Writing Prompts

On this page I post writing prompts from time to time. If you use one on your own site please mention this page as the prompt source and leave a comment in the box below so I can visit you. 

Old and Young

Write notes on how you saw the world with young eyes and how you see it with older eyes. Make a list of words describing yourself – one for young, one for old. Imagine a conversation between your young self and your old self – write it. Now take all the notes and turn it into a poem. 

I often find that using a form makes me have to think more (and maybe deeper) and as this is likely to be a ‘wisdom poem’ I suggest a Rubáiyát. The rubai is a good form to use when you’ve got something to say; the constraints of the form are not severe enough to prevent you from saying it. The rubai (plural rubaiyat) is a Persian verse form. Each rubai stanza is a quatrain, in which lines 1, 2 and 4 all rhyme.

Example of one Quatrain~ 

what joy in sleep so fills your captured heart

while i wait here alone, to watch apart

and gaze upon your much loved gentle face

more lovely than a work of perfect art


Here are two prompts that was given on http://www.napowrimo.net   ……….

Unexpected last line

Write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does. The more surprising that last line is the better. 

Create a ‘Book Spine’ Poem 

This involves taking a look at your bookshelves, and writing down titles in order (or rearranging the titles) to create a poem. Some fun images of book spine poems can be found here. Gather a list of titles from your shelves (every third or fifth book, perhaps, if you have a lot) and using the titles, as close to the originals as possible, create a poem that is seeded throughout with your own lines, interjections, and thoughts. When I went to my book case with this in mind I found that some titles just jumped out at me as if they wanted to get involved :) 


Unexpected Word 

Begin to write a gentle nature poem and then stop and think of a word that simply does not fit into scene – make it fit – it will take the poem in another direction (example – see my poem Dynamite) 


Remember that book you loved so much as a child? Imagine yourself in it. How does it feel? Did you lose anything since you left that place? Did you bring something back with you? 



Autumn brings us fruit but is also the herald of winter – how is this shown in nature and reflected in our lives? 



Write about your favourite chair. Why is it your favourite chair? Are memories attached to it? What is the view from there? Who sat in it? Is it yours? 



Think about the masks we all wear. This could be thought of as sinister (as has appeared in many stories already). Consider instead all the masks people may wear unwillingly, masks that we think are our real selves maybe , or the ones that hide a far more beautiful face behind them perhaps, or take a good look at the ones you wear in daily life and peel them off stanza by stanza in a poem 


 The Ways of Making Love

Write a list and think of the less obvious ways – turn this into a poem 


Write a detailed descriptive prose paragraph about something you observe …

this might be something as simple as a description of the things on your desk or as complex as the way you observe your best friends actions – then remove all unnecessary words and put it into metered lines


Have an imaginary conversation with Time ~ could be an argument or in appreciation

write down everything that comes to your mind in ten minutes – then make a poem out of those thoughts 


Where do you keep your love? is it safe there? 

write a poem that answers this question 


Words from Facebook or Twitter feeds – write a ‘found poem’

Take short lines at random – arrange them into a poem 


Five word prompt – write a 10 line poem – use these five words at the start or end of alternate lines 

home, fortune, galaxy, optimism, suspense



Choose one colour and write down everything you associate with it – include memories, where it occurs in nature, some object you recall in that colour, think about the sound of the word too, if you could smell it or taste it what might that be like? What colour is Spring? 



If you had total control over your dreams what would you dream tonight? Write it down fast as it pops into your head and then distill it into a short poem 


A Letter

Write a letter to the world as if you will die tomorrow – then take some lines from the letter and turn it into a poem 


Keep it short

Write a poem on the subject of money – short enough to Tweet the whole poem (that’s 140 characters) 


Pick a flower

any flower – describe it in detail from bud to death,  put it in a location and think of the associations you have or recall having with it 


If only

Write a poem where every second line ends with  – ‘if only we could’ or ‘if only we would’ 

or a story that starts with ‘if only i had turned the next corner’



Write about a nocturnal visit – are you the visitor or did you have one? was it a lover, the police, a bat, an owl, a robber, a scurrying field mouse come in from the cold, and angel? Who did you see and what happened, was it good, bad, revealing? 



A boy put his head inside a lions mouth and came out unscathed – why? how? where? 


Simple question 

What would you do if you had wings? 


Use your dreams 

I think one of the best source for poems are images you are left with from dreams and trying to make more sense of them too can lead to a story 


Write a poem containing these three words ….

tribal, oblivion, name    – and end each stanza with the words ”as it will always be”


One for a New Year

Don’t make resolutions – they are usually promises to yourself you can’t or don’t keep – instead write about all the things you are grateful for in the dying year or good wishes you have for the future world 


Imagine – poem or story 

You are an animal out in the wood at night – what can you see, smell, hear and what is your greatest desire?



Find adverts and articles about Christmas and make a note of words and lines that jump out at you – turn them into a poem 


Write a haiku

Write a haiku using advertising, a cereal box, something in the newspaper wanted ads. or from your iPhone.


Include these three words in a poem 

enemy, grace, discovered


Start a poem with these words repeated at the end of each stanza

His shadow fell across the ice 


Five words to include in a poem – whats the story behind it?

starlight, cat, labyrinth, icicle, peaches


Write a story or poem based on this scenario

you are walking across Regents Park in London at dawn when you suddenly see a Unicorn standing watching you. What do you think?  What will you do? Are there consequences to this meeting? Will anyone ever believe you?


write a poem using the word epiphany


some meaning are as follows ~
A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).

use these three words and include them in a poem or story …….. city, profile, feather

include this phrase in a poem
the gate stands open

use these three words and include them in a poem or story …….. apple, blackbird, mirror


start a poem with this line

the road was not as we thought it would be 


use in a story or poem

the jack of diamonds spilled the cup 







2 thoughts on “Writing Prompts

  1. Pingback: Bear Hugs | Up the lauz river

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