Writing Prompts: Yea or Nay?

by Lillian Csernica on January 31, 2015

I need your opinions.

See, I’m in this writing group.  It started out with all of us writing nonfiction about events from our own lives.  Somehow over time somebody thought we should add the option of writing prompts.  The prompts usually consist of a word or a phrase.  They often relate to the season or a significant event or holiday.  Along with the writing prompts there has developed a subtle pressure or expectation for people to write to the prompt.

I now find myself annoyed by the writing prompts because instead of mining our own lives for writing material, we seem to be writing essays that fit the current prompt.  We don’t have to write to the prompt.  They’re purely optional.  Unfortunately, due to the group dynamics, most people go along with the prompt.  I am not one of them.  Why has this become such a big deal to me?  Because I would rather hear the stories my fellow group members choose to tell, events important enough to inspire each person write about them, rich with personal meaning and creativity.  If I wanted to write “assignments” I’d go back to school.

So tell me, my fellow bloggers and creative people, what do you think about writing prompts?  Do you use them regularly?  Do you think they’re just part of a writer’s First Aid kit for those times when inspiration runs dry?  Are they a once in a while adventure?

While we’re on the subject of writing prompts, you might enjoy:

40 really awful writing prompts that no writer should use

S****y Writing Prompts

And this marvelous blog post by Jeff Goins:

The Last Writing Prompt You Will Ever Need.

Am I a curmudgeon with no appreciation for a fine tool?  Am I right on the money?  Tell me what you think!



Filed under Blog challenges, Fiction, Goals, Writing

10 responses to “Writing Prompts: Yea or Nay?

  1. Here’s a prompt for you: OMG! ANOTHER U-turn!


  2. Haven’t tried them much….maybe I should.


  3. I will do them if the prompt sparks an idea. Otherwise, I don’t bother. We do them from time to time in my writing group but it is always optional. However, on more than one occasion somebody in the group has had a great story come from a prompt so they can be helpful.


  4. Alex Hurst

    NAY. I am not a writing prompt person (A-Z excluded), and I find the whole writing community inundated with them. Write what really has meaning to you!


  5. Sometimes prompts lead me into a story, other times I’m peeved that I wasted energy and time writing about something I don’t really care about.
    I like one word prompts, not specific questions or scenarios.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Susan! Now that’s a thought-provoking perspective. I find questions or scenarios limiting, but one word prompts can lead to some unexpected and useful writing. Thanks for your response!


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