Make your writing more creative with prompts

Today’s post is responding to questions in Salted Caramel’s Blogging Insights 3.0 #3.

How do writing prompts affect your creativity? Do they expand it, or do they restrict it?

I guess it depends on your approach to the prompts – if you only write because the prompt inspires a response, then they can expand your creativity. I think if we approach the prompts as an obligation, however, and that we must respond to each and every one, then I can imagine that could inhibit creativity, as we force words to come in response to something we don’t relate to or are under pressure to “perform”.

For me, I respond to prompts that elicit some sort of reaction. What I like about the two I’m already responding to, including this one by DrTanya, is that they allow me to explore new areas of writing. Sadje’s “What do you see?” prompts allow me to experiment with and explore creative writing. Therefore, in my case, responding to prompts does expand my creativity.

Can they be considered ‘real’ or ‘true’ writing?

I’ve been surprised by the ways in which different bloggers/writers respond to the prompts. We all bring different interpretations shaped by who we are and our lived experiences, creating an array of distinct real writing from the bloggers who take up the challenge. I also believe that we can be prompted by many things (deliberate and opportunistic) which can influence our creative thought processes and our writing – so in answer to this question, yes I do think that the results emerging from writing prompts are real examples of true writing, just as our writing would be if we were influenced by some other source.

What is your favourite kind of prompt?

I don’t think I’ve been engaging with prompts long enough yet to say I have a favourite. There are,however, different things which attract me to both Sadje and DrTanya’s prompts.

Sadje: I like the fact that I can just look at the photograph and see where my imagination takes me. I tend to look at the photo first to see what ideas occur before I then look at what Sadje has written or any posted comments. However, I don’t pressure myself if I’m not inspired, not every photo is going to say something to me, and sometimes I might just be too busy; which is sad as I’m exploring and developing my creative abilities. I should be practicing as much as I can, but stressing myself out is not going to help the creative process.

Salted Caramel: DrTanya’s question prompts are appealing because they have structure – you’re simply answering questions and as long as I have opinions, I’ll be able to respond to her question prompts. It comes down to whether the questions relate to topics that matter to me or are of interest; if I’m not interested in the subject, I’d probably pass.

I know there are other types of prompts too, that I’ve not ret tried but I’m not ruling anything out and who knows where my curiosity will take me next.

Overall I tend to go with what resonates with me rather than following a particular prompt, and if we think more widely, we are surrounded by prompts and triggers all the time in daily life which probably can inspire us enormously. One final thought is I wonder if being receptive to prompts opens us up more generally to finding inspiration in our daily lives, in our routines and feeding our creativity.

Over to you now – what do you feel about DrTanya’s questions? Do prompts inspire you to be more creative?

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55 comments

  1. I like your end views. Inquisitive minds find subjects in many things. It’s the framing of a question attached to those interests that some cannot find. The question allows you to expand with direction. However. Finding a question or idea can be quite difficult. I remember finding real difficulty in putting together the title of an essay. The framing of the title is vitally important to focus on inherent essay content. Brings parameters. Great read Brenda. All the best.

  2. I don’t generally do prompts. I’ve mostly found them to inspire only frustration at the simplicity. I love when bloggers leave open ended questions for readers to comment on. I want to be challenged to think and I don’t always find that in the way a prompt is worded or presented.

  3. Why wouldn’t it be “real writing?” I’m agree with you, good writing is good writing, it doesn’t matter where what prompted it. I generally have not used prompts, but I have in the past. I find that as long as I keep a fresh list of topics handy, I have enough to keep me going, but everyone has their own way of working. Thanks for sharing Brenda.

    • Thanks for responding Brian. I have a list that could probably take me to 2024, but if prompts speak to me, I can’t ignore it

  4. Lovely responses Brenda.. Especially no2.. I agree with you there. It’s also very intriguing the different perspectives seen and like you said “our lived experiences”. Very accurate.

    Thanks for sharing 🤍

  5. Writing prompts can be very helpful, but I’ve also seen some bloggers publish poor material from them because they feel they have to rush and get a published response out. They treat prompts as a sprint rather than a marathon and publish the first draft they come up with. In my personal experience, it’s better to sleep on drafts.

