I just finished reading a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Hope Clark. She posted a rant about how she hates writing prompts and believes that writers should be professional enough to come up with ideas on their own. (See the blog post at http://hopeclark.blogspot.com/.)
I often tell my students about the moan I give out whenever I hear the words writing prompt. I have a love/hate relationship with them. When given a writing prompt, I always feel pressure to produce something wonderful. And I often have. In fact, some of my best writing has been produced under pressure with one of those dreaded prompts. Prompts can be valuable to the memoir writer, dredging up memories that have been forgotten. They can also be valuable to the fiction writer, helping the author conjure up unexpected scenes and dramas.
Some of my favorite prompts come from a book Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg. If, like me, you dread the writing prompt, give yourself an assignment to complete a ten minute timed writing exercise. Give it a real effort just to see what you come up with. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Here’s one of my favorite prompts from Old Friend from Far Away : Tell me about a time you watched the clock.
Set your timers and go!