Writing is simple, but not easy.
Anyone could string a series of letters into words, and words into paragraphs. However, it takes practice for anyone to consider themselves a ‘writer’, an artist who creates art with words.
Why are prompts important for writers?
Prompts can provide a starting board for writers to get started. They give a writer a starting point where they could stop thinking and simply start creating. By using a prompt as a guide, they can focus on responding as opposed to fussing about becoming the next Shakespeare.
Prompts are the cure for the infamous writers’ block that halts the progress for several creatives. It gives the writer something to respond to when analysis paralysis prevents them from making a decision about what to write about. Prompts are quick solutions to spark the creative flame that are within all creatives.
How to respond to a writing prompt?
There are several ways one could respond to a prompt. However here are the best practices of two ways a new or experienced writer could approach a writing prompt.
Quick Brainstorming Session Followed by Writing
Once a prompt is given, a writer could take a minute to quickly brainstorm on the corner of their paper or in their mind what they want to write about. They could ponder a quick, beginning, middle, and end for their piece so that it matches with the prompt while still being considerate of the time. The maximum amount of time anyone should spend in this phase is 3 minutes, though depending on the time allotted for the prompt, that could change.
The writing process then could begin as normal. The writer could use the most basic of writing applications such as Microsoft Word or opt for an online application such as Google Docs or Memo Notepad.
“Winging It” or Stream of Conscious Writing
If the prompt suddenly inspires a writer, then they could skip the brainstorming process altogether. The writer could string word after word together as they appear in their mind. This kind of writing is known as ‘stream of conscious writing’, though for many, they would consider this method ‘winging it’.
By allowing the mind to simply come up with words on the page, you will likely get plenty of spelling and grammatical errors. The tradeoff for the messy writing is that you get raw edited material that simply flows onto a page.
If you are doing this digitally, you may even consider banning the backspace or delete key altogether while doing your prompts. This will prevent even the most seasoned writers from editing their work as they go and force them to focus on one thing, and one thing only. Writing.
Where should you write your prompt?
The oldest method is grabbing the nearest notebook and pen to start responding to your prompt. This could be the most reliable method of getting your ideas onto something physical and then what you’d need to worry about is an equally reliable system of filing away your writing or scanning it into a web version for later reference if desired.
Applications to use for writing prompts
Otherwise, below are several applications that were briefly mentioned above, but detailed below so that writers could see what works best for them.
Word is a computer application that has been around in the market for eons. It’s old, it’s relatively reliable, and can safely live in your Documents folder for quick accessibility. The only downside is that if the application crashes, there’s a chance of you losing your work.
Docs is the alternative to Microsoft Word. It’s handy since it’s tied to one’s Google Account and syncs up with the cloud. Google Docs, unlike word, autosaves every couple of seconds so if one closes the browser accidentally or if it crashes, your work is saved. The added bonus is that since this is an online application, you could start your process on one computer and then continue refining it later on another one at your earliest convenience.
Memo Notepad is an online application that also is free to use. You can start tackling your prompt on the browser without making an account and as long as you use the same computer and don’t delete your cookies, you can go back to your work as if nothing ever happened days later. If you create a free account, you can have your writing tied to your account without worrying about losing your work. Finally, within the program, you could quickly create new documents or email them to yourself when done.
Write or Die has been around the block for several years and has a rather unappealing interface. However this free to use web app is good for beginners wanting to get better at simply writing without editing. It’s an app that has a premium option that is not required, but will add-on several features if you do opt for it.
The Most Dangerous Writing App is a newer online application that you can access on the web. You set a time and then start writing. Unlike Write or Die, The Most Dangerous Writing App is much less forgiving and is one to recommend to experienced writers or those who love a challenge. The interface is beautiful to look at, but it comes at the cost of potentially losing all your progress if you stop writing.
Where to find prompts?
There are a plethora of prompts to be found online. You can go on Pinterest, Google, or Twitter and find various kinds of prompts. Here are a few to get you started and save you time on searching the best places for you:
We highly recommend the 10 Week Prompt Challenge, especially if you are just getting started on responding to prompts. It only takes 15 minutes a week for you to do and it’ll get you slowly but surely used to the idea of responding to prompts on a weekly basis.
It’s a free resource that we highly encourage all writers, and creatives, to jump into so that they can start developing the habit.
For individuals who want daily prompts, we post them at 3PM EST on our Twitter account Take15Min. We highly encourage you to follow us on Twitter so that you could get your daily dose of prompts. Similar to the 10 Week Prompt Challenge, we encourage our followers to respond to our prompts in 15 minutes.
For those individuals who are more ‘image’ oriented as opposed to text-based, here are a few Pinterest boards we recommend you follow for prompts. As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words and hopefully one of these boards will help you as a writer get started.
This is another social media platform that provides plenty of prompts for you to work from. Some of these are inspirational, others are text-based, while some are images to inspire you. Regardless of which method works best for you, we highly recommend you give these accounts a follow.
Where to Publish Prompts?
While we highly believe that prompts are simply starting boards to jumpstart your creativity, you may want to share your work. In this day there are several options for you to choose from.
Medium Is a free online platform that you can use to showcase your writing. It’s an easy-to-use website that has millions of readers who may read and share your work.
Tumblr is a community where you could post your work for others to view. It’s relatively simple to create your account and there are lots of people there who could share your work and get views.
If you plan on sharing more than one piece of work and want to make sure that your work is fully credited to you, then we recommend you start a blog.
We highly recommend SquareSpace as a platform to create your blog since its easy to use and makes your site look professional, but other alternatives are Wix, WordPress, and Blogger.
Do you have any tips for beginning writers?
If you are a beginner, then we’d love to hear what other questions or concerns you have about writing. The more questions you ask, the better we can help you get disciplined about practicing your craft.
If you consider yourself a veteran writer, then what are some other tips or lessons you’d want to share with beginner writers? Do you find using prompts valuable whenever you experience writer’s block. We’d love to know your thoughts.