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I don’t understand why some writers resort writing prompts to kick their writing into gear. To me, they are gimmicks. There are ways that are better than writing prompts to get yourself started.

Where a writer needs to go to get ideas is within. It is there the writer will find inspiration to write a meaningful and interesting memoir.

Too many waste-of-time prompts

If you are looking for a prompt to get you going, why waste time with something extrinsic to your writing, something like “You are walking in a field and suddenly a bright light surrounds you. Before you know it, you are abducted in a flying saucer. What next?”

As unusual and clever as this sort of prompt may be, it has nothing to do with your memoir and does not really advance your writing project: to publish a memoir. Why not work with a prompt that gets you moving ahead on your memoir.

The best writing prompt solution

I usually respond to people who ask me for a writing prompt with, “Write your Memory List.” The Memory List is amply covered in the posts below.

Some take this advice to their great profit, but others continue to want a gimmick. The gimmick of choice for many is the writing prompt. Unfortunately, I say that exoticism may stimulate a writer to write text, but it does not lead to completing a memoir.

In conclusion

Below are a number of posts that will help you to steer clear of dependency on writing prompts. If you were not a writing prompt person, so much the better!

These articles will help you strengthen your writing skills.

writing prompts

Instead of A Writing Prompt – Five Tips for Creating a Memory List

As people are writing a memoir they will sometimes say, “I want to write my stories but I have forgotten so many details. Is there any way I can get them back? Should I use writing prompts or is there something instead of a writing prompt?”

There is one tool above all others that makes the experience of life writing successful. That tool is not a writing prompt: it is the Memory List. No other exercise opens up the process of life writing as quickly and as surely as the thoughtful and thorough compilation of such a list. It’s simple, and as a first step, it’s crucial.

Let me tell you about the Memory List (a general term for your list of memories).

Your Memory List is always a work in process because the more you remember and jot down, the more you’ll recall. You will return to and rework your list again and again as you write your life stories. In short, it will serve as an excellent writing prompt without being a writing prompt.

1. The Memory List consists of short memory notes (three to five words is sufficient) of people, events, relationships, thoughts, feelings, things—anything—from your past.

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writing prompt

Use This Instead of a Writing Prompt

A writing prompt in my estimation leads to nothing. I’m not a great fan of a writing prompt. Sure, they get you to writing something. And many people will insist writing something is better than writing nothing. Well, I’m not so sure of that.


Cell phones: A fine way to avoid intimacy

This post is part of the “Beyond Writing Prompts” series to help you to access memories that may not have made it to your Memory List. Walking through the nearby Bates College campus recently, I walked towards five young women who were heading in the direction of the college dining hall. I could imagine them […]

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