As a writer, your worst enemy is a blank page and no idea what to write about.
The fastest and most effective way to improve your writing skills and become a better writer is by simply writing more. Quality may be more important than quality to artists, but all great artists understand that it is the quantity of practice that allows you to produce the highest quality work.
I have always loved writing and it is a horrifying experience to be staring in front of a perfectly empty computer screen or a blank piece of paper. I can sometimes picture myself desperately squeezing my mind to get that creative juice flowing and my mind would rebel and merrily run off to oblivion. Every time that happens, I’d be left with two words: “what now?”
If you have been a victim to writer’s block then you know exactly how it feels. For many writers the beginning is the worst part of writing because it is the most painful and slow. Sitting alone in front of the computer trying to come up with a unique story or eloquent prose is no easy task. There have been some chronic cases of writer’s block where writers could not produce any works for years, and I know others who simply gave up writing.
There are many different methods writers have used over the years to overcome writer’s block—systematic questioning, free writing, list making, journals, group discussion, and forcing yourself to write something even if it makes no sense. All of these methods have worked for some, but results vary from writer to writer.
In my experience, there are times when I just need a little push in the right direction. Sometimes I’m just looking for a trigger to get my creative juices flowing again. And that’s why I love writing prompts. They are so easy to use and widely available.
Writing prompts could be single words, a short phrase, an entire paragraph, or even a picture to kick-start your creativity. These are not requirements and you don’t have to follow them to the dot. You can use it as inspiration to get you started with your writing.
Some writers don’t like responding to writing prompts. They feel that it’s unoriginal, uninspiring, or even off-topic for their target genre. But the general idea is for you to just start writing without thinking about what would happen in the end.
By clarifying your writing topics or ideas ahead of time, writing prompts allow you to focus 100% of your energy and creativity into simply writing. If you’ve been stuck with bad writing habits like procrastination, writer’s block, or staring at a blank screen wondering what to write, writing prompts just might be the cure you’re looking for.
A writing prompt is a simple writing exercise that can have a profound impact on your creative writing output.
Here are my top reasons for using writing prompts.
1. Writing Prompts Increase Creativity
I sometimes feel like I’m writing in circles. I keep returning to the same thoughts and concepts, and I just can’t seem to get out of that cycle. It’s as if there is an involuntary restraint on my creative muscle. I realized that this is because I have anxieties about my writing. I feel self-conscious, and that’s why I’m unable to follow my instincts. Anxiety and worry about criticism and “doing it right” can prevent me from thinking outside the box and entertaining new ideas.
When I’m stuck in that rut of negative emotions and worries about writing instead of actually writing, I’ll turn to writing prompts. I write for 10-15 minutes without judgment. In effect, it shatters my inhibitions and doubts. It makes me less timid and more adventurous with my writing. I get that creative high and I use it when I return to my original piece and it will just all come together.
Writing prompts eliminate an infinite number of options, forcing your mind to get to work with a single idea and expand the story from there. It seems to be this focus on a single concept that allows your mind to quickly and easily unleash its full creative powers. By eliminating all other story ideas, you are able to focus on just one idea so you can start writing much faster.
2. Creative Writing Prompts Exercise Your Imagination
One of the benefits of writing prompts is that they stretch your imagination. It’s surprising how much material you can come up with when you fully explore a writing prompt. Where I start is by playing mind-reader. I like discerning what the author who wrote the prompt was thinking about when he wrote it.
If I find a writing prompt that simply said “yogurt,” I might think that the author wants to lose weight, or maybe he was craving for yogurt cheese, or he just slipped on non-fat yogurt. Then I’ll think about a bigger motive. Maybe he was thinking about his kid’s lunch and how unhealthy the food at the school cafeteria is.This may inspire me to write a novel about a kid who’s jinxed and always slipping on a non-fat yogurt, or a cook book with yogurt as main ingredient, or a book about how to make sure your kid is eating healthy. Just one word can spawn an infinite number of story ideas in a matter of seconds, and that’s the beauty of using a writing prompt.
Once you have an idea based on the writing prompt that you feel compelled to write about, all you have to do is sit down and let your imagination lead you.
