The importance of routine
Writing regularly is important. Routine practice of writing is like the athlete who hits the gym, the wood-carver who sharpens his gouge, the painter who sketches in pencil. It lays the foundations for everything else. Take a few days off and the incapacity to write becomes a fear-laden vicious circle.
Luckily there are many sites here on WordPress that help fellow writers participate in ‘prompts’. WordPress’s own Daily Prompt gives you a word that you may take in any direction and a space to share your work with others.
There are also many sites which give you a picture or a set of words to write from (see below for list). These are run by fellow bloggers who wish to give other writers some inspiration and a space to share their writings in. We’re spoilt for choice, with one for almost every day of the week.
However, with the exception of Sonya’s Three Line Tales, most of these have a too low word count for me. While looking for flash fiction publishers to accept my writings recently I confined myself to those who accepted over 500 words.
Running not sprinting
600 words for me is about the right limit in order to express myself. Fewer than this is like gasping not breathing. There are even some sites which specialise in six word stories or twitter length tales. I read some of these and think, what voodoo is this? How do they do it? Like most people, I’m still awed by the brevity of Hemingway’s ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’. Some people do this admirably, I don’t.
Some of us are sprinters, and some are long distance runners. Although I do concede, in this busy world, that nobody really has time to read something too long, which is why I feel 600 words is an ideal compromise.
A many-headed beast
I also recognise that inspiration is a many-headed beast. Sometimes it can be hooked and reeled in by a picture, sometimes by a song, a word, a movie, a poem, a painting. I’ve written stories just to exorcise a lyric from my head. Sometimes inspiration will turn and run away. Force creativity and it will clam up. But a variety of stimuli will help us write outside the box and engage different areas of the brain.
I am considering setting up a new site to provide fellow writers with prompts and a space to share their writing. But this one would have an aim of 600 words and will provide a different type of prompt each week: a photo, a painting, a sculpture, a sentence to start from, a sentence to end with, character names to write about, a music video, a song lyric, a quote, a poem, a situation, or an historic event; or perhaps just different techniques to help flex different creative muscles and sharpen those tools. It would encourage any kind of creative writing with an emphasis on the exploration of language—fiction and non-fiction. Although I realise 600 words of poetry may be a lot to ask, I’m a sucker for prose poetry.
I would love my regular readers to join me. But I realise we’re all busy, and perhaps question whether we need yet another prompt site. (I may end up drinking alone in a newly furnished club.) However, if you’re interested in using different types of prompts (of different media) that draw on literature, music, film, art, and philosophy—along with the breathing space of more words—then please leave a comment. And since moving to a self-hosted site I’m not sure my posts show up under different tags in the reader, so please feel free to share this.
A brief list of sites
Here are some sites I’m aware of (if you have any favourites I haven’t mentioned or you host your own feel free to leave a comment below).
Only 100 Words (Three lines, no word limit)
Sunday Photo Fiction (200 words)
Friday Fictioneers (100 words)
Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (150 words)
100 Word Wednesday (100 words)
What Pegman Saw (Google maps based, 150 words)
Twittering Tales (140 characters)
Image credit: Lauren Peng via Unsplash