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Go Ahead...Prompt Yourself!

If you are a writer anything this side of normal, or just the creative type, you have several projects in your mind.

Multiple projects have been started because you have fantastic ideas that have since become dormant. One or two projects that you are throwing your weight into in order to meet a deadline, take up all your time. And, of course, we all have our great American novel in progress. Then you have that longing for a creative idea that you can immerse yourself in. You know the kind…the work, the art that seems to write itself, that also has the benefit of having a goal met you can feel proud of.

There’s only one problem. You can’t seem to start. All of a sudden you are at a standstill. The only movement is that wicked cursor, blinking at you like a the eye of a poor B-movie’s evil space villain. You may not want to. But go ahead. It’s okay.


You may be saying to yourself…

“Prompts are used by teachers to get students to write essays…YUCK!”

“Only beginners use prompts! I’ve already had a couple things published.”

And yet you sit, staring at that blinking cursor until you walk away under its hypnotic effect. You need something to prime the pump.

Try one, two, or all of these suggestions:

1. A first sentence prompt.

The smell of the air, brought on by the cold wind, could only mean…

2. A question prompt.

Did you see that old man collapse?

3. An ending sentence prompt.

…and I knew I would never borrow her dress again.

4. An emotion.

I was joyfully satisfied to find out that…

5. A repeated noise in the room.

The bump of the dishwasher hitting the pans inside made me think…

6. Change your POV into an animal.

My favorite place to hover was by the human child’s ear.

7. Change your POV into an inanimate object.

Please don’t ever sit on me again you fat pig! Try a salad sometime!

At this time, I'm working on a book of short stories and prompts to help students of all ages learn to develop ideas. I even had my students create prompts for acting classes. In one improv acting lesson, students were given one sentence beginnings and told to create a scene without a script. The birth of imagination was instant and glorious! The excitement generated by several students taking one sentence and going off places people didn’t expect displayed such uniqueness.

Some of you plan. You might even be great planners, with an outline for everything...including making outlines for others. But sometimes you have to let go of the plan and let your creation take shape by itself.

Artists have always thought that the “book wrote itself”. Michelangelo was asked how he carved his DAVID so well. He replied that he saw DAVID sitting inside and he simply removed all of the marble around DAVID.

When you let creativity become a living entity and you reign it in from time to time to add polish, the creative person walks away with head held high and a weight off their shoulders.

Go ahead, try it. Prompt yourself.


Since the start, G. Stephen Poland has written at a furious pace. He’s published many short stories in anthologies, written scripts for church and stage, and has several works of literature currently finding their way to the page. Plans for publishing a short story collection, stories for the classroom, and a murder mystery are in the works. Raising the last of his three children, Poland is once again enjoying the single life while remaining hopeful for true connections.

This article was inspired by writing prompt projects that are in various stages of publication from Poland and fellow Bountiful Balcony writer T. Haven Morse. Be sure to check out our front page news and bookstore for updates on those projects. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter via the contacts page.

Images in this post from and

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