I Have Fingers of Thunder

Johny Thundersbeard does not procrastinate about writing

My love/hate relationship with Writing Prompts

The first rule of writing is not don’t talk about writing. That’s actually a sub-clause of the real number one rule for writing.

The first rule of writing is “Make it a habit”.

It worked for JRR Tolkien, so why not you..oh, hang on that was hobbits.

If you make writing a habit – then you are going to improve. It’s also known by another dark alias: practise. And also: practise. And again, another alias: practise.

If you write every day, multiple times, your brain is going to work out what you are trying to do and adjust it’s synapses suitably.

Then, and only then, should you worry about the rest of the rules of writing (like don’t talk about it, do it; characterize not rubberise; and dialogue, revision and the rest of the seven writing dwarves. [The writing witch might be mixing metaphors in her cauldron now, evil thing]).

A great way to make writing a habit is the completion of writing prompts.

The very first thing I did when I came to www.writing.com was respond to a writing prompt of a girl riding her bike.

Sara Riding in the Sun
A father’s last memory of his daughter. Soundtrack: Eagle Eye Cherry “Save Tonight”.

I didn’t even enter it in the competition – I didn’t know how. It was a short, emotional piece and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it came out. I was also pleasantly surprised by the responses (I didn’t know about the newbie promotion factor back then and thought it was all the magic of my words)

So, enjoying that experience I looked for more. And there were lots of them. The only thing was the prompts were all the same concept. Here’s 3 objects now write about them. Ad nauseum. It wasn’t the experience I was looking for.

I came to WDC looking to repeat the wonderful experience I had with the online workshops at http://www.all writers.org. Kathy and Michael Giorgio aren’t just Jonny Come Lately creative writing teachers. They are published authors and Writers Digest magazine uses their courses for their own classes. They are good writers and good teachers and their writing prompts are second to none.

My writing from their courses has been the best that I’ve ever produced outside of a play-by-post dungeons and dragons campaign.

The reason is because they realize that if you wanted to write a story based on disparate objects well, you wouldn’t need them. Anyone could do that and in my opinion, why are you wasting your time with that stuff? Don’t you have thousands of marvelously intimidating ideas of your own to prompt your writing? I know I do.
Why don’t I shut up and write my own stories then? Well, it’s because I’m inexperienced. I lack confidence. Im undisciplined. I need to be spoon fed the whole enchilada of a writing lesson before I can swallow without choking. And I’m not the only one. Michael and Kathy Giorgio realize that the real benefits in writing prompts lie in the inclusion of details. The more the better.

That’s why I started the Detailed Writing Prompt Comp. Because I couldn’t find any prompts of the caliber of Michael Giorgio’s on WDC and I wanted to encourage the concept of the more detailed a writing prompt is, the more you will learn from it

The Detailed Writing Prompt Comp
Multiple, Big Prizes plus PUBLICATION. Every entry wins Gift Points. JULY Prompt up!

I blatantly ripped off my favorite lesson from Michaels course (and for that I’m sorry, I didn’t ask him because, honestly, I was scared he would say no) for the inaugural detailed writing prompt and used my own writing piece from that lesson as an example.

Kids Like Us
Bittersweet reunion on a bus but what is Trevor’s dark secret?

It hasn’t garnered great reviews, that piece. But that’s okay, it is still my favorite piece of writing because it opened my writing mind right up. To me, to my abilities at the moment, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

I love flash fiction, I love reading it and I love attempting to write it. And I love detailed writing prompts too. I think they produce great fiction that benefits reader as well as writer. I hope to see more of them at WDC.


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This entry was posted on December 15, 2011 by in On Writing Motivation.


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