How to Use Facebook as a Useful Writing Prompt


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.

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What are You Sacrificing?

Lent has begun. What are you sacrificing this season?

I’ve logged off of Facebook and deleted the app from my phone. I haven’t chosen to give up Facebook because everyone else is doing it, or because I still have Twitter and blogging and who really cares? I’ve chosen to sacrifice Facebook for the next 40 days because I have better things to do with my time, like sifting through the devotional book I bought after chapel today.

It’s been a stressful semester so far. I don’t say these sorts of things to complain, and surely not for sympathy: I have been stressed more in the past two months than I ever have before. I had to turn down an invitation to read a paper at the Sigma Tau Delta national convention because of everything academic that I would have missed. Since we’re on the subject of sacrifice, let’s emphasize that with invisible quotation marks.

No one really ever has much to complain about, even though complaining is a way for many of us to release some of the stress that has built up inside of us throughout the course of a day. I chose to add a second major; I chose to take as many credit hours as I possibly could just so I can graduate on time. It’s no one’s fault; it’s how it has to be.

From now until Easter, don’t think about what you’ve given up. Think of the reasons why you’ve chosen to give it up at all (if you’ve chosen to, I suppose). No, giving up Facebook isn’t that big of a deal. But I like chocolate, and giving it up wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.

I could give up homework for Lent, but then I would have to drop out of school.

Not cool, man.

Love&hugs, Meg<3