Updated date:

The Value of Word and Photo Prompts

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

Text added using Picfont

Text added using Picfont

The Benefits of Word and Photo Prompts For Writers

All writers find inspiration from different places, like everyday life and the people and situations we encounter, news stories, music, nature, various causes that we feel strongly about etc. but if you are like me, your muse will also be aroused by prompts and challenges issued by others.

It often takes me days and quite a bit of contemplation to decide on a subject to write about. I wouldn't say I actually had "writer's block" but it is just difficult to decide on a topic. It is one of the reasons I started my "Poems From the Porch" series, where I ask my readers to provide me with prompts for poems they would like me to write.

I also enjoy writing short fiction and flash fiction stories, but unless someone like Bill Holland issues a photo challenge I can't usually decide what to write a story about. In a similar vein, I look forward to Brenda Arledge's weekly word prompts.

If you are stuck on what to write, and need word or story prompts, a quick search of Google will find you an abundance.

Examples of Using Writing Prompts

One example of Internet prompts is Reedsy which gives you a list of short story prompts each week and also offers a $50 prize for the one selected as the best if submitted with them. You can however, if you choose, just use the prompt to kick-start a story and publish it wherever you like.

I wrote one story "Mine! Mine! (or The Old Man and the Boat)" for a picture prompt flash-fiction challenge at a site called "Author's Community" and received a runner-up award. So, don't just sit there twiddling your thumbs in front of a blank page on your notepad, tablet, or computer. Just, search for word, photo, or story prompts, find one or two that catch your eye (or your muse's attention) and you're set!

The following poems and micro-fiction story are further examples of how prompts can be used to inspire your writing.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Word Prompt ~ Raindrops

Friend and fellow writer Brenda Arledge kindly provides us all with a weekly word prompt. The prompt for Week 13 was "Raindrops."

“It looks like today it's going to rain all day, so I can't seem to get this word off my mind.

  • Maybe a poem about how raindrops make you feel or how one tiny raindrop becomes a flood.
  • Maybe you want to hide beneath the covers all day or you are waiting for a storm to pass.

Use your imagination. Have some fun and let me know what your muse decides to write.”

Thank you Brenda. The two following pieces are my response to your word prompt “rainfall.”

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Bed

*this is a parody of the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J.Thomas, written and composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

and just like the guy whose thoughts are too big for his head,

nothing seems to fit.

Those raindrops are fallin’ on my bed, they keep fallin’.

I wish there was a roof above my bed

and I wasn’t lying underneath the moon instead,

sleeping in the rain.

Those raindrops are fallin’ on my bed, they keep fallin’.

But of one thing I’m sure,

the wolves that come to greet me

will not eat me, because I’m quick

and I’ll be scootin’ up the nearest tree.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

so I guess this umbrella will have to do instead.

Whining’s not for me,

‘cause I never want to stop the rain by complaining

because I’m free,

nothing’s worrying me.

It won’t be long ‘till sunshine steps up to greet me.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

so I guess this umbrella will have to do instead.

Whining’s not for me,

‘cause I never want to stop the rain by complaining

because I’m free,

nothing’s worrying me.

Text added using Picfont

Text added using Picfont

Raindrops~ an Acrostic Haiku Poem

Rain is essential

All life depends on water

It rejuvenates

Not much can survive

Drought and fire’s destructive force

Raindrops most welcome

Oh, for rain on soil

Petrachor a perfect smell

Such an earthy treat


Word Prompt ~ Childhood

For Week 14‘s prompt Brenda said the following:

“This week I have chosen the word, "Childhood.

I think this word will inspire us to be creative.

We all have childhood memories. They might be tender and loving, funny, or traumatic. Or you can write something about your grandchildren's childhood or childhood in general.

I'm not exactly sure where this word will take us. But grab your pens and jot down a few notes. Let's see what we can write.”

For my response to this prompt, I decided to incorporate it with Bill Holland‘s picture prompt mentioned below. To me, they can both represent the theme of “childhood.” In addition, I wrote another acrostic haiku type poem for this prompt as well.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Picture Prompt ~ Mini Challenge

In Bill Holland’s ”The Writer’s Mailbag: Instalment #30, Bill issued the following challenge: "Here‘s a pic for you to play with. Give me one paragraph describing emotions based on the pic. Come on, you can do it! Dig deep!”

I would like to thank Bill for the prompt. It is quite a powerful black and white image. The expressions on the faces of mother and son say so much, and beg the viewer to imagine their story.

Bill asked for one paragraph, but I decided to turn it into a micro-fiction story. Micro-fiction usually requires stories to be around 100 words in length. The following piece “He Will Be Back Soon” is 118 words.

What is micro-fiction?

It's actually a subset of flash fiction (short stories typically told in 1,000 words or less.) Definitions vary, but generally, microfiction is any story told in 300 words or less, and could even be as short as a paragraph, one sentence, or just a few words.

