Young Writing Prompts Aren’t Just for the Young
Ah, the value of a good writing prompt. We’re inspired. It strikes some deep pool of emotion that we may not even have known we had. They’re a wonderful (and somewhat self-indulgent) exercise. But remember the simple ones? The ones from when we were children?
What I did over the summer.
What I want for Christmas.
What my perfect family vacation would be.
These have real value as writing exercises as well. They remind us of the simplicity of writing. Not everything is deep. Not everything is life altering. Sometimes the hardest parts of our manuscript to write are the minutia of it all. The normal. And there has to be SOME level of “normal” or else the manuscript would become absolutely exhausting for the readers. (which is great for some parts, but every “ebb” needs to be matched with “flow”!)
I challenge you, for the next month, once a week write a quick response to a few elementary-school style writing prompts.
Keep the sentences simple. Short. And try to rein in any existential or overly emotional thoughts the prompts lead to. Try to think like the child version of your current self.
Here’s a few sample questions, and some of my own thoughts that they led to:
If I were an Easter egg _____.
If I were an Easter egg I’d be a very pale light blue or pink. But not the bright kind. Just a soft hint of color. I have chickens and some types of chickens lay eggs that have a pink or blue hue to them. If I were an Easter egg I’d want to look like a real egg. I’d want to look just like the eggs my chickens lay.
For lunch today _____.
For lunch today I hope I get to sit with my best friend, Keith. We’re married, but we both work from home, so sometimes we still get to sit together at lunch time. We have sandwiches and wraps. Sometimes I have a salad. Maybe today I’ll have a homemade fudgsicle for dessert. (This made me look forward to that silly fudgsicle ALL morning!)
My favorite stuffed animal or toy is ____.
My favorite stuffed animal is Brown Bear. It has been since I was born. He has ripped arms and legs now that I have to sew up at least once a year. All the fuzz has been hugged off of him and his nose was chewed off by one of my dogs. But he knows all my secrets and I love him.
The perfect place in the whole wide world is ____ because ____.
The perfect place in the whole wide world is on top of a hill in California, because I use to go there when I was a little girl and we visited my dad’s family. It looked out over the hillside and I’d never seen anything so open and beautiful in my life. Plus, when I found it, I was off exploring by myself so I felt like I had found a secret world just for me. I realized years later that I had trespassed on MANY people’s properties to get up the hill. But every time I’m there I still sneak up anyway. Because it’s just too perfect to miss.
I wish I could forget the time I _____ because _____
I wish I could forget the time I forgot to meet my parents for a show they had bought me tickets to, because it makes me feel bad. I really had been looking forward to it. But I just forgot!!
How do you deal with people who bug you?
When people bug me I try to ignore them. Other times I laugh loudly and inappropriately. I don’t like when people talk about other people. Luckily, as a grown up, most of the time I can just walk away.
I want to be a ____ when I grow up. Then I will____.
I want to be a mom when I grow up. Then I will be able to give so much love to a child of my own. I’m pregnant with my first now and I’m excited to start something that will both help me grow up… and remind me that part of growing up is also grow DOWN, and always being a child at heart.
Whoop! Almost got too deep on that last one. (Can I blame hormones?? I largely blame them for everything, lol).
Try some of these prompts or some other simple ones you find yourself. It may bring you back to days when answers were simple.
Simplicity is powerful.
And your manuscripts are worth it!
Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!
Look for Erika’s articles every other Wednesday on Writing and Illustrating. Thank you Erika for another great post.