Ever get stuck on what to write about when you sit down in front of your computer? Don’t know where to start when you pick up pencil and paper? Just sit there staring at the empty page or watching a rain drop roll down the window.

Well there is a way to move beyond this stage without throwing your computer out of that window and burning your pencils and paper; writing prompts.

They can send your writing off into directions you might not have previously envisioned. I do not usually write poetry, there is no way I would consciously sit down and say I am going to write a poem. But given the right prompt it can happen.
Challenges and prompts come in many forms. It can be ‘Write in any genre using the title Mind Games.’ ‘Write biographical details for a story character; include name, home life, childhood, dating, hobbies, marriage, career.’ ‘Use a gun, motorbike, the colour red and a dog in a poem or short story.’  

Time limits are another way to keep you writing. Write for twenty minutes using ‘After the door shuts and the footsteps die…’ as the first line. The odds are you will still be writing well after the twenty minutes are up.

The internet is a great place to pick up prompts. I use a program called The Journal that I purchased at It can be used as a journal or notebook and has hundreds of prompts.

There are other sites that email out regular newsletters which include prompts. Others will send ‘prompt of the day.’ Just enter ‘writing prompts’ into Google and you will have a multitude of sites to choose from.

Challenging your writing group or friends to write on a certain subject or in a particular style and it will start the writing juices flowing. Amazingly, ten people can use the same prompt and come up with ten completely different pieces. 

So don’t let yourself become stumped. Don’t let writers block hold you back. Use a writing prompt and free your imagination. The outcome might just surprise you.

Paula Wilson

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