He Will Be Back Soon ~ a Micro-fiction Story

“I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder..”

“I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder..”

I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder to try to offer some comfort. She didn’t smile anymore. It seemed so long since she had. My baby brother slept a lot..at least when he wasn’t crying.

I am grateful for the canvas shelter that protects us from the sun and rain, but I’m hungry. Mom says we have to stretch what little we have and make it last.

At least father will be back soon. He left three or four weeks back to look for work on the railroad. He said not to fret, when he returns he’ll have money, food and presents for us all. He will be back soon.. tomorrow I think..or the next day.

Text added with Picfont

Text added with Picfont

Childhood~ an Acrostic Haiku Poem

Childhood is fleeting

Hold onto it while you can

It is here, then gone

Learn what you need to

Do not even waste a day

Happiness the key

Often we recall

Our childhood and reminisce

Days of joy and fun

© 2021 John Hansen


EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 19, 2021:

Amazing, Jodah. Your work is fabulous. Very interesting and unique collection of poems! That's why I always say that you are the master of your work.

Stay safe...

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 19, 2021:

Thank you Nithya, i just love the challenge of writing to prompts I guess.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 19, 2021:

Great poems using word and picture prompts. As always s delight to read. The acrostic and haiku poems are beautifully penned. A treat to read, thank you for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Gyanendra, it is wonderful for a writer to hear that their articles inspire the reader. It is an added bonus that they help with your vocabulary and learning new phrases.

I hope one day soon that you are confident enough in your writing to respond to the prompts and challengers issued by other writers here.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 18, 2021:


I always feel blessed to read your articles and this one now. Because always bulid up my vocabulary and new phrases. And above I everytime I get inspired as I read through your articles word by word However, I've been unable to come with the promps challenges by amazing souls whom you have mentioned in your article.

I hope some day I can. That's for sure.

Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Linda, thank you for confirming this article is helpful and interesting. Yes, please check out the sites mentioned.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 18, 2021:

The different parts of your article fit together very well and create an interesting and enjoyable result. Thanks for sharing the information about the websites. They sound useful.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Thank you Flourish. I am happy you found some good ideas within this article. I try.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 18, 2021:

This was chock full of good stuff, John. You are a creative soul full of good ideas.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Brenda, thank you for such an in-depth and sincere comment to this article and my response to your word prompt challenges.

I had never attempted to write an acrostic poem in haiku style before but actually found it quite satisfying as sticking to the haiku syllable rules of 5,7,5 gave the poems consistent structure.

The photo Bill share for his challenge touched me the moment I saw it so that story flowed easily from my pen. Unless a photo is really special I usually have trouble being inspired by them. I hope you like Reedsy. Thanks again.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Vidya, thank you for those kind words. Glad you found the word prompt info interesting and enjoyed the story and poems.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Shauna, it is always great to receive your comments. Yes, I missed seeing your responses to some of the recent word prompts here. I am glad you found this article helpful and that the links I provided have something to inspire your muse. Brenda actually informed me about Picfont and I love it’s ease of use.

Wish I could hear you singing Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Bed haha. Take care.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 18, 2021:


I love your introduction to this piece.

We often don't have writer's block, but it's just the topic or where to begin.

Once we solve that, the words seem to flow and word prompts or challenges seem to help.

I know I seem to write better if I have a certain challenge in front of me or a deadline.

I didn't know about those word prompt challenges and intend on looking them up.

It sounds like something I'd enjoy trying to do.

Thanks for mentioning me & my weekly word prompts, as well as the prompts "raindrops" and "childhood."

"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Bed" is quite a cute poem.

I'm picturing you scooting up a tree to get away from the wolves.

I couldn't help but sing the song in my head as I read your words.

You did a great job on challenging yourself on this one "Raindrops - an Acrostic Haiku Poem"."

It is so true that all living things depend on rainfall (water).

It definitely helps out against drought & fire.

That aroma after the rain is a special treat and our land certainly needs it to survive.

For childhood I love that you incorporated Bill Holland's picture challenge along with the word prompt challenge. It fits both wonderfully.

Your micro fiction story, "He Will Be Back Soon" is wonderful.

This story is told from the eyes of a child. It is intense and shows the struggle he feels inside as he tries to comfort his mother.

He is grateful they have shelter to protect.

He is tired and hungry as he anxiously awaits his Father's return. He knows everything will be okay then.

Your talent is so amazing. This story is awesome. It flows so naturally that it's hard to believe it came from a prompt.

In your poem, "Childhood - an Acrostic Haiku Poem"

you show us the importance of not wasting a day.

Childhood is here one moment and then gone.

Being happy is the key, as we well know when we reminisce about those days.

Great work on both of these.

