I have always had an active imagination. When I was a kid, I used to see my stuffed animals wander around the house at nighttime. As a teenager, I couldn’t go to sleep sometimes because when I would close my eyes I would hear a monster’s voice. Now, when I try to fall asleep during a thunderstorm, I see apparitions in the corner of my eye.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t just imagination here. The point is no matter what the cause, bad genetics or a bad sense of humor, I have a very creative personality and I still get writer’s block.
I have found that when I am experiencing writer’s block, the best method to break it is using creative writing prompts. For those of you that do not know, creative writing prompts can be a word or phrase that a writer puts down on paper to get them thinking about a story idea by simply trying to create a story from that word or phrase.
So, if you are stuck on what to write, get out a pad and pen and write down some creative writing prompts. Here is an example list:
1. He drove away from the city and when he saw the UFO slowly growing smaller in his rear view mirror, he smiled.
2. After reading the text message on her boyfriend’s phone, she made sure he was asleep on the couch before going to the kitchen.
4. The cowboy kept a six-shooter on his left hip that was too rusted from the blood of his dead brother to work again, but it worked fine with reminding him why he had rode into town.
5. She ran.
The beauty of creative writing prompts is how easy they are to create and how effective they are with sparking the imagination. It takes less than 10 minutes to think of five and as soon as you write them down you can feel your creative writing muse stirring awake.
All five examples of the list above can easily be used to create a vast number of stories. Number one may be strictly scifi, but two through five can all be used for any genre of fiction. You may think number four may be a western, but think again and it could be something else. Who says the cowboy has to be human or the setting has to be in the American west?
I know you may feel you need to write descriptive prose much longer than a sentence or two, but sometimes the less the better. Less allows more imagination if you think about it. After performing the exercise, you will quickly find if shorter or longer phrases work for you.
Once you begin to create stories from your creative writing prompts, there is no need to stick to any of them. It is only an exercise to get the creative writing flowing. So if you write 10 pages from the word “explosion” and then you feel inspired to write a different story, the exercise still worked. Just keep it going until you feel comfortable with the story that is unfolding before you and if you don’t then stop and write something else.
If five creative writing prompts don’t work for you, then create 10. Again, since they are easy to create just keep making them until one catches your eye. For example, my favorite prompt is number four. When did I know this? As soon as I started to write it, I felt a flood of ideas rush to me about what the story could be. When you have that feeling about an idea, then it is time to expand on it until you can’t any longer. The finished project may be a short story, novella, novelette, novel or a path to another story that you didn’t even know you had in you.
Let me know how creative writing prompts work for you.
Follow Andre Cruz on his blog The Word.