“What is Promptober?” I hear you ask.
First, A Bit of History
Promptober is a shameless but respectful ripoff of Inktober. Created by Jake Parker back in 2009, Inktober is a month-long event where illustrators challenge themselves to create 31 illustrations in 31 days—the number of days in October. Illustrators primarily participate in Inktober to improve their drawing and inking skills along with developing good drawing habits, such as taking a little time each day to draw or sketch. Also, it’s just really fun! Since 2009, Inktober has become one of the biggest and possibly the most popular events in the illustration and drawing community.
The rules of Inktober are simple enough:
- Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).
- Post it
- Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober<year>, such as #inktober2020
But what do they draw each day? Well, each year an official Prompt List is posted where each day has its own unique prompt or theme. This prompt is meant to inspire, guide, and potentially frustrate (read: challenge) the illustrator. So, the illustrator creates a drawing that incorporates the prompt in some fashion, but beyond that, the artist has complete creative freedom to draw whatever they wish.
An important aspect of Inktober is that you are not necessarily trying to create a good illustration but “an” illustration. The quality of that illustration is not the focus. The act of drawing is the focus. The idea is that you will improve your skills by creating many drawings. Through quantity, you will achieve quality.
Promptober: Inktober for Writers
Promptober is my attempt at creating Inktober for writers. The goals of Promptober are similar to those of Inktober:
- Develop positive writing habits.
- Improve your writing skills.
- Practice turning off your internal editor and immerse yourself in the act of writing.
- Stretch yourself creatively by crafting a new narrative each day with its own plot, set of characters, setting, and conflicts.
- Challenge yourself to try different things, such as genres you don’t normally write in, different POVs or tenses, or styles different from your default.
- Challenge yourself to write in different short form formats—short story, flash fiction, micro fiction, six word story, etc..
Just like Inktober, a major theme of Promptober is that through quantity, you will achieve quality. The more stories you right, the better at writing stories you will get. The more narratives you craft, the better at storytelling you will get.
Personally, I have found Promptober to be a challenging but rewarding experience. Each time I participate in Promptober, I grow as a writer and storyteller. With every Promptober, I prove to myself that my creativity is endless, and it is waiting just below the surface to burst out and shine.
“Psst!” you whisper. “What about NaNoWriMo?”
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is still there in November waiting for you, and it is still awesome! As of 2020, I am still in my short story phase of development, and I have yet to be bit by the novel writing bug. Thus, I participate in Promptober: a writing event for short form writers.
For you writers and storytellers that have found your way to my humble corner of the internet, I highly recommend you give Promptober a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a worthwhile journey to go on.
Onto the rules!
Promptober rules! End of sentence.
. . . oh wait, that might not be the type of rules you were expecting. Hmm . . . okay, let me try again.
- Pick a writing prompt*
- Taking no more than a day, write a complete story that satisfies the prompt
- Post the story or a summary of the story**
- Hashtag it with #promptober and #promptober<year>, such as #promptober2020
- Repeat each day of October
* You can pick a writing prompt from any source, be it online, found in a book or magazine, created by a friend, or one you think of yourself. It can be a long detailed prompt or short and sweet. Toward the bottom of this page, you will find links to various websites that post writing prompts. You can also reuse prompts, be they from previous Promptobers or this Promptober.
** Because of the nature of publication rights and copyright laws, you might not want to post the story online if you think you might pursue publishing that story at a later date. Should you post the story online, publications might not accept the story for publishing. Because of this, I often only post the prompt, a one to two-sentence summary of the story, and its word count. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you wish to post the full story or not.
Sample Writing Prompts
Write a one-sentence story.
Write a story that takes place on Halloween.
Dramatize a defining moment in the backstory of one of your D&D characters.
Write a story that starts with the following sentence: Alicia looked out her apartment window and couldn’t believe what she saw.
Write a story of no more than 250 words.
Write a six-word story.
My Promptober Retrospectives
Each Promptober, I put together a retrospective of my experience. In the retrospective, I compile data points I maintain throughout the month, make observations about that coalesced data, and talk about what I learned that Promptober. Listed below are links to these retrospectives should you be interested.