99 Creative Writing Prompts For Overcoming Writer’s Block
I want to start writing fiction this year. It’s a goal I’ve had on my mind for a while now, but as an essayist and nonfiction writer, I’ve been getting in my head about it. I have no idea how to create stories or characters. But it’s something I want to learn.
In preparing to make this pivot, I’ve discovered that writing prompts are invaluable. They can help us think about stories and subject matter in new ways and serve as a source of inspiration. Even for writers who aren’t looking to explore a new genre, prompts can be useful when we’re in a rut or need some creative magic. Instructions and parameters can help get the words flowing.
While these writing prompts are organized by month, they are designed to be used at your leisure. Feel free to follow it weekly or jump around. You may need to take breaks throughout the year or come back in the summer when you have more time to write—that’s okay, too! Use this list however it works for you and your creative flow!
For further inspiration and encouragement, here are some tips for starting a writing practice.
1. The human spirit is strong. Write about an experience in your life that has made you more resilient.
2. Releasing resolutions can be as important as reaching them. Write an essay in which you reflect on a resolution you didn’t keep.
3. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.” Write a story in which your main character uses their power for good. End it with a time jump showing the long-term ripple effects.
4. Craft a story where your main character gets caught outside in a winter storm. How do they find their way home?
5. The darker months can sometimes feel lonely, but moments alone often shape us in powerful ways. Write a lyrical essay about your own isolation experiences and what you’ve discovered about yourself through these seasons.
6. Write a story about a group of friends who travel somewhere warm for a winter holiday.
7. Imagine a group of strangers meeting while trapped in an airport for 24 hours due to flight delays. Who are they? What types of conversations do they have? How will these new relationships evolve and shape the rest of their lives?
8. Begin a short story in which your main character accepts an important award.
9. What does it mean to say, ‘I love you?’ Write an essay that includes an anecdote about the first time you remember feeling loved.
10. Write a comedic story from the perspective of a restaurant server on Valentine’s Day.
11. Who was your childhood best friend? Write an essay using the second-person (try crafting it as a letter) about what that friendship meant to you.
12. Think about a favorite story or fairytale from your childhood. Rewrite it with an alternative ending.
13. Begin a short story in which your main character is at a coffee shop with their love interest on a winter day.
14. Write about a time you did something that scared you.
15. Imagine a world in which the days are getting progressively shorter. How will your characters stop this countdown and save humanity before it’s too late?
16. Create a story in which two friends meet at a Lunar New Year celebration.
17. Write a scene based on a recent encounter with a stranger.
18. For International Women’s Day (March 8), write a first-person story that takes place at a protest during the women’s liberation movement.
19. In an essay, reflect on the women who’ve helped you become who you are today.
20. Craft a poem from the sun’s perspective in honor of the spring equinox (March 20).
21. In spring, there is a turning. Write an essay about how seasonal changes mirror a transformation in your own life.
22. Try your hand at an allegory using natural elements to convey a larger message about humanity.
23. Your main character just came home from a trip to find their house has disappeared and been replaced with a supermarket. It’s like it was never even there. What happens next?
24. Consider the meaning of beauty and how it has shifted and evolved with time. Write an essay about this.
25. Write a poem about the power of music. Use these playlists for inspiration.
26. Create a short story that begins with you waking up on a train destined for somewhere tropical.
27. For Earth Day 🌎 (April 22), write an essay about sustainable living. What does it mean to you? If you need help getting started, try opening the piece with an anecdote about the first time you thought about climate change and sustainability.
28. In the circle of life, beginnings are preceded by endings. Write about an ending that has led to a new beginning in your life.
29. Begin a story in which your main character wakes up with a superpower.
30. What was the last great novel you read? Try your hand at a book review, writing as if you’re a famous critic for a publishing house or magazine.
31. Imagine a famous chef loses their sense of taste and serves an overly salted meal to eager patrons. What happens next?
32. Write an essay about your childhood home.
33. Write a third-person story about two friends playing in the rain. Rather than focusing on creating climax, aim to capture their feelings of pure love and friendship.
34. What is something you’ve always been scared of? Write a future-tense essay about when and how you will overcome this fear.
35. Toni Morrison once wrote, “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” Write an essay defining yourself, starting with the sentence, “To others, I may seem…but that is not who I am.”
36. Write a poem about your first pet. If you’ve never had a pet, write about your plants or something else you’ve cared for.
37. Write an essay about the day you got your driver’s license.
38. Creativity can be a tool for processing our heartaches. Craft a personal essay about the last time you felt grief—and be gentle with yourself as you get the words on the page.
39. Your main character is on a rooftop in New York City, escaping the crowd of a party. What happens next?
40. Write a summer scene that begins with dialogue.
41. In a personal essay, describe your last vacation, but write about the trip in present tense.
42. Write a short story from an inanimate object’s perspective, either in nature or in your home.
43. The main characters in your story have gone on a camping trip. But when they return from the woods, their city is no longer there. In fact, they can’t find any sign of civilization. Write a suspenseful thriller about what happens next.