3. Writing Prompts Increase Your Rate of Practice
You can’t get good without practice. You’ve probably heard it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in a field. No one really knows if that number is accurate or not, but we can all agree that practice is what makes you improve your skills. The faster you can get to practice writing each day and the more time you spend on actually writing instead of just daydreaming, the better you will become. I find it essential to write everyday even if it’s just for a few minutes.
The good thing about using writing prompts is that you can use them to get into the habit of writing. You can allot a certain part of your day to writing based on a prompt. Exposing yourself to this pattern of behavior can help you build the writing habit, and you will find it becomes easier to write the more you do it each day. Writing will become a way of life for you and if you keep it up you will learn how to write what you want to and need to on demand.
4. Writing Prompts Save You Time
Inspiration is all around us. You can search the web for the best of the best, look through your journal, or maybe get out your old list of story ideas. That’s all true and very useful, but if you need instant inspiration, nothing works faster than a good writing prompt.
Sometimes rehashing old ideas just leaves us stuck in a rut, and we need a new train of thought to help our mind get on a new track.
The great thing about writing prompts is they allow you to skip thinking about what to write during practice. You can just write whatever random topic you get. It’s a more efficient and effective method of practicing writing.
There are a lot of websites dedicated to writing prompts. A quick search will return you hundreds of results.
I suggest you try one of the following keywords to help you find some good ones: writing prompts, writing prompts generator, writing prompts for adults, writing prompts ideas, or ideas for writing.
You can even search for prompts based on your genre with keywords like writing prompts for romance or writing prompts for paranormal fantasy.
5. It Helps me to Learn More about Myself
There are writing prompts that challenge you to answer a variety of issues and questions. Some of it political, some social and others spiritual. Some of it you might have thought deeply about, and others you never even thought of.
Early on in our life, whether we admit it or not, we have created stereotypes of everything around us—beliefs, thoughts, and opinions on matters that aren’t always entirely true. Stereotypes don’t stop with high school jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and troublemakers. The majority of our population still believes in defining social classes and we still live in a society that likes to categorize things and people. Our education system trained us to be knowledge-based and because of that we are influenced to think only within the bounds of what we know (or what we think we know). These old thinking habits impair our critical thinking and creativity, and we end up uninspired and confined by our limited imaginations.
Writing prompts force you to question some of these old opinions, standards, and beliefs from our culture. Writing prompts can help you to ask why the things are the way they are, and what if they are not the way they seem?
Personally, this journey of using writing prompts has helped me to answer a lot of questions and helped me see the world, and my relationship to it, in entirely different ways. It allowed me to discover what really matters to me.
Writing can be incredibly therapeutic, especially when you allow yourself to simply be creative and use your imagination with no regard for what others will think of you, your writing, or your ideas.
Not Sure if Writing Prompts Will Work for You?
If you’re still not sure using a writing prompt would be good for you, that’s great! If you feel you are against using writing prompts, then you have reason enough to explore it. As they say, the opposite of love is not hate—it’s apathy. Strong feelings mean strong opinions and emotions, and writing with strong emotions can be incredibly productive and healing.
If you’re immediate reaction to a prompt is “that’s just senseless” or “who would ever write about that?” that’s wonderful. Now you have something to write about. Write about everything that’s wrong with it and why it’s absurd.
If you read a writing prompt about “invaders from Pluto using a love potion to defeat Earth’s army,” would you find it dumb? If you answer yes, then answer the question “why?” Find out what would make it more sensible and start writing about that. If you answer no, then welcome to the bandwagon. You just found your first writing prompt.
Here are 35 writing prompts to help you get started writing a fresh story right now.
Fiction Writing Prompts
1. Your main character is a mobile phone. The story should be about the various things it sees and observes, about how it’s being interacted with. Give it a personality that you think is most suitable for a perceptive mobile device.
2. You’re a regular office clerk who just discovered that your company is brainwashing its employees. The goal of the company is menacing.
3. Are you a small town girl? Research and study the history of your town and find a specific situation that interests you. What would it look like if it happened in the present day?
4. Write a story about a real remote island with its own culture, tradition and language. Use these facts to guide you in writing a story about your own remote island.
