Writing Prompts Do They Really Help?

T6106 Every time I pick up a magazine for writers or go to a web site to learn more about the process of writing fiction, I see writing prompts in one form or another.  But the real question is, do they work? To figure the answer out, there has to be a basic understanding of what writing prompts are designed to do. In the basic context, a writing prompt is designed to get a writer writing. Simple, right? There are some website like Writersdigest.com and Writing.com, that offer daily writing challenges. The thought behind the daily prompts is practice makes a better writer. True, a writer can only get better by writing. But if there is no actual learning taking place or feedback given, how is a writer going to grow? The other question to ask yourself is, when you see a writing prompt, do they get you writing? I’m not sure what other people’s experiences have been with them, but for me the answer is a-big-fat-sometimes. A lot has to do with my mood, as well as the time I have to spend to write. Some writing prompts open a direct line to my creative self, while others have slammed the door shut on any kind of inspiration. In other words, I have success with some and not so much with others. Writers often asked, “Won’t practicing with prompts take away from my own projects?” This is a tough question to answer. There are two sharp edges to this sword, and only the individual writer can choose which side is best for them. On one blade, yes you are spending less time on your current WIP (work in progress), but flip the blade over and the answer is, using writing prompts can help you hone your writing skills and can lead you in the creation or expansion of new or current bodies of work. There is no down side to that. The whole point of writing prompts is to get you thinking about words and how stitched together they construct a complete story. Taking time once a day, a week or once a month, can and will help your creative flow. But you should also look to other avenues like critique groups in your area that can give you feedback, as well as reading books about your craft. By creating your own network for yourself, you have no choice but to become a better and sharper writer. th

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