Have you ever stared at a blank piece of paper or a blank screen? The cursor flashes, waiting for you to put your fingers to the keyboard and begin writing…something…anything…but NOTHING is coming to you. You feel “idea-less.”
It’s a terrible feeling, and if you write, I think I can say, with almost 100% certainty, that you’ve been there.
A blank page or screen can sometimes be too much, too overwhelming. This is where creative writing prompts and quickwrites come in. I’ve had teen writers tell me that they don’t like them because they’re “limiting.” If you’ve ever felt that way, then this post is for you.
Instead of thinking of prompts as a limit to your creativity, think of them as jumping off points that allow you to “warm-up” and get your creative juices flowing. They give your brain something to latch onto and get going.
You would probably not go run five miles without warming up your muscles a bit, maybe stretching, or drinking some water. You’d hurt yourself if you did. Writing prompts are to writing as warming up and stretching are to running.
Just like when you’re finding good ideas, you need to turn off your inner critic. Don’t go searching for the BEST prompt – instead, go with the first or second prompt you find, whether it’s a first line, a poem, or an image, whatever. Put your pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard and just start writing. Go with it. This is how you warm up.
You will probably find yourself (at least I do) on a completely different track then my original starting place and, well, that’s the point. You’ve given yourself a place to start which allows for your own creativity to burble up and end up on the page.