Monday, July 4, 2011

Discussion: A Swift Kick in the Pants

A weekend away from it all has left me feeling a little...uninspired. There's a column I need to be working on, as well as several writing exercises plus an entire novel, but what have I been doing all afternoon? A whole lotta nothin'. And so I find myself here.

This morning I pulled out my writing books, a whole stack of how-tos and exercises and best techniques, etc. etc. I didn't get very far through my stack because the book on top captured my attention. It's called The Write-Brain, and it's full of "366 exercises to liberate your writing." Well, after reading through this "helpful" book, I find my writing even less liberated than it was before. I hate it when that happens.

With all the writing prompts and exercises that were in this book, I couldn't find a single one that inspired me. Why? I honestly have no idea. Prompts are a relatively new thing in my writing world. I used to hate them. I felt that there was nothing I could do with a writing prompt that hadn't already been done a million times before, but then I actually tried a prompt. I realized after this first attempt at taking a prompt and turning it into a tale that prompts were actually quite a challenge. Having a starting off point didn't necessarily mean I was cheating in some way (which is kind of what I used to believe), it just meant that I was being challenged to do something totally unexpected with that starting off point...or at least that's how I look at it.

Now today's uninspired funk is an obstacle not even a writing prompt could overcome, but in normal circumstances, I've actually found that I really enjoy using prompts, that they're amazingly helpful at inspiring new characters, new directions, and new stories.

What's your relationship with writing prompts? Do they provide a challenge? Do you find them too easy? Too simplistic? If you find a prompt that doesn't inspire you right away, do you try even harder to come up with a response to that particular prompt?

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