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The Magic of A Writing Prompt

In my writing career, I have utilized a variety of writing prompts. Usually they were provided by teachers, and often were vague or, even worse, too restrictive. I found myself dreading these assignments because I thought writing prompts hindered my creativity. However, as I matured as a writer, I realized that a writing prompt can be a very valuable tool.

What I once considered to be a vague writing prompt, I now see as being open ended. It allows the writer to explore a topic but with enough wiggle room to access their creativity. For example, an open-ended writing prompt could say: “Write a short story about a boy with a love interest, who lives in a beach town.” This kind of prompt can help the writer connect to a plot line, while adding their own individuality.

Another fun prompt is one that asks a question. The writer’s job, then, is to answer it. The best thing to do with this type of prompt is to go with initial instincts. For example, if the prompt asks, “Your character’s flight gets cancelled, but they have to be in ____  in 2 days for ____. What happens next?” If the writer spends too long assessing what the most logical answer is, then they may lose some of their creative magic. A question prompt can be helpful because it kicks off their writing with conflict, and all they must do is create from there.

A picture can be a phenomenal writing prompt as well. Having a visual element to help creative juices flow is an advantage. Art, specifically paintings and photography, can be very inspiring. For example, using a painting as a prompt can spark a story from what the viewer perceives.

Whether someone is writing poetry, short stories, essays, or novels, a writing prompt can help them begin to organize their ideas. When struck with a new idea, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Using a writing prompt can give guidance and direction. The initial inspiration a writer feels with a new idea can be short lived, so it is important to have helpful tools to propel you forward.

Every writer can experience writer’s block from time to time, and a prompt can provide a fresh perspective. Next time you are feeling stuck, try finding a prompt that inspires you. Structure and rules are not solely for kids writing essays in English class. It can change your style and process of writing in a very positive way. If you are trying to convey a certain message or theme but don’t know where to start, then a prompt may be your answer. Writing prompts inspire creativity and encourage you to think outside of the box. Start looking for writing prompts on our social media platforms, and here are some below:

Back to School-

  1. What was your first memory of school as a child?

  2. What is your opinion on preschool? Do you think it is beneficial for children below the age of 5?

  3. Do you think government funding for public schools would be better spent on higher security or school supplies?

  4. It’s after lunch time. Kids are sweaty and legs are sticking to the plastic chairs. The teacher turns out the lights for a game of Heads Up 7up. What happens next?

  5. What subject or topic in school interested you the most?

  6. Did you have a teacher or professor that inspired or mentored you? How did they impact your life?

  7. How did your social groups in school affect your life? Positive vs negative.

  8. Do you think a teacher can make or break a class? What learning experiences have you had with teachers that have made you love or loathe school?

  9. Write a short story about a boy who was just bullied for the first time.

  10. Do you think boys and girls in graded k-12 have equal opportunity and are treated accordingly? Are their any rules that bend for a particular gender? How do these experiences with co-ed classrooms help shape character, (good or bad)?

  11. If given the opportunity, how would you change the public-school curriculum you experienced?

  12. What character traits do you think a person should have in order to be an impactful and successful teacher?

  13. Write a poem about 3 things you struggled with while attending school.

  14. Do you think all boys or all girls’ schools impact children/teens positively, negatively, or not at all?

  15. Compare and contrast the positives and negatives of being part of Greek life in college.

Writing Contests-

  1. Is a writing contest something that you feel competitive about, or view it more as a learning experience?

  2. What did you write about when you entered your first writing contest?

  3. Do you think all writing contests should have a tangible prize, or does the honor of winning suffice?

  4. If you could invent a machine to help you as a writer, what would it be and what would it do?

  5. Do you think a writing contest should be a battle against others or with yourself?

  6. Should writing contests have detailed or vague guidelines? Which inspires you more?

  7. How should writing contests be judged? By elder writers or by fellow peers?

  8. How has entering writing contests helped you grow as a writer?

  9. What is your favorite aspect about writing for a contest?

  10. What incentive do you have for entering a writing contest?

  11. Have you ever won a writing contest, or gotten close to winning one? If so, what about your writing got you there?

  12. Do you think schools should have mandatory writing contests to help inspire students’ creativity?

  13. Do you prefer essay writing contests or creative writing contests? Why?

  14. What advice would you give to someone who has never entered a writing contest?

  15. Do you think essay portions on college applications is beneficial? Do essay portions on applications feel like a writing contest to you?

Literary Classics-

  1. Has any literary classic influenced your style of writing? How so?

  2. Do you enjoy reading classics above modern writing?

  3. Do you think schools should keep literary classics in their curriculums?

  4. Do you think it’s important to study past styles of writing in order to grow as a writer?

  5. As a modern-day writer, what do you feel differentiates writing between then and now?

  6. Do you think some literary classics are too controversial for students in high school to read?

  7. What aspects of literary classics do you enjoy or not enjoy?

  8. If you could go back in time and observe a famous author writing a literary classic, who would it be and why?

  9. What is your favorite literary classic and why?

  10. Do you prefer classic novels, poems, or short stories? Why?

  11. Why is reading literary classics important as a writer?

  12. What themes are typically present in literary classics?

  13. How has literary classics helped enrich the literature world?

  14. Do you consider literary works left behind by past authors are part of their legacy? As a writer, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

  15. How has language and vocabulary changed since the times when the classics were written?

Writing Degrees-

  1. If you are working towards a writing degree, what path do you want to take once you have it?

  2. How can earning a writing degree benefit your writing career?

  3. What obstacles do you face when working towards a writing degree?

  4. Many college students worry about what jobs they can get with their degree. What can you do with a writing degree?

  5. What type of subjects and techniques do you think are most important to study when working towards a writing degree?

  6. If you have a writing degree already, what is one thing you liked during your academic career? What is one thing you would have changed?

  7. Do you think that writing classes should be mandatory for all degrees or strictly for writing degrees?

  8. How can a writing degree help you in other aspects of life, not related to writing?

  9. Many people argue that a writing degree is impractical. Argue the opposing side.

  10. Do you think writers can make good politicians? Why or why not?

  11. How has earning a writing degree helped you become a more well-rounded person?

  12. Do writers with writing degrees have the knowledge to help solve the world’s humanitarian and environmental crisis?

  13. What power or responsibility do you feel you have with a writing degree? (Or will have, if you are working towards it).

  14. What was your favorite aspect or class you took while obtaining your degree?

  15. Do you think writers with writing degrees have a better chance at being successful in their career?

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