How To Use A Writing Prompt


Have you ever NOT mentioned something to somebody because it’s “old hat” to you? Something that you’ve lived with, day in and day out, to the point that it’s become a part of you and you don’t notice it anymore.

Be careful of those moments!

My degree is in Creative Writing and I’ve spent YEARS studying the craft. I read magazines about writing. I go to writer’s conferences, critique groups, and online forums about writing. You’ve seen my shelf of books about writing! It’s safe to say that I have a whole slew of writing tricks up my sleeve. That level of living with the written day in and day out has led to a false perception of the world around me.

In the past few weeks, having calls with clients and answering questions online about what I do, I’ve come to realize something. There’s a WHOLE WORLD of writing resources available that people have no idea about!

I was working with a client recently (in my one-on-one writing coaching) who was complaining that she was stuck – she just couldn’t get words to flow. It wasn’t writer’s block exactly since she had plenty of ideas but the words Just. Wouldn’t. Flow. I asked her what writing prompts she’d tried to get stuff to flow. Dead silence on the line. Then a little voice asked,

“What’s a writing prompt?”

A writing prompt is a snippet of information designed to jump-start your creativity. It can be a picture, story starter, headline, etc. It usually isn’t related to your project because it’s meant to snap you out of your normal mental patterns.

How to use a writing prompt:

They’re easy to use! Just set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and WRITE. Anything that pops into your head about the prompt. Create a character sketch! Outline a new article! Tell the story of the picture you’re looking at.

It’s like priming and old-fashioned pump: you pour in a bit of water and start working the pump handle. Without PRIMING the pump, you can move the handle up and down until the end of time and never get any water! When you’ve got your brain churning out words, any words, you can then gently make the transition from the prompt to the piece you’re stuck on. When the timer goes off, just transition to your “main” writing piece and you’ll be able to dive right in!

(For real! I’m not making this stuff up!)

[Tweet “#Writing Prompt to get the creative juices flowing.”]

Here’s an image to get you started.


Don’t JUST describe the scene – talk about how these two got here. Are they friends chatting? Lovers having a furious moment but keeping their voices down? Did he lure her here to toss her off the bridge?

I’d love to read your writing from this prompt! (It doesn’t HAVE to be a story – make it a poem or play!) You can email me at  hello(at)

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Kim Galloway
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