Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 26: Real Life "Prompts"

When was the last time a "writing prompt" inspired you enough to follow its lead?

For a majority of writers, that would be never. Despite the ubiquitous prompts offered on many writing websites, in writing magazines and even some writing classes, these ideas often fail to excite the imagination of anyone else except the one who creates them.

The only time that prompts may prove effective is when a prize lures us into entering a contest. (Contests are on the list of "items to be covered" in future posts.) Otherwise, so many writers that I know or have overheard believe that this is another area that requires a skill they don't have.

One problem with following the lead of others is that we often forget to double back and gauge how advice or prompts may have silenced our natural gift of story telling.

So in the spirit of our ancestors who felt the need to tell stories without the desire to "publish," I propose pausing long enough right now to open a window and look out. Don't think, just feel, or listen, or smell, and allow the first impressions to steep.

At lunch, listen without judging the snippets of conversations around you. Look through your photos, to see the lighting and what mood they evoke now.

If you stop every now and then as you go through your days, ideas just happen.  We can follow, and create new plots and characters by paying attention to what we collect along the way and the responses of animals, vegetables and minerals to attention or neglect. Everything counts.

You might find that once you start putting all these pieces together, the ideas will be endless.


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