How to Use Facebook as a Useful Writing Prompt

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Every once in awhile, there are days we need a little extra help.

As we’ve pointed out more than a few times here, writing isn’t as much of a solo activity as you might think. When you get stuck, and need something to get you started up again, it’s honestly not very likely you’re going to be able to do it on your own. You’re going to need someone else to push you.

Someone else, or an entire social network. Facebook, to be exact.

Here’s how to use FB to jumpstart your writing when your progress has come to a halt.

Don’t just follow news sites; explore the comments (carefully)

We say carefully because, well, comments sections can turn into deep, dark black holes if you don’t proceed with caution. Sometimes it’s not even the news stories themselves, but every Facebook commenter’s unsolicited opinions about them, that can generate a string of fresh ideas in the back of your mind.

See what’s out there. What are people’s biggest hangups about everyday life? How to people respond to this or that stereotypical person being talked about in the media or on a user-generated content site? Comments sections, especially on Facebook, are an excellent way to gain a better understanding of how people behave, and if nothing else, you might get another quirky character sketch out of it for later use.

Just don’t go overboard. When you feel yourself getting sucked in, run away. Fast.

Join a writing group or follow pages like this one

Especially during WriMos, writing groups and writing-related pages on Facebook are filled with questions, observations and even writing prompts themselves. Not only can you find potential writing “partners” to word war or sprint with, but also, when you’re running low on ideas and need something to get you going, it’s hard not to find a post that will give you exactly what you need when you need it.

You can even reach out to these communities and say, “Hey, I’m feeling a little blocked right now. Anyone have a random prompt that can at least get me going?” You might be surprised at how many fellow writers are willing to jump in to help someone in creative need. Sometimes just a few hundred words of bouncing off of a stranger’s prompt can motivate you to go right back to your current project and start working on it again.

Start your own Facebook RP

Roleplay writing communities are everywhere on the Internet, and they’re great for writing practice and meeting fellow writers. You don’t have to make a commitment to one of these communities to practice in a similar style, however. If you’re running low on ideas, a simple Facebook status might, or might not, be able to spark a few new ones.

Post a status along the lines of, “Can you continue this story?” followed by a paragraph of fiction. Many of your FB friends will probably scroll right past it, but some of them might actually join in and write a paragraph in succession to yours. You can either wait and see if anyone else adds onto theirs or “answer” back. It’s fun, it’s informal and you might even make someone else’s day a little better in the process, too.

As long as you don’t spend too much time on it, Facebook can be a worthwhile place to find the inspiration that’s gone missing. Even if you don’t log on very often, give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ll be able to take a short break from writing in the process. But it’s worth a shot.

Think social media is too much of a writing distraction for you? Check out this post to weigh the pros and cons of writing and SM.

Image courtesy of eweek.com.

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