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Writing Prompts Basics

Writing Prompts

Prompts are an excellent tool for writers to get started on their ideas. Even if you are not a professional, learning how to use writing prompts will bring your projects to the next level.

What Is A Writing Prompt?

Writing prompts can save you from writer’s block and help you kick-start your projects on a high note. By definition, a prompt is a brief text that provides you with a topic around which you can build your ideas. Prompts take many forms: a short phrase, a paragraph, a picture, even a single word. They can either help you develop your original idea or inspire you with a completely new topic.

Whether you have just a few rough notes or you already wrote a more polished piece, a prompt will be a useful guideline to keep writing without any inhibitions or doubts.

These are 4 good reasons why you should spend time writing prompts:

  1. When you are looking down at a black page in front of you, starting to write may seem daunting and you simply do not know where to start. Focusing on a prompt for few minutes, even if it is unrelated to your main topic area, will help you set your mind up for writing. After spending some time working on a prompt, the words and ideas for your original piece will quickly come to your mind.
  2. Writing prompts should not be a waste of time. You may even end up with content to use for your project. Inspiration can be found to improve your storyline or even to create a completely new narrative. You will be surprised at how ideas will flow once you start.
  3. Using prompts every once in a while, helps with getting into the habit of writing. You may see it as a sort of exercise regime, helping to build up your “writing muscles”. Doing so will allow you to write easier and faster.
  4. Use prompts as an excuse to join a writing community. You may be joining a group and offered a prompt to write about. Your group will then bring up new stories to share every time. This can be encouraging for amateur writers and professionals alike. However, knowing that others will read what you have written may inhibit your creativity. If that is your concern, do not be afraid of challenging yourself and your writing style on any possible occasion – your written work will benefit in the long run.

Examples of Writing Prompts

Check out these 20 writing prompts and use them to kick-start your imagination. As you pick one, do not worry about what ideas come to your mind or whether what you have written is “good”. The purpose is to just get into the habit of writing. You can always polish later on if you want.

  1. It was the first cold day of the year.
  2. He had not seen her since High School graduation.
  3. The city burned, fire and smoke filling the air.  
  4. Silk.
  5. She studied her face in the mirror.
  6. The smell of freshly cut flowers.
  7. She came back every year to lay flowers at the feet of the statue.
  8. The streets were empty. Where had everyone disappeared?
  9. This time her co-worker had gone too far.
  10. Red eyes.
  11. Stars blazed in the night sky.
  12. He woke to birdsong.
  13. ‘Shh! Hear that?’ ‘I didn’t hear anything.’
  14. He had always loved public speaking.
  15. She woke, sweating, in the dark of the night.
  16. The garden was overgrown now.
  17. He had never noticed a door there before.
  18. She would have to ask for a ride back.
  19. ‘I told him not to come back!’
  20. His feet were already numb. He should have listened.

Other Writing Prompts Resources:

You can find numerous sources of writing prompts online. Below are a few examples of sites that provide them: 

Here is a further list of writing prompts put together by various authors and websites:

How To Make Your Own Writing Prompts

You can find inspiration for writing prompts on your own as well: snatches of overheard conversation, headlines, signs, words picked from a book can give you inspiration for your work. Always keep an eye out for words and phrases that fire your imagination, jot them down, and use them to spark your creativity. They may take you to some fantastic places.

And if you are feeling inspired, here is an article for Ideas for Blog Posts! 

Updated May 14, 2021

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By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It and Article Valley.

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