Recently a client had a Trello board full of topics he wanted to cover on his blog, and a hard time getting to the actual writing. Also, where to start? Late at night, kids to bed, sitting down to type, glowing screen—what was it he wanted to say about birthday cake* again?
It’s one thing to think one should write about birthday cake / agile software development / global health. Coughing up 500+ intelligently arranged words on the subject is another. This is especially true if your main reason for covering the subject is your belief that the SEO and content marketing gods demand it of you, and you’ll suffer professionally if you don’t get to posting on Medium, stat. It is always true for perfectionists.
So I devised some writing prompts that are essentially questions. The client could pick and choose which he wanted to answer on his way to 500+ words, and see what he wound up with.
As writing prompts go, they’re not bad. Let me know if you find them useful. I’d love to hear.
The “X” below …X could also be an idea. Or a practice.
How would I explain X to a seven-year-old?
How would I explain X to a fourteen-year-old?
What other phenomenon does X remind me of?
What did the discovery of X do for me?
What did the discovery of X do for people I care about?
Where did I learn X?
Who introduced me to X?
Where was I at the time?
Have I told that person how X affected me?
What’s my most vivid memory associated with X?
What in the world would be different if more people knew about X?
What in my company would be different if more people knew about X?
What problem(s) does X solve?
How bad / pervasive / entrenched is the problem that X solves?
What popular understanding / product / misconception gets in the way of more people adopting X?
What does X look like?
What does X sound like?
What does X feel like?
What does X smell like?
What does X taste like?
Under what conditions does X work best?
Under what conditions does X stop working?
What other truths [big word, but take as seriously (or not) as is appropriate] is X in tension with?
How have you reconciled those tensions?
*Not his real interest.