Prompted

As National BloPosting Month gets going, collections of blog prompts are springing up on the Internet. While I’m not participating in NaBloPoMo myself (you’ll note I didn’t post anything on November 1 or 2), it has occurred to me to bookmark these little sources of inspiration and use them throughout the year—if I can just convince myself to use them.

Writing has its challenges, and coming up with things to write about is one of the best-known. So if someone has gone to the trouble of thinking up writing ideas—and is generous enough to share these ideas with others—it would be smart to take advantage of that resource. And because it’s other people who are coming up with these ideas, there’s going to be all sorts of prompts about things that I would never have come up with on my own. This is good, because they could keep me from getting too focused on my few favorite subjects, but I think that’s also part of my reluctance. They’re not the kind of thing I think of, so they’re alien. Not me, not mine. To which the logical response is probably that if I write about something, no matter how far removed from my normal subject matter, the fact that I’ve written about it makes it mine.

Using prompts feels like cheating. Never mind that blogging isn’t a sport in which a prompt would be an unfair advantage. (Apparently I need to hang a sign reading “Prompts Are Not Steroids” over my monitor.) But even though I’m the one writing the post, and I’m the one wrestling with the sentences and worrying that no one will like it, that the undeveloped seed of the post came from someone else somehow makes it feel less honest. Although I don’t have an explanation as to why snippets of words meant to generate inspiration would be more morally suspect than, say, quotes from books.

I also find blog prompts difficult to pull together thematically. This is the most general of my blogs, even if it’s been heavy on books and reading lately, but most blog prompt collections are more general still. I figure using blog prompts means that I’ll be all over the map subject-wise and I really would like to come across as less scattered than that. Not that that’s much of a personal failing as these things go.

So really, there aren’t any solid reasons not to try a few. Especially if the alternative is struggling so hard to be Completely Original and Creative that I end up never writing. Which sounds all good and resolved and reasonable in writing. Still have to convince myself internally, though!

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