Mythbinder Writing Prompts: What to Do With Your Monthly List of Ideas
There are 2 ideas for every day of the month – a word and a phrase – so what can you do with them?
Whether you want to work on your novel, create poetry, write your next blog post or find an idea for a short story, you can use these prompts to get you started.
It’s a good idea to set aside a regular time for writing, and ideally, find a place where you can work without distractions. A good idea, but we can’t all achieve it! Perhaps that’s why you aren’t getting much writing done?
You can challenge yourself to complete a piece of writing for one or both of them, every day, or you can pick and choose whatever inspires you. If you don’t have much time for writing, you can decide to have a regular writing day or writing evening once a week and give yourself a set number of prompts to use.
What matters is that you get some writing done – you can always revise your work later, but you won’t be facing an empty page, unsure where to start.
Writing poems and short stories
If you like to write at work, you could try the one-word prompt during your coffee break and the phrase prompt during your lunch hour – maybe with a friend. If you enjoy writing poetry and short stories, you could use one prompt for each.
Start by exploring the topic (see below) and making a spider diagram of ideas.
You can use the word or phrase with any genre, so don’t dismiss it out of hand. If you prefer to write love poems, for example, don’t think you can’t use a word like ‘fish’, because fish aren’t very romantic!
Why might someone give you a fish as a romantic gift? During wartime rationing, or because they caught it and felt proud? Or a beautiful fishtank?
In which ways is your partner like a fish? Smooth skin, slippery behaviour, hard to catch?
Which setting for your poem might have fish to be seen? Imagine kissing in the dim light of an aquarium, or leaning over a bridge to feed the koi carp? Or choosing fish fingers in the supermarket together?
Using the prompts for your novel
If you’ve started a novel, but every time you get it out and look at it, you can’t think what to write next, challenge yourself to write ten more sentences… and somewhere in those sentences, you must include all the words from the two prompts for the day!
They don’t have to be good sentences. When you revise your completed first draft, you can edit the words out if they’re not ideal.
But if you only write ten sentences every day (and sometimes you’ll feel able to carry on and write more) with an average of ten words per sentence, you’ll have written around 36,500 words by the end of the year – that’s a big chunk of novel!
What if the word isn’t suitable for your novel – such as ‘fish’ for a science fiction story, set underground? You can use the word as a simile to describe one of your characters (slippery or gaping-mouthed) and then change it afterwards if it’s quite wrong, or think what a fish might be like on your fictional planet, or what might be comparable.
How about ‘fish’ for a war story, set in the desert? One of your characters could be longing for a fish-and-chip supper, or remembering his fish-pond at home, or wearing socks which smell like a week-old haddock.
Turning a prompt into a blog post
So, how do you use a prompt such as ‘fish’ to inspire a post for your blog on, say, skydiving, office work or orchestral music? They’re not connected with fish, are they?
If there’s no immediate link or spark of inspiration, you can explore the idea until you find a link.
Fish > > what’s like a fish? silvery, shiny things/smelly things >> could be a simile
Types of fish > > angel fish, clown fish, shark, eel, flounder… > > humorous article comparing fish with different personality types in the office/in skydiving community/musical instruments > > or could lead to another idea that’s nothing to do with fish directly e.g. decide to write about angels
Fish > > what goes with fish? > > the sea, could be a link with (sky)diving > > net (could be a money link for an office blog)
Fish > > famous people/characters named/connected with fish? > > Michael Fish > > why accurate weather prediction helps skydivers
Fish > > any famous books/paintings/orchestral music about fish? > > Schubert’s Trout Quintet, obviously, but what others are there? > > how about the sea/other sea creatures/rivers/lakes?
Fish > > phrases including the word ‘fish’ > > something fishy going on (suspicious behaviour), fish scales (link with music), plenty more fish in the sea (dating opportunities in the office/while skydiving/in an orchestra), fishing trip, fishing for compliments, a big fish in a small pond… > > could be a pun for the headline or an ‘angle’ for the topic.
By focusing your ideas on one subject that isn’t obviously connected with your main area of interest, you could come up with all kinds of ideas you wouldn’t have considered.
Give it a try!
Emily Lock is a freelance writer and blogger about the ups and downs of trying to evolve towards a better life.
Her Emily the Dodo blog is updated every week, with ideas to inspire you to make those changes, quizzes to help you decide what you want and planners so you can figure out how you’re going to get it, along with life hacks to make it easier. Come and join Emily on the journey to a happy life.