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  • Writer's pictureElise

Writing Prompts to Get You Started #41

Welcome to the place that is dedicated to getting you writing (again?). Maybe you have absolutely no idea where to start but have always wanted to try being a writer. Maybe you want to write the great American novel or you thought you'd write a poem about hidden life of a grain of sand. Maybe you just need a little inspiration to get you started or you find yourself just a little stuck. Maybe you find yourself trying to break out of your comfort zone or mix things up at work. Whatever your reason for landing here, practicing a little creativity can impact your life in ways you didn't expect.

But let's be honest. Creativity is a muscle and it needs exercise to work properly. That's where this series comes in. With any luck, this series will get your creative juices flowing and get you thinking in ways you hadn't before. Throughout the summer, we posted a couple of prompts every week. We cut back a little during the school year but will attempt to post at least one prompt a month. If you are interested in more, not only are there prompt sites online, we also have a prompt booklet you can get from us and enough creative people on staff to maybe come up with an idea you can run with if you come in and ask.


It's easy to get stuck in the rut of convention. I don't say this to imply that conforming or fitting in is a bad thing. There is definitely a time and place for fitting in and writing what everyone else wants to hear. But when you hold yourself back from writing what you really want to write in deference to what you think you should write, believe or think would get acceptance to you need to really look at what you are conforming to. Are you writing that gritty spy thriller because you think that is what everyone is publishing? Or maybe you went to the opposite extreme and have yet to even write a single curse word, much less a moment of attraction for fear a family member might find it and hang you out to dry for indecency. Maybe you avoid LGBTQ topics because it feels too controversial or because you believe your viewpoint is controversial regarding that community. Perhaps you don't see a value in sharing what you truly believe, that others know better. That is the type of conforming that often doesn't work, that can hold you back and keep you from growing. Conforming out of fear, not out of understanding or agreement with the position. If you are conforming to one or another side of an argument, be sure that you do so because it is what you believe.

FDR is famous for having stated "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." Let me make it clear: Allowing yourself to fear without working to overcome it or understand it gets you nowhere. The world is full of fear. It is in the overcoming of that fear that we can truly become what we were meant to be. It is in the understanding of our own and others' fear that we can truly grow as a society (and understanding the motivations of ourselves and others helps to create better writing as an added benefit).

Even as I write this, I find myself bowing to convention slightly by not sharing what brought about this topic, though the origin is interesting to me. I do so not out of fear for my family or out of desire to bilk more views, but out of an understanding that this does and can reach a lot of viewers, some of whom might take serious offence at the origin, on a couple of fronts, and shut down before truly considering my points. In a more private or personal setting, I would go there and I started out going there here. Does this make me a hypocrite for refusing to go there now? Maybe. Or maybe I am attempting to create a more inclusive environment and leave room for those of you that are willing to go there, especially in a more open setting than the pages of your journal, and not turn away before you get to consider the consequences of not doing so. It is time to do what I will not do within the pages of a library blog and get out there and write at the edges of your comfort zone, bucking convention, and being true to yourself. Lay yourself bare.

So here's your prompt: Write the piece you are afraid to write. Be as true to your characters or topic as you can. Be true to yourself. Be true to the spirit of writing. If you find yourself doubting yourself, shove that doubt aside (or find a way to include it without it ruling what you write). Just be true. -- (Here is the truly terrifying part) No edits until after you have finished and shown at least one person that you trust to edit fairly. And I know, that might be the scariest part of the whole process.

If you need a second choice, here's one to sink your teeth into: Write a piece about someone who does none of that, who constantly conforms out of fear and rarely shows an original thought. Look at the consequences and benefits. Look at why they became this way and what will become of them. Delve into them and embrace their fear (just don't take it on yourself).

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