5. What is your favorite mythical being? Imagine you discovered they exist and are about to become extinct.
Romance Writing Prompts
1. Write a story about a human falling in love with a magical being and they have to fight not only their family, but their entire race.
2. She was born deaf and he just got involved in an accident that made him blind. They have been together six years. How would they fight for their love?
3. Two strangers met in a rehab facility. She has a mental condition and he is a recovering addict but they connected instantly. Write a story about how they find healing in each other.
4. “It all began with a dream. I can see her face. She was alone and crying. I can feel her…”
5. I woke up in a new world with no recollection of what happened last night. There’s a shadow slowly walking towards me. There she was. The most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.
Thriller Writing Prompts
1. On the way to work, all the cars are stopped on the highway for miles. You see a massive explosion in the distance.
2. A retired military officer accidentally walks in on a robbery in progress.
3. Write about an old man confessing to be a serial killer. He tells the story of how he tortured his victims.
4. Your car broke down. You are all alone with no cell phone service at midnight. What happens next?
5. It’s Halloween. Everybody is on the street wearing costumes when a man suddenly drops dead.
Mystery Writing Prompts
1. You wake up next to your husband. You smile and get up. You were just about to wake him up when you notice he is not breathing and his eyes are gone. What do you do?
2. You were jogging early morning. You tripped and lost consciousness. The next scene is you waking up in a morgue. There are dissected bodies all around you.
3. A woman finds out her deceased husband had secret bank accounts and multiple passports with different names and faces.
4. An outbreak of a mysterious disease has killed several people in a small town. One scientist will do whatever it takes to find out what’s really happening.
5. A thirty-year-old woman drops dead at a wedding from unknown causes. The cops don’t seem all that interested in finding out what really happened.
Fantasy Writing Prompts
1. The year is 2050. Draught, famine, diseases and natural disasters destroyed Earth. World population is 965,281. Everybody’s struggling to survive.
2. A troubled teenager discovers that he has the power to see the deepest desire of anyone by touching them. He met a stranger, accidentally touched him, and saw spaceships moving towards their town.
3. You must go on a quest to find a cure for your daughter’s mysterious disease. Who do you bring with you on this quest and what will you do to succeed?
4. You’re a human bird living in a castle in the air. You’ve always been an outcast but don’t care because you are happy flying and exploring the land. You discover a new tribe.
5. Write about a teenage witch who just discovered the most powerful wand in the wizarding world. How will she use her new power?
Comedy Writing Prompts
1. Create an absurd family tradition for Christmas.
2. Mix and match reality TV shows to create a list of the craziest participants you can think of. Start with a singer wannabe whose only real talent is to annoy everyone.
3. Write a story about the life of a groupie. Think about the struggles they encounter in getting that last concert ticket, or their shopping shenanigans just to get the last shirt with the face of their favorite icon.
4. You are about to get married to the perfect guy, or so you think. Your bestfriend will do everything to stop the marriage.
5. You just saw your ex whom you dumped because he smells. He is looking fine, smelling good and he is going to be your next boss. Write every awkward moment of this scenario and exaggerate it.
Non-Fiction Writing Prompts
1. Describe a time that you wanted to experience a spiritual moment. Why were you in this situation and what are you hoping to get from it?
2. Tell the story of your life in an inverted chronological order.
3. What was the happiest moment in your life? What made you overjoyed?
4. Write about an addiction that you had. Tell the dramatic details of how you started and your journey in overcoming this addiction.
5. Relive a situation in your life when you felt most ashamed or guilty. How did it affect your life and what have you done to move on?
Other Writing Prompts
1. Her eyes smile when she smiles. Write about what delights her.
2. Tell the story of how the seed of faith was planted in your life. When did your spiritual journey began, who influenced and guided you in discovering your faith, and at what point did you realize you needed to change your life?
3. At the sandbox, two kids are fighting about a rock when it zapped them. What happened next?
4. Write about a story of how a guy from Mars fell in love with a girl from Venus. Use lots of dialogue.
5. Your parents were killed and you want to avenge them. How will you prepare for this war?
Do You Use Writing Prompts?
Have you used writing prompts before?
If so, post your comments below and let us know why you decided to use writing prompts.