The following prompts come from the book Q&A A Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Exploration. Enjoy!
The world of food is full of fantastic takes on aroma, from the sublime to the surprising. Try to immerse yourself in a meal and let the descriptions flow, no matter how wacky they get.
Are you at a point where you feel you could write a meaningful memoir? Why or why not? If you were to do it, what cover copy would you give it?
In a few sentences, describe the most dishonest person you’ve ever met.
Can you describe the pain of loneliness? What does it sound like? What does it look like?
Think of an accent you find appealing. What makes it seductive and how can you describe its allure?
If you could have a “do-over” of any kind, what would you use it for and what would you do differently this time?
If you could spend a day with one writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Think of where you grew up and try to bring out elements of regionalism that could be used in a story. An example might be a table set in the Ozarks, where the grandma is happy to use the blinky milk to make biscuits.
Take up the spirit of confessional literature and try to unburden yourself of something you’re not proud.
What is the smallest room/space in your home? Can you create a story set in just this place?
Think of a major city. Now think of a decade between 1850 and 1950. Now do a Google Images search of that place at that time. What photo grabs you? Let it spark today’s entry.
When you think of the term unconditional love, what comes to mind? Try to be as brief as possible in your answer.
To which fairy tale do you feel connected? The creepiness of “Little Red Riding Hood” or the magic of “Cinderella”? What makes it special to you?
When did you last want to celebrate being right about something? Or do you currently feel “in the right” about some matter? Write it out.
Anais Nin said: “It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” How does this statement relate to our writing goals?
Think of five different products from five different sections of the grocery store. Now visualize them together at the checkout. Who do you see standing there, buying this assortment of stuff? Describe the person in any way you please.
There is an unmarked manila envelope waiting for you in your mailbox. What is in it?
Outline a compelling cliff-hanger, something that leaves a big dangling question for readers. Be sure to build up tension to give your cliff-hanger dizzying height, for the reader to fall father back into the story.
If you could broadcast a thirty-second message to the entire world — over seven billion people — what would you say?
Does reading the phrase “the red wheelbarrow” immediately conjure up William Carlos Williams’s poem of the same name? Williams was one of the imagists, early modern poets who focused on an economy of language in free verse that spoke as much in image as in rhythm. Try it for yourself in a short, visually focused poem.
Describe a beloved toy from childhood.
Go to the edge of a bookshelf, count seven books in, and take that one out. Open it to page seven and count to the seventh sentence of that page. Write a poem that starts with something from that sentence.
Attempt to recall a bad date or a botched interview, or any one-on-one situation that went awry with awkwardness. What stands out to you?
Describe your feelings about sleep.
In Neuromancer, William Gibson writes, “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Try to create a description — as evocative as the one above — about the current sky.
Fill this space with a list of people and things that you are grateful for.
Do you have a handbag, a backpack, a briefcase? Describe the receptacle and all of its current contents.
Conduct a field study of your local neighborhood. If you were new to the area, what would be the three things that would stand out to you?
Describe the texture of an everyday object. It could be the coarseness of denim or the cool smoothness of a pebble.
In a few sentences, describe your breakfast routine.
Continue this thought: “I remember…”