All About Writing Prompts & Writing Practice


What Is A Prompt?

A prompt can be anything. A word, a line from a poem or a song, a name or even a picture. Anything that gets you writing. Find ones you enjoy.

How Do You Use A Prompt?

1. Choose A Prompt.

The internet is a great sources for prompts, but it can be distracting. It helps if you can search for prompts and save them. You can sign up for a daily prompt that is delivered in your mailbox, or you can download a list of prompts and print them out. Anything to keep you off the internet.

2. Choose your equipment.

We believe in writing by hand. It’s different to writing on a screen, and, because of computers and the internet, we are out of practice. Prompts are a good way to help us reconnect with the manual, creative part of our brain. If you are ever stuck and don’t know what to write try writing by hand for a change. It’s good if you can do your daily prompt by hand, but not compulsory.

3. Set a timer. 

Decide on a time limit. By setting a timer, you give yourself a deadline. Writers need those. 10 minutes is a good place to start and you’ll be surprised by how much you can write in such a short time. Use the timer on your phone, your stove, or your wristwatch.

4. Don’t stop.

The only hard-core rule about prompts is that you can’t stop before the timer goes off. You can keep going after the buzzer has sounded, but you can’t stop before that. Write, even if you write about the fact that you have no clue what to write. You can write about anything.

5. Don’t think.

Prompts are about exploring. Try not to edit, scratch out, or fix your writing, while the clock is ticking. You can do that when you are done, but while you are on the clock, it’s all about letting your imagination run wild. There will be time for editing later.

A Prompt A Day Keeps Writer’s Block At Bay

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Why Should You Write Every Day?

Writing every day helps a writer to write in the same way running every day helps an athlete keep in shape.

A blank page is daunting. You stare at the screen or at your notebook and wait for lightning to strike and the inspiration to pour onto the page. That happens, sometimes, but for all the other times we need a kick-start.

‘Start writing, no matter what. The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.’ ~Louis L’Amour

A writing prompt helps with that. It is like opening a tap.

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This post was written by Amanda Patterson and Mia Botha and it is part of our awesome creative writing course Writers Write Online.

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If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course