There is a lot of pressure for writers to be productive right now. But, just like everyone else, the flaming dumpster fire rolling downhill toward a TNT factory that is our country at the moment is maybe a little distracting, maybe even paralyzing. So don’t feel bad if you’re not feeling the creative urge. Or, if you are, but are perhaps just a little stuck, here are some prompts to help get the juices flowing. And, who knows… maybe one of these will inspire the piece you eventually submit to District Fray + The Inner Loop’s Creative Writing Contest – open through June 5.
The best way to be a better writer is to be a better reader, so mine your bookshelf for this one. For each row, do the following: Find the seventh book in the row. Open it up to page seven. Look at the seventh sentence on the page. Begin a paragraph that begins with that sentence and limit the length to seven lines. When done, consider whether or not your relationship with the original title influenced the paragraphs you produced.
The great Jo Ann Beard once told me that, as a writer, you have to be able to imagine yourself into the existence or perspective of anyone or anything. Here’s your chance to try. 1.) Imagine that you are a barnacle on a boat. Write 350 words from the perspective of that barnacle. 2.) Imagine that you are a paperclip. Write 350 words from the perspective of that paperclip. 3.) Imagine that you are any other (living) person in the world. Choose who (specific/named or not). Write 350 words from the perspective of that person.
Strangers on a Plane
This one is simple, but can be particularly useful if you want to practice dialogue. Imagine the conversation between two strangers on an airplane. As you write, you might want to consider where they are each going, and why, and whether or not that comes up in external or internal dialogues.
Headlines for scientific papers and discoveries can be pure gold – even if you don’t know what the shit an Acanthobothrium zimmeri is (spoiler alert: it’s a tapeworm… gross). Take a look at the Editor’s Choice articles over at Science mag and write a short story or poem based just on the headline and short abstract. Be as literal or nonliteral as you like, but don’t do any additional research into the actual scientific topic for this one.
On a roll? You can find lots more great writing prompts at Poets and Writers (and even have them delivered daily to your inbox).
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