The following prompts come from the book Q&A A Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Exploration. Enjoy!
Write a few ends to this joke. “How many writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?…”
Take a deep breath and look around you. Describe your surroundings in a few precise sentences.
Use a repetitive sound as a central part of a composition (e.g., a dripping faucet, clacking train tracks, a printer).
If you could leave a note for yourself to read this time next year, what would it say?
If a deceased relative were to appear to you as a bird, what bird would that person be and why?
Let out some “purple prose” — an overly florid description — of anything.
Think of an activity that has engaged your senses — maybe it’s swimming, cooking, or hiking — and write about it without including thought or emotion. Find out what can be conveyed through physicality alone.
Imagine your grandfather as a young man, laughing. What is he up to?
Write about something that thrills you.
_____________ is burning. Fill in the place/thing and the rest of the scene.
Select a line from a poem that feels obtuse or hard to understand and make it the first line of your own poem. Enjoy the catharsis that comes from forcing it to make sense in a context under control.
“They had an affair.” Does this line pique your interest, inspire scorn, or bring on foreboding? Run with that emotion.
What does wisdom mean to you?
Turn on the radio and write a few sentences about how you feel about what you hear.
Today is the day the Titanic slipped below water, at 2:20 in the morning, about two and a half hours after striking an iceberg. Imagine a final interaction between two people somewhere on the ship or in the water.
Visit the website postsecret.com and write a response to something you find there.
You come home to find a hyacinth macaw in your bathroom. How did he get there? And what is he saying?
There are many legends of diabolical delivery systems — think of the Trojan Horse or blankets laden with smallpox. Invent one of your own.
How do people sometimes misunderstand or misinterpret you?
Do you have a childhood memory based purely on an old photograph? What is it and how “true” do you think it really is?
If your best friend were to have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Have you ever had a story you were dying to write but didn’t know how to begin? Start it from the middle, right here.
“You don’t belong here.” What does that statement bring up for you?
Give descriptive nicknames to the first three people you interacted with today.
What is something you care about deeply and wish more people would pay attention to?
Think of stories that use a piece of artwork as a character itself (see Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch or Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray) to come up with an artwork that could inspire great fiction. What did you choose and why?
Write a vignette infused with nidor, the particular scent of cooking meat or burning fat.
Recall a favorite childhood game (e.g., a board game, a sport, something from the playground) and translate the action/strategy into an adult life.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — often cited as a prime example of flash fiction — speaks volumes in six words. Try to achieve the same here.
Think of the best meal you’ve ever eaten in terms of the food itself. Think of the best meal you’ve ever eaten in terms of the place/experience. Think of the best meal you’ve ever eaten in terms of company. Which one wins out as the most superlative and why?