Follow the Flying Fish
For writers, a Prompt, is an exercise in imagination. The prompt itself is a topic, or a short phrase. Writers are given the prompt, and a time limit. They then write whatever they want within the framework of the prompt, until time runs out.
A prompt is interesting because it’s a first draft. This is what the writer can do the first time around. Most written work is the product of countless hours of revision, just like songs and paintings and sculptures. A prompt might be considered equivalent to musicians doing improvisation.
I like prompts because they allow me to gauge my abilities as a writer. No matter how much time I have to revise, I can never achieve a level much higher then my current creative ability. I sometimes spend hours agonizing over short passages because I know I can say more, I know we can say it better, I know I can bring the masses to their knees in tears with the power of a single line. I know because I’ve seen other people do it. What I need to remember is that seeing others do it doesn’t mean I can do it. The prompt is a gauge to show me what I can do, and what I can realistically expect from myself.
These are a few of my prompts. As first drafts they are, of course, horrible nightmares. I don’t really know why I’m sharing them. Yes I do, because they’re funny. They’re funny and interesting. I love to hear Jazz musicians improvise. I love to hear their mistakes and their triumphs. I love to smile with them as they stumble and create.
Here are a few of my improvisations.