In the corner of my bedroom is a large bag of journals. At first glance you’d mistake me for one of those people who fills book after book with profound thoughts, but that’s not who I am. Each journal has a handful of entries for each time I decided to dedicate myself to journaling. I’d write for a few days, then skip, then quit. Even as I worked my way through infertility and knew that journaling would help me, I never managed to keep it up for long enough to dig down into the good stuff. Turns out I’m not much of a navel gazer.
Under the desk in my office is another pile of journals. Every page of these books is filled with my writing. So what’s the difference?
The stories in the second stack of journals were almost all generated from writing prompts. These prompts might have been lines pulled from books, prompts given to me in a class, or verbal or visual prompts that set me off in a particular direction.
The thing about prompts is that they force you into the writing. There’s no room to ponder what to write. They take away the pressure of trying to find something profound or important to write about. You just pick a prompt and jump right in.
If you’re thinking about writing your story but don’t know where to start, consider trying some prompts to launch you into writing.
I like first-line prompts because they force you into a starting point. Take a look at the prompts below and find one that speaks to you. Begin writing with that line and see where it takes you.
If you tend to ponder or find yourself trying to come up with the perfect story, don’t overthink. Set a timer for five or ten minutes, pick a prompt that resonates with you, and dive in.
Here are a few first-line prompts to get you started:
This was a matter of life and death
It takes more than inspiration to become great
Don’t put on a brave face
There is something wrong in this house
I take a deep breath when I read this
Weekdays revolved on a sameness wheel
We have something bigger in common
Let me know in the comments how you did and if anything interesting came up for you.