What is a Writing Prompt?
As a long-time writing teacher and participant in writing groups, I’ve amassed a large, messy pile of writing prompts. My writing pals have urged me to turn the prompts into a book, but, this being the 21st century, I’ve decided to create a blog instead. (The book can come later.)
A strong writing prompt offers a hand-up when you are feeling unfocused, unmotivated, or unsure. These prompts can be used individually or in a group. Try them as a warm-up unrelated to writing you’re working on or integrate them into a story, essay, or novel underway. These prompts focus mostly on prose, but poets and experimental writers should feel free to jump in.
Most prompts will fall under one of these categories:
- Structure, Lists, and Fill In the Blanks
- Time, Place, and Memory: Prompts that Engage with the Passage of Time
- Sensory Prompts: Prompts that Work with Photos, Objects, Sound, Taste, and Even Smell
- On Their Shoulders: Work by Great Writers Serves As A Jumping Off Point
- Our Own Words: Tearing Up, Turning Over and Reworking Our Writing
- Reference Desk: Using Dictionaries, Manuals, Encyclopedias As Inspiration
- Wild, Random, and Utterly Free: Using Chance and Play to Loosen Up and Go Deeper