I love any excuse to get more words on the page and so, every year, when November comes round, I feel my fingers tingling as I gear up to writing more, every day, knowing that fellow writers around the world are doing the same.
If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, do look up their website where you can find creative writing workshops, inspiration and a wonderful world-wide community of writers. You can also log your writing progress through the month.
This year, I thought I’d share a writing habit I turn to almost every day: using writing prompts to trigger new ideas and pieces of writing. When I was a creative writing teacher at high school, I often used these at the beginning of a session to help my students tune into their creativity. I would share a photograph, a phrase, a poem, a quotation, a piece of overheard dialogue and ask them to write non stop for anything from 2 to 10 minutes. What came out was extraordinary. Whole poems sometimes. Ideas for novels or plays. And sometimes, of course, a whole page of nonsense with just one golden sentence or phrase. Without exception though, it got my students to write and to write things that they never expected to put on paper that day.
Writing prompts are a gift that come to us from the outside. They’re all around us.
The expression on someone’s face. A conversation you overhear (I’m a chronic eaves-dropper). A line from a poem. A photograph in a newspaper. If you keep your eyes and mind tuned to what might be given to you, you’ll find more treasures than you ever expected.
So, in the spirit of November and NaNoWriMo, I thought I would give you a prompt every day of this month. Something I find intriguing some way and that I believe could speak to you too.
You can use writing prompts in all kinds of ways. I often use prompts when I feel stuck in particular scene I’m writing or at the beginning of a writing day to get me started. Sometimes, I use them just to warm-up my creative writing muscles, like stretching before a run. Sometimes I use them to practise writing in a new style or voice. Or just as practise, in the way a concert pianist might practise her scales or an athlete might do a session in the gym to build up a particular muscle.
I hope that you enjoy these day gifts and that they spur you to write some wonderful and unexpected things.
Happy writing 💫🖋