Having trouble figuring out what type of tree to chase your character up? Or perhaps you wrote your character into a corner and in order to get them out of it you have to muck up your pretty sweet prose?
Writing can be a gift, curse, or somewhere in between the two. Being someone who woefully ignored her writing muse for years (somewhere around 15 years, give or take) it took a push off a cliff to wake my muse up from his drunken stupor. (If you don’t work the muse, the muse becomes a raging useless pile of alcoholic lushness. – And no, this is not a metaphor saying that I have been a drunk for the past 15 years….) The only thing you can do to coax your muse out of the bottle is to write. And feed it coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
One of the best ways you can get the muse up and running is to start free-writing. Free-writing is basically writing whatever happens to be going on in your life, running through your mind, etc. Basically, it’s like the free-for-all skate, you’ve got all these people going around in a circle except replace the people with your thoughts. Sometimes they bump into each other, and those that bump into each other will sometimes fall on their asses. Free-writing is a way to put them all in a nice line around the center oval and make them do the hokey-pokey.
Am I showing my age, yet?
Once you have all that muddled train wreck of thoughts, emotions, and insanity written out, the words for your story are going to just flow out perfectly, right? Well, not always. You might sit there with fifty different story ideas floating at the front of your brain just begging to be put to paper, yet nothing seems right. You start with a sentence, build up to a paragraph, then maybe a page or three. When you scroll back up to read what you’ve written, it sucks ass. Or, there are some very good parts with some really sucky parts. No one can just jump right back into the game when they’ve been hiding under the bleachers for so long.
That’s where writing prompts come in. These lovely prompts can be found anywhere. There are so many authors out there with blogs that happily share their wisdom and ingenuity. They want to help you become the best author you can. Even if you end up being competition for them at some point, they are still willing to give you the tools to be successful.
One place I subscribe to is TerribleMinds written by Chuck Wendig. I’ll tell you right now that if you don’t like cursing, do not visit. He has an amazing potty mouth. I enjoy it because it makes me laugh. Every Friday he sends out a Flash Fiction challenge.
I also follow K. M. Weiland on Twitter and just recently turned on notifications to be sent to my phone when she tweets. No, I am not obsessed, but she tweets a Writing Question of the Day prompt.
You can also find writing prompts all over the internet. Just search for “writing prompts”. You can probably even be specific with genre as well. A search for “Romantic Writing Prompts” gives me three websites right off the bat that are specifically geared for romance writing. Even if the prompt you write about doesn’t result in a novel, short story, or anything you’d want to publish, you’re writing. That is the goal. Get to it!