Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heffron Prompts: Part I

I am currently reading The Writer's Idea Workshop; how to make your good ideas great by Jack Heffron.  I am four chapters in and while much of what I am reading has been touched upon in other writing books, this one has struck a singular cord within me.  In Heffron's book he talks about how we, as writers, often talk an idea to death and then lose all drive to write about it and how we should keep some ideas secret until we have enough written on the page to sort of rope us into the project rather than allow the idea to exist as some ideal that we will never actually work toward finishing.  I am ever so guilty of this and that is why my current project - something that I've mentioned in passing to Crimson - is going to remain under wraps until I have a few chapters pumped out and can make a real decision on whether or not this idea is any good.  In the mean time, here are some of the prompts from his book, which contains over three hundred prompts, that I found particularly interesting and useful. 

PROMPT: If you have an idea that you've been carrying around in your mind for a while, stop reading this book and put something on paper.  Even if you can only spend five minutes doing it, spend the five minutes.  If you're hesitant to begin writing, just describe the story in a paragraph or write five possible titles or name all the characters.  But do it now.  This very minute.  I'm not kidding.  Go.  You shouldn't be reading this sentence, unless you've taken time to do this prompt.

PROMPT: Write a pledge to yourself to keep secret an idea for a writing project.  Tell no one about it.  If you tend to be a blabbermouth, as writers often are, give the pact with yourself a time limit, such as: "I'll keep this idea a secret for one month, during which I'll write a little something on it every day." 

PROMPT: If you've been working on a piece for a good while and feel it may be time to let go, put it away for a while, give yourself a deadline for working on it.  For example, tell yourself you'll spend the next five sessions on the piece before putting it away.  Then, stick to that schedule, even if the piece suddenly comes to life.  If it does come to life, you can bring it out again later but for now you've decided to move on to something new.

PROMPT: Write about a place you've never been, one in which you've always had an interest or somewhere that has inspired a feeling of connection.  Investigate your interest or connection.

PROMPT: Create a prompt of your own.  One of the themes of this chapter is that creativity requires moving past what you've been told to do, and so what I'm telling you to do is tell yourself what to do.  You might want to brainstorm a half-dozen "assignments" and choose one to explore in a session.  The key here is to set forth your own task and then find ways to accomplish it.

PROMPT: After a writing session, write a congratulatory note from your ideal reader to you.  The reader should tell you he or she loves your idea.

Excerpts from: Heffron, Jack. The Writer's Idea Workshop: how to make your good ideas great. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2003


I, for one, jumped on that first prompt!  I hope that some of you will do the same.  Don't get stuck on a project that is taking forever and eating up the time that you could be using practicing, polishing, and, most importantly, creating!  I put some of these prompts up with specific contributors in mind but I hope these are useful to any and all of our readers.  For more prompts please check out Heffron Prompts: Part II.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012


  1. You know, reading this I'm wondering if this is not exactly what happened - talking an idea to death - with my novel I was working on. I'm gonna take a gander at these prompts and challenges. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for doing this entry... I have some food for thought here!