Why write to prompts?

Prompts provide some trigger from outside my own thoughts. It is a way to kick-start a poem or a project.

I’ve written to a Poem-A-Day (PAD) prompts in April and November for the past couple of years. It’s amazing that a word from someone else can make me think about starting a poem.

Most of the time prompts are one word. Today’s PAD was to write to the word “bright” or to the word “dark,” or write a poem to each prompt. (It’s two for Tuesday.) I wrote about how I imagined it would be in the darkness of my mother’s womb with a twin crowding me. Could I have come up with that poem on my own? Maybe. Probably not, because today I wasn’t thinking about anything dark. As soon as I read “dark” as the prompt, I started thinking of a dark place.  

This works as well with prose. I’ve participated and led workshops in “fast write.” The rules are simple. Draw a prompt out of a bowl. Set a timer for ten minutes. Start writing. Keep the pen moving until the bell rings. It may not start out as the best prose. Trust me there is a gem starting to form. Sometimes the hardest thing is to get an idea out of your brain and onto paper (or on the computer screen). Try it you might like it.


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