Writing prompts and one liner files are two more helpful tools for the busy writer. Both will get you started on more writing projects. Both are also exclusively for short fiction and articles. After all, you’re not going to be planning to write a pile of books. One great idea will do there. With shorter pieces, you need lots of ideas. Where can you start?
The idea behind writing prompts is that you read a prompt, it gives you an idea, and you write a short story or article based on its question or idea. They work best for short stories.
Some writers store lists of writing prompts. I find that saved lists of prompts are likes old emails. I may give them a look again someday, but if they don’t fire me up to act now, they won’t later either. It’s better to read them now, get inspired if possible and move on.
While one line prompts from others are great for short stories, the one liners for nonfiction are ones you write yourself. The prompts are books, articles, movies, videos, TV shows and personal experiences. In other words, somebody else’s ideas take your thinking in other directions. Unrelated directions if you’re really good. This gives you ideas for articles and you write them down somewhere immediately.
My One Liners files have lots of article and short story ideas. There’s a separate file for each kind of writing that I like to work on a lot.
Each one liner has a title at minimum. I write enough to explain to my future self what I’ve got in mind for an article or short story. At most, I write a paragraph about the idea. Sometimes it’s a very long paragraph.
When I go beyond a paragraph, I write it out into the first draft and it becomes its own file. If I need several articles, I’ll go to the relevant one liners file and turn the 10 oldest ideas into their own files and get to work. Some ideas may end up in the trash, but most won’t.
This is one of many ways to keep the momentum going. Always have several things you can work on for your writing and you will have something to do no matter what your frame of mind. Prompts and one liners are a great thing to work on when you’re not in the mood for writing. Reading is easier because it’s fun, it’s leisure. Let it inspire you and fill up your ideas file for later when you’re ready to write.
Article by Ivan Izo.