Thursday, November 17, 2011

Writing Prompts

So I spent the better part of this evening looking for ways to fill my NaNoWriMo word count. After running through my list of projects (Rosetta, Dash, YA, Long Live, and now my newest story Angels), I came up with... writing prompts. So I set about searching for writing prompts online to help get me started.

I have to tell you: they suck.

I don't know if it's just the websites I found, but there were a ton of one-word writing prompts (which can be fun when I'm in the mood for them) and a ton of prompts along the lines of, "Write about something you dislike about yourself." But there were very few longer prompts, containing things that might get your mind working if you're having trouble coming up with an idea of your own. It's all well and good to have the prompt, "Cinnamon," but if you're already a little burned out and not having luck coming up with a concept, sometimes you need a little more.

Maybe it was just the way I was searching. I typed "Writing prompt" into Google and went with the sites on the first page. Is there a better topic to search? Maybe "story starters" or something like that?

When I was in high school, I used to spend the first fifteen minutes of every morning doing free writing. Basically, I'd sit at my desk at 5:15 in the morning and write about whatever could possibly come to mind.

Needless to say, there were a lot of angry journal entries about how much I hated being awake that early.

I liked doing the free writing. I read about it in one of those "How to Be a Writer" books (maybe Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird), and the author talked about how it loosened up her mind for the rest of the day. I noticed a distinct uptick in my creativity whenever I did it. I felt more awake during the day (which was ironic because I woke up earlier), and I felt like my brain was firing on all synapses.

Unfortunately, like most things I did in high school, this faded away as I got older. Eventually, I valued the extra fifteen minutes of sleep more than the burst of energy and creativity I would get from free writing. Nowadays, I wake up and sit on my computer for a half hour before even attempting to move. I could use this time to write/free write.

Instead, I watch reruns of Boy Meets World or play games on Sporcle.

Part of the problem is that I'd rather write than free write, but I'm afraid whatever I wrote at six in the morning would be completely useless--and it probably would be. But I don't want to have to rewrite everything I do, and I don't want to waste time writing things that don't matter (aka stream-of-consciousness free writing), so instead I write nothing. And for some reason my brain is okay with this.

Anyway, at this point I'm just looking to fill my word count, but I will go back to the initial point and pose a question to all of you who are reading (so possibly just Kim): Does anyone out there have a tried-and-true writing prompt site they use?

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