I’m not a fan of writing prompts because I don’t find them compelling. All prompts are contrived. An anonymous composer, should I say contriver, distilled a a drop or two of essence from a particularly rewarding writing session. They packaged it as a question or situation or evocative eliptical. That half-teaspoon of muse soaked into the page of a student writing workbook or a random generator on the Internet. Here is sits before me.
Why the hell should this matter to me? Obviously I wipe it away before I begin typing.
Wait. A real writer, a professional writer, could compose a 1000 words from any featureless request. Couldn’t they? Shouldn’t I at least try?
In High School I tried because I didn’t have a choice. Mr. Brainard—he said he could see me becoming a pro—gave us a prompt and expected results before the end of the hour. He didn’t grade on quantity or quality or creativity. I’m sure he prised those things, but he didn’t mark against a lack of any of those. He marked against nothing. He didn’t grade on the relationship to the prompt either. As I recall, at least once I refused the prompt and wrote what I wanted to write.
As I write this, it comes to mind that writing to a prompt gave me the freedom not to worry over the output. I blamed the prompt for uninteresting results.
Still, I find it difficult to treat prompts as if they were a workout, a training regimine. Prompts don’t parallel free throws and layups as much as they do a game of HORSE. I guess shooting more baskets is better than shooting less regardless of the scenario, but adding nine other guys to the court, a second basket, a ref, and a time clock is not a linear progression of difficulty.
This week I’ll work from prompts despite my thin enthusiasm for them. I will try really really hard not to waste my time clicking through the bad ones to find less bad ones hoping to find good ones.
4 Replies to “Unpromtped”
I like this post. It is writing about what you will be writing instead of writing about why you didn't write. It is looking ahead instead of looking back. A whole new perspective.
@fred I like thinking constructively too. However, you're falling into the same trap I do everyday. Writing about not writing is still writing. Even when I not-write write I still pause to punch up the verbs. I still think may way around my passive voice. I still double check my commas.
It's not interesting content, but I try to make it correctly not interesting.
Let's see how this week goes. And thanks. It's nice to know there are folks out there taking the time to read this at all.
Hey, you know I am just scuffing your fruit. I am still in awe that you took on this project. I am just helping you keep it real.
Yep. I just mean to point out to me mostly that learning to write better isn't just about putting the Beginning before the Middle and the End after the Middle.
Sometimes it's the nuts and bolts of language that need learnin'
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