44. Craft a poem using the word “citrus.”
45. A couple is sharing a picnic lunch on a beach. By the end of the story, one of them is walking away in tears. What happens? Focus on building tension and the backstory that leads to this moment.
46. Write an essay about a time you worked tirelessly for something, and it didn’t turn out as you hoped or planned.
47. Create a story in which your main character is experiencing profound joy.
48. In a personal essay, revisit a moment when you learned to take your own advice.
49. Using this list of instrumental covers, rewrite the lyrics to a hit song.
50. Write a story in which you’re a tourist and visiting your home city for the first time.
51. Two friends take out a boat on the lake and discover the water has magic powers. Write a fantasy scene about their adventure.
52. Learn about your Enneagram number, then write a personal essay with anecdotes that exemplify your basic desire and basic fear.
53. You and your best friend are on a sailboat off the coast of Italy when suddenly the captain disappears. What happens next?
54. Write a story about an encounter with a sea creature.
55. Create a lyrical essay in which the main character is “summer heat.”
56. Write an essay through the lens of your childhood self about your first year at school. Try to be as specific as possible, including the names of friends and teachers. You can use old photos or talk to your parents for reference if needed.
57. Write a story that begins with your main character swimming in a lake.
58. Sometime this week, spend a few minutes sitting outside or staring out your window to observe another person. Write about what you notice that can help to sketch them as a character.
59. Make a case for one of your favorite traditions—whether it be celebrating a recognized holiday or a personal ritual.
60. Write a short story that begins with the ending. For example, perhaps your story is about a girl who gets lost at sea and then captured by pirates—only to become a pirate herself. Begin the story with the girl as a pirate, and then show the readers how she got there.
61. What is the happiest you’ve ever been?
62. Create a short story that starts with your main character going off to college.
63. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this year?
64. Lidia Yuknavitch says, “There is so much to learn from the edge of things, from the cracks and cuts and fissures of the earth, of our hearts.” Write a lyrical essay about the cuts and fissures in your own heart and how they’ve led you to this very moment.
65. Write a sensory essay about nature without naming the objects you’re writing about. For example, “The towering giants boast cherry-ripe foliage at this time of year.”
66. Craft a short story about the final day of summer (September 22). 🍂
67. Try your hand at children’s lit by creating a story for a younger audience. Have your main character learn a valuable life lesson, and use these stories for inspiration if you need help!
68. When was the last time you felt most alive?
69. Write an essay about a change you knew was coming and how you prepared for it.
70. Create a story where the main character is a caregiver for a loved one.
71. Write a poem about shadows.
72. On Indigenous People’s Day (October 10), write a historical nonfiction essay about the native land you’re living on. For guiding questions, use the Catalyst Project’s worksheet and Resource Generation’s Land Reparations Toolkit and Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit.
73. Write a story in which a “monster” turns out to be a “hero,” or vice versa. This can be either nonfiction or fiction.
74. You and your significant other are at home watching a scary movie when the power goes out. Create a spooky story about what happens next!
75. Create a spooky children’s story that takes place in a magical forest.
76. Write a story that begins with a girl making her own Halloween costume.
77. Write a persuasive essay about an unconventional fear. Make a case for why more people should consider this fear.
78. A group of friends escapes to a private island for an end-of-year holiday. But when they arrive, the hotel is deserted, and the boat has already left the dock. What happens next?
79. Write about the last time you felt hopeful.
80. In preparation for losing an hour of daylight this month, write a poem about all your favorite cozy things.
81. Write a story that begins with your main character dreaming.
82. In “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerer writes, “In some Native languages the term for ‘plants’ translates to ‘those who take care of us.’” In an essay, write about how the earth cares for humanity. Begin with a personal anecdote about a time you felt nurtured by nature.
83. Write a first-person essay that revolves around food or a family recipe.
84. Practice shifting between past and present tense by writing an essay about a childhood experience that impacts who you are today.
85. Write a letter to your younger self.
86. Create a story based on a time you went on a spontaneous adventure.
87. Your main characters are at a college football game when, suddenly, the sky goes black. What happens next?
88. How do you overcome self-doubt? Write a how-to essay.
89. What are you most grateful for this year?
90. Write a poem about your favorite sound.
91. Reflect on winter pastimes. What do you love most about this season? Write a short essay about it.
92. Make up your own holiday poem reminiscent of “Night Before Christmas” (or the equivalent for your celebrated traditions).
93. Your main character is a ballerina performing in The Nutcracker, but secretly, they wish to be a teacher. Write a story about this.
94. Who is someone you admire in your life? Write a tribute essay to them.
95. To get in the spirit, create a Hallmarkesque script for a cheesy holiday film.
96. Write an essay that begins with your favorite holiday memory.
97. Your main character is a flight attendant working the holiday season. Write about a strange encounter they have on the plane.
98. What is the importance of rest, and why is it such a necessary practice for our lives?
99. In your final prompt of the year, write an essay about time and forward motion. Begin by reflecting on the past, write about the importance of mindfulness and living in the present moment, and then welcome whatever comes next.
If you write a story with one of these writing prompts and you’d like to share, feel free to link or paste it in the comments below! 💛
Kayti Christian (she/her) is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.