I've also bookmarked Reedsy so I can look it over. Thank you.

I will post a link in both of the word prompt articles.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hi again Peg. I like how you could see a connection between the raindrops poem and the next..through homelessness as the common theme. I had to end with something a little more uplifting.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hey Bill. Takes one to know one haha. Thanks Buddy.

VIDYA D SAGAR on May 18, 2021:

Great work John. I admire your creative talent. Thanks for the information on word prompts. I loved both the poems. The micro story though heartrending is full of hope. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub. God bless you always.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 18, 2021:

John, this article is informative and entertaining at the same time. Word and photo prompts usually get my muse moving, but she's been on strike lately. Thanks for leads as to where to find prompts outside the HP walls. Good info.

I love your poems, especially "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Bed". I didn't read it - I sang it and it flows perfectly! What fun!

I've also made note of Picfont for adding text to photos. I know HP encourages us to do so. I've only tried Paint in Windows. I found it a bit cumbersome.

Another great post by my favorite poet! Thanks, John!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2021:

Your first poem about raindrops made me think of homeless people, which then matched that photo prompt of Bill's. Such a sad photo! You ended with a happy theme of fun childhood memories. I hope everyone reading this can relate to a happy childhood!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 18, 2021:

I am seriously in awe of your poetic talent, my friend. Once again you show why you are one of HP's best.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

I love prompts and challenges, Devika, and think they often bring out the best in my writing. Thanks again.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 18, 2021:

It is perfect and a wonderful write up here.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 18, 2021:

Jodah your creative mind gives us challenges and makes us read and understand the values of your work.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Chitrangada, thanks for the encouraging comment and I am glad I explained the significance of prompts satisfactorily. Thank you for always reading my work.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Thank you for the lovely comment, Misbah. I did enjoy writing this article and blending a few different things together. I am glad to know it worked and you enjoyed the read.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hello Lorna. I think because I write poetry to order as a freelancer it allows me to be especially receptive to prompts. It isn't for everyone I agree. Thank you for reading and commenting.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hi Pamela. I am glad you enjoyed this article, found the information useful and the poetry inspirational. Thank you as always.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 18, 2021:

Beautifully done article, with excellent poems in response to the word prompts! As always, I am amazed by your creativity!

You explained well, the significance of word prompts and photo prompts!

Thank you for sharing another wonderful post!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on May 18, 2021:

John, this is a brilliant response to Brenda's Prompt and to Mr. Bill's photo prompt. You gave it an awesome flavor by merging up both. Interesting and Imaginative attempt. I enjoyed it all but the first poem I loved it, the parody one "Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed"

The micro-fiction story was sad as well as the ray of hope. Showing the sufferings of a mother with her children and their hope for a better tomorrow. I enjoyed!!

Thanks for creating this beautiful hub. Take care. Stay safe!!

Blessings to you

Lorna Lamon on May 18, 2021:

A great selection with lots to think about. I do write thoughts down during the day or whenever I get the chance, however, I find writing to a prompt difficult as the words don't come as easily, although from what I have read the prompts have certainly stimulated the writing muse.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 18, 2021:

This is an excellent article, full of good information about prompts and your muse, but also with good poetry. Your poetry is always inspirational. I really liked the acrostic poem.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hi MsDora, I appreciate your generous comment but I certainly don't consider you a wannabe. I am glad the information was helpful though.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 18, 2021:

Great work, John. Both your poetry and prose are refreshing to read, even as they set the standard for wannabes like me. Thanks for the information on writing prompts at the beginning.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 18, 2021:

Hello Liz, thank you for reading and for such an encouraging comment. i greatly appreciate that.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 18, 2021:

This is a fascinating article. It gives great insight into the importance of prompts and a glimpse of your creative genius at work. Your portfolio of work within this single article is high quality and impressive.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 17, 2021:

Thank you Peace. I am so glad you enjoyed these pieces. Yes, I am certain the dad will return soon.

Peace Tobe Dike from Delta State, Nigeria. on May 17, 2021:

I loved everything!..your poems and fiction are wonderful..I hope the dad returns with money and presents so everyone's happy. .very good job, Jodah! Well-done!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 17, 2021:

Thank you, Ravi. Much appreciated.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on May 17, 2021:

Wonderful John. The poems on raindrops are really great and the subtle emotions really tug to the heart. The poem on Childhood is also very interesting. Thanks for sharing John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on May 17, 2021:

Thank you Rosina, it is great to see you back on HubPages and always a pleasure to receive your generous comments.

Rosina S Khan on May 17, 2021:

John, the poem on Raindrops and the arcostic Haiku poem seem astounding. Also the the micro-fiction story and the arcostic Haiku poem on Childhood look splendid to me. All in all, very interesting and intriguing responses to Brenda prompts for weeks 13 & 14. Thank you for the bewitching share.

Related Articles