How to Start Writing – My Favorite Prompts
I was thinking about my favorite writing prompts through the years. Not just the ones that got me writing in the moment … but the ones that I go back to every time I’m looking for inspiration. The one that really gets me thinking outside of my own habits. The writing prompts that have literally started stories, poems, and my Masters Thesis.
There have been a few.
They usually come along with a fantastic teacher or writing peer 🙂
I LOVE Sabrina Ward Harrison’s writing prompt journal, The Truth and the Questions
A few prompts I love from her book are:
I crave …
My heart carries …
I have been built for …
I also think that freeform sub-conscious writing each day is something that will naturally prompt itself. This kind of writing is achieved by setting a timer for 10 minutes or so and just putting pen to paper. Even if you start by simply writing ‘I don’t know what to write’ until that sentence shifts naturally. Once the timer goes off, go back to what you wrote and underline anything interesting to you. These can be prompts for your next freeform writing.
Also … I’m a big fan of looking at art or at nature and making up stories … These can be fantastic prompts too … just sitting in a park or a crowded place and people watching or nature watching with a pen and paper (the pen and paper always help, because then you don’t feel like you’re staring at people … LOL!)
A few years back, who am I kidding, like 10 years ago … Wow …Time Flies! (PS, I just found out the man who teaches my kids to rock climb was born the year I graduated high school, What?!) I attended a Poetry Slam workshop situation in Upstate NY. It was over a few days and some of my favorite spoken word poets were teaching. Buddy Wakefield, Alix Olson, Ray McNiece, Big Poppa E, among others … there were so many wonderful writers and poets there it was ridiculous. It was at these workshops that I was introduced to a few of my favorite writing prompts. Not because they were poets I looked up to, but because I think they just were awesome at getting people to write authentically. They were all performance based as well, that might have had something to do with it too … I don’t know … but here’s one prompt from Alix Olson that I use … ALL OF THE TIME. It’s a kind of writing game.
- Write 3 professions in a list, then circle one.
- List 10 nouns that you associate with that profession
- List 10 verbs that associate with that profession.
- Draw lines that connect different combinations of the nouns and verbs on your list.
- Write at least 3 sentences where your nouns do the verbs they were paired with. Adding in at least 1 adjective, if not more, to each sentence.
(Don’t get caught in the obvious connections here … challenge yourself … for example. I might skip the pairing of bubble/pop or dog/jump … it’s too obvious. I’m more likely to go with Bubble/Slay or Dog/Write … an example might be … The bubble courageously slayed the air between his lips and her skin as she grew into her rainbow self. Or The Dog wrote his Love across his owner’s lap with the weight of his head nestled in.)
^^ I’ll include a pdf to use with this one below ^^
Here are some other fun exercises to get your writing going that I loved from those workshops as well 🙂 …
List 10 things you find in an airport
Write a poem containing all items on the list
Describe a box.
6 line poem …
- Line 1 – 1 word
- Line 2 – 2 words
- Line 3 – 3 words
- Line 4 – 4 words
- Line 5 – 5 words
- Line 6 – 6 words
Start your writing with:
The Gods …
I write because …
Have fun, get creative … spend a few minutes with pen and paper and your imagination … surprise yourself … use some of the prompts! These are just a few of my favorites …