April 07, 2015

Writing Outside the Box – by Ramona Heikel

Writing prompts, which are by their very nature “fresh” and different, help me to stay out of a writing rut.  The ones I like the best have variety built into them: different genres, subjects, formats, tones and approaches.  Some are intended to inspire new material for a current project, and others are tools for exploring a completely new piece.   

One of my favorite writing books is The Write Brain Workout, which has a new prompt on each page, and is full of large color images (I’ve included three here), which automatically rev up my creativity and sense of fun.

I haven’t always, but lately I’ve been forcing myself to do each writing prompt in order, whether it’s one that appeals to me or not.   

On a recent holiday / writing retreat, I ended up writing a piece that left the character no choice but to dredge up sad and difficult memories.  I guarantee that I would not have chosen to do that on my own!  I resisted at first, but felt it was necessary to write outside of the box, and I’m actually glad I did.
 Also on my holiday, I wrote pieces guided by the following prompts from two other favorite books, Creative Writing Activities and The Writer’s Book of Matches:

“Well, to be honest, I just threw it away.”

Write a make-believe conversation between you and something in nature.

“Why do you have ten jars of Easy Cheese in your cart?”

Who knows what these short starts will turn into?   

They may go nowhere.   

But they gave hours of enjoyment, made me think deeper than usual, and did a lot to shake the dust off my creativity!


Posted by Ramona


  1. These are some wonderful prompts! thanks for sharing

  2. I, too, am often stretched with prompts. For the writer, they're like the Star Trek intro - going where no man has gone before. Writing from a prompt you wouldn't choose on your own is good advice. Thx Ramona.

  3. We sometimes use writing prompts at our writers' meetings to help us get into the writing "space". Thanks for reminding us to use them!

  4. As Women Word Weavers, we use prompts also. When I'm on a writing date with my good friend, Glenice, we also use prompts, but I like what you're suggesting here, Ramona, about going through a book of prompts in order. That would be a better stretch of one's writing abilities, rather than picking and choosing, as we are inclined to do in writing and in life. Thanks for that.

  5. Anonymous1:38 pm GMT-7

    Hours of enjoyment is very important too as writing can, of course, be a tough discipline sometimes!

  6. I too like a variety of writing prompts--a good work out for the brain. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for the reading suggestions. The Five-Minute Friday bloghop is also a great launching point for free-writing. And you get to make new friends!

  8. I think by writing the prompts you are practicing writing, so that even if the little vignettes go nowhere, you are a stronger writer for it! I must look up these books and buy them. I need the daily practice too!
    Pam Mytroen


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.