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7 Useful Writing Prompts

Writers block is real. And it sucks. What makes it so widespread and difficult to overcome is that there are many different causes. You may simply be having a difficult time coming up with a good idea. Other possible reasons for writers block include low self-esteem, lack of good health, and daily distractions -- you know, life.

Whatever is behind your particular blockage, there are loads of resources for forging ahead and actually getting back to writing.

Here are a few of my favorite apps and websites:

1. The Most Dangerous Writing App will make you feel like Keanu Reeves in Speed. Stop writing, and all will be lost. No, really.... you've been warned.

2. Prompts isn't just another idea generator. Whereas a lot of other writing prompt programs just spit out random stuff that may or may not get you out of your writing funk, Prompts is different. It "uses artificial intelligence to learn your writing style and generate unique writing prompts based on your unique writing style, objectives, and writing goals."

So, if you don't have any interest in writing about a failed one-legged comedian battling time travelers from a parallel universe while trying to learn Mandarin in order to impress his night school welding teacher, then.... give Prompts a try. You'll be inspired in a more focused way.

3. 750 Words is a weird idea that shouldn't work, but it does. The idea is to write 3 pages (250) words of text each morning as a way to purge your scrambled ideas and set you up for a more focused, productive day. So, why not just write in your journal? Why write online? Because your journal doesn't give you nifty graphics.

4. Unstuck is less about powering through your writers block and more about understanding the root causes behind it. It's colorful, informal template puts you at ease and asks, "What are you stuck on?" Type in writing a novel, for instance, and Unstuck presents you with a list of relevant and easy-to-read pieces in which others have struggled with the same thing. After a few minutes, you'll be feeling like you've found a warm and fuzzy support group. But don't linger too long -- get back to writing!

5. Paper by Fifty-Three is an Apple app that gives writers a "simple, quiet interface" in which to play with ideas. It's a mix of writing and sketching, allowing visual learners to see the big picture of their writing project and discover possibilities and connections they hadn't imagined before.

6. Writing Prompts is available for Apple and Android products and comes from It presents the user with a variety of prompts, from scene suggestions to clever word groups. An example might be: write a horror story about a woman that includes a dresser and a car. This is an older app, and it doesn't seem to have changed much over the years. Plus, it's kind of random, so you could spend a half-hour on it and still be stifled. Writing Prompts is straightforward, but I never found it as useful as I'd hoped it would be.

7. Flickr can be a great tool for battling writers block. Though it's easy to get sucked in and spend a lot of your precious time searching through millions of cool photos, images can spark our imagination in profound ways -- therefore, it's worth the risk.

I suggest searching for words like conflict, opposites, fight or contrast. Good storytelling centers around tension, so don't waste time looking at pictures of pretty flowers. Search for flowers garbage instead and write away. Remember, a timer can be your best friend. If you spend more than five minutes searching for an inspirational photo, you're in trouble. Get in. Get out. Write it down.

I hope this short list of writing prompts is helpful.

Write on!


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