Combat Writer’s Block with Prompts

Writer’s block is a common condition and one that’s really hard to shake off when it hits. Sometimes you’re stuck on how to develop your writing beyond what you have, or sometimes it’s just that you can’t seem to get started. Running out of inspiration is never good, but at least when you’re typing on an iPad, there’s some tools to support your issue.

Prompts is the answer to your creative problem — a simple, minimalist writing app at its core with a bank of more than 1,000 starting lines for your next big hit. Load up the app, start a new piece and use the randomly generated line as your inspiration. Let’s take a look!

Putting Pen to Pixels

Launching Prompts, hitting the plus button to start a new entry will open up a blank canvas for your new content. Prompts resembles your typical minimalist typing app, putting the bulk of controls conveniently¬†away into a thin, textless bar at the top with nothing more than your iPad’s keyboard comprising the application’s main UI. Keeping interruption aside is exactly what you want in an app of this type, though the necessity to save without a labeled icon to do so can be confusing when you first start using Prompts.

Prompts is very similar to other minimalist writing apps.

Prompts is very similar to other minimalist writing apps.

There’s little else to the basic writing functionality of the app; it’s just what you’d expect. If you only want to use Prompts as as a simple writing app in the same way one might use iA Writer and other similar apps, you’ll be happy with what the app has to offer.

Of course, Prompts doesn’t just leave your creations within its own jurisdiction. The action button atop your entry lets content be shared via the clipboard, email, Evernote and Facebook. You can also announce how many words you’ve composed to your Twitter followers and owners of Day One can send their entry to the app, if you have it installed on your device. Through the Settings menu, you can also link your Dropbox account to Prompts, toggling the option of syncing all your entries to your cloud storage for off-iPad viewing or editing in other apps — your content is synced in the TXT format.

Getting Some Inspiration

The heart of Prompts is by using the random generator to pull up a starting line as a point of inspiration. When you add a new entry, a line will be generated and you can use this as an opportunity to start a fresh piece of content. The bank of starting lines is diverse — some of the ones I got ranged from discussing why the past was a pleasant place to talking about why a well ran dry — but many of them can be applied to either fictional or non-fictional contexts, and there was rarely a line generated that I felt I couldn’t use at all.

An example of a randomly generated starting line and lightning-activated reflection prompt.

An example of a randomly generated starting line and lightning-activated prompt.

But what if you’re already writing an entry and get stuck again? A tap of the lightning bolt icon drops down a suggestion on how to continue with your piece, suggesting something to move your piece on with or simply it offers a question to make you think about what you’ve wrote so far. It’s a nice feature but I often felt like the questions were too niche to a specific purpose, unlike the bank of starting lines which could be employed under a lot more uses.

These features are the core of what makes Prompts so attractive and more than just your standard minimalist writing app. They work surprisingly well to generate some level of newfound inspiration, and if you’re not already swayed towards a rival word processing app, it’s not too bad to have them on hand.

Options and Statistics

The coolest feature in Prompts is not just the random lines of inspiration. Instead, I found the tucked away Stats view, which offers an exciting insight into the writing I had done. The panel, accessed through the Settings menu, graphs and tracks your writing within the app, offering up key data like your most active day and the total time spent writing. Prompts even presents your writing on a graph showing your most active hours. This is a really fun insight into you as a writer and I wish more apps chose to offer this kind type of feature.

The tracking view offers up a number of interesting statistics.

The tracking view offers up a number of interesting statistics.

Joining the Stats view in the Settings menu is the expected ability to change your text size to match your personal preference, in addition to a toggle so you can choose whether to generate starting lines for new entries or not. There’s also an intriguing alarm feature but Prompts seems to have taken minimalism to the extreme because I couldn’t find a way to actually set the reminder ¬†— only a way to cancel the process when I had chosen a time.

Final Thoughts

Prompts is a great remedy for creative downturns. It’s not the best writing app out there, but the unique bank of inspiration and fun statistic tracking easily makes it worth your $3.99. I’d love to see some extra features in a future update, such as changeable fonts and an individual statistics view for each entry, but you won’t be disappointed with picking up Prompts today.


Summary

A Dropbox-syncing minimalist writing app that provides inspirational starting lines to combat Writer's Block in a unique way.

8