How to Use Writing Prompts & Why It's Good for You!

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Write from Life was born out of a desire to develop a daily writing habit using real life, relatable prompts. (Read more about that here.) Once we realized how interesting real life really is, Madeleine and I were moved to open our eyes and ears even more to the people, situations and events surrounding us as we move through this existence.

But why did we want to use writing prompts in the first place?

Why Use Prompts?

Well, Madeleine wanted to write daily, but she didn’t have a specific project she was working on at the time. She asked herself the same question many writers have and do: “But what should I write about?” So when we started getting together for our little writing group, we would think of writing prompts we could use for our 10-15 minute writing sessions so that we'd have something to write about. For my part, it was great to write something other than my novel. I enjoyed expanding my creativity and imagination outside the storyworld I’d been inhabiting for so long.

So that’s the why. Now to the how.

How to Use Writing Prompts

As you may have noticed, our writing prompts span a variety of subjects. After all, we’ve been hearing the darndest things in our quest to collect prompts from real life! Here are a few different ways we’ve been using our findings.

Just Write

Take this line, overheard at a restaurant: “I’d like a Caesar salad and a divorce.” What a great line! One way to use this as a prompt is simply to use it as the first line of your writing and see where it takes you! You could end up writing a full scene, a journal entry, or anything else that comes to mind.

Create a Scene

As I mentioned above, you could also take that line and write a single scene around it. The prompt doesn’t necessarily have to be the first line, but it should show up at some point in your writing. So what does a scene require? Well, you need a setting, characters, conflict, dialogue, and a beginning, middle and end.

Character Sketch

Another way to use that prompt would be to write a character sketch of the person who said it. Write for five to 10 minutes about this person. Who would say it? What’s his or her name? What do they look like? What brought them to this point? Explore your character as much as you want!

Focus on Dialogue

Rather than writing a whole scene, you could also focus on just one aspect of a scene. For example, try writing only dialogue. Remember, the key to successful dialogue is usually in what’s not said by the characters. They don’t have to explain everything to each other because they already know so much. And the more you know someone, the less you can say and your meaning will still be clear. Over-exposition ruins any piece of writing.

You could do this exercise as well with other aspects of a scene.

Writing prompts are the perfect way to get into a daily writing habit if you’re not sure what to write about. We hope some of these ideas on how to use prompts will get your creative juices flowing too.

Happy Writing!