Using Writing Prompts? Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Them

Let’s make sure you get the most out of your writing prompts today, everybody.

Are writing prompts scenes without plays?

TBH, I don’t use writing prompts that much. Part of the reason for that is that I’ve always felt like writing prompts lack a completeness, like a scene without a play. But I’ve come to realize it’s all on how you treat the prompt. It’s really just about whether you can make soup out of a broth bone, I guess. And I’ve learned that if I follow the first point in the video, it doesn’t feel so much like I’m not in control of the story.

writing prompts

Pansters vs. planners

Something else I’ve come to understand, keeping the scene/play analogy going, is that some writers are better at using prompts than others. Panster writers might find it easier to jump in and run with a concept, like an improv artist. But if you are a planner, a writing prompt can feel like it comes out of left field. It can be scary because you can get scared you won’t get your lines right (whatever “right” means). Even the premise of having someone force you to use their idea rather than your own can feel like you’re giving up a control that, for whatever reason, you need.

So, if you struggle with writing prompts, it might be because you lean a little more to the plan-it-out side. You might subconsciously not want other people to direct your creativity or have some insecurity about how you’re going to produce. But I’d say that’s exactly why you need to do the prompts — to feel what the other side feels like and get comfortable with a little wildness.

Pragmatism and vision have to work together

At the end of the day, writing has both pragmatic and visionary elements. The prompt does have constraints, like a frame around a picture, but inside the frame, you can do whatever you da-n well please. So, at the very least, consider the balance of the two. Writing prompts might help you figure out where that balance is.

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