Sometimes the writing well seems to be tapped dry. Ideas are nonexistent and so the blanks pages remain blank. Every writer has experienced that situation at some point in time. There are simply some days where you can’t come up with an original idea to write about if your career depended upon it.
Those are the days when a writing prompt can be a blessing. There are numerous ways in which a writing prompt can be given. Sometimes it is a starting line. Sometimes it is a subject to write about, or a scene. Other times it can be parameters for a poem or a list of things. There are more websites that share writing prompts than I care to count. Google it sometime. The number of prompts out there is incredible.
Since these are perfect for kick-starting a writing session on those anti-idea days, how is it that writers can still struggle with writer’s block?
Because we also hate being told what to write. Somehow it feels restrictive to have your story or article idea chosen by someone else. I like to think that it flares up our rebellious side, which sits atop the giant writer’s block and taunts us like the French in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The poetry class I am taking this summer has exposed my love/hate relationship that I have with writing prompts. Every week we have some sort of requirement for the poem. Sometimes it has been easy, like writing a poem about Spring. Other times it has been really restrictive, choosing how many lines or whether or not there can be any rhymes at the ends of lines (as well as the topic). Some weeks the poem has come quickly and I’ve been able to walk away.
Other times I think I’d have more fun slamming my head through a wall.
At the end of the first few weeks, though, I will admit I have some really good poems from this class. I have started to discover a new style to go along with my preexisting poetic voice. Perhaps the frustration is worth it, after all. So tonight I’m going to share a few of my favorites from the class so far, and then this weekend I am going to challenge myself to write a post relating to the prompt featured as the image for this post. Feel like joining in on the prompt? Comment below with a link to your post and I’ll come check it out and mention your response during my own prompt post.
You see me running by
every day, yet you do not
know who I am, how I feel. You
smile as I pass then
return to your own
little world. Did you ever stop
to consider I might
not be running past
the bookstore, the Capitol, the bars
along this brick street because
I enjoy this daily run?
You are not alone. They all
smile when I run by the library and
turn back to their day. The children playing at
parks are friendlier than
you. Maybe because that is
how children are. Or maybe
they sense I am not running by but
running away – from ghosts who haunt
my life – hoping to someday
Drifting at a snail’s pace, shifting form,
floating without a care in the air.
At first a lion, then a lamb
and then a fluttering butterfly.
Was the change imagined or
are you the greatest shape shifter around?
Fluffy clouds, transforming clouds,
Crawling through the sky.
She stalks her prey without
sound, shadowing its every motion
as it scurries about the
room, making much commotion.
She crouches low to the floor in
anticipation, coiled like a tight spring.
She leaps, she pounces, and pins it
down. She is hunter of everything.
What are your thoughts on writing prompts? Do you think they help by challenging you to approach new things, or do you feel restricted by the prompt and struggle to generate something satisfactory?