It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a writer.
Brand new writers and old pros get hit with it.
There will be a moment, someday, when you look at your screen and just see that white page and a blinking cursor and you’re stuck.
You’ve hit the wall.
All writers face this. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been able to sell your own Kindle books on Amazon or you’re a freelance writer. Sometimes you just can’t think of what to write.
One way to help kickstart your writing block is by using writing prompts. Prompts are also a great tool you can use to develop a daily writing habit, which is a great way to improve your writing skills overall.
Never considered writing prompts before?
You’re in the right place.
Consider this your ultimate guide to writing prompts and how to use them.
Let’s do this.
What are Writing Prompts?
There are a lot of reasons why someone gets writer’s block. It’s often because of some combination of overthinking, perfectionism, fear, or something else.
Sometimes, you can push through it; go for a walk or take a coffee break and your inspiration will return. Sometimes, you can’t get anything to come out. And that’s where writing prompts can help you break that block and get typing.
The idea behind a writing prompt is actually pretty simple. It’s usually just a phrase or a sentence that can help get your imagination going so you can write.
One of the key benefits of using a prompt is it helps you just stop thinking, weird, right?
The prompt isn’t there to encourage you to be perfect or even make sense, but it can always help, what it does it just get you writing. And that’s the magic behind them.
If you think that you’re a freelance writer and have no need for writing prompts, think again. Storytelling is a key aspect of writing today, even for those B2B brands you assume only want stuffy writers. So, prompts can help you develop intros that catch attention and how to weave a story throughout your piece, even if it’s reported work.
Plus, sometimes it’s nice to just write about something fun and creative every once in a while to serve as a refresh.
Those are some of the things that prompts help you do.
Remember, it’s about practice.
Nothing you write using a prompt has to become anything. It might help you germinate the seed of an idea that you can use in a book or story. Or, you can write something and forget about it completely.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach prompts.
It’s figuring out how to build a system that helps you become a better writer.
Ok, let’s dig into some writing prompts to help get you started.
Sample Writing Prompts to Help Get You Started
The cool thing about writing prompts is they can be about anything, even if you plan to write something that’s not fiction. You can use them for journaling, getting your thoughts out, and brainstorming ideas; in addition to more creative fictional pursuits.
Here, we’ve got some examples of writing prompts with a couple of different formats. This way, you can get a feel for them as you get started.
- Write about the ghost that lives in your grandparent’s attic.
- Persuade your friend to go skydiving with you.
- Look up and write about the first object you see in the room you’re in.
- What’s the best present you’ve ever gotten?
- You’ve just started your first day as a private investigator in a mystery novel, who’s the first client to walk through the door?
- Finish this sentence, “I opened the front door and…”
- Explain your favorite meal to someone who has never heard of it before.
- Tell a story about getting on a space ship and landing on another planet.
- You wake up one day and realize you have a superpower what is it and what’s the first thing you do with it?
- The score of the big game is tied, you’re the coach, what do you say to your players to win the game?
- Describe the three items you’d bring to a deserted island.
- Pick a random word out of a dictionary, use it in a sentence.
- You just woke up 100 years in the past, how did you get there?
- Pick a memorable day from your life and write an alternative history of it.
- What’s behind that locked door?
- Your dog can talk, how did you learn that they could speak to you?
- Go on an adventure with your 10 year old self.
- You just woke up in a submarine on the bottom of a lake, how’d you get there?
- Convince someone who hates kale to eat it.
- Write a review of the last movie you watched.
- You just got a letter from a brand new penpal, what does it say?
- Transport yourself into your favorite video game.
- Finish this sentence “I’d never see the ocean look so blue…”
- Take your favorite quote (can be from a person, movie, anything) and include it in a story.
- You were watering your plants one day and then…
These are just a few examples, but you can see prompts can cover a range of topics and ideas. Pick one of these and give it a try. You don’t have to write a novel. Start with 100 words and see what happens.
Tools for Writing Prompt
Ok, now you know what writing prompts are, so your next question is probably where can you find them?
The good news is you don’t have to worry about making your own prompts if you don’t want to. There are a ton of tools for writing prompts you can use that will provide you with a steady stream of ideas to help you get writing.
Here are a few of our favorite writing tools for getting started with prompts.
Lots of people need help getting motivated to write. This is especially true if you don’t have a pile of brilliant ideas or topics to cover, or if you want to start exploring creative writing and storytelling.
Prompts is an iPhone app that was created to get you writing. Rather than just giving you a story or a sentence to start, it actually uses a complex algorithm to help guide you through your writing, offering advice and making suggestions as you go. Plus, it also keeps track of your writing habits, so you can keep tabs on your daily goals.
Writer’s Digest is a site geared towards helping aspiring writers. So, it shouldn’t come as a big shock that they have hundreds of different writing prompts on the site for you to check out.
You can either sign up for their newsletter and get a full book of prompts or go to their prompts site and get a new one every week.
If you’ve always wanted to become a better storyteller but never knew where to start, this could be a great writing tool for you.
Plot Generator helps you out by randomizing the bare bones of a plot for you, giving you things like character names, attributes, and location. Then it leaves you to work your magic to fill in the holes.
More Places to Look for Writing Prompts
If you want to expand beyond some of the tools listed above, there are a ton of sites out there that generate prompts. Visit these when you’re stuck and you’re never going to run out of ideas.
Here are a few of them:
- Literacy Ideas: This site is geared toward teachers, so it’s a great resource. They’ve got a huge selection of different types of prompts teachers and professors can use to encourage students, feel free to use them in your own writing practice.
- PrepScholar: Here’s another site that’s focused on students, this time for SAT prep. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find some of the 100+ prompts on this page useful.
- MISD: This school district in Michigan did us all a favor and posted a pdf of over 500 writing prompts online. You can try one of these a day and it would last you a year and a half! Not a bad place to start.
- Daily Teaching Tools: This list is for journal writing prompts. A lot of them start by asking questions about your life story, thoughts, and feelings. So you can definitely use these for more non-fiction storytelling.
- New York Times: For the mother of all listings, look no further than the New York Times education section. Here, they’ve got a list of over 1,200 writing prompts covering topics from video games to the environment.
Ready to Get Writing?
These prompts are a way for you to get started. If you starting a daily writing habit or just want to get your creative juices flowing, now you have a way to help you overcome those mental blocks and write.
Remember, the more you write, the better you’ll become over time. So it’s one skill where practice always pays off, especially if you’re using your writing skills to help grow your business.