I’ve been toying with an idea, so hear me out for a minute here. Years ago I was part of a prompt group. I don’t remember just how I got involved – through a friend, I think – but at a time when I struggled to find the time to write, getting a little prompt once a week and then writing was very helpful to keep me going. The comments I got on my writing also helped motivate me. You can find some of my prompts here, and here, and here. I did this for a year or so, taking part when I could – you weren’t locked in to doing it every week – and was very sad when the project folded. I’ve missed it, off an on, since then.
So I think I want to take up that cold torch and light it again. I have a little writing group on Facebook called More Odds than Ends (bear with me a minute – I know some of you aren’t on that platform, and that’s fine) and they have been a great support this last year. We’ve all been helping one another, posting a daily accountability thread that has been about far more than just wordcount. Some of the folks in the groups are artists, some like me are multi-media participants, and it’s been a blessing to have that place to write down what we’d done each day. I know for me, I’m looking back at the year and seeing the places where I was barely hanging on by my fingernails and the times I was bursting at the seams with creativity.
The group has expressed interest in continuing with the daily accountability, but also in taking part in weekly prompt challenges. I’ve been pondering how best to handle this. Firstly, I’m not capable of administering the whole shebang all on my own. I liked the way the IndieInk prompts were managed – the prompts were submitted by email once weekly, plugged into a spreadsheet along with the participant’s names, and that was randomized to assign a prompt to a person. Fairly low impact, and if you couldn’t take part that week, you just didn’t submit a prompt. After writing, the submission was published on a blog. There’s where the sticky bit comes in, here. Not everyone in my group has a blog, wants one, or has the time/energy to set up even a free one. This is an interesting challenge, because part of the prompt participation was linking back to the prompter’s blog, and to another person’s blog as well, since you would have not only received a prompt, but given one. It cross-linked traffic, which for a writer was a neat way to not only write and be creative, but promote and network. The end of one of my posts read like this: “For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Diane challenged me with “Pick your favorite fairy tale or well-known children’s story and rewrite it with the hero/lead character having a not-so-good secret.” and I challenged Kirsten Doyle with “She sips the cloudy colloid. ”” There were links in each of those names to their stories/writing of the week.
In one of my other facebook groups, involving fractal art, there are daily challenges. You can take part, or not, but if you do, you post the art in the group, then put that link into the main challenge thread. So comments and critiques aren’t muddying up the waters. I think this is a good way to do it, but the challenge comes in when we start going cross-platform. I’m open to suggestions. I miss the days of forums, for this sort of thing. Although I’d still like to tap into that outside-readership-networking as well. I think that getting feedback on one’s writing leads to better writing. Likewise, giving feedback on someone else’s writing improves your own writing as you start to analyze what works, what doesn’t, and why. As a pantser, this skill is one I need to polish.
As for the writing part of this prompt: words, arranged in some fashion. That’s all I want to see from participants. That can come in the form of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, vignettes. Doesn’t matter. And there is no wordcount limit as long as it’s coherent. Six-word story? If you can pull that off, sure! Want to string all your prompts together into a coherent storyline and have a novel at the end of the year? Go for it.
For the prompts? No more than a sentence, but at least a phrase. I’m open to art prompts (ie. writing from an image to tell it’s story). I’ve seen effective prompts that were a line of a poem, a philosophical conundrum, or simply word association. I would recommend against single-word prompts.
As for a platform… would a wordpress blog work for you all? That’s something I can set up, and if I can find volunteers to help out with posting the weekly prompt list, that would be peachy keen. I want to keep it simple, and fun. I know facebook is neither, most of the time! If there’s interest in doing the prompts, I’ll be back later with an email that will be exclusive to the weekly prompts, so I don’t have to wade through my personal email to pick them out. And so I can share the keys with helpers.