Writer’s Block: Ten Prompts to Kick it to the Curb (Plus One Bonus)

Books & Writing November 18, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I find that I get stuck inside my own head when I’m trying to settle into a writing session. Even if I stack the odds in my favour (read: favorite Starbucks, favorite drink, headphones in, let’s go), sometimes I dance in circles, constantly deleting the words I throw down on the page. Write, backspace, Write. Man, this is junk.

So, if you’re like me and need help breaking that vicious cycle, I’ve compiled some of my favorite writing prompts with some newly discovered ones in the hopes that you trigger the creative burst you’re seeking to start that next great piece or push your masterpiece into its next evolution.

Writing Prompts
Image credit: Unsplash

Enjoy, and good luck.

  1. Write a text (at least one page) with each line filling in the blanks of “I used to be —, but now I am —.”
  2. Employ what is known as “freeflow writing.” Take a blank piece of paper or open a new document on your computer, let everything from your day go, and just let the words come. Don’t think, just write. It’s not meant to be linear or connected. It’s not meant to be pretty or polished. It’s just meant to be an intrinsic tie between you, your words and what it is you really have to say. You’ll be surprised by the gems you’ll uncover.
  3. “He took the key from his pocket, slipped it into the lock and, to his shock…”
  4. Think on your favorite memory. You know it inside-out. Now, reimagine it from a different perspective. Like from the rooftop, or the bird’s nest in the backyard. The car driving by. Whatever the original perspective, tell the story from somewhere completely different.
  5. Make a list of your favorite nouns and verbs, maybe say ten of each. Now write a piece using a combination of each noun and verb for each of the sentences.
  6. Pick the closest book to you. Flip to five random pages and pick a word from each, crafting a sentence (i.e. pick a subject, verb, object). Keep it easy in the beginning. Now let that be your jumping off point and have at it.
  7. Pick a news article from your local newspaper that speaks to you. Imagine a scene that the story doesn’t cover. For example, a car accident claims the life of a man. Write the scene just after the family has been notified.
  8. From creative-writing-now.com, the “three elements” trick: take three seemingly arbitrary and unrelated things and spin a story that somehow ties them all together. 
For example, a broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far.
  9. You’re set to give a speech at your best friend’s wedding and it is a supremely proper event, but you’re feeling rebellious and decide to buck tradition. What do you write instead? What advice do you give? What reactions do you receive?
  10. Your lead character is hitting the road, hitchhiking his or her way to a destination. What story does your character use with other travellers? Is it true, or does it change just a little bit every time it is told? Where is he or she going? Describe the landscape from the side of the road, from the back of a truck bed, from the backseat of a car, from the passenger seat. Describe the scenario from the driver who picks up your hitchhiker.
  11. You find yourself zoned out and in those split seconds before coming back to reality, if you’re anything like me, eight million thoughts pile through like an open freeway. Pull one out and focus on it, even if it’s as trivial as “I left the grocery list on the counter.” Elaborate on that. What did you have on that list? Imagine a character leaving it somewhere other than the counter. Perhaps the child seat of the shopping cart. You get my drift. Take something whirling in your mind, nail it down and start building up from there.

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