Do Writing Prompts Work?

Ah, writing prompts. They’re everywhere. Daily ones, writing exercise ones, lists of prompts, music prompts, picture prompts. But how effective are they?

Well, it depends.

It depends on lots of things. What your goals are. What you’re hoping to get out of a prompt. What frame of mind you’re in.

Some people swear by them. Some people can only use a particular type–music, or pictures. Song lyrics or poetry. Short phrases or given beginnings.

Sometimes a prompt can be just what you need to get through a rough spot in a draft, or to jump start your writing after a dry patch. But I feel like sometimes people rely on them too much. But that goes back to the goal thing. If someone just wants to write something every day, for fun, for themselves, then good for them. Prompts work great for that.

And I feel like a lot of excellent short story ideas can also come from prompts.

But sometimes, I think, people get lost in them. They write and write and write, but never advance, never finish anything, never share anything.

If that’s your end goal–just writing–then great. But a lot of people want more, and they get bogged down.

Not all prompts work for all people. I prefer lyrics, but sometimes pictures work as well. Concepts work better, such as genre mixes or themes. If I can’t immediately see some sort of SFF connection to a prompt it normally doesn’t work at all.

How about you guys, Squiders? Do you like prompts or feel like they’re a waste of time? How often do you use them? What type works the best?

10 responses to this post.

  1. They don’t appeal to me, but I know they work well for some people.


  2. I’m very selective about the prompts I use because I usually have enough ideas on my own. If it doesn’t immediately spark an idea or make me excited then I don’t do it. It’s a waste to make myself mechanically write about someone else’s idea. Usually when I do use a writing prompt, it’s because it clicks with an idea already floating around in my head.


  3. This might be a duplicate but my first attempt to comment doesn’t seem to be showing up.
    I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. My latest post is about it.


  4. Posted by SleepyDragon1320 on 2015/01/17 at 3:11 PM

    I mainly use them to help me get writing if I am struggling to do so and sometimes, prompts have been what I needed to get past a problem I have with something I am working on.


  5. I used prompts more when I first started blogging than I do now. I think I’ve gotten some good out of them, though.


    • Yeah, I use them sometimes for blogging too, especially if I’m having a brain-dead sort of day. How useful they are seems to vary every time I look, however.


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