Thursday Prompt Frequently Asked Questions
Originally written by Poetigress
(Modified by Duroc on October 4, 2011)
What is the Thursday Prompt?
It's a writing exercise originally started by Renee Carter Hall (Poetigress). She posted prompt topics in her FurAffinity journal every Thursday, for writers to use as inspiration and help spark the writing process. Usually the prompt is a single word or phrase, but every once in a while it can be an image or even a piece of music from someone on FA. All writers are welcome to participate, regardless of experience, skill level, genre, etc. The more, the merrier. Come on in and have fun.
Poetigress choose a day close to the weekend, to accommodate people who have more time to write during that time, but yet, not actually part of the weekend to accommodate people who are online mostly at work. It seemed like a good compromise. Plus Thursday Prompt has a nice ring to it.
So what do I do in order to be a part of it?
Read the prompt and then write whatever it inspires. And you don't necessarily have to write fiction. While the prompts are selected with fiction writers in mind, you're welcome to use them for poetry, scripts, personal essays, journaling, etc. Just write whatever comes to mind and don’t be afraid to experiment. You might just surprise yourself.
So why do the Thursday Prompt? What's the point?
There are a lot of different reasons, and they're all good ones:
To exercise your creativity -- Sometimes a prompt will trigger a scene or a story that you might never have written otherwise. Or as Poetigress so wonderfully put it (in more metaphorical terms), a prompt can be a key to unlocking a door in your imagination that you never even knew was there.
To get yourself into the habit of writing -- It's easy to push writing to the bottom of the to-do list. Having a weekly "assignment" with a gentle deadline can give some writers the nudge they need to actually get something down on paper. It’s all about finding that trigger to help you write and getting into the habit of doing it consistently, be it a sentence, a paragraph, or a page.
To get unstuck -- If you feel like writing but can't get started, or if you've been dealing with any sort of writer's block, a little exercise often helps. Even if you don't wind up with anything you can use, you've at least worked the muscles and can feel good about it. And who knows, it might inspire you to return to an old story or spark something in the piece you’re currently working on. You never know.
To meet other writers on Weasyl -- On a site like this, writers can easily get lost in the shuffle. The prompt gives you a chance to join a very informal group of writers, read their work, and have yours read as well.
Do I have to write something furry?
Not at all. Of course, considering that this is Weasyl, most responses do tend to be anthro-related, but all genres and styles are welcome.
Can I write something adult?
You can, as long as you provide appropriate warnings for those who prefer general-audience material. Keep in mind that readers may not share your preferences or fetishes, so you might not get quite as much feedback with an adult response as you would on something general-audience.
Does it have to be a complete story?
Nope. As mentioned a few questions back, it doesn't even have to be a story. The response can be a complete story, an opening scene, a handful of scene fragments, a passage of description, an exchange of dialogue... whatever you're moved to write. Make the prompts whatever you’d like them to be.
I read the prompt, but I can't think of anything to write. (Or, I know what I want to write, but I can't seem to get started.)
Poetigress had a great suggestion for this:
Try setting a timer for fifteen minutes and writing whatever comes into your mind until the time's up. Go with the first image or line or character who shows up. (And no going back to edit or make changes until the fifteen minutes is up. Keep moving forward. If you can't think of a character's name or a technical term or the capital of your mythical state, just draw a line or a squiggle or an asterisk and come back to it later.)
If you've never written with a time limit, it might sound like it would create too much pressure, but for most people it actually does the opposite. Knowing you only have to write for fifteen minutes makes it easier to get something (anything) down on paper.
Or try this, read the prompt and then go about your day, but keep the theme in your head. Maybe go listen to some music or do something else that helps stir your creative juices, then come back and try writing later. Remember, you might not have an idea right off the bat, but as the day goes on, you may just stumble across something that will click with the theme.
I started with an idea that fit the prompt, but now it's going off in another direction. What do I do?
Roll with it. The prompt is meant to be a trigger more than a topic or theme. In the end, the point is to get you writing.
Do I have to post my response by a certain day/time?
Technically no, but we recommend that writers post their responses sometime before the next Thursday. For one thing, responses posted during that week usually wind up getting more reads and comments than ones posted later. For another, having a deadline helps some people get their writing finished (or at least "finished for now") instead of getting all perfectionist, agonizing over every decision, and never finishing.
If you fall a little behind or post a little later, that's okay (I've been late with responses more than once myself), but try to get it in within the week if you possibly can.
(And since this seems to come up a lot -- responses are not considered "late" until the next prompt has been posted. You do have a full week, no matter how fast other people are!)
Okay, I'm done... but it's not very good.
Don’t worry about it. There are two very important things to remember here: One, this is an exercise, NOT a contest. And two, this is about process, not product. The point is to get you writing.
You might wind up with a scene for your current project, a new character to develop, or the makings of a finished piece. You might get one good line of dialogue or a few phrases of description. Or you might find yourself with a couple pages' worthy of the garbage can until somebody comes along, picks them out, and says, “Why’d you throw this away? It’s fantastic!” Or maybe not. That’s just how writing goes. It happens to everyone.
Whatever you end up with, it's all good. This is a process; this is practice. And no time spent writing is ever wasted. As long as you’re writing, that’s all that matters.
I'm ready to share what I wrote! What do I do?
First, upload the file to Weasyl. Then be sure to go back to that week's journal entry and post a new comment giving everybody the link to your file. It’s that simple.
Um... I'm done, but what I've written is kind of personal (or, I think it's really bad). Do I have to show this to everybody?
Not if you don't want to. If you're not comfortable posting what you've written, that's okay. There are some people who get motivation from knowing that others will read their work, and there are others who can be completely paralyzed by the thought of anyone looking at their early drafts. You may even have different feelings about it week to week. It's entirely your call. Just make a comment to the journal entry saying something like "I did this week's prompt, but I'd rather not share it" -- that way, we still get an idea of who's participating.
I have something I've already posted that fits the theme. Can I just post a link to that, or do I have to write something new?
Write something new. The prompts are meant to be a writing exercise, not just a sharing of works on a theme -- again, process, not product. It's perfectly okay if the prompt inspires you to go back to a rough draft and rework it, though, or if you use the prompt as a push to finish something you've already started. If it gets you to write, that’s all that matters.
Do I have to read everybody else's responses?
It's not a requirement, but it is good karma. Besides, it's fun -- aren't you curious to see the wide variety of responses that other people came up with for the very same prompt you used? (Of course, we understand if, say, a particular response is adult in nature, and you'd rather not read adult work.)
Do I have to do this every week?
You don't have to, but it's good to try to participate every week.
One of the big benefits of doing each week's prompt is that it begins to build writing as a habit and as an everyday part of your life, instead of a frenzied creative storm you fall into once or twice a month at random or when you have a big chunk of idle time. Doing the prompt every week keeps your writing muscles limber and your writer's eyes open. But it's possible to get burned out, too, so take a break when you need one.
I missed a week! How can I catch up?
You'll find the Thursday Prompt Archives in my Scraps.
Anything else I should know?
As Poetigress so eloquently put it, “Just this: Have fun!”