New year, fresh pens. Looking for a starting point, or some inspiration for your work? We’ve assembled a list of prompts for creative encouragement.

The following prompts should be broad enough for all writing genres. Non-writing mediums can make use of them, too: just swap out the word “write” for “draw” or “choreograph” or your generative verb of choice. We recommend not overthinking it. Set your phone to airplane mode, silence your inner editor, and go!

  • Write about tea. Make a pot and observe with all your senses. Or borrow from the language used to describe tea, on the box or online. Or consider the history, rituals, healing properties, whatever appeals. Read your (imagined) leaves in a piece of writing to tell the future.
  • Sample one of CA Conrad’s thrilling (Soma)tic rituals.
  • Write a letter to a younger version, or older version, of yourself. Include encouragement, admonishment, warnings, or whatever other wisdom or insight you’d like.
  • Create a piece of concrete poetry or prose, meaning that the shape informs the content. Pick an object or creature you are curious about and/or one that appears in your dreams. Draw your shape on a piece of paper and let the words come as they may. Don’t stop writing until you’ve filled the outline completely. (You could also use a coloring book.)
  • Big Foot Feet. Banana Mania. Sunburnt Cyclops. Peruse this list of color names until you find one, or several, that inspire you to write.
  • Locate an item in your home or writing space that has overstayed its welcome—something, old, or broken, or simply no longer needed. Write a eulogy for it: extolling its value, recalling any significant moments you two shared. Then, get rid of it.
  • Peep a stranger’s Instagram (in a friendly way) and use what you find there to write a poem or piece of prose. Find this person using an odd hashtag. Your inspirational person might inform a character, elicit a personal memory, inspire an emotion. You could write an ekphrastic piece about one of their photos or use their style of diction.   
  • Invent a holiday. Consider the name, date, origin, any traditional food or activities associated with it, etc. The more detailed, the better.
  • Think of a childhood friend with whom you’ve lost contact. Write down everything you can remember about that person—name, physical details, personality, specific moment or incidents. Fragments or uncertain memories are fine.  
  • Make a to-do list for someone besides yourself. It could also be a five-year plan or a list of due dates. You might pick someone you know personally but you wish you understood better, or someone famous (alive or not). You could also choose an animal, color, emotion, refrigerator—truly, the sky’s the limit as long as you think deeply about what the speaker wants and what steps they might pursue to achieve it.

Did you miss earlier prompts lists? Here they are.

Like what you’ve written? Put it away for a week, then revisit, and revise, revise, revise. When it’s ready to go, submit. If you have feedback, or ideas for prompts, please get in touch.

[Art: ‘Shoreline with Pink Mist,’ by Submittable team member Ben Bloch

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