Creative writing is in a literary world all its own. It can transport us to worlds of hobbits, yellow brick roads, wizards, mystery, and romance. It gives us epic poems and dramatic plays. But sometimes, it’s a bit hard to get started. Writers often turn to creative writing prompts to help jump-start an idea or work. Prompts can help budding writers and even the more experienced and do wonders for practicing the craft of writing. So, come, let’s take a look at the benefits of using creative writing prompts.
Creative writing versus other styles
First of all, let’s talk about what creative writing is. According to Masterclass, it’s a type of writing that includes a variety of genres, like short stories, novels, poetry, plays, and has various styles. It’s different than technical and academic writing with a more casual flair and focuses on elements like character development, plot, and a true narrative while infusing the structure with imagination and story.
For instance, a scientific paper has a definitive style guide to follow. A business proposal also follows a certain standard. Formal language is often used and things are more black and white. Journalistic writing incorporates facts and reports events. Creative writing, on the other hand, can follow any format and be about anything you want. Creative writing can be a few sentences or hundreds of pages. That freedom is the beauty of creative writing, but it also makes it difficult as a writer has to let yourself be free of constraints to create and let the parameters fall away.
Look at some of the great writers in our past. James Joyce and T.S. Eliot did not follow structure and standards. That can be a bit hard to pull off, though, and many creative writers do like to stick to the more conventional styles.
Some people argue about blog writing – is it a creative form or something else? That probably depends on the blog itself. Sure, there aren’t the guidelines that we see in other forms of technical or academic writing, but is it necessarily creative? This is where things get hard to label, but that’s okay. Blogs are personal forms of expression and engagement so though they are worth mentioning, we’re not focusing on that today. We are going to see how to go about getting your creative juices flowing.
Creative writing prompts
Often creative writing prompts make people think of elementary school – write about your best day ever or share something about your pet you’d like the class to know. Actually, though, these aren’t bad prompts. A creative writing prompt is any starter that helps you to think, form structure, and generate your ideas. Check out these prompts and how much fun you could have with them:
- Write a story that takes place in an isolated, winter cabin during a storm.
- Create a story that incorporates strange and exotic foods.
- Tell a story from a dog’s point of view.
Creative writing prompts arent’s limited to narratives. How about this for a poem prompt, Write a poem about your favorite color or this one for a short piece of drama, Write about the meeting of two people in an elevator. The key to good prompts isn’t actually the subject matter, it’s opening up the creative pipelines to let the thoughts reach the paper. Often people are stumped with how to get started on a piece of creative writing and need a bit of encouragement. Prompts are important in the other genres besides narratives and stories because they can already be a little intimidating or tough to start, even when you hear the call of the poetry or dramatic muse.
Why we love writing prompts
So many people have great stories inside of them but don’t know how to reach them. When we are offered creative writing prompts, it’s like lending a hand to a stranger. All of a sudden things become a little clearer, a little easier. Here are some great benefits of working with writing prompts:
- You get a topic that you can modify and work in a way that relates to you
- Writer’s block can be thwarted through creative writing prompts
- Sometimes all it takes is getting started and then the words flow organically
- You can pick and choose until you find one that speaks to you
- Writing prompts are readily available on a number of sites
- You can write the words and worry about editing later
Ohhh, wait – let’s focus on that last one for a minute. Have you heard the term paralyzed by perfection? It’s when people are afraid to take on something for fear of not doing an amazing, perfect job the first time. So writing is tough in this vein. How many times do you think a book goes through the editing process before it’s released? Whatever the number is – it’s a lot. So not only can the thought of writing from the heart and showing your creativity be scary, but so can the thought of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. So using a creative writing prompt at least gets the fear of finding a good subject out of the way.
How to use creative writing prompts
Maybe you were lucky enough to have a great teacher who helped you write. He may have said, “Don’t worry about the mechanics now. Just get your thoughts down.” When we can put aside the fear of spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, our writing can flow naturally. There isn’t the fear of using the word we want even if we don’t know how to spell it. That part can all come later with the help of a proofreader or editor. Even the best writers using editing tools and editors.
So to begin with a creative writing prompt, find one that speaks to you. There are books and websites and instructional videos offering creative writing prompts. Check out sites like ThinkWritten where you can find large lists of prompts. And then there are a few ways to use prompts depending on your goals.
Many sites offer multiple prompts; the one above has one for every day of the year. You can approach these systematically and write a paragraph or poem every day using the daily prompts. Some you’ll like better than others, but it will challenge you to take on new topics and step outside of your comfort zone as well as set a routine of writing.
Prompts for longer works
Often writing contests offer a prompt for the work you’ll submit. This is a nice way to get ideas for short stories. Maybe you’ll end up submitting your story, maybe not, but it’s a good way to get ideas.
Editing after using creative writing prompts
Once you’ve gotten your ideas down, you may want to go back and see about editing your work. This also depends on the purpose of your writing. You don’t really need to edit your journal entries, but you may want to if you think you’ll go on to share your work. People also like to edit their work for a final run-through so it is more polished.
Editing with a professional
Plenty of people turn to professional editors before they submit their work to a publisher or other platform. If you write a blog, you may just want a reliable friend to edit, but if you’re submitting a story, play, or novel to a publisher or contest, it’s a great idea to use a professional editor.
You can go through a service, like Bunny Studio to work with a professional editor. This way, any mistakes will be caught. It’s often difficult to find your own mistakes in writing, so enlisting a service of professional editors is well worth it. They shouldn’t change any of your thoughts but may correct grammar or structure and maybe make some suggestions. It’s a good investment after the work you’ve put into creating your work.
Summing up creative writing prompts
If you’re getting a little stuck in your writing endeavors, turn to some creative writing prompts. These short ideas can jumpstart an amazing plot, intricate conflicts, and engaging characters. From settings to weather to fantastical creatures, writing prompts can offer the ideas you need to get your writing going. After all, you can’t always write about the same thing, no matter how interesting it is.
Once you’ve finished your piece, get it edited. Whether you turn to a friend or professional service, if you hire a writer, you’ll be investing in yourself and investing in your craft. It will be well worth it, we can assure you. So pull out those writing prompts, flex your fingers, and let your thoughts flow. Before you know it, you may have just written the most creative display of fiction.