I've been dabbling in flash fiction as an exercise. To increase the challenge, I decided to begin each attempt with a sentence provided by someone else.
I tackled using writing prompts found online, but for some reason they didn't jog me enough. When you're provided a list of a hundred first sentences or prompts and can pick and choose which one to utilize, it's easy to just glance at a prompt, say, "Nope! Can't think of anything for it." and move on to the next. Plus, the fact that some random person posted a random prompt for anyone to use makes it so . . . impersonal. I felt no desire to meet the challenge.
So I tried something different. I asked friends to each provide the first sentence of a story. When the replies came in, my brain finally chugged into action. These were prompts by people who knew me. They were curious to see what I came up with, thus providing me with accountability. They produced prompts specifically for Paul Maitrejean. All these factors gave me undeniable drive to accomplish the mission.
Sure enough: Despite work, kids, a pregnant wife, and other family drama, I managed to churn out roughly one short story a day. The friends who provided the prompts got a kick out of seeing their sentences turned into full stories. And I had a blast while building literary muscle.
I might end up making this a semi-regular practice.