Review: “Break the Block,” Leslie Watts and Alyssa Archer

Pros: Primarily process prompts; interesting photos
Cons: There are so many prompt books out
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review ebook provided free by publisher.


Okay, admission time: No matter how many writing prompt books I read (and I’ve read a lot), I still love ’em. They’re such a quirky, simple, fun way to kick your creativity into gear, or help you to see a matter in a different way. Most prompts I’ve seen are content prompts. For example, filling out a questionnaire about your main character gives you a better handle on the character content in the book. This is probably the more common type of prompt available. What Break the Block: 117 Exercises to Rekindle the Fire in Your Writing does is focus primarily on process prompts. For example, one prompt has you write “everything I know about my project” balanced with “everything I don’t know about my project.” It can be a great way for you to find things that are missing in your understanding of your work.

Most of the prompts are accompanied by attractive, arty photos for further inspiration; they add nicely and help to keep the book from feeling overly short. One prompt I quite like instructs the reader to write a letter to his or her favorite author. The trick is that you have to be detailed about what you like; you have to think in terms of structure and content. This is a great way to push yourself into starting to analyze what you do and don’t like in writing in general–which you can then apply to your own.

One prompt has you examine your work space and tools, de-cluttering them and experimenting to find out which ones really help you to concentrate and examine your writing. Other prompts use the ever-popular free-writing technique to explore the ways in which you write, or the topics you need to get a handle on.

I quite like these authors’ choices for writing prompts and images. I’m most used to seeing prompts that focus on content, while many of these apply to process. That’s a handy bit of variety for writers. This isn’t a huge book, but it does have some nice techniques that I think you’ll find useful when you need a kick in the pants!

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