When I committed to a daily writing discipline, it wasn’t because I had 365 topics ready to go. Of course, I had a few ideas, and I knew I could count on situational inspiration from time-to-time. But what really gave me the chutzpah to make this promise was knowing that I could always rely on writing prompts to provide, if not authentic inspiration, at least a starting point.
My friend, writer and fellow blogger (harmonyspearls) Bonnie introduced me to this exercise at Writers Anonymous. This small group of diverse writers has been meeting weekly for many years. The prompt is presented, the timer is set for 5-10 minutes, everyone writes, and then everyone reads. The prompt may take any form — an opening sentence, a photo, a setting or character… the sky’s the limit. Having attended a few times I can say the only thing more creative than the prompt is the writing that follows. It’s fascinating how the same starting point can branch off into such vastly different directions.
Take, for example, the following sentence:
“She opened the trunk of her husband’s car and couldn’t believe what she saw.”
Here’s what this writer’s mind immediately sees:
- Her husband’s packed luggage — is he going on a trip or leaving her?
- Gifts and decorations for a surprise birthday party – her’s or someone else’s?
- Boxed stuff from cleaning out his desk — he didn’t tell her he was fired three weeks ago.
- A portal to another dimension.
- Cheese. Lots of cheese.
Your imagination’s GPS might lead you in a different direction entirely, or we might start on one of those main arterial roads together, only to go our separate ways onto different side streets. Either way, starting with a random prompt is a great way to stay productive while exploring new creative horizons.
[2/17/16 – About Writing]