The Challenge of Writing Prompts

Something I consider one of my personal skills is that I believe I can write up to 1000 words on any subject. In fact, it’s a little secret of mine that that’s often one of the things I challenge myself with here in this space. I once gave myself the challenge of writing a love letter for comic sans, a reviled font that I honestly have no real feelings for or against, and came up with something I believe to have been clever, funny, and somehow a little bit endearing, ending with a call to action of calling your mother.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t really have enough to say on a daily basis in this space, and while I’ve often considered going down to a smaller number of posts a week, I also like to have this little bit of writing exercise to keep my fingers nimble and my brain working through how to talk about things. And so, as it is, I write a little bit of something on whatever it is I can first come up with that I think might lead to something interesting.

They’re not all successful. Not only are plenty of the things I publish on here simply lame, but I write plenty of draft posts which end up being completely deleted. I have three drafts right now that are pretty similar to other things I’ve written recently, but are just not as good, that will probably be deleted soon after I finish my writing today. But the point isn’t that I’m always writing gold, it’s that I’m always writing.

With how busy my life has been of late, I don’t always have the time to kick back and work on a long form story. I don’t even always have the time to work on flash fiction, as that takes a bit more effort and detail work. But I can usually find the space to sit down and write a quick rant about whatever might be of slight interest to me on a given day.

Of course, more often than not, I find myself getting completely off track and what I started writing about isn’t at all what I intended to write about. For example, this post right here was initially going to be something about laundry. I don’t know what exactly, that was just the writing prompt I gave myself to work with because my office is also the laundry room and that’s what I came up with when looking around the room for ideas. As I started working on it, I decided instead that it might be interesting to give a little insight into my writing process for these blog posts.

And the insight I’m giving to you is that I honestly have very little of a process. I try to come up with something I think I can write something interesting about, starting by looking around the room I’m in before going to the social medias and/or news to see if there’s anything there that piques my interest.

And finally, if none of those work, I start working through completely random words in my vocabulary to see if something comes to mind. Luckily this last step rarely has to happen, although it is what got me to the comic sans post, which, as noted before, I’m pretty proud of. Maybe I’ll have to dig it up from the archives and post it out here again just to show you how alone I am in my love of it.

However, the real point here is that I often get asked about how to find success as a writer. And as someone who doesn’t sell a whole heckuva lot of books, I can only assume they’re asking about actually succeeding with writing something. And the only answer I have to that is to just write. As often as possible. For as long as possible.

My kids have taken to writing in recent years, and they usually like to talk to me about the process, and this is the same advice I give them. Just write. It won’t all be worth reading, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth being written. I learn more about my writing through the things I don’t feel are worth publishing than I do about the things that I decide are just good enough to make it through my editorial process for this space.

So, I guess that’s my little inspirational piece for today. Maybe tomorrow you’ll be graced with my surely amazing article about laundry.


Published by Adam Oster, Adventure Novelist

Husband, Father, Creator/Destroyer of Worlds

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