I’ve been asked why I bother to write stuff based on WordPress’s daily prompt, especially since the quality of the prompts has been more than a bit lackluster in recent months and I’ve needed considerable self-restraint not to snarl, growl, or try to (virtually) bite the editor.

But I do them anyway and finally, I figured out why.

I am an incorrigibly anal-retentive writer/editor. If I give free rein to my natural inclinations, I will edit everything to death. Nothing will be good enough. I will write every sentence over and over until it’s as near perfect as I can make it. What it will not be is spontaneous.

Some of my best prose is written quickly, barely edited at all. Which means that after publication, I spend the following 12 hours finding and fixing typos — a different conversation.

But what the prompts do for me is give me leave to write quickly, off the cuff about a wide range of subjects that I would never otherwise choose. I post them immediately and don’t let myself get into a never-ending round of edits. Sometimes I get a bit fancy with illustrations, but I keep the writing simple and tight. Rarely does a response to a prompt exceed 500 words. Most are fewer than 350 words.


It’s hard for me to be spontaneous. About anything. I’m not sure if I was ever a free spirit, even as a kid. I’ve always lived in my head. Never been a party person. Never a “just do it” kind of gal. My two creative outlets, writing and photography, are the only areas where I can break free of my self-made restraints.

So I follow prompts. Occasionally, I use a prompt to publish something I was planning to post anyhow. The prompt, in those cases, provides a link so a few extra people might to read it.

I wish the daily prompts were more original, less repetitive. A “free write” exercise is not a prompt at all. It is the stuff of school assignments. Otherwise, WordPress prompts, even if they are obviously constructed using little effort and less thought, offer me an opportunity to write about something I would not ordinarily consider. Some of my best stuff has been in response to silly prompts. Some of my worst, too.

And that’s why I follow the prompts. (Phew. Finally answered that question. Took me long enough!)

Categories: #Blogging, #Writing, Daily Prompt, WordPress, Words

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25 replies

  1. I was not able to read this post due to poor connectivity and promised to comment once I read in my previous comment which I could not find here to use it as a thread to reply again today.

    Finally I am connected and read your entire post. It is so rightly said here. There is a hue and cry about constantly deteriorating quality of prompts at WordPress. I have read your earlier posts where you have shown your disappointments and dis pleasures over the same but at the same time I found you never just passed it. You wrote and you wrote quality. Called spade a spade without mincing words. I like your clarity and dedication to your blog. Keep inspiring us.


  2. I understand your reasons. Since you also take so many photographies, many of your posts don’t need to much writing since the visual quality is excellent. Although I subscribe to the Daily Prompt I have only followed a couple of them. Like you I like to write the best I can. But in an interesting way, some of my shorter posts get more attention. I think that the reason is that they were more spontaneous. I have followed the Weekly Challenge a few times since I like having a short week ahead of me to prepare a post. My Fresly Pressed post was based on a Weekly Prompt. But I agree that less and less are appealing.


    • Thank you for “getting me.” Most people don’t.

      I often find the weekly challenge too challenging. I’m past the point of needing areal challenge.

      You’re right of course. Photos make it much easier. I can write a couple of hundred words and the pictures do the rest, so unless I have a subject I really want to talk about, I keep my word count low. I’ve got a couple of long ones coming up and today’s prompt played into something I had been wanting to talk about a while, which is why it was longer than usual. The only way I can post as much as I do is to not push myself too hard.

      I get tired. Since all the surgery this year and a few years ago (the cancer), but stamina is low and I wear out quickly. Ironically, it seems to have improved my following and maybe my writing, too. It has certainly improved my photography 🙂


  3. Marilyn, as others have mentioned, your responses to the Daily Prompt are so lively. They have the stamp of originality and honesty, and that is something money can’t buy, and no school can teach. I don’t read too much on the web these days because of my eyes, (but fortunately I can still read some!) so I can’t read or comment on everything, but it was your interesting take on the Daily Post subjects that actually moved me to start checking it out from time to time as an outlet for myself. It does give me a new thought or direction that I can then write about. Something that I might now have written about, otherwise. Yet I also have a backlog of my own ideas and goals that I want to blog about…and there never seems to be enough time or ‘eyeball juice’ to do it all. :o)

    It is a gift that you have to possess such a fresh, original perspective and writing acumen that seems to spring up new each day. And you have many appreciative readers.


