Friday, May 29, 2020

Prompts to Set Your Writing on Fire

Inspiration can strike at the strangest times. We may be holed up for quarantine when a lighthearted mystery springs to mind. Or maybe lockdown finds us drowning in dark stories that wind nowhere we really want to go. Once, when I spotted a huge bull wandering through the meadow behind my house, my mind spawned all kinds of ideas about dragons and lumbering beasts.

But sometimes...and we've all been there...we feel just as empty as the blank page we are staring at. This is a perfect time for writing prompts. Here's a few to fire up your neurons and help you hatch some exciting new tales. Try them yourself or share them with your favorite middle grader!

Poetry Prompt 

Choose a poem. It can be an old favorite or something new, a poem that stirs your emotions or evokes strong images. Read it through. Then close your eyes and note what feelings and images arise. Finally, write, capitalizing on what you felt following reading the poem. You'll be surprised at the ideas that emerge.

Here's some intriguing poems to start you off. The Tyger by William Blake, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, Twistable, Turnable Man by Shel Silverstein, Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll or The Daffodils by William Wordsworth.

Visual Inspiration

This is a fun way to stir up your creative writing. Browse through magazines, personal photos, or online images. Some great places to find intriguing photos and art are,, and

Once you've chosen an image, use your imagination to place yourself or one of your characters there. What would you see if you looked around beyond the frame? What might you hear or smell? What could have brought you or your character to this situation? How do they feel about being there? Happy, angry, purposeful, afraid, or some other emotion? What is your character about to do?

Musical Muse

Music drives inspiration in so many ways. I like to listen to music to set the tone of a scene I'm preparing to write. Something heart-pounding like Eye of the Tiger by Survivor is a great primer for writing a scene where my characters discover their own motivation and get fired up for success. 

The Pirates of the Caribbean Theme Song generates fighting or swashbuckling images. You might like The Mother by Brandi Carlile to stir up heart-aching feelings of love for family. Try Bang! by AJR for a fun surprise and see where your muse takes you.

Try these prompts when you're feeling a little brain freeze. They're also useful as a quick warm up to get your juices going for other writing you have planned. Enjoy!

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