Writing prompts can be a writer’s best friend. Sometimes all you need is a sliver of an idea to move through the inertia of self-criticism and self-doubt. I’ve gone to writer’s websites and signed up for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where they offer a daily writing prompt on a singular theme. I’ve used snippets of a lyric that got stuck in my head on a morning run. They say writer’s write, so whatever makes that happen is truly a gift. I’ve found the best prompts are those that stimulate the imagination, compel us to tell a story or a part of a story, and leave space for more questions than answers.
In the effort to give back, I’ve compiled a few prompts of my own that I’ve never had the time or courage to explore. Listed below are a month's worth of prompts that I hope will act as an insurance policy against writer’s block during this next month when I deactivate my Facebook account and focus on those things (like writing) that are a priority in my life. Because after all, sometimes we all need to be prompted in order to give our best, to give our gifts, and to be true to whom we really are. I share them in the hope that in doing so, it will remind me and my fellow writers that it is our job to fill in the gaps with meaning, sincerity, and truth.
- “He turned and walked away as she silently fell off the cliff.”
- Why doesn’t wishing make it so?
- If you had the chance to vote for a poet or a commando for the highest elected office, what would you choose and why?
- If you could right a wrong you committed in the past, would you? Could you?
- If you could honestly be “living the dream,” what would it be?
- If your future is “in the cards,” what is your winning hand? (describe the suite, hand, and play)
- Tell a story where someone went from being a friend to someone you used to know?
- What are you willing to give up for happiness?
- What are you willing to give up for reputation?
- What does living on the periphery mean? What are the advantages vs. disadvantages?
- Do you live your own life or do you live your life via others?
- Have you ever told someone what they wanted to hear to get what you wanted to get?
- If you accepted a gift under false pretenses, is it ever appropriate to give it back?
- If you let the genie out of the bottle, what would your three wishes be? (Remember, genies cannot kill anyone, make anyone fall in love, or bring anyone back from the dead.)
- What childhood memory do you wish that you could change?
- What is it that you want most?
- Have you ever sent a Valentine that was nothing more than a pantomime?
- “And we turn him into an anecdote, with no teeth, and a punch line you'll tell for years to come. . .” How do you keep meaningful experiences from turning into meaningless anecdotes?
- Have you ever been an imposter?
- What are the merits of following the path of least resistance? What do you lose in the process?
- What is worse: a careless promise or a callous heart?
- If you can’t look someone in the face and tell them the truth, is it really the truth?
- Is letting go the same as giving up?
- “Give my gun away, it’s loaded.”
- What is the lesser evil: to regret or to forget?
- Which board game bests describes your life and why? What board game do you wish described your life?
- Write about a time in your life when you felt like fate and destiny collided.
- “I want the scissors to be sharp
and the table perfectly level
when you cut me out of my life
and paste me in that book you always carry.”
― Billy Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems
- Which are more painful: platitudes or silence?
- “If I pretend not to see you does that mean that you are no longer there?”
- What monsters are hiding in your closet?
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012