Writing Prompts & The Dreaded Block

I’ve never been one for writing prompts. I always hated having to obey someone else, and I resent having to tailor anything I write to fit some arbitrary guidelines. In my college writing class, prompts were the bane of my existence. Why can’t I simply stare off into the distance for a few hours until I know what I want to write about? Why must I follow rules?! Why doesn’t WordPress allow me to insert an interrobang?!

It’s just my stubborn rebelliousness at work here, but I have never been a fan of writing prompts, but I am trying to keep an open mind about them lately. Another cliche is the idea of “writer’s block.” Yes, it’s real, but it’s definitely more psychological and emotional than simply “not knowing what to write about.” And I’ve got it in full force. I haven’t written anything in weeks and it’s bugging me.

So, in an effort to combat my very real writer’s block, I am going to work very hard every day on completing the writing prompts included in this book:

Photo Jun 18, 4 24 28 PMPhoto Jun 18, 4 24 44 PM

Two Pages, by Abigail Thomas, which I bought in Woodstock last month. These prompts are one part writing prompts and one part poetry, so I’m hoping it’s a little more creative than your standard “insert prose here” kind of prompt. I am going against my natural hatred for authority and being told what to do, but maybe it’ll help lift me out of this writing rut. Wish me luck!

The first prompt:

two pages

of ten years of your life, using only
three-word sentences 

of pure gossip

with pillow, convertible, and ice cube

Sounds like fun.

What do you writers out there think about using prompts to help you with your writing? How do you combat writer’s block?

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  • I have an understanding with writing prompts. I will use them when I am going through a dry spell, kind of like a warm up before a workout. A lot of times my mind will follow the prompt’s guidance until I hit on a point or topic that is all my own. It’s almost like when you cannot remember something and you think and think but to no avail. If you just stop thinking about it, the answer will just pop in your brain!

    • I really like that philosophy! Thanks for your feedback!

  • I rarely use writing prompts, but that doesn’t stop me from adding them to my writing board on Pinterest. Most of the time, just reading the prompt will spark a completely different idea or scene or character that will fit into my books. So, I guess I never follow the “rules” of writing prompts, but they do prove useful occasionally when they pass me by.

    • I like this. I don’t appreciate having to follow rules! Thanks for sharing.

  • As a fourth-grade student, writing prompts were my Goliath. My teacher was convinced that I could be a writer if I would think beyond the rational. I, however, could not fathom the idea of people walking on walls or animals speaking. I handle prompts much better than I used to, and the three that you shared already have my mind spinning. I will have to write them down for when I have “writer’s block.”

    • I was the opposite: the only things I imagined were things that never existed, but I cannot outline a plot to save my life! But I love that these writing prompts give me the ability to free write. Thanks for your comment!

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