The following prompts come from the book Q&A A Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Exploration. Enjoy!
Respond to this quote from Junot Diaz in any manner you please: “In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.”
Are you a sports fan? If so, what draws you to a particular sport? If not, what repels you about the sports world?
When you reach the age of one hundred and have lived the life of your dreams, what would you title your autobiography? (Feel free to add a subtitle, too).
When was the last time you held a baby, and how did it make you feel?
What do you think about the idea of soul mates?
As an exercise in examining transference (when an object takes on more importance than it should), think of an object and run with whatever first comes to mind. Describe what you see. There’s no need to explain why you chose it, just get the thing nailed down. Then continue writing all the emotions that the image “tells” you.
There is something strange on top of your roof right now. What is it?
If you could be physically present for any event in the past or the future, what would it be and why?
Use some kind of unique flora — it could be a Joshua tree, a bird of paradise, a redwood, a Venus flytrap, etc.– as an essential element in a short piece.
If your spouse, partner, or hypothetical lover were to have a single one-night stand yet never communicate with or see that person ever again, would it be better to know or not to know that it had happened? Why?
Write an “in memoriam” to someone, something, or even a way of living or thinking you’ve lost or let it go.
Complete this sentence (as yourself or someone else): “I can’t help staring when…”
Write about a diapason — a deep, melodic outpouring of sound, such as a chorus of bullfrogs.
Let out a stream of consciousness. THe only rule is that you keep your pen moving.
In her diary, Virginia Woolf once wrote: “I’ve shirked two parties, and another Frenchman, and buying a hat, and tea with Hilda Trevelyan, for I really can’t combine all this with keeping all my imaginary people going.” Purge some of your small disruptions here.
When was the last time you slept outside, and how did it feel?
Imagine a refrigerator full to the brim with good stuff to eat. List what is inside.
Look around you to find a visual pattern — in bricks, in a bedspread, in flowers — and write a short piece based on the design.
Say you were to make a break with your past, what might this mean for you?
A story begins, “‘I won it for you,’ he said, placing the object in her hands. As she received it, her elbows swung back and her hands dipped to her waist, its weight a startling surprise…” What happens next?
You’re at a late-night poker game. Where is it? Who are you playing against? Are you winning or losing?
Equinox means a time of equal day and night. Create a story concept around this balance.
Madeline L’Engle once said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” If you were to write a young adult or children’s book, how might it start?
At a raucous house party, one woman stands alone near an open window with a smirk on her face. What’s her story?
If you were given the chance to ask any one person a question, knowing he or she could tell only the truth in reply, what would you ask of whom?
Exquisite Corpse #4: In an Exquisite Corpse, writers pass a story back and forth, writing one sentence at a time. Find a friend and write an Exquisite Corpse with them.
Visit humansofnewyork.com, choose a person, imagine his or her home, and write about it here.
Who — or what — has been your greatest teacher and why?
Imagine shaking hands with any United States President, living or dead, past or future. What does his (or her) handshake feel like?
How have you used your intuition in the past?