Words to Inspire: What Makes a Great Prompt

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What Is a Writing Prompt?

It is a tool.

It is a resource that you can use to strengthen your writing muscles and build your daily writing habit.

It is a starting point. Something to inspire. Something to focus on that will take you out of yourself and transport you to your creative place.

How to Use Our Writing Prompts?

Many writing prompts come with instructions. Ours don’t. There is no wrong way to use these prompts.

You don’t need to use the exact words. Whatever inspiration comes from the prompt, run with it.

Don’t think too hard. Whatever ideas come to your mind, develop them.

Where Do We Get Our Writing Prompts?

As we wander through life, we look and we listen.

Sometimes we hear a snippet of some strangers’ conversation. Sometimes it’s something that a friend says. Sometimes it’s something we see.

Most of our prompts come from the public sphere. They are snapshots of real life. A surprisingly large number of them come from public transit. There’s something about the metro...

Sometimes we know what came before and after the prompt, and sometimes it’s a complete mystery to us.

The one thing that all of our prompts have in common is that we think they are interesting enough to inspire you to write.

The True Story Behind One of Our Prompts: "I’d like a Caesar salad and a divorce."

I was sitting in a cafe, having lunch by myself. The cafe was quite crowded and the tables were close together. So when two women were seated next to me, I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. Literally, I could not stop hearing it. I tried. But they were loud, loud ladies.

It was clear these ladies were old friends. They ordered a couple of glasses of wine and continued a loud conversation that they had started elsewhere. The woman with the fire engine red hair and the orange glasses was finishing up a story about how her teenage sons were driving her crazy. Poor woman. Judging by her spectacular outfit, the boys antics had also rendered her colour blind.

The blonde lady just kept nodding, drinking and saying, “Oh my god!” while her friend kept saying, “They’re killing me.” When the redheaded friend finally got around to asking the blonde lady how she was doing, the blonde sighed loudly. Just then the waitress came over and asked the ladies if they knew what they’d like to have. The blonde answered, without a second of hesitation, “I’d like a Caesar salad and a divorce.” The redhead said, “Make that two salads and a bottle of wine.” The waitress left without saying a word. She didn’t know if the blonde was serious or joking. I’m not sure if the blonde knew either.

At that point the close quarters and the overly intimate conversation were too much for me. I paid up and left without catching any more awkward confessions. But the sentence “I’d like a Caesar salad and a divorce” stuck with me.

As soon as I got a chance I told Andrea and she agreed it was a perfect prompt. It was easy to imagine a scenario where someone would say this, but it was intriguing enough to inspire someone to venture outside the box!

Next Steps…

Every Thursday we post a new prompt and we would love to see what that inspires you to write. You can post your writing in the comments under that prompt any time.

We will post our own writing that came from that prompt the following Friday.

Read what others have written. Comment on what you’ve read. Share your ideas. Support and inspire others. And become an important member of our community of writers!