What a loaded word.
For writers, the battle for inspiration is a long and hard-fought one. Some days your mind is teeming with wonderful ideas, while other days your head is as empty as the blank word processor on your computer.
I’ve found, though, that it’s not so much a lack of inspiration, but a lack of ideas. While this sort of thing can happen within a larger project (like a novel or series), I think it’s excruciatingly common with writers who focus on writing short pieces. As a micro-fiction writer, I often find myself staring at a blank piece of paper, struggling to come up with ideas for new short stories and flash fiction pieces. It’s the main concept that I struggle with. But once I have an idea or direction for a story, BAM! The words start flowing.
But how to get over that initial, aimless search for a new story topic?
Lucky for us writers, the writing community is a sympathetic one. Every writer has struggled with finding ideas and knows how frustrating it can be. So, many writers have taken the opportunity to help their fellow word smiths out by creating writing prompts.
Writing prompts? Are we in second grade?
Hear me out. Writing prompts are wonderful for a few reasons:
– They introduce your brain to new ideas and scenarios
– They challenge you to write something outside your comfort zone
– They can function as a warm up or leaping off point
– They come in all shapes and sizes
– Most importantly, they take away the pressure of coming up with a new idea or start to a story by doing that for you
To make your writing life a bit easier, here’s a list of a few sources (some traditional, some less so) for various types of writing prompts or inspiration. Pick which ones you like and run with them!
Did you know that Sprint Shack has a Facebook page? Did you know that, for the month of February, Faye is posting a new prompt EACH DAY? Well we do and she is! Head over there and like our page to follow along for more prompts this month! If you’ve missed the first half of the prompts this month, not to worry, they’re still up! And as if that weren’t enough, we’re also doing a Story Shuffle event during March! More infor on the Prompt-a-Thon and the Story Shuffle here.
Sprint Shack Pinterest
We’re also on Pinterest. And we’ve got a cool board devoted entirely to writing prompts. So check it out!
Pinterest itself is a great source for writing prompts/inspiration. I often make my own up by searching for travel photos or bizarre/surreal portraits, picking one, and then writing a story based on the person or scene portrayed there.
Sometimes all it takes to get the writing going is one word. I like using oneword.com when I’m stuck. I take the word they provide for the day, then write a story where I somehow incorporate that word within the first few lines.
Similar to oneword.com, I’ll often pull out a dictionary or book (yes, I’m talking physical volumes with actual pages here, not ebooks…though I suppose that could work too…) and flip to a random page, close my eyes, and put my finger down on the page. I then take whatever word I’ve blindy selected and build a story around it. Even the most dull or obscure words can be the basis for a good story.
I often collect business cards from salespeople, restaurants, etc. And save them in an envelope I keep in my desk drawer. When stuck for a story or character, I’ll pull one at random and create a story around that person’s name or occupation. Just remember to change the name in some way if you plan on publishing/sharing the story when it’s done. Or, you know, just to avoid being super creepy.
Do you use writing prompts? What are your favorite sources for prompts or inspiration? Let us know in the comments below!