Five prompts to smack down Writer’s Block

“I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it.”~Gale Sayers, American athlete

I was going to write about Writer’s Block, but I have writer’s block. 

Small, random prompts are the best. An unexpected string of words. I forgot how much fun that was until my last Deadwood Writers Group meeting. Facilitator John gave us all a 5-minute writing prompt to use all senses with this opening line: “Kelly and Shawn stared across a wooden table, cups in their hand.” Our group had been critiquing a member’s piece involving alcohol, so naturally my mind leaped to Beer Pong.

In five minutes, I only got touch, sight and smell. Maybe I did get sound with my sentence, “He snorted.” I definitely didn’t get taste, but that’s an easy one to add in without that time constraint. I embellished that prompt–more accurately, condensed that–into a 100-word micro-fiction entry for this year’s Rochester Writers contest. I’ve been procrastinating about that entry, but this spontaneous exercise in my writers group inspired me. It was a short piece, anyway; I just had to make the tight words do double duty.

So if you don’t have a creative writers group with you, how do you come up with prompts? Here are some ideas:

• Grab a book or magazine. Open to a random page. Write down 10 words: five nouns and five verbs. Then, depending on the words, ask the question, “Who/What/Where is that?” Or ask all three.

• Play an I-Spy game. Look out the window, and in 30 seconds, write down the first 5, 10 or 20 images you see. Begin a writing exercise with: “I never expected to see a/an [image] doing that.”

• Use the above Kelly and Shawn prompt above.

• Type “writing prompts” into your search engine. A plethora of images pop up with prompts for dialogue, alphabet writing, holidays, scenarios, What Ifs, poetry, storytelling and lists.  One website that stuck out to me is thinkwritten, which has a 365 creative prompts blogpost.

Of course, you could always start writing about having writers block.

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7 Responses to Five prompts to smack down Writer’s Block

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    Personally I don’t think there’s any such thing as writer’s block. It’s just laziness or a matter of not really wanting to write. As long as a person can think they can think of something to write. That’s my view on it anyway. But I like the idea of writing about writer’s block.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • I’ve never known anyone who doesn’t believe in the concept of “writers block.” You have an interesting perspective. I’d challenge that by saying a person can be uncertain or uninspired on/to choose a direction, theme or character development but is too concerned with the end result to write down anything. “Writers stuck” may be the more correct semantics: editing the end result before Word One has been written.

      • Arlee Bird says:

        “Writer’s stuck” is maybe a better description. To me “writer’s block” is somewhat hyperbolic in the same way that one might say “I can’t imagine such and such”. This is a term I try to avoid since if I consider myself to be a writer with an imagination then in reality I should be able to imagine anything. But it seems to make an idea more preposterous by saying, “I can’t imagine something”. I still find myself using the “I can’t imagine…” lead in and then catching myself to correct it. In the same way where I used to think I had a case of “writer’s block” I place myself in a situation of the writer on deadlines who has to come up with something no matter what.

        Writer’s block is a debatable concept which I guess is something that is obvious since so many writers have written about the topic of “writer’s block”.

        Arlee Bird
        Tossing It Out

  2. I’m not sure when I can get back to writing much, but I grabbed thinkwritten for my Writing Site favorites folder. Thanks for the suggestion.

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