    • I’d say that’s the case with all writing Hugh. It’s an art that needs to be tended to with care and attention. If I don’t sleep on a draft, I do let it sit for a while before returning to it – even where I’m posting about things that are more factual

  6. I’ve recently started joining in on some of the prompts that inspire me. I agree that if I try to do them all, it feels forced, and my muse says NO. For the ones that inspire, it is a great feeling to be able to join in, especially if I can combine a few prompts into 1 post! I try not to read the comments or other prompt pieces until I have written mine so that I’m not influenced by any one else’s take on the prompt. 💞💞💞

  7. The only writing prompts I’ve ever really responded to are journalling prompts which aid me in the refection process. I definitely agree that they can elicit such varied, creative and unique responses as long as the prompt resonates in some way.

    • Thanks Laura. I think that’s key – write because it says something to you. I look at some of the WP prompts and think why would anyone be interested but I guess we’re all interested in different things

  8. Thanks for this, Brenda! I haven’t participated in any prompts yet, but I’m intrigued. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts about responding to those that speak to you – so your replies are natural, true to you. 🙂❤️🙂

  9. I actually think that prompts help confine my thoughts, allowing me to explore certain topics more deeply. For instance, your question about prompts. It makes me think about all the instances related to the subject, yet still allows me full freedom to say what I want. That’s what prompts do for me. But in terms of fiction, I feel that prompts only weigh me down, since I have no idea where the story will go until I’m in the thick of it.

    • Interesting Stuart. I agree, questions can be a good way of triggering in depth thoughts … I guess that’s why coaches (and teachers 😁) use them.

  10. That was a great post, Brenda. I enjoyed reading it.
    I am so glad you chose my prompt and Sadje’s. I wonder if you know that Sadje and I are close friends in real life.

  11. I have in the last ten or so days written a post based on the jetpack prompts. I have not done this before but I must say I find them interesting, even some mundane questions can get me writing more than a paragraph in response.

    And I think anything that gets you writing whether out of obligation or otherwise improves your writing. Just like running, you can only get better by doing a lot of it. Whether you are doing it for fun or on doc’s orders.

    • I’m glad that the prompts are helping you. I agree, we need to practice, I certainly need to. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      • Thanks for visiting? Are you a teacher? While skimming through your blog I saw some very interesting posts that would only be written by a teacher or a student

      • Hi. I’m a college lecturer – so that aspect of my writing is targeted at students, but the feedback from others lets me know how helpful the information can be to a range of people

  12. I love the idea of writing from prompts but haven’t done any in a very long time. Years ago when I was just nurturing my writing I used alot of prompts as inspiration to get me started. When I had lots of ideas of my own they got dropped. I’d like to check out some prompts again and see how they feel for me now. Thanks for the post.

  13. Interesting topic on prompts. I think prompts can become a crutch for people. I just wrote about this wondering if we are born with imagination or if it was taught. For me, I believe it is 50/50. My mother was always having us (kids) observe our surroundings that’s a great idea generator.

  14. Interesting question, Monica. I believe there could be some truth in your thoughts. We are definitely influenced by our surroundings/environment

  15. Interesting article. I’m a bit 50-50 on prompts and creativity… Ultimately the initial idea for the basis of writing is not yours once you follow a prompt, but I think if you’re not taking your writing too seriously and can’t find anything to write about, go ahead, use one! it’s tricky!

    • Thanks Tom. Maybe it depends on the prompt. The WP daily ones, I agree, but others are so vague, that if your imagination doesn’t fire up, you don’t have anything to write.

  16. I’ll admit I haven’t written from a prompt since my college creative writing classes. i have limited time to devote to my writing, and I devote it to working on my current drafts or blogging. I think prompts are super helpful when you’re learning how to write and still discovering your voice. At this point, I’ve found mine, and my editor has helped me refine it. I probably could still benefit from writing from a prompt here and there, but it’s just hard to justify taking the time to do it.

    • I can understand that and I tend to only do them when they speak to me, but I’ve got so many ideas bouncing around in my head that I should probably focus on my own ideas.
      Thanks for joining in with the discussion Vic

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