Nora Baskin is the author of the award-winning novels What Every Girl (except me) Knows and Anything But Typical.
I don't believe there is such a thing as writer's block, at least not for me. Part of the writing process is "soft time"; thinking, living, observing, remembering, talking, listening, learning, being, reading. All those activities factor into my writing, so that when I sit down to write it is the culmination of all that time.
I don't use writing prompts or give them. They seem to be the opposite of creativity to me. If the origin of an idea comes from an outside source it usually doesn't work for me. I do use writing exercises when I teach, however, geared to working on certain aspects like dialogue or POV. And as a writer I love being given an assignment, like being part of a short story collection that has a theme. Maybe that's a "prompt" after all—so I guess I love writing with a specific challenge as long as it allows me complete freedom, a true paradox!
The most valuable piece of advice came from Stephanie Owens Lurie who was at Simon&Schuster at the time. She ultimately ended up rejecting my manuscript after working back and forth on it for nearly a year, but during one of our conversations she asked me if I had any other ideas brewing. I mentioned I had always wanted to write about a little girl growing up without a mother but I knew there were so many "dead mother" books on the shelves I probably wouldn't do that. "But nobody can tell your story," she told me. That changed my life.