing my job right. 🙂

  18. Just my humble opinion, but I see prompts as safety nets, and that’s dangerous.

    Can’t succeed without failing miserably. I’d rather see focus and effort with a lot of stumbles, vs. a more gentle approach.

    Writers write, no matter ugly it might get in the trenches at times.

    Thanks Jeff.

    1. amen. you’re exemplifying this better than most, Brett. If you fail, the whole world sees it. (Not to freak you out, or anything…) There’s no greater incentive to succeed, in my opinion.

    2. It’s only a safety net if the prompt is a safe topic.
      It’s only a gentle approach if you respond to the prompt in a gentle manner.  A writer might want to take more accountability for their writing and not blame their safe, gentle, or weak message on the prompt.

  19. I pick and choose the prompts I use carefully.  Often incorporating them into something else I’m writing.  Taking a scene, a character, into a different direction via the prompt.  Some are simply fun – and I wind up surprised by what I’ve written.  Some have actually been a lead into another piece of writing.
    I’m always surprised by how quickly I finish a prompt.  They aren’t something I sit and mull over, or edit.  They spring out, I correct the typos, and hit publish.  I’ve found them nice for warming up, distracting my mind to return fresh back to my own project, and good practice for the business of writing 🙂 

  20. I occasionally use writing prompts, but I also write to share. I got rid of the fear of being read awhile ago (though there are times I’m surprised people are reading). But for me, a writing prompt can be helpful to me because it can force me to go somewhere I wouldn’t normally go, think from a different perspective, or try another technique. I don’t use them as a crutch, so I can see if writers do how that can hold them back.

  21. I can’t remember ever using a writing prompt because it always just felt silly to me. Why not just write an actual blog post on what I’m feeling, or if not a blog, a journal entry, or a story, or a letter to my grandma, or anything else that’s productive? I feel like there’ s already too much to say to resort to writing prompts that force us to say even more.

  22. Wow, Jeff! Sounds like you had a bad experience with writer’s prompt at some point in your life! I’ve only ever used one or two, but if it’s what someone needs to clear the writer’s block or get some practice in, I’m not sure how that’s “pointless” or “a waste of time.” Sure, if all someone ever does is write writer’s prompts, then I guess that would be completely ridiculous. But I’ve never heard of someone doing that.

    1. Actually, Shawn, I haven’t. (Had a bad experience, I mean.) But I know LOTS of other writers who have used them to hide. And that irks me. And I meet plenty of bloggers and writing coaches who help “prompt” writers and are frustrated with seeing people endlessly practice. Which, as you said, is completely ridiculous.

  23. No offense taken here at all – I related so much to the post that I’ve bookmarked it in my “keepers”. But then again, I’m a no-writing-prompt kinda writer too… so I guess I would agree. 

    I do find that I have to “fill up” once in a while – that is, read, learn, do… basically, live. Writing is so cathartic for me that after I’ve shipped, I feel calm and content. Then I feel like I have more room to “take in” some more before shipping some more. 
    And I do agree with the concept of shipping – and listening to the feedback. In my mind, there is no other way (of course, the skills have to be mastered before heading off “into the world”). 

    With thanks.

  24. Hm… interesting.  I respectfully disagree.

    A good writer will write “something that matters” regardless of whether the topic is coming from a prompt or the writer’s imagination.
    It’s not where you take things from;  it’s where you take them to.  That’s what matters.

    And to answer your question – No, I don’t use prompts.

    But, I have in the past when I participated in the 30-day writing challenge the Domino Project launched back in May.

    1. I used that prompt, too (and miserably failed halfway through). I appreciate the disagreement, Denise and totally agree with this: “It’s not where you take things from; its where you take them to.” Amen.

  25. I don’t question where my inspiration comes from. If something moves me to create, I create. If it doesn’t, I don’t. I keep it simple…it’s more fun and better that way. 

  26. Sometimes I use them.  Sometimes I don’t.  When I use them it’s because I have too many idea fragments floating around my mind, and I need something to help me focus.  I’m really good at ideas, but not good at starting.  A prompt helps get me started when I need it.  Often the prompt has nothing to do with what I wind up writing, it’s just a tool to get me started.  Other days, I know exactly what I want to say and have very little difficulty getting started.

  27. There’s a huge difference between Authority and Hostility in tone. One desperately cares, while the other is out to control.
    As a new reader/writer I was wondering what prompts were for.  Thanks for clearing that up Jeff. Good writing informs and moves the furniture around a bit. On the other hand passionate communication changes lives.Jeff, Thank You for your passion for the craft! I think I’m catching it.

  28. Early on in blogging I used writing prompts and found them to be someone else’s ideas and not mine. Slowly, I have backed off from doing them. I have a fashion blog so I write and publish my photos so I have to balance the two. 

