The Power of Random Writing Prompts

I like unusual writing prompts. Especially those that seem totally uninspiring. I actually go looking for them sometimes when I feel a need for, um, inspiration for my writing. Some of my best writing has come from some unrelated combinations of words. The very first piece of short fiction that I wrote was written from the challenge to write a piece containing the words “little candle” and “seaweed.” It has since been refined and published in a literary journal. (It has nothing to do with the ocean and the candle is minimal to the setting.)

This morning I wrote about the ceiling light fixture in our living room, pictured below. Fascinating, isn’t it?

The prompt was to write about an object in our immediate surroundings, something that seemed insignificant, to tell it’s story. Here are 10 sentences that I wrote about our ceiling light to get me started.

1    1.  It lights the room for the opening of Christmas presents by the grandchildren.
2.     It is turned on when Steve needs his mustache trimmed and we kneel on either side of the coffee table with the little stork scissors in my hand.
3.     I am more likely to turn it on.
4.     Steve is more likely to turn it off.
5.     We both agreed that there needed to be a ceiling light in the room.
6.     It is perfectly centered in the ceiling.
7.     Its bright brass trim doesn’t match the antique brass doorknobs.
8.     It hangs silently, never complaining.
9.     I don’t know if we’ve ever had to change the light bulbs in twenty years.
      10. When we need it is available at the flick of a switch.
s    Isn’t it interesting the images and thoughts that can be provoked by such a simple object? That’s why I love  prompts that seem meaningless and random upon the initial glance, they tend to draw things out of you that you might not even realize are there.
      So, if you’ve balked at using writing prompts, preferring a more emotionally based inspiration for your creative writing, I encourage you to reconsider. The insignificant, the mundane and the somewhat crazy, off-the-wall prompts can draw things out of you that you may not even know are inside of you – if you let them.
      Here’s my writing prompt for you. Write something that contains the word ‘rust’ and the phrase ‘fine lace’ in it. Let’s see where that takes you. And I’d love for you to share with me what you come write.

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