Saturday, February 26, 2011

And now, for the writing part...

A week ago, I took the opportunity to attend my writer’s group monthly meeting. At the meetings, as part of the introductions, we answer a writing-related question. That night, the question was, “What was the best, or worst, piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?”

The best advice I have ever received is “read and write every day.” I still lack the experience to recognize bad writing advice. I’m still trying everything to see what works for me.

Upon reflection, I really should say that the best advice I have received is to, “Read critically and write creatively, every day.” (Please don’t call the adverb police on me, Melissa .) I can’t tell you from whom this advice came from because it is an amalgamation of what I have absorbed through this journey of mine. This isn’t new wisdom. All writers have heard this in some shape or form.

I started this blog to help me work on reading critically. But I’ve never shared with you what I do to write creatively. Today, I thought I’d do just that.

I write every day. As some of you know, I am a paralegal, writing letters, briefs, research papers and other formal legal documents is part of my job. But legal writing follows a certain pattern and formula.

But my personal challenge is to write about 500 words worth of prose each day. (A poem will crop up once in a while.) I consider it part of my Author-In-Training regimen. It gives me the practice I need and tones the part of my brain that forms my words, creates my characters, and crafts my scenes. When I do it often enough, my words flow better, and come to me easier.

To aid me in my goal, I use writing prompts to focus my daily exercise. For me, prompts can come from any where. It can come from a lyric of a song playing on the radio, a blurb from the news on TV in the morning, or a snippet of overheard conversation. However, these prompts arrive by chance. My mind may not always be open to catch them when they present themselves. That is why I sometimes need a direct source for them. That is where writing prompt web sites and books come in.

At the moment, I am partial to using writing prompt websites because of the variety of prompts available. There are also, so many sites to choose from. Type in “word prompts” in the Google search bar, thousands of unique websites will come back in your search result. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fictionista Workshop’s WitFit
In the spirit of absolute disclosure, I used to work with this organization as a volunteer. They offer two types of writing prompts everyday; a word prompt, and a secondary prompt, which can be an audio-visual prompt, a concept, a scenario, or a snippet of dialogue. You can sign up to receive the prompts in a daily e-mail, or you can just visit the site to get your prompts as you wish. If you would like them to post your written piece on their website, you can e-mail them your entry and they’ll post it up for you. Or, you can simply write in private. It’s your choice.

The Fictionista Workshop is a volunteer-run organization, and its administrators are on the ball. The organization offers other programs that are of interest to writers, like a Writing Workshop and a Writing Collective.

Creative Copy Challenge
This site is run by a delightful and very encouraging young man, Shane Arthur, a freelance editor and writer. Every Monday and Thursday, the site challenges you to write a piece that includes all ten words they generated. You post your piece yourself in the comments section, and just wait for the comments. You have complete freedom on how you rise to the challenge.

The creativity level of the participants is astounding, and they are encouraging and positive in their comments. It is a fun and safe place to play with words.

Another disclaimer, I have not risen to the ten word challenge in a long time, but I visit often.

Promptly by Zachary Petit

This is a blog written by Zachary Petit for Writer’s Digest online. He offers several prompts throughout the week. His prompts are creative, and sometimes come from other sources he credits. And come on, they’re prompts coming from someone from the realm of Writer’s Digest. Who wouldn’t be encouraged by them?

He also encourages participants to post their written pieces in the comments section, but unfortunately there is a lot of spam on there. Since I often prefer to keep my writing private, I really visit to get the prompts.

There are many more sites out there, but these three are my “go-to” sites at the moment. Creativity can come from anywhere, but I can always use a little help finding it.

Do you use prompts in your own writing? Where do yours come from? Are there any other sites you like to go to? Tell me where they are.

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