  29. I don’t go looking for “writing prompts.”  Usually, I’ll be reading something and a phrase or line or, in some cases, the title of the daily devotional that I’m reading that day will “jump” out at me.  That is when I find myself going to my laptop and starting a new blog post.  At other times an idea will just come to me, or something that happened in my recent past will call to me to write about it. I never know what I’m going to write about, or even how often (which lately has been more often). But I do feel compelled to write, and when I’m compelled to write, I write the post in one sitting–usually between 1200-1500 words (although they’ve been shorter and a bit longer).  I never know how long any one post will be, but I write it regardless. Then I move on . . . to another post on another day.  –Sara at

  30. As a new writer I honestly have never heard of writing prompts. I’m sure it could help me in refining my writing, but I agree with Jeff. Why hide? If you use a prompt, then publish it and see if it gains traction. Be confident in yourself and don’t be afraid of being pushed back. 

    1. Jim, yes, I think there is. When you’ve got limited time, you need to write where you’ll get the most impact. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels. But I get what you’re saying. Given the choice between writing and not writing, just write.

  31. Interesting.  Writing prompts got me writing again after a long hiatus, and my WIP is centered around a character and premise that were conceived in a prompt.

    I am an assistant editor in a community that uses prompts, and I find them useful to practice different skills, but they’re only one part of my writing time.

  32. Jeff, I think it depends on what type of writing you are gunning. You’ve narrowed your blog focus and have a limited focus on the type of things you should write. 

    A fiction writer, however, doesn’t have those barriers. And prompts a warm ups can lead to insights can that be cannibalized to build characters and scenes. 

  33. I hate it when I don’t have anything to say. When I don’t, I don’t say anything. Just go dark. But it’s a sign to me that my heart, soul, and brain are disengaged, and I need to do something. So, to me, nothing to say is a barometer. Best to treat the problem, not the symptom.

  34. I value your point of view, given your experience as a writer.  But I don’t think that writing prompts are meant for writers, but rather non-writers, to get them to actually write.  To help find what’s meaningful for them, something they wouldn’t necessarily think of on their own, and to write it down for posterity.  Something I’m trying to get my boomer mom to do 🙂

  35. I don’t like the word “prompt” and I loathe the word “exercise.”  I think of the best of these things as play. (We can continue to call the awful, uninspiring ones “prompts,” I suppose.)

    I believe taking time for play & improvisation is essential to creativity.  I facilitate a workshop locally called Wordplay, and I characterize it as “…a playdate with words..”  We do a variety of things from something I call the “5-minute word ticket sticky note poem” to working with Georgia Lyon’s “Where I’m From” Template. 

     I think it’s useful to make a regular practice of playfully engaging with words, with no expectation of outcome. Maybe think of it as writing yoga,  an opportunity simply to be present with words without the pressure of a deadline or an outline.

    Sometimes you will happen onto something special that enriches your writing process or inspires something marvelous to bring into publication.  Sometimes you will just remember how much you love words.

  36. Would you tell a musician that it’s a waste of time to practice scales or do finger exercises?  Tell an athlete that it’s a wast of time to stretch?  A singer that voice exercises are no good?  A baseball player that he’s had enough batting practice? Why isn’t the same true for writers? 

  37. I agree, it is best to just get out of the closet and start sharing your writing with the world, but if you don’t have anything finished or started to share other than doodles in a journal (unless your an awesome thought doodler, cause sometimes a phrase book can be awesome), often times you are forced back to the closet. Writing prompts are awesome ways of tapping into the storehouse of ideas that can often times get pent up. Also, writing prompts can be an awesome off the record way of start an “awesome” piece or re-approaching a current one that has hit a wall. In this way, writing can often times become more successful once it has left the “closet” rather than being swept into the “try again later” box. Writing prompts can be the primer and the finish, so to speak of a project, rather than an “exercise,”Just like working out isn’t me just moving around, but training my muscles to behave differently regularly, burning calories far beyond the work out. In my opinion, writing prompts keep your brain engaged and help prevent it from getting stuck on or entrenched in one project, or help you incorporate new potential material into a project. They are a stimulant, not a distraction.

    Just a thought, or another approach.

  38. I agree with you about 50%. Prompts don’t work if that’s all you ever do, but they can be a non-scary way of getting you sat down at your desk and writing, before you tackle the real thing. I think it also depends on what you’re writing – fiction and poetry writers can benefit a lot from tackling unfamiliar prompts or exercises, but if you’re trying to find your own voice as a blogger or article writer then they might not work for you long term.

    Eventually though, you start to bring your own voice to whatever it is you’re writing, regardless. I’ve been in a room with fifteen completely different responses to the same initiation so lot rests on how much of the individual writer lets themselves end up on the page.

    I do disagree with the idea that you have to ship immediately, most especially if you’re a new fiction writer: in the wrong arena, this can be devastating. And I don’t think the whole of the internet is the right place for work in progress, the work that matters – I think you need to choose your first audience with care, and not everyone out there will be kind with their comments, unfortunately.

