Who really made the rules?

A few years ago, I posted a picture of a little doorway that I pass every time I drive north. It was a small, rounded door, set into a wall behind which trees cast deep, green shadows. To me, it always looks like the kind of doorway that would lead to otherworldly adventures… rather like, say, a wardrobe.

Michelle Clements James said it would make a great writing prompt, so, just for fun and as a one-time affair, I posted it. To my surprise, ten people joined in! Then K.L. Caley from new2writing asked when the next prompt would be…

Now, I had no intention of running a regular prompt. They take a fair bit of time to organise and anyway, once the novelty wore off, who would join in? Maybe a handful, I supposed. But, as I’d been asked, I put up a new photo anyway. More stories came in…

That first prompt was in February 2016. Over four years ago. From ‘no intention of running a regular prompt’, the #writephoto challenge fast became a weekly fixture and has been running ever since… more than two hundred and twenty prompts later.

Originally, the prompt had been for a story told in no more than a hundred words.  At the start, only the photo was the prompt… but people started using the title words too as part of the challenge. But writers write, and as they cheerfully ignored ‘the rules’, I realised that they were too restrictive and had to change them.

There are great benefits from joining in a writing prompt, quite apart from what is gained by the discipline of writing to a theme. People who would not have found your blog get to read your work. If they follow the links back to the original piece, they often explore your blog and you gather new readers. As for running the prompt, I get to discover new writers, share and help promote their work and ‘meet’ new people.

At the beginning, I had every intention of reblogging all the stories and poems that came in. You can easily fit in one a day, I thought… perhaps two sometimes, if a few extra people joined the prompt. But from a mere handful of writers, it grew… I had to change yet again, until I was reblogging up to four every day… and the contributions still kept on coming. These days, there are usually over forty entries every week… I very soon realised that I would have to put any personal preferences aside and schedule posts to reblog as they came in.

Now, I could be more strict. I could ignore posts that don’t abide by ‘the rules’. I could specify form, length and genre. I could simply not share posts that come in past the deadline… But rules are only any good if they work and if they can be tempered by a bit of common sense. And the rules that work best are those that evolve naturally from being used. Wouldn’t it be nice if that applied in other areas too?

So, who made the rules? Well, at least for the writephoto prompt, you did.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the writephoto prompt over the past few years… and to those who join us in the future 🙂

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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55 Responses to Who really made the rules?

  1. KL Caley says:

    Lovely post Sue! I cannot believe how much time has passed. Your photo’s and prompts are so inspiring, you do such a great job keeping us on our toes every week. Sadly, I have not been able to take part as often as I would have liked over the last year but I am hoping to contribute more again. I love how the prompt blows out the cobwebs and I use it is a bit of freedom in my writing (very much anything goes, length genre, form, I let the story tell itself to me), instead of my normal focus which is usually historical fiction. KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I know… see what you started? 😀
      It is wonderful that some people have shared the journey from the start… even if it isn’t every week. There is a real sense of community here… with new writers bobbing in almost every week too 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Jen Goldie says:

    It’s been my pleasure Sue. Thank you 🙂🌹

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Claire Plaisted – Author and commented:
    I’ve done one…I’m not sure where I had the photo prompt from…The short extract as I like to call it will end up in another book which strangely enough was started via another photo a friend showed me. 🙂 Photos can be great for getting a story flowing. Thank you.

    Like

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Your photo prompt is the highlight of our week, Sue… literally a breath of fresh air!

    Like

  5. Sadje says:

    A very interesting history of your Prompt. Thanks for sharing

    Like

  6. I remember the first two photos so well, Sue. That first photo got me writing ‘The Leapday Door’ and the second one a piece of flash fiction about man-eating sheep! Who could have forgotten that one?

    You’ve done an excellent job with this challenge, and I’m delighted to have been a part of it and joined in when I can. I love the way each picture developed into hundreds of different roads, all with a different destination of where the words take us.

    Congratulations on the success you’ve had with #writephoto.

    Like

  7. Mary Smith says:

    I can’t believe you’ve been doing your photo prompt for so long, Sue. Every week, I look at the photo and think I really must have a go – but never do. I even started my MarySmith’sPlace blog so I could take part in this and similar prompts and comps as I didn’t want to put them on the dementia blog! One day, I’ll manage it it so keep on prompting 🙂

    Like

  8. V.M.Sang says:

    I keep on meaning to join in, Sue, but every time something happens and I don’t get round to it. I really must get my time in order!

    Like

  9. quiall says:

    Your pictures inspire and conspire. I may not always contribute but I do love to look!

    Like

  10. You are amazing! I know this is so much work for you but you have become a champion and mentor for so many of us. I appreciate it so much and look forward to your weekly write/photo prompts. Thank you very much Sue. 🥰

    Like

  11. Jim Borden says:

    And it all started with that little doorway, which has indeed led to an adventure for people around the world…

    Like

  12. Pingback: Who really made the rules? | Mystical Strings

  13. Loved this and the history behind your Writephoto prompts. It was one of the first I joined in with and I love them.

    Like

  14. noelleg44 says:

    Love that door, and look what opening it got you! I only write something occasionally, but I am someone who needs a lightening bolt of inspiration.Thanks for the opportunity!

    Like

  15. kittysverses says:

    Wow, I enjoyed reading the history of #writephoto prompts, Sue. Thank you for sharing the story and the prompts. 🙂

    Like

  16. macjam47 says:

    This is such a lovely post, Sue. I think a family of elves live behind that door. Thanks so much for the mention. I’m way behind again. You’d think with our stay at home order I’d have all kinds of free time, but I’ve found the days fly by. I’ve been doing a little writing, cleaning closets, drawers, and cabinets and donating anything that doesn’t go back in the cabinet or in the trash. Take care and stay healthy. 🥰

    Like

  17. I remember totally ignoring your word count rule. Lol. Your prompts are engaging, Sue, and I’ve met so many talented, kind, and fun writers and poets through your blog. Kudos to you for keeping it up. ❤

    Like

  18. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. dgkaye says:

    Lovely Sue ❤

    Like

  20. memadtwo says:

    It’s a pleasure to participate and read such a variety of interpretations. I really don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad you do. (K)

    Like

  21. Congrats on such a success, and great job going with the flow!

    Like

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