Creative writing prompts are short phrases, ideas or techniques you can use to give your creative writing a boost when you're finding it difficult to find inspiration.
There are 3 main stages of a writing project that creative writing prompts can be used for:
1. To start a brand new project. Most of the time creative writing prompts are used as a starting point for a brand new writing project.
This way they can be a very stimulating and exciting tool, because you have no preconceptions about what you want to write. You start with the prompt, jump on board and write, and see where the words take you.
2. To expand an outline for a project. Maybe you already have an outline for a story but are struggling to get words down on the page? Use a prompt to get your creativity off and running.
With your outline for your story in the back of mind, this will subconsciously influence what you write as a result of the prompt anyway. So it's likely that some point soon after you start writing, your words and ideas will coincide with those you have already in your outline.
3. To resume an existing project. You can use also use a creative writing prompt to help you resume an old project that you got a little stuck with and put away to continue at a later date.
Again, you could start writing from the prompt, then as thoughts and ideas from your other project will be in your mind anyway, there will be a point where these intertwine with the new parts you're writing.
You can play around with the parameters and experiment too, it's up to you.
That's one of the great benefits of creative writing prompts. You can input as much or as little from other projects into them as you want.
Sometimes you'll want to have a break from a major project and write freeform using a writing prompt.
Other times you'll get to a difficult point in a larger project and use a prompt specifically to help you move forward with this project.
These are the 3 main stages of a project that creative writing prompts can be used for.
Try some out yourself and discover what an invaluable tool they can be for your creative writing.