The Promp-O-Matic: #1
A little something to get you writing.
During my eight years as the editorial director of a wonderful non-profit called TMI Project, I often had to come up with writing prompts for workshops I led. I had a knack for consistently coming up with a varied assortment that jogged people’s brains, eliciting productive writing, and leading the executive director to nickname me “The Prompt-O-Matic.” I thought I’d repurpose that knack over here, in The Lit Lab, offering occasional prompts for paid subscribers.
I love a good prompt. It can awaken your brain to all kinds of possibilities, some that had already been lingering right under the surface of your consciousness, just waiting for a nudge, others seemingly out of the blue.
Your mind can latch onto a prompt very literally, or lead you toward something altogether different from the suggestion at hand. I’ve also found there are some writers for whom, no matter how they’re prompted, the same story emerges—a story that stubbornly won’t go away until it gets dumped onto the page. Sometimes it’s the story you need to write; other times, it’s the story you need to get out of your way before anything else can come through. Either way, being prompted helps move the writer forward.
Writing prompts can also help dissolve writers’ block, especially when you respond to them while racing against a timer. I know from experience; when I started at TMI Project, I myself had been blocked for some time. To encourage workshop participants, I figured I’d “take the workshop with them,” doing twenty-minute free-writes alongside them, using my own prompts. It instantly unblocked me, freeing me to write story after story.
Below this paywall is the first prompt. Use it however you’d like to spark new writing, ***but please don’t share it with anyone else. I hope to someday publish a book of these. And I use them in my teaching. (***If you can’t afford a paid subscription, email me at email@example.com, and I will comp you.)
I also invite those taking part to leave, in the comments, up to a paragraph of the writing the prompt has generated. Here goes…
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