Thoughts On Using Prompts

Ollin Morales, over at Courage 2 Create, has a great blog for writer’s and creative people.  He recently had a post in which he explained why he doesn’t think writer’s should use prompts.  It’s worth checking out.  To sum up, his reasons are:

  • It only works because it’s acting as a mirror to what is already within you
  • You should be writing what moves you at the moment
  • Open yourself up and look for the answers you already know
  • Using a prompt can confuse you because it’s artificial and can lead you down a wrong path
  • It makes you seek validation from the outside

I think Ollin is correct.  If you are relying solely on prompts and writing mechanically from it, it’s a dangerous crutch.  If all you’re doing is answering some questions, you might want to consider skipping a post for that day.

However, I personally find prompts useful mostly because it gives me ideas of things to try.  I see it as a best practices for thoughts and actions.  After I read two different blogs using a walk as their theme, I knew I had to try it.  I liked it so well, it’s become a semi-regular feature in my blogs.

I’ve enjoyed using the Daybook entries.  There is a structure to them, but it’s up to me to make them interesting.  If I did a simple recitation of my answers, Ollin is right that it would be artificial.  I don’t want to do them too frequently, but when it sings its little songs to me, the posts have been wonderful and my readers have very  much enjoyed the slice of my life.

Some of the prompts don’t appeal to me.  I post them in A Daily Life because we all have different tastes.  For someone else, they may very well appeal.

But I don’t use the prompts as a crutch.  I like looking at them and using them to generate ideas for me.  I might skim a page or two of prompts and one will jump out at me, from which I can write an interesting post that others will read and comment upon.  I do that with quotes sometimes too, especially when I did the random word challenge last year.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a prompt as an occasional crutch.  Sometimes we’re just dry on ideas and need to flex the writing muscle even if it’s forced.  And yeah, not every post is a winner.  Oops.  But the goal is to show up and write and hope that most of it is in fact good.

I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on putting the prompts out here.  I’ve noticed a number of my readers out there trying them out and making some new friends.  So, I’m interested in your feedback – do you think prompts are good?  Not good?  Why?  I’d like to know what you think about using prompts as an aid.

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About dogear6

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

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7 Comments on “Thoughts On Using Prompts”

  1. pattisj Says:

    Your prompts came in handy when I was working on the NaNoWriMo project. My head was so full of that information, that it was nice to have a word prompt and let my brain work at something totally different. Sometimes I’ll look at a list of prompts, but nothing sparks. I think they’re a nice change of pace once in awhile.

    • dogear6 Says:

      Patti – thanks for the contribution in this comment. Being stressed from NaNoWritMo is a great reason to use some prompts. Your blog certainly didn’t suffer during November.


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