    • Thank you! You really ARE too kind. My eyes aren’t what they were either and I have had to make the text big so I can read it … and I still get headaches from too much computer time. Audiobooks are my best friend! I’m honored you’ve chosen me to spend your precious eyeball juice because I know exactly what you mean. I’m very selective these days and sometimes, with the best will in the world, I run out of juice long before I run out of stuff to read. The daily prompt works for me because can keep it simple and brief. I have other subjects lined up to write … but it will be a while before I get to them. They all have to wait their turn.


  4. I love that about you, that you are a Master Daily Prompt Writer. I find them very interesting, covering a wide range of topics, often funny or at least amusing, always with a wonderful picture or two. I think following the prompt gives greater diversity to your blog, in that you have such varied topics but all written strongly Marilyn. You know what might be fun? A big list of Marilyn-authored prompts! In time for NaBloPoMo!! 😀


    • Thank you so much. You are kind.

      I did NaBloPoMo last year. I didn’t enjoy it and felt it was more a popularity contest than anything to do with quality writing. I have no plans of ever participating in it again. I post every day anyhow and I don’t need anyone to spur me to greater productivity. I think it’s possible I already post too much, not too little.

      I’m just about at 3000 posts in my archives. I would be hard put to figure out what I’ve done. I don’t remember all of the posts — memory isn’t what it used to be — or what I titled them. Sometimes, I’m surprised when I discover I’ve already written about something and have no memory of doing it 🙂


  5. After a professional lifetime of meeting deadlines, responding to ‘breaking news” and writing “creative” features, I only write when moved by the spirit, an epiphany or nudged by my Bride.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think your responses to prompts are always interesting, Marilyn, and especially when you are clearly more than a bit irritated by them. All writers need to have ‘fast and loose’ moments – me more than most. I do precisely what you do on the editing front – not letting go. But the free writing moments are like a warm-up for an athlete, they are part of one’s practice, give the old subconscious a good poke – so keep on doing prompts. We want to read your first thoughts. They are always worth reading because they are YOU. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Liked the introspection in the post…. found and echo to many of my thoughts too – I have asked and been asked this question too…. found a few answers in your post! He he! We have discussed the rants you had earlier too… I find the free write an opportunity – for a random post … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yep. Though there have been quite a few prompts lately that I just couldn’t think of anything to write about… not even “Not gonna answer this”


    • The problem is worst when they write the prompt in such a way that really, you can answer it by saying “yes” or “no.” They really need to get better at this. And maybe understand better the nature of “prompting” writers.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. For those of us who like to post daily, the prompts can help. I don’t do every one; some are, as you noted, are “a bit lackluster.” When I read each morning’s prompt — later than you because 8:30 your time is only 5:30 my time — if it doesn’t grab me right away, I move on. And recently, a lot haven’t grabbed me. But some do, and when they do, I enjoy responding.

    Good post, Marilyn. Thanks.


  10. Where can the prompt be found?


  11. It is so interesting to me that you are not spontaneous- somehow I thought you were-I think because your writing flows the way it does, and your creativity led me to believe that you are.


  12. Same here. I did not know I was stuck in a kind of rut (I don’t think the “rut” is a bad place for me but it’s just one place and goes one place — even though I want to go there, that’s a rut) until I wrote some good stories based on prompts that were not even that prompting. I like the three random things best; writing to the Hopper painting yielded a good story for me. I think of them as gesture drawings in a life-drawing class.


    • The prompts jog me a little and I need to be jogged it would seem. I think a lot of writers are very programmed. Writing isn’t really a spontaneous thing. Most of the writers I’ve talked to plan everything –every plot point, twist, each move a character makes. It sounds spontaneous, but it’s not really. I can be spontaneous briefly. After 1000 words, it’s a whole different thing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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