The following prompts come from the book Q&A A Day for Writers: 365 Questions for Creative Exploration. Enjoy!
What is something you tend to notice that others (probably) don’t?
Do you have a bio at the ready? Attempt to write or update your bio here (while picturing it on a book jacket, a speaker program, of after blog post). As an extra challenge, try to add one note of humor to it.
Exquisite Corpse #5: 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.
As the holiday season approaches, think back on a beloved gift from childhood — and write about it here.
Describe falling in love as a resurrection.
If humans successfully colonized Mars — say the outpost had been up and running well for a year — and you were given the opportunity to go, would you take it? Even if it was a one-way ticket? Write through your decision and what you imagine it would be like to give up life on Earth.
What stimulates you?
Bedridden with cerebral meningitis in a cheap residential hotel in Paris, Oscar Wilde said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” He died a few weeks later. Use this milieu as inspiration for a description of an invalid’s room, perhaps even Wilde’s own.
Write about a race that begins and ends within a paragraph.
If you had to describe a place as your spiritual home, or a group of people as your spiritual family, what/who would that be and why?
Open a random book to a random, right-hand page. Read the last sentence and write what you imagine could come next. (Yes, you can look at the real outcome in the book after you’re done.)
Recall a time of visceral fear. How would you describe the experience only through sensation rather than your thoughts, emotions, or the event itself?
In the film, American Beauty, one teenager shows another video footage he’s taken of a plastic bag dancing in a breeze against brick and concrete, saying, “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.” Can you devise a scene in which something ugly o mundane suddenly makes an emotional impact?
Describe a first: a first kiss, first pet, first dance — yours or someone else’s.
Listen to Louis L’Amour, who said, “A writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat. If you’re going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in it first.” imply copy down a piece of writing that you love.
Peel the personality of someone you know like an onion. There is the protective exterior — what they present to the world — and then there are layers and layers until you come to the heart. See how far you can go.
Pen in hand, a man stares down at a contract, sighs, and signs the document. What is the contract for?
How do you feel about your educational history and who you have been as a student? Do these things affect you today?
Do you think the Internet is a reflection of society or its own kind of society? Will the Internet ultimately prove to be a force for good or evil?
Charles Dickens was described by a friend as having “a hankering after ghosts.” He didn’t just write about them, he hunted them as part of London’s Ghost Club in the mid-1800s. Do you have a good ghost story to share? If not, write on about Dickens on the hunt.
Write a scene that embodies hygge. Hygge is a Danish concept that conveys the emotional coziness of conviviality. Fire and candelight are often used to create an atmosphere ripe for hygge.
In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King implores, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Find a previous piece of writing you quite liked and rewrite it.
What will change in ten years?
From the Department of Good News for Visionary People, a quote from Julian Barnes (in Flaubert’s Parrot): “Happiness lies in the imagination, not the act. Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory.” Studies have shown that the reality of gratification can pale in comparison to planning, imagining, and remembering. Use this space to plan an adventure.
If you had the power to decree a new holiday, what would it honor? How would we celebrate it? What would some of the essentials of this holiday be, and what foods would be associated with it?
Write a “conversation” without spoken words. (A hint if you need it: body language).
Describe your best feature.
In Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, Tessa warns that you must be careful of books “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” Write about a book that has changed you.
As the year comes to a close, think about your creative goals. What do you want for next year?
Attempt to predict how you will spend New Year’s Eve a year from now.
If this year had one more day in it, what would you do with it?