The writing habit: Prompts

Ah, the oldest problem in the book. Writer’s Block.

I recently discussed this with a fellow writer (who, not being in the erotica scene, shall remain nameless.). He said he wanted to write, but did not know what. It’s a problem which I’m sure we’ve all come across before.

My advice was the same I follow for myself, when I’m unsure what to write: Use a prompt.

It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. My friend thought I meant find a prompt generator online, which seems overly complex to me. Instead, turn to a book near you. Pick a page at random, and pick a word from that page. Pick a couple of words, either next to each other, or from different pages, if you want to.

For my final Uni assignment, I was given (by a different friend) the prompt of ‘Vomit’. That was all – and I had to plan a full-length novel off this.

So. Vomit. Not much to go on? Actually, lots.

Is there vomit? Can we see vomit? Why can we see vomit? Who has vomited? Do we even know? Are they ill? Are they poisoned? Are they drunk? Where is the vomit? A prison bucket, a drain, outside a nightclub, on someone’s shoes? The possibilities are endless. Just run with it. Play with it a bit. Who would be the worst person’s shoes to vomit onto? Maybe your employer, when it’s 10am on a Tuesday and you’re meant to be working? That’s an awful time to be ill, but a worse time to be drunk. But why would you be drunk? Is your marriage falling apart? That’s awful. It’ll only go downhill now that you’ve been fired from your job from drunkeness. And where would you go then? Would you join a crime syndicate as a small fish, trying to earn some extra cash doing drug runs? But maybe you’d work your way up, and get noticed by the police, and suddenly you’re trying to be an upstanding citizen again to earn back your spouse’s trust, so you’ve become a double-agent. Or maybe those drugs were more sinister than you thought, and you’re actually hooked on the worst kind of drug ever . . . as for what it does? Maybe it’ll turn you mad. Maybe the whole book is a decent into madness. Maybe it’s going to make you a super-strong fighter. Maybe it’s actually just lengthening your life, and you have to live with the fact that every time you prolong your life, it’s by exploiting the people who make this drug. Maybe you have to decide to go off the drug, realising you’ve become a monster, and you realise that you’re slowly wasting away, and watch yourself dying, and we come right back round to vomiting away the last liquid in your body, knowing that this is, in fact, the end, but that you’ve brought it on yourself. . .


See, isn’t writing from a prompt fun? Or seriously depressing, but interesting either way.

I’d definitely recommend trying it. You might not write something you like, and you might never turn the ideas into a full story, but it’s something. Just getting the creative juices flowing will hopefully help break your writer’s block. And even if just one idea from your prompt session can be used in your current piece, it’s still a win.


I’d love to know what you all come up with from prompts, so if you give it a go, please do share your prompt and your ideas 🙂