Writing anything – finding inspiration in prompts

Update January 27th: The Fiction Friday prompts are stopping this week, at number #244, a week after this post was first published. I’ll have to find another source of prompts for future inspiration.

In December I set myself the challenge of writing to weekly prompts from Write Anything. (I also challenged myself to record the things I wrote for Spoken Sunday, but that’s a different story.) I wrote four out of five weeks. The last prompt, anti-resolution, was a list rather than a narrative and didn’t tickle me at all. So I ignored it. This is what I learned from the prompts I did write to.

  • Writing for a short burst of time can be very productive.
    I set a timer for ten minutes and off I went. The first few words are the most difficult – they always are, you don’t want to mar the page – but since the target is to write something, not to write a commercial masterpiece, they were not as difficult as they could have been. Often I’d cheerfully continue once the timer went off.
  • Writing from other people’s prompts can take you places you wouldn’t otherwise go.
    Zombies and Santa are not characters I’ve ever wanted to play with.
  • Style and genre will show.
    My four stories show the genre I write in: a scene of someone running from something unnamed but probably nasty; zombies in the city; a sourceror’s apprentice and PR people. OK, that last one doesn’t really fit the theme. But then, I was trying to write something that didn’t involve magic or monsters. Tricky. Realist fiction’s not really my thing. (Santa? Realist? Well, sort of.)
  • Ideas sometimes just appear.
    Although all the stories I wrote followed, in my head, naturally from the prompt and a germ of an idea I had of how to approach it, unexpected things came out of it. There are kernels of ideas in all of the scenes that I would like to revisit. Itsy-bitsy ideas that I want to play with and that I hadn’t thought about before.

Writing to prompts doesn’t have to take a lot of time but it can have great benefits. New universes and characters appear and let you play with them. It gives you a chance to practice particular skills: description, notes, writing something you wouldn’t normally.

I’ve enjoyed my experiment and will return to Write Anything’s Fiction Friday prompts regularly.


December challenge: Fiction Friday and Spoken Sunday

I need to practice reading out loud. It became very clear when I read at Illicit Ink: although I had practiced and knew all the words, my voice sounded shaky and strange as soon as I pointed my mouth at the microphone. Reading in public is different from a simple recording at home, but practice at the latter can only improve the former. Surely.

To help myself become a better reader, and to get some flash fiction practice and feedback too, I’m doing Fiction Friday and Spoken Sunday this month. They are both run by Write Anything and seem a great way of sharing and getting feedback on your writing from a wide and dispersed audience.

For the next five weeks, I’ll post my very short stories and recordings here as well as on Write Anything.