You know you’re a good writer.
And after six cups of coffee and a 20 minute Facebook break, you’re still a good writer.
But you haven’t written anything. Yet. And the cursor on that blank Word document is starting to make your eye twitch.
Now is the time to channel your high school English teacher and use a creative writing prompt.
According to Poets & Writers Magazine, building creative writing prompts help even the most seasoned writers by generating new ideas and sparking some inspiration.
Even if you end up scrapping the whole thing, the prompt itself will help you hone your craft and reach your full potential as a writer.
Here are 5 ways to creative writing prompts and how to get more ideas for content:
1. Develop Discipline
Even the greats admit that writing is work. Ray Bradbury once said, “Any man who keeps working is not a failure.
He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
If you get up everyday and write something, you will eventually write something well. A daily writing prompt from sites like BusyTeacher.org can provide the necessary structure to work your writing muscle.
Think of it like meeting up with your personal trainer (only without the embarrassing outfits).
2. Take the Scenic Route
Writing prompts take your pen off the beaten path.
For example, imagine starting a story with this prompt from Writer’s Digest:
“I hadn’t had a drink in nearly 10 years” and ending it with “If only I could remember where I left my pants.”
A prompt that starts a storyline you don’t usually pursue is a great thing because it broadens your artistic lens.
You are forced to investigate a new plotline, a strange character, a hidden flaw.
If you don’t like the end product, at least you will have a refreshed palate when you return to business as usual.
3. Inspire a New Start
Sometimes, the very act of putting words on a page can break up writer’s block.
Try writing a letter literally breaking up with writer’s block.
Start with “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me …”
4. Kill Clichés
Writers can’t just reuse greatness.
They have to “invent it from scratch” Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, states on her blog:
“That’s why writing is a lot of work, and demands unflinching honesty.” – Janet Fitch, Author
Writing prompts can–quite literally–help you kill clichés.
Try this one from WriterofthePrompts.tumblr.com: ‘Soul mates’ they called it.
“I could see why so many became entranced after meeting him. He was my soul mate, no question. Which was why he needed to die.”
If you don’t end up with a great story from this ironic twist on a cliché, at least you’ll have an entertaining reminder not to use it.
And most writing could benefit from one less cliché.
5. Disrupt Your Rhythm
Good writers have a way of using potent words and rhythm to their advantage.
One of the best writing prompts to disrupt tired writing is to imitate someone else’s work.
A great writer’s word choices, sentence patterns and style may help you chisel a new style of writing for yourself.
Try this writing prompt from LanternReview.com and use Charles Wright’s poem “Clear Night” as a template for your own.
Or choose a surrealist poet like Federico García Lorca and challenge yourself to rearrange the words in one of his poems to create your own.
You will not be bored.
And neither will your readers!
Jon Rognerud and Chaosmap work with Fortune 500 companies, small business and entrepreneurs to create digital traffic strategies that scale up customers, leads and sales with profitable returns. Mr. Rognerud wrote a best-selling book (Buy On Amazon), “The Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your Website” (Entrepreneur). Connect directly here.