Ever suffer from the dreaded writer’s block? While plenty of folks will tell you there’s no such thing, many of us have had those days when we sit down to write and nothing comes out.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast (sorry, I can’t remember which one) that discussed some tricks for overcoming the brain freeze that often plagues us when we stare at a blank screen. My favorite among them included using writing prompts to get the ideas flowing.
Lately, I’ve been focusing on flash fiction (1,000 words or less) for my own writing so a good writing prompt can trigger an entire piece for me. After I write that draft, I let it breathe for a while before deciding if there’s anything there to salvage during revisions or if I let it go as just an exercise.
I’m unofficially participating in NaNoWriMo by writing and revising flash fiction. While I’m working on some ideas already, I’ve also accumulated a bunch of prompts to use this month if I find myself stuck.
- My NaNoWriMo Prompts on Pinterest: I’ve created a collection of prompts from various sites on a Pinterest board
- Adam Maxwell’s Fiction Lounge Writing Prompts Generator: Just keep clicking until you find one you like. This site has some great prompts, many of which I’ve pinned above but consider going straight to the source.
- Nova Zero: This blog says it’s currently on hiatus and you’ll need to sign into Tumblr to view it. Lots of great material there, including prompts that show up all over Pinterest.
- The Sarcastic Muse: Another inactive Tumblr but their archives have some great prompts.
- Letter Pile: Plenty of great prompts and other information on this site, but check out 100 Short Story (or Novel) Writing Prompts.
- The New York Times Picture Prompts: I love writing inspired by images. Here’s a daily collection from The New York Times to get you started.
Maybe online sites aren’t your thing. Maybe you want something more tactile, something that offers a brief reprieve from the screen. Here are a couple I own that I find particularly helpful:
- Storymatic: These cards are the creation of Brian Mooney, a writer and teacher. I randomly met him in New Orleans at a Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert – I was on vacation, he was at a book fair (I think). From a homemade set of cards he crafted for his students, he’s now expanding the line and sharing it with everyone. Pull from the box and off you go!
- Classic: This is the one I own. It’s the original, with 540 cards and a booklet of prompts, games, and suggestions. The cards are of two types: character and scenario. Draw one of each for amazing possibilities. They also have a version for kids and a colonial history edition on their site.
- Rememory: I separate this from the others because it’s a different concept. Three types of cards (Season, Generation, Prompt) help you draw from your memories to access stories from your life. Great for memoirs, poetry, or even fiction if you’re creative, these are an interesting addition to the collection. I met the creator, Brian Mooney, randomly in New Orleans. He had a set with me so I pulled three cards at random and I was immediately hooked.
- Rory’s Story Cubes: Maybe you want something even more tactile than cards. How aboutdice? This collection has really expanded since I last checked them out. You can see the full range in their store. (Also, they appear to have an app for Android and IOS but I haven’t used it.)
- Story Cubes: I own three of these sets, including the original set (example dice: alien, lock, castle, flashlight, pyramid), Actions (drying clothes, laughing, baseball, and digging), and Voyages (glasses, mountains, cactus, beans). There’s also a Fantasia set for magic and adventure. You can use them individually or mix them.
- StoryWorlds: These themed groups include Batman, Doctor Who, Scooby-Doo, and Looney Tunes cubes for crafting stories about your favorite fandom.
- Mix: These smaller expansion sets add themed options to other sets. Clues, Enchanted, Prehistoria, Medic, Fright, Rescue, and Rampage are just a few.
I hope somewhere on this list you’ll find something to start the words flowing next time you come down with the common malady of creatives. And if you have other ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! For example, I didn’t include books but there are many available. Share your favorites!