By Maria Arnt | A 2-minute read.
We’ve all experienced the dreaded blank page. You finally set aside some time to write, you’ve had some great ideas over the last few days, and you’re ready to go. You open up your notebook or your word document and…
Beginning writing is a bit like getting into a cold swimming pool; it can be really hard to just jump right in some days. So what is a writer to do? How can we slide down the ladder one agonizing inch at a time until we’re used to it?
The answer is: Writing Prompts. This is not only handy for starting new stories, but also when you’re stuck in the middle of a story you’re already writing. Think of it like warm-up sketches for an artist. They don’t have to be good, the whole purpose is the process. It’s easier to start somewhere that there are no stakes for the quality.
So, how do you get a good prompt? Fortunately, there are a ton of prompt resources, so you’ll want to focus more on finding ones that work well for you. You could go for social media communities like writing-prompt-s on Tumblr or Instagram. Or you could try a random generator, like this one that has a variety of different factors you can cycle through until you find something interesting. Or, if you prefer to have something you can return to over and over, there are a variety of books and eBooks for just this purpose.
Once you’ve got your prompt picked out, it can help you to set a timer for this warm up, and do it as a sprint. This keeps you from wandering too far down the rabbit hole, and also gives you a little added pressure to just start getting words out without worrying about the consequences or quality of what you’ve written. Word sprints are always handy when you’re stuck, and they’re the equivalent of jumping in that cold pool cannon-ball style.
When your timer goes off, switch back to the piece you wanted to write on. If you feel stuck, try another prompt or two. Eventually you’ll get a good feel for how much of a warm up works best to get you going.
But what do you do with what you’ve written when it’s done? Some writers simply delete them or throw them away, just like few artists hang on to warm up sketches. But if there’s something about it that really caught your attention, if you find yourself reluctant to stop writing this new idea, go ahead and put it in your plot bunny cage. Someday you’re going to want to write but you don’t know what, and those are the days to bring out a plot bunny and let it run amok for a while, to see if it can grow into a full story.
In the meantime, the creative parts of your brain will be awake and ready to go. This can be especially helpful if you find that your writing must be very technically precise
Now get writing!