As a writer, you’re bound to get stuck at some point. Even if you’re the most prolific content creator, Writer’s Block may take its toll on you. Or, if you’re like me and don’t really believe in Writer’s Block, you might feel uninspired one day and need a little boost. Cue creative writing prompts!
In my years of being a writer, I’ve created thousands of prompts for myself, my students, and my clients. From challenging writers to think about events in different ways, to using dialogue to prompt story beginnings, my favorite type of creative writing prompts center on the visual.
Visual prompts are prompts that start with something you can picture in your mind. This can be a photograph that’s sitting in front of you or dreams that you create. It can be an image you draw, or even something obscure as sketching a line on a piece of paper, constructing a symbol, and writing about the symbol.
Whether you’re stuck or just need to think about writing in a different way, here are eight creative writing prompts to challenge you visually.
Ekphrastic prompts are ones that start simply by a visual image or picture. You’ll take this picture and whatever the picture inspires you to write about, you write! This can be related to something personal, or it can be something completely unrelated. The point is to let the visuals inspire your work.
1. Find a picture from your childhood. Are you in the photo? If so, write from the perspective of another family member or friend about the moment the picture was taken. Try to describe both the weather and the feelings this person may have had. If you’re not in the picture, write what you remember about the event.
2. Google ‘comic’ and select the ‘images’ tab. Then select a photo from the first row of images. Write the story that goes with the picture. If there are people, animals, or cartoon figures in the picture/graphic, make sure that those are the central characters. Be sure to name the characters, too!
3. Look outside your window and pick the first thing you see to write about. What is this item? It’s shape, color, potential sound? What does it feel like, smell like? Write about the significance of this thing. If you want a challenge, write from the perspective of the thing!
Active, art-based prompts.
For these prompts, you’ll be a little more engaged in the process as you’ll be both creating and writing. Be sure to have a piece of scratch paper (in addition to your notebook/computer) handy before you begin.
4. Draw a squiggly line in the center of your paper. Then take a second to look at it. Does it make a shape? Does it look like anything you recognize? Can you draw additional lines, shapes, etc. to connect to the line and create a picture? When you’ve created a picture sketch, write about what it is that you drew. Think about the perhaps hidden significance behind what you drew—is it something you love? Something you’re afraid of? A person?
5. Grab an old magazine or newspaper and cut out 2-5 words that resonate with you. Try to write a poem or paragraph that incorporates those words. For an extra challenge, try to put the words into dialogue between two characters.
6. Make a copy of a poem or page that you love and print it. Go through the poem and ‘black out’ (or cross off) every third word. Now read the poem as is with the missing words. Does it make sense? (It probably won’t, but this is the challenge!) Write out the leftover words, out of order, on a separate piece of paper. See if you can create an entirely new poem or few sentences based on the words. Feel free to add your own, too, if this is too challenging!
*Be mindful of plagiarism, too. Aim for this to be a practice exercise, not something you publish.
8. Draw a simple shape in the middle of your paper. For whatever the shape is, try to write a poem or few lines about that shape. For example, if you drew a circle, write about what a circle is, what objects are circle-shaped, etc. For an added challenge, try writing your poem along the edges of the shape, too!
Want More Creative Writing Prompts?
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Featured Image Credit: Emma Dau