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10 Writing Prompts to Beat Writer's Block

Updated on February 28, 2012

As if the world needed more writing prompts, except you know what? It does. Writer’s block is a nasty little devil. About a year ago I managed to kick it. With a combination of discipline, determination and disbelief I took the power back and now I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s got nothing on me because I’m armed with the tools of my trade. Below are 10 writing prompts that will help you do the same.

#1 Describe how you feel

Get up and do some vigorous aerobic exercise for a minute or two. Just some jumping jacks or running in place. As soon as you’re done sit down and describe how you feel. You can use this exercise for just about any thing: getting a snack, a drink, petting your cat. Describe it all.

#2 Free writing

Free writing is the best way I know to beat writer’s block. Sit down in front of your computer or blank page and start writing the things you are thinking, even if the thing you are thinking is, “I can’t think of anything to write.” Even if you have to list what you ate for breakfast or what you can see from your chair keep that pen moving! This exercise is actually pretty fun even when you don’t have writer’s block. The funniest things pop into your head when you’re forced to record your every thought.

#3 Bad writing

Sometimes you get stuck because you’re so concerned with writing beautiful prose that your pen just won’t move. You know that anything you write without your muse is going to be terrible. What do you do? Write something terrible. Just awful. You can either force your way through whatever scene, chapter or article you’re working on and edit it to beautiful later or you can have a little fun with it. Set out to write a short piece of awful prose. Use purple descriptions and run on sentences and mixed metaphors. Make it as bad as you possibly can. Writing that badly is so much fun that odds are once you get that pen moving you won’t be able to stop.

#4 Describe what you see

So much poetry and prose has been inspired by works of art. If you can’t seem to get your pen moving try looking for inspiration in a different medium. Do you have any art on your walls? Posters? Family photos? You could also go online and pull up a picture of just about anything. Take a few minutes to really look at the artwork. Notice colours, shading, lines and intent. Look at it from different angles if you can. Turn it upside down. Then sit down and write about it.

#5 Voice your opinion

Everybody’s got an opinion right? Does anything piss you off? Does anything make you cry? Does anything scare you? Pick something that you feel passionate about and write about it. Write everything that comes to mind on the subject.

#6 A little music

Listen to a song of any kind and write down the story that may have inspired it.

#7 Get sexy

Yeah, I said it. Ever have a fantasy? Pick up your pen and write it down. I promise this one will get you writing in no time.

#8 Word lists

This is my personal favourite. Take a piece of paper and write one word on it. It could be anything, noun, verb, adverb. Doesn’t matter as long as it’s a word. Then underneath it write a word that relates to the first. Keep going down your list. You may notice a pattern of recurring words. You will certainly notice how many words have connotations and denotations that we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives. This prompt has two uses. First, it gets you writing. Second, you may find a fresh way to use old words that could liven up your prose.

Example: Happy, Smile, Lips, Kiss, Love, Pain, Injury, Hospital, Doctor, Advocate, Lobbyist, Government etc.

#9 ABC

This one is more of a challenge, really, than a prompt but it will get your brain working in interesting ways and you’ll be writing. The idea is to write a coherent twenty-six words paragraph where each words starts with it’s corresponding letter in the alphabet. The tough part is that the paragraph has to make sense.

Example: All Ben could do each Friday…

#10 Memories

Close your eyes and clear your head. Think about your childhood and choose one memory from it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be potent, just a memory. Then open your eyes again and describe it. Describing a childhood memory tends to evoke a sentimental nostalgia. How can you not write when you’re feeling sentimental? If a benign memory doesn’t work go for a sad one. The emotions brought up will definitely get your pen moving.

No matter what, keep that pen moving!

Good luck and get writing.


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    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Your welcome!

    • rlaha profile image

      rlaha 6 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      Thank you!

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Then it would be duplicated content: a major faux pas.

      Thanks for stopping by Jake and welcome to HP!

    • Jakebrap profile image

      Jakebrap 6 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      Some really great ideas here, wish I'd thought of them when I wrote my hub on the subject :}

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Yes! Word lists are so much fun. I do them all the time even when I don't need to get the creative juices flowing. It's really interesting to see where association will take you.

      Welcome to hp by the way. Thanks for stopping by!

    • YUMMommy profile image

      YUMMommy 6 years ago from USA

      Great prompts! Really like #8. It's definitely a great way to get thought process rolling again.

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      I'm so glad to hear you say that Random. I know there are hundreds of writing prompts out there. I wanted to make sure these were a little different and unexpected. I hope they work for you.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      This is a fun list and different from a lot of the ideas that I usually see for this topic. Thanks!

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Thanks so much QC and SMD, I'm glad you enjoyed. #3 actually got me through my first novel. Though even after a years worth of editing it was still pretty bad :) And hey, #7 is a whole genre!

    • SMD2012 profile image

      Sally Hayes 6 years ago

      I love #7 and #3! I've only done #7 a few times but it was never as a way to get out of a writing funk. Now that I think about it, I have to agree, it really will get you going! And thanks for #3 too! We do need to give ourselves permission to write badly. Voted up, awesome and bookmarked!

    • QualityContent profile image

      QualityContent 6 years ago

      Great hub on eliminating writers block, voted up.