Free Writing Prompts

Random Free Writing Prompt
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These prompts first appeared in The Journal Newsletter.

Writing Exercise: Free-association Grid

This exercise helps to transition into creative writing. It can be used to stimulate your thoughts, or it can serve to remove distraction depending on your intent.

At the beginning of your writing time write a list of random, free-association words. For creative writing, list ten words across ten columns. Then go to each column and add nine more words so that the result is ten columns and ten rows, a total of one hundred words. Just reading the list and noticing the creative leaps your mind has made may surprise you.

If you like, continue the exercise by using all one hundred words in a short fiction piece. For poetry, select the words that suggest a common theme.

This exercise can also be used to vent distractive thoughts, or play a bit before you get to work on a selected project.

A quick version is to shorten the exercise to five columns and five rows, for a total of twenty-five words.

Writing Exercise: Free Writing -Take the prompt provided below and develop it into a story. This particular prompt is an example of selecting a scene and allowing the character to reveal “himself”. Write for 15-20 min without editing.

Prompt: A man gets into a cab at the airport.

Variations: After you complete the exercise see how changing an element affects the story. How will the story differ if it is a woman instead of a man, or if two people, strangers or not, get into the cab.

Writing Exercise: Warm Ups – Before starting your writing use a warm up exercise. You can create a list of questions or phrases such as the following and use the responses in creative writing.

* five things that are the same color
* five descriptive images or phrases for air
* five random objects
* five things that are/ can be “a thin line”
* three things that are desirable
* two things that are undesirable
* five obstacles
* five ways to describe the same object

Writing Exercise: Free Writing – Write for 15 minutes using the following phrase as your first line.

“After the door shuts and the footsteps die…”

Writing Exercise: Free Writing – Use the following line as inspiration. Write for at least 20 minutes without editing.

Tracing the outline of her face from a photograph…Writing Exercise: Free Writing – Use the following phrase as a focal point to write from:

“The stain will not come out…”Before starting, allow your imagination to work. Use visualization to picture the image. Think of it as being literal, then as metaphysical. Use sensory perceptions. Add cultural and literary references, and personal connotations. What tone/mood is emerging? Keep in mind that your writing is not necessarily about the image, but why and how, and what next, or before?

Free Writing Exercise – Using the following phrase as a starting point write for 20 minutes without self editing:

“Collapsing under a canopy of green…”Writing Exercise – Write short prose or poetry using the following theme: transparency

Writing Exercise – Write for twenty minutes starting with the phrase, “The inside of an egg…”

Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following phrase as the title: “Prolonged Exposure”

Writing Exercise – Select a scene that involves 2-3 characters. Write a paragraph from the point of one character, then write the same interaction from another character’s point of view. For example, the point of view of convenience store clerk contrasted with a customer’s point of view of the same incident.

Writing Exercise – Without using color names, describe a tree.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) using the following prompts:

  • The distance between two points increases over time
  • This morning marks the anniversary, the anniversary of two people dying

Writing Exercise with Prop – As a visual reference, select a box that has dimensions under 12X12 inches. Tape the box closed. Set the box in front of you. Write a story, poem or free writing based on what is inside the box.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for twenty minutes using “white noise” as your title.

Writing Prompt – Flip through a magazine and select a page for your inspiration. You can use the subject matter, or the illustration.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following prompts:

  1. “The afternoon…”
  2. “My life is made up of seconds…”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes in any style using “Flowers for Ann” as the title.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes without editing using the sense of black and white vision, as in film or photographs. The piece can have a historical or nostalgic feel, surreal, or futuristic.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using this prompt: “Jerry was a nice guy…”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using “non-descript” as your title.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style:

  1. about a character named “Vegas”
  2. using “everyday object” as your title

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “Parenthetical” as the title. (Be divergent.)

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using, “turning into silence”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using “At This Very Moment” as your title.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “pendulum”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style, using “The Man” or “The Woman” as your starting point.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using “Hidden Camera” as your title.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “faded denim” as your title.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “franchise” as your starter.

Free Writing Exercise – Write a list of all the words you can think of that start with “mag-“. Select three of the words, using them for your 20 minute free-write. For a second list, use “tri-“.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “Clippings” as your starter.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using “arrivals and departures” as your starter.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using this as your starter: “In the event of an emergency…” Consider writing with humor.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using the title, “The Bumblebee Chronicles”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes in any style using the following as your title, “Spending Purgatory with… ” Consider using humor.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style, using a Laundromat as your setting.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes, (without editing) in any style, describing one of your parents.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes, (without editing) in any style using “Why Claire Left” as a starter.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes, (without editing) in any style using:
1. “My last memory of…”
2. “The East India Company…”

Consider writing something surreal.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using, “Moth Whispers”.

Free Writing Exercise – 1. Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using, “Soap Bubbles” or “Bottle Rockets” as your title.

2. Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using, “String Theory”. Or “Modern American Fantasy”. Or , “An Ordinary Morning”.

Free Writing Exercise – 1. Write for 20 minutes starting with “The Color of Smoke”. About halfway through, interject, “The Use of an Elevator”.

2. Write for 20 minutes using “Shallow Breath”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes starting with “The gypsy reads the tea leaves” or, “The First Time I Saw the Circus”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using , “Clairvoyant”. Or “Mundane Occurrences.”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter, “Masquerade”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes in any genre using the phrase, ” The door shut, before I….”. Or, “Three scenes depicting *__________”. (i.e. death, love, karma.)

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter, “Diamonds aren’t for giving…” Or, use, “Images are blurred…”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter, ” A Penny on the Sidewalk “.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Yelling with meaning”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Overdrawn flowers”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Devout Hurting”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the title, “The Bubble Gum Contest”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the title, “The Shadow Children”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the starter, “disappearing”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the starter, “Cardboard Box”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the starter, “Under the Microscope”.

Free Writing Exercise – 1. Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The illusion of…”

2. Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Identity”

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the letter “x” as your starter.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the phrase, “This is a photograph of…”

Free Writing Exercise – 1. Write for 20 minutes using the phrase, “Cut Your Losses”.

2. Write for 20 minutes using the phrase, “Within Reach”.

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter or title: “Fourth Person Tense”

Free Writing Prompt – 1. Write a for 20 minutes without editing using the following title: “The Salesman”.

2. Write for 20 minutes using the following: “Removing the Stitches”.

Free Writing Prompt – 1. Write for 20 minutes without editing using the following title, “The Cat Came Back”.

2. Write for 20 minutes without editing using the following title, “Children’s Games”.

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The world is divided into two types of people.”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your title or starting phrase: “A song of allusion…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your title or starting phrase: “Consider Blasphemy”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your title or starting phrase: “In the determination of the jury…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “This year, on my summer vacation, I …”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “I stood up and gave my name…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Captain’s log, supplemental …” Or, if that’s too cheesy: “Fascinating …”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “An avalanche of words…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Thank you…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Everybody knows…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Hello Coffee…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “If you are reading this…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “What Dorothy found…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Pest Control…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The Chameleon Spoke”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Summer Falls”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Nice Bully”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Inadequate Plumbing”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Selling Short”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Black Frosting…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Five Fingers”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Touching the edge…”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Antique Glass”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Nose to Nose”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Off the Map”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Roosevelt buried the shoe in the back yard, then took off.”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Excuses Ready”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Beans Spilled”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “After Hours”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Scaling the Walls”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The Rabbit Trails”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Self Storage”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Pancakes”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Odds Are”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The woman knew too much”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “I’ve never been in a hot air balloon”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The Magician’s Hat”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Pieces of Quilt”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Gloves”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Meticulous”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “School Supplies”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Quick!”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Fifty foot of cable”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Caramel Apples”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Fair Weather”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “One by one”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Let’s see some ID”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “One Before Midnight”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Falling Flakes”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Dotted I’s” (or “Dotted Eyes”)

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Reflected Lamplight”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Hammer Down”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Stitching Up”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Uno Dos Tres Quatro”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Repondez s’il vous plaet” (or “RSVP”)

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Eyes Squinted”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Nose Held Firmly Shut”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Baby Steps”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “A Toddler’s Vocabulary”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Pencil Case”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Sketching”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Pursued by the Blowing Leaves”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Carving Knife”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Leftover Turkey”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Regifting”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Flying Party Hats”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Listing Houses”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Reinforced Courage”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Red Casino Dice”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Calculating the Odds”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Meteorites Fall”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Surviving the Heat”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Rain Falls”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Vintage Fans”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Justified Hoarding”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Fallen Statues”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Moving Boxes”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Unfriendly Doses”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Contracting (the) Blues”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Under the Red Moon”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Passed Dues”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Baking Bread”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter/inspiration: “Cold Snaps”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “May Flowers (or Mayflowers)”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Oops! I Forgot!”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “One Black Sharpie”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Double Down”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Birthday Cake”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Homemade Stuffing”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Shoot the Glass”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Disproportionate Response”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Creaky Springs”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Link Bait”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Feral Cats”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Sleeping Spiders”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Custom Bullets”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Lightning Expert”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Surviving Elections”

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “The Regret”

 

Writing Exercises

These Writing Exercises are a collection of prompts originally published in The Journal Newsletter. The prompts include journaling prompts, prose prompts, poetry prompts, free writing prompts, and memoir prompts.

Or jump to the complete list of exercises you would like to see:

The exercises are updated each month, after the newsletter is published.

Unless otherwise specified, all prompts Copyright © by Susan Michael and David Michael.

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