Writing prompts are tools found in abundance in the writing world. There are hundreds of prompt generators and character creators to be found all over the web. However, when working through our novels, poetry anthologies, or short stories, we can skip over quick-writing as a tool of inspiration when so focused on our larger works.
If you want to start adding a quickwrites to your writing diet, start here with some tools and ideas to keep your writing fresh and interesting.
Use a Prompt Generator to Explore Random Scenarios
Working a daily prompt into your writing habits can be a great way to get the fresh ideas flowing. Luckily, several of tools exist to throw you into hundreds of tricky situations where the only way out is to write.
Prompt generators are a great way to start your daily writing session. Several of these generators can be found all over the internet, like writingexercises.co.uk. These generators will give you loads of options to choose from. You can generate the opening line of a story, a plot idea, or even inspirational images. The possibilities with this generator are endless, and allow you to experiment with multiple quick-writing methods.
While prompt generators are useful, you could also use identity generators to help you with character-centric quickwrites. These generators can even help you invent side characters for your book if inventing compelling companions is frustrating for you. Sites like fakenamegenerator.com will not only generate names for you, but also ages, occupations, addresses, and more. Using one of these could help you craft a side character for your quickwrite or as an addition to your novel.
In addition to prompt generators, you can expand your vocabulary and derive inspiration from the Word of the Day on dictionary.com. You could either challenge yourself to work their daily word into your quickwrite, or experiment with designing a scenario around the word.
Quotes are another great place to start. Maybe you’re particularly attached to the words of your favorite poet, or you heard something inspiring from another writer. Websites like brainyquote.com can also provide daily quotes on nearly any topic. Whether you work the quote into your quickwrite word-for-word or just use the words as an inspiration, quotes can be a great source of quickwrite ideas.
Start writing with a handful of prompt generators and save any ideas you find particularly brilliant.
Return to Your Favorite Prompts
Some make the mistake of scribbling out a quickwrite, but never revisiting it beyond the five minutes needed to create it. While prompts are good practice, save your best brief writings for future inspiration.
Your prompt every day doesn’t have to be random, but if you generate a character or scenario you love, return to it daily. You can explore the same idea using different quotes, words, or characters, or you might not even need a prompt.
For all you know, a quickwrite can turn into a great short story idea. Can you stitch two good ones together to make a great story?
If you liked a particular prompt, could you experiment with mixing the prompt into your current novel or short story? Could you replace the protagonist with one from your other works? Maybe you spend a week of brainstorming sessions on expanding a single prompt into something bigger.
Even if you can’t relate a prompt to your current work, don’t be afraid to expand upon it when the time comes. You never know what new novel could be hiding in those few words.
Save Your Best QuickWrites for a Rainy Day
As you complete your brief prompt-inspired writings, be careful not to lose them in the waste bin or the vast expanses of your computer files.
Save your short blurbs somewhere where you can easily access them. Even if you use quickwrites primarily as a writing warm-up and not for inspiration, you’ll never know when one could come in handy.
There may be a day in the future where you find yourself in the dreaded writer’s block. If you can’t progress through your main projects, dig up some old quickwrites and look through for something fresh.
Maybe you find the perfect scene to interject in your chapter, or an idea for a fresh project to temporarily take your focus off of your current bothersome project.
You never know what can inspire you when you’re feeling uninventive. Saving your best quickwrites can be a great way to take care of your future self.
Reflect on both Good and Bad Prompts
If you found a prompt gave you a particular feeling, like enjoying the exercise or feeling like it was a struggle to get inspired, write a short reflective statement on why this particular prompt didn’t work for you.
Even if you don’t care for a prompt, still attempt to write something on the topic. Maybe you generate an identity you don’t care for, or maybe the quote you chose is not as promising as you thought it would be. Give it a go even if it doesn’t feel perfect. Even if those five minutes you spend on it feel like total drudgery, do it to force yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new.
When you’ve finished, take a moment to reflect on your quickwrite, even if it wasn’t your best work. If the prompt didn’t work for you, why? Was the prompt very unlike your usual writing style? Was it such an obscure prompt that it was difficult to make into a story?
If the prompt did work for you, why? Did it do a good job of relating to your current writing projects? Maybe it just gave you a spark of inspiration. Maybe this prompt gave you the opportunity to explore an idea you rarely get to expand upon.
As you reflect, consider if any of your prompts from the week could fit together. If they don’t seem to, try anyway. Even if two prompts seem to have no relation to each other, throw them together to see what happens.
Reflecting gives you the chance to analyze your writing and see where you could improve. It could also help you discover genres that you write better than you think.
Like any skill, improving your writing ability involves daily practice. If you want to improve your writing skill, start every writing session with a quickwrite prompt. Prompt generators, words of the day, and quotes of the day are all great places to start.
Even if you’re excited to just jump into your latest novel, take a short period of time to quickwrite at the start of your writing routine. A timer might help, even if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.
Set a timer for five to ten minutes dedicated to quick-writing. If you’re not feeling inspired, force yourself to at least put some words down on the page in that short amount of time. For all you know the act of writing even a few sentences could inspire you to craft a new short story or to launch into work on your novel.
If you are feeling really inspired, you should also stop when the timer stops and evaluate your writing. If you are still feeling inspired, take the inspiration on the road and start work on one of your larger works. As tempting as it can be to spend your whole writing session on a quickwrite, try to channel some of that inspiration into a larger work like poetry, your novel, or a short story.
Don’t Hold Back Your Outlandish Ideas
The beauty of quickwrites are that they aren’t your main novel, short story, or anything permanent. While you might be more reserved and cautious when writing on your larger, main works, take quickwrites as an opportunity to experiment with different genres, characters, or settings.
Maybe you work primarily as a realistic fiction writer, with your novels based more in reality than fantasy. While you may feel comfortable in this area, use quickwrites as an opportunity to experiment with the unrealistic, or use it as a chance to explore a different writing style, like non-fiction or poetry. You might find an idea for a new book.
Maybe you are debating adding a new character to your main work, but fear they may upset the carefully crafted balance of your novel. Take a few quickwrite sessions to test drive your new character in the setting of your novel. Do they fit well? Which characters do they interact with best? Which setting to they work best in?
You could also use prompts as an oppurtunity to re-write passages from your current novel or short story from a different perspective. If you’re usually a third-person writer, maybe you can transform the passage into something from the protagonist’s point of view. If you are a first-person writer, could you experiment with set description using third person? Maybe you change the focus of the novel entirely. Instead of focusing on the main character, could you rewrite the events from the perspective of another character?
Even if an idea seems wild, use quickwrites as a chance to give those ideas life. If they don’t work out in the end, it is okay! They are just temporary writing experiments that don’t always have to transform into something great.
As you start using quickwrites in your daily writing practice, keep in mind that nothing about them has to be perfect. Use them as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas or genres without the pressure that comes with crafting your novel or short story. Have fun with your quickwrites, and you’ll be using them to their full potential!