Creative Writing Prompts to Jumpstart Your Writing

Interested in incorporating a free writing habit into your day, but afraid of the blank page? Or maybe you just want to take your creative writing session in a new direction. Either way, these creative writing prompts, helpful for poetry and fiction, will get you writing.

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"Your Mother..."

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One of my writing teachers used this prompt with good results in classone day. As the name suggests, you use the everyday phrase, "Your mother" to spark a new story. You can try expanding the exercise by beginning sentences with "My mother" or "Her/His mother" or "Our mother" as well. 

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The Blues

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Here, an energetic exercise for kids by Maya Angelou (published by the Poetry Foundation), is adapted for people of all ages.

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Things Lost and Found

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These creative writing prompts encourage you to delve into two of the most fertile topics for writing. Begin by focusing on things that you've lost and then switch gears entirely.

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Hands: A Five-Part Creative Writing Exercise

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This creative writing exercise begins with a description of someone's hands and then prompts you to build on that description in unexpected ways.

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What If You Were Invisible?

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I found this prompt in Beth Baruch Joselow's Writing Without the Muse, but it just as easily could have come from Woody Allen's Alice. In it, you're asked to imagine a scene you might observe if you were invisible.

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Dictionary as a Generator

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Sometimes simply using new words can inspire your writing to take a new direction. In this exercise, a few words chosen at random will provide a new focus for today's writing.

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The Storyteller

Female artist is writing ideas. Betsie Van Der Meer

This exercise is based on one in Julia Cameron's book on writing, The Right to Write, reviewed for this site several years ago. When I recently reviewed her classic book The Artist's Way, I remembered this writing exercise and thought it worthwhile to share it here, as an exercise in its own right and as an example of the kinds of suggestions she gives in her book.

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Ten-Minute Writing Exercise

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If you think you don't have time to write, think again. See what you can produce with a simple set of writing prompts and ten minutes of your time with this creative writing exercise inspired by Rita Dove's exercise "Ten-Minute Spill." Sometimes limiting your time can help you to generate more work. Many people are surprised by how much writing they produce by simply putting everything else aside for a short time, and focussing solely on their fiction. 

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Music to Lift Your Pen

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Songs can evoke specific moments, remind you of people, and stir up emotion. They are powerful tools that make you move back and forward in time. And the lyrics of a specific song can set your story in motion. Try thinking of a soundtrack for your story, or a song that a particular character might like. Quote songs from your youth - was anything playing the first time you kissed someone? Is there a song that reminds you of a trip or adventure? Sometimes all you need to get started is to engage your writing through another sense.