The following prompts come from the book Q&A A Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Exploration. Enjoy!
One of Henry Miller’s commandments was: “Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.” So sally forth and be human — and record some dialogue you overhear when you do it.
Fill in the blanks: _________ gets under my skin. I wish I could _________.
Pick a word at random from a dictionary. How does its definition relate to your day, if at all?
What is the worst that could happen?
In six sentences, record your thoughts on a memorable member of your family.
Recast an ancient myth in modern times. Perhaps Icarus is now a kite-surfing instructor, or Narcissus is a selfie king.
Take stock of anything to which you can attach a number. For example: It’s been _________ days since I last cried, _________ times I’ve sworn in front of a child, _________ national parks visited, _________ years since I’ve had a Mountain Dew, etc. Try it out.
Who do you wish you could write like?
Compose a joke. It could be a knock-knock joke, a variation of the old three-guys-in-a-bar setup (“A butcher, a baker, and a CEO walk into a bar…”), or simply a pun.
When you were ten years old, you wrote your deepest secret on a message in a bottle. Today, you open that bottle. What’s inside?
Describe the kind of person you imagine when reading this line: “She only bought lottery tickets when it was a record-breaking jackpot.”
Exquisite Corpse #2: In an Exquisite Corpse, writes pass a story back and forth, writing one sentence at a time. Find a friend and write an Exquisite Corpse with them.
Let’s pretend there’s a rapper with these lyrics: “Her callipygian rondure is a Rubenesque rapture.” Can you come up with another line from this artist?
Turn on the television or a YouTube video at random. record the first line of dialogue you hear. Now continue the discussion.
According to Marcel Proust, “The best vaccine against anger is to watch others in its throes.” Recount an anger repellent experience here.
Write half a page about the sky without using the words blue, gray, green, clouds, or sun.
What else — in addition to “idle hands” — could you call the Devil’s playground?
For mid-June, a time when we celebrate fathers, write a portrait of a father who is the opposite of your own.
Describe the last time you were awake at dawn.
Think of the word happiness. Jot down the first ten words that come to mind.
Happy solstice! It is the longest day of the year. Write a few lines — either a description or an emotional response — centered on sunlight.
What is something you used to believe but no longer do? How do you feel when you look back on that thought or time?
Think about something often overlooked — a floral pattern on a dress, the grain of wood on a table, etc. — and write about it here.
Picture the most beautiful place you’ve ever experienced and detail it here.
Are you a giver or a receiver? Write about a generous act and the impact it had on the giver or the beneficiary.
Imagine you were born in a different country. How different would your life be?
Come up with a wedding toast for someone you love in a platonic way.
A time machine drops you into the passenger seat of a silver Porsche convertible speeding along a California road. You notice the dash looks vintage, then you notice the driver: James Dean. He turns his head and smiles at you while shifting into high gear. What do you do next?
What is a line — from a novel, film, TV show, etc. — that has stayed with you over time, and why do you think that is?
You’re in a public bathroom when the lights go out. What happens next?