Writing prompts motivate me to write scenes that I might not have ever thought of writing. I keep a collection of them in a file on my computer, holding on to them so that I can use them one day in a story.
I subscribe to Sarah Selecky’s prompts, and I’ve been trying to do them a bit more often lately. In her daily email, she provides the prompt, and then usually asks that you write for ten minutes, and that you write by hand in your notebook. If I do them seriously, it always takes me longer than ten minutes, and I never write by hand in my notebook. Because I’m badass that way.
Sometimes the prompts provoke (or should it be evoke? I looked it up and I’m still not sure) an idea right away, and other times I stare blankly at the screen for ten minutes, not writing a thing. Then there are days when I delete the prompt without even trying, knowing that I won’t be able to come up with anything at all.
Usually you are supposed to write a scene of some kind. For instance a recent prompt asked me to write about a scene that involves a plate of scrambled eggs. I liked that prompt, and I did write something for it. But a couple of days ago the prompt was simply to write a list. A LIST! That’s easy, I can do that.
Spend ten minutes listing everything you know that is orange.
I came up with oranges right away because I’m smart that way. Next was carrots. Then a sunrise. Then… I stared and blinked for a while. This was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. Apparently not only is there nothing that rhymes with orange, but there are not a lot of things that actually are orange. Eventually I came up with a few more orange items, but it was over the course of the day, while keeping my eyes open to all things orange around me.
And as an experiment, I thought I would share the two writing prompts I mentioned above. This may be really uninteresting, or maybe it will provoke (nailed that one) some thoughts and comments about writing prompts.
Nov. 10: Spend ten minutes listing everything you know that is orange.
Carrots (also duh)
Wow not a lot of things I can think of are orange other than things derived from, or based on, oranges
Traffic lights. Well; they’re amber
Candies can be
This is harder than I thought it would be
Pup tent from the 70s
The Hold button on my work phone. Or is it red? Reddish orange let’s say.
Nov 4 Write about a scene that involves a plate of scrambled eggs.
He loved making her scrambled eggs. They were easy, for one. The buttery yellow colour was pleasing, for two. The spatula breaking and stirring the eggs until they formed the ideal median between solid and softness, satisfying his inner perfectionist, for three.
The eggs sizzled in the cast iron pan, almost ready. He turned off the flame to let them finish cooking on their own and moved to the cupboard to take out two small plates. He scraped and spooned, giving her just a little bit more. There was no toast; she was Paleo now.
The coffee pot let out a final burp to indicate that it had finished brewing. He added the coffee cream to the cups first, the way she liked, then poured the steaming dark liquid into the cozy brown mugs. Two forks and a tray, and he was ready to take their breakfast upstairs.
He opened the door gently and could see the blue glow of her phone lighting up her still sleepy face.