A prompt is a nudge to get you started on something. There are challenges on Word Press that give you prompts – some of them (like this one, Fandango’s One Word Challenge) are daily! That is tough for me, because by the time I have a chance to look through my email and find the prompts, it’s too late – it’s already the next day! I can’t count the number of times I found a very inspiring prompt too late.
I like the challenges that are weekly. That gives me more time to think about what I want to say. I like photo challenges the best, their topics being the prompt to get me started. Photos help me frame my post; I work around the photos so that I include both text and images, which more people tend to look at! I learned this in an online writing class, and I see it in myself – I click on someone’s post that looks interesting, and then my enthusiasm wanes when I see many paragraphs of straight text and no pictures! (The weird thing about this is that I can easily dive into a book and read hundreds of pages with no accompanying images, but online I find it very difficult. It seems others do, too!)
I think prompts are, in some ways, easier to do online, but on the other hand, I have a plethora of writings in my document files, many of which were started based on a prompt! Some came out very well, while others not so much. But because I wrote them and kept them, whether good or bad, I can look through them when I need inspiration.
A prompt can be a word, an idea, a sentence, an image, or a theme. I once wrote a story, very impromptu, based on using five words or concepts, of which I remember four: argument, thunderstorm, poodle, birthday party. Although it was meant to be a quick writing assignment, the story I wrote came out so well – at least the basic story, because I did extensive editing after that – that I began thinking of writing a series of stories, mainly for kids, about parents who get divorced and the impact it has on their children. I also began writing a companion story for the adults to read. I also wrote a short script based on one scene in the aftermath of the birthday party in the original story.
Another time, I brainstormed using the prompt, “What if…?” This was an assignment for a writing class. I was to come up with ten “what ifs” and select one to write a story about. I wrote a fantasy about an entire society that lives in a bubble. Whereas, for us, it takes only a second for a bubble to pop, in this bubble world it doesn’t happen in the lifetimes of several generations of people living in that bubble. I really liked the story I wrote as the result of that assignment.
Prompt has another meaning, too: being on time! I used to be very prompt, but as I age, the ability for me to plan my time accordingly is slipping. I make an effort to be prompt to important things, like catching a train or flight, or doctor appointments. It aggravates me when someone is extremely late, like my son most of the time! About the only time he is ever prompt is getting to the airport on time for a flight! He has been fired from many jobs for being late. I would estimate there is a 98% chance he will be late, and if he’s sleeping, forget it – don’t even bother to wait for him!!