Writing prompts are words, ideas, phrases, topics, or images. Their main purpose is to give you, the writer, something to focus on to get your brain going in a certain direction.
Think of it as a spark to kindling. It may take, or it may not. A good writing prompt should set off a chain reaction in your head. It may go precisely in the direction the prompt sends you, or your thoughts may wander off at a tangent. It doesn’t matter a whole lot as long as you get somewhere with it!
Spanish philosopher Maimonides once said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” He said that more than eight centuries ago, but it remains just as true today as back then. Writing prompts are like a fishing line. When you cast it into the waters of possibilities, you never know what it will pull up. Here is a list of great writing prompts and resources you can use every day of your writing life!
Writing Prompt Tip #1:
Sometimes, the best ideas are right under your nose.
Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” Look around you and focus on something. It could be a lamp with a missing shade; the television blaring in the background; the taste of coffee in your mouth; or the feel of the air blowing around your ankles. Use any of these things to start a chain of thought.
Writing Challenge: Take any of the above examples. List down the possibilities, take each one, and turn it around in your head. Write at least one sentence for each idea that pops into your head. Do that for anything you can sense around you right now.
Writing Prompt Tip #2:
Use quotes to get you started.
Quotes are usually chockfull of meaning on many levels, which should be potent fuel for idea generation. I often use BrainyQuote for both reference and inspiration. This site publishes a quote of the day you can use as a writing prompt. For example, take this featured quote by Thomas Edison, “There is no substitute for hard work.” You can expand or refute this idea, or you can look up other quotes by Edison, and work on one of those. You can also write something about Edison himself. Anything you like!
Why not check out the BrainyQuote site now and use the quote of the day to write something.
Writing Prompt Tip #3:
Paint the 1,000 words.
Use images as your inspiration. Creative Writing Ink posts an image every Monday, and The Write Prompts features three images front and center every day. You can also make a search using Google Images. Check out these images:
What thoughts are coming into your head? That’s it, let it ride. Now put them into words. Go go go!
Writing Prompt Tip #4:
Check writing prompt websites regularly.
There are a lot of websites online that provides a whole cartload of writing prompts for all types of writers every day. The Write Practice is a good one. It provides users with image prompts and uses a workbook method to help you use any prompt you choose to expand effectively. Here is one example. You can try it out or you can choose some other prompt that takes your fancy.
Writing Prompt Tip #5:
Generate it randomly!
The Story Starter is a website where you can generate ideas for novels, short stories, or plays. Simply click a button and it will give you a random sentence to make with as you will. Here are some samples:
- The former lawyer wrote a play in the vault when it rained to unearth the real reason.
- The soft-spoken cartoonist built a house in the underground cave in October to win the contest.
- The greedy runway model polished the table near an attic at midnight to discover the dark secret.
If this website isn’t working for you, you can try Random Scenario Generator. It works the same way. Here are some samples:
- You see someone being hit in the street. What superpower would you like to have in this situation?
- It’s the night before your wedding and you finally admit to yourself that you don’t love the person you are able to marry. Write about what happens next.
- You are going to be invisible for the next three hours. How would you make the most of this time?
Go ahead and try any of these, or generate your own. If you are more of an APOCALYPTIC type of writer, you will love this site.
Writing Prompt Tip #6:
Do it by the numbers.
If you want random but don’t want to keep clicking, check out Creative Writing Prompts. You will see a bunch of numbers that when you hover over reveals a particular writing prompt and exercise. If you see something you like, copy it down and start writing.
Another site that throws out severely random writing prompts is Writing Prompts That Don’t Suck. The website name says it all, doesn’t it?
Anyway, choose one and get cracking!
Truly, there is a method to this writing madness. The trick is figuring out what it is. The important thing is that one or more of these tips helped you write at least one good thing today, and hopefully, for a long time in the future.
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