How to make writing prompts work for you!

If you have been a writer for any length of time, you will have heard of writing prompts. SO what are they? And how do you make them work?

Simply put, a writing prompt is a sentence or statement designed to prompt a written response. Hardly surprising. As a writer, it is important to use these to improve your writing skills, as well as providing a way to work through any writing blocks. 

But are all writing prompts equal?

Quite frankly, no.

Well, let me qualify that. Writing prompts are not equal when it comes to improving your writing. This is typically because they are too directive and will produce a rather standard, and unimaginative response.

As an example: 

How old were you when you got your first job, and what was it? 

If you are already a decent writer, you could work with this prompt and make it interesting. But if you are an emerging writer, or working on your own memoir this is NOT the kind of prompt you need. 

But WHY? 

It is a good question. And something that you would potentially want to include in your memoir. So what is wrong? Well, it's just that most people would have included this information in their story already. And the kind of response to a question like this is very basic.

It is a fact. I worked here. I was X years old. I earned X dollars.

There is nothing revealed. No emotional connection points. No why. So save it for your CV. BUT there are things that your family will want to know about your first job. So how can you make that story more interesting?

So what is a good writing prompt?

A good prompt makes you think and write about things you wouldn't already include. In terms of writing about your first job, a good prompt might look like this:

As an example: 

Describe how you felt when you started your first day of work? 

The reason this is a better prompt is that it puts the writer in the story. Yes, even memoir writers can forget to actually write about themselves, and their story looks more like a list of what they did, but reveals nothing about who they are or how they felt. 

This prompt will make you write about your feelings. Describing what you did, as well as why you did it, brings people into your world and opens up the opportunity to discover the person you once were. 

This kind of prompt also naturally includes the facts about where your job was, and may include many of the other relevant details in a connected, and engaging way. 

This is one of major differences between leading memoirs,

and those that feel like a slog. 

 

When writing your memoir it's so easy to lose yourself, and the story you are trying to communicate in the desire to share the details about what actually happened. And some writing prompts tend to encourage these behaviors. 

So I like writing prompts. I use them and definitely if you are writing your own memoir, they can help you to cover lots of topics.

But they don't always help you produce writing that really shares your experiences, or who you are. 

So choose your prompts wisely, and seek out a good editor to help shape your story, so all your work isn't left unread on the shelf. 

 

 

If you would like someone to help to do the writing for you, contact one of our team.

 

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