    But I stress that I write from the perspective of a fiction writer, so it all comes down to perspective in the end, and as a disclaimer, my own blog is about practice, so maybe my feathers felt ruffled 🙂

  39. Good point Jeff, when I first started thinking about becoming a newbie writer, I tried everything, and never finished anything. But I started, and that was what mattered to me.  I made lots of mistakes, bared my soul, tried all sorts of genre’s, cut out lots of ideas for articles, and had a book in mind. Busy with that book now.

    One thing writing prompts do:  They give you new fodder to think about. They stimulate your brain by testing you. And that is all they do, besides getting you to sit down and write, which as we all know, if we are not pressurized into ‘delivering’ the goods, we dawdle, doodle, and mess around.  Who will see our writing prompts? Only us? They could possibly be the start of a new short story, a poem, an article, an essay? It is really up to the person writing, who reads the writing prompts what they make of them.

    Keep the questions coming, you motivate us to be our best. Thank you.

  40. This is so true. I know I did so much better when I worked as a columnist for a newspaper and HAD to have something new every week. 

  41. Wow, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I teach a weekly poetry class and we use prompts just about every week.  So instead of creating 3-4 good poems per year, my students and myself have each written around 25 poems, the majority are good ones.  Writing prompts are very good for beginning writers and more seasoned writers who are stuck. My students have already won prizes and have had works in important anthologies.   Maybe it’s the nature of my prompts, “Where I Come From, “I Never Told Anyone,” “The Poor” — these have inspired powerful works. So prompts work for me.

  42. Writing about “the poor” definitely came from the heart of my students. Most of the online prompts aren’t very good, “describe a bag of potato chips and then it starts raining, how would the bag of potato chips feel then?”  I stopped using them and made up my own. Mine are better, sorry, it’s true.

  43. I can get what you are saying. 
    But as a beginning writer, trying to figure out what my writing “niche” is and trying to get my name out there, I feel like it is something that I need to use once in a while. Right now, I participate in a once a week writing prompt link-up and I am okay with it. I’m not  basing all my writings on that. I do just sit down and write when I want to say something. I like the writing prompt because it makes me write about a topic that I may not have thought about before.  

  44. I have to disagree with your opinion on prompts.The way I see it,prompts can be used to inspire those of us who have problems with writers’ block. They don’t give you the entire story(that’s left up to us),but it gives us great ideas on what to write.

  45. I always wondered why I was averse to writing prompts–maybe they just seemed too easy, a way to show off your handle on words.

    I agree. Finish that book instead–takes more sustained effort and the payoff is bigger. What better month than NaNo month to get busy on accomplishing that goal?

  46. I don’t do prompts.  Never have.  I just blog daily.  But now I am doing NaNoWriMo (writing 50,000 word novel in 30 days, not meant to be anything but a first draft, gets your words down and you off your butt.) Question I pose to mysef: will I put the novel in a virtual drawer after I write this first draft?  Or will I work with it?  You’ve told me what to do next.

  47. Yay! I can’t stand writing prompts. Why would I put time and energy into a prompt when I could be writing what’s in my heart? Thanks for permission to chuck the prompts!

  48. Okay I have always written with writing prompts and I love them. Not having writing prompts is okay for some people but these things are just words and phrases that spark my imagination the whole story doesn’t have to revolve around them and if you already have an ideal then go with it but when you don’t you can use them. I have written more then four stories/working on and I have tons of fans and they all became a story on just a simple word or phrase that someone said to me or I saw. Writing prompts keep the imagination going if that’s not your thing fine but don’t say I don’t work as hard as you because I like writing prompts

  49. I’m an elementary teacher and I believe writing prompts have their place. They are an excellent way to get kids thinking and excited about writing. However, there comes a time when you need to wean students off of writing prompts and get them to start writing about topics that are relevant to their own lives. Getting students to think for themselves helps them tremendously when they later have to interact with and analyze literature. A good classroom will have a variety of writing in many genres. It’s all about getting students to think for themselves and explore the world through their own eyes instead of others.

  50. well I love writing prompts I think the problem with me, which I’m sure it is with other writers or who call themselves writers, its motivation. Sometimes yes there writings prompts tthey do work but a lot of the times I do use real life events to use for them. for eg. I wrote about a true event that not only happened to me but to everyone. I think everyone knows what I am talking about.

  51. Jeff, I just googled “meaningful writing prompts” (wanting to get back into some writing for pleasure) and this popped up at the top of my google search. Small world. I hope you are doing well!

  52. Hi Jeff,
    I like to use quotes as writing prompts. Anything that sparks an idea. Bible verses, something someone said in conversation, the main idea in a story, etc. I am also playing with the idea of being able to quickly write 200 words on any given subject, even if its a poem, list or even a drawing. Some of these beginning writings end up as blog posts , or even sermons at church. I like to ask myself questions about a subject too, to spark curiosity. Inspiration is everywhere! What are some other ways you use to generate ideas?

  53. I Think the question is do you need a Writing Prompt? If so than by all means use them, but if you are ready to dive in then good for it and start writing. I’ve been writing for nearly a year daily without them and I find them a distraction with my writing groups, but if I needed one then I would have no problem using one.

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