A poetry friend and I used to send each other prompts, ten at a time. She was a prolific writer and could write poems for all ten of my prompts pretty much in a day. I used to take one or two of them, and it would take me a week. But I have had poems published that were written from those prompts.
But I noticed during that process that it’s so much easier to write prompts for someone else than generate ideas for yourself. I think you just relax and let your mind go for it. So, to prove my point, I’m going to write as many prompts as I can in ten minutes. Feel free to dig in if one of them grabs you!
- Think of someone you know who doesn’t seem to quite fit in. What do you imagine they are thinking?
- Imagine that you wake up in an alternate reality, very close to our own but subtly different. What is the difference? Does it make this reality better or worse?
- Think about a part of your body you don’t usually give a second thought to. Express your admiration for it.
- Think about a path. Where is it going to or from? Who might travel it?
- Imagine you are reading a prophecy. What does it say? Do you want it to come true? Do you not? Why?
- Write a poem about spices. How do their tastes relate to the way you feel?
- Write a poem about something below your feet.
- Which animal do you most feel like today? Describe yourself as that animal.
- Imagine you are hiding. What are you hiding from? Where are you hiding? What will it take for you to come out?
- Think about spinning. Wheels, the earth, your mind. Imagine if the spinning stopped for just a second. What would that second be like?
- Imagine someone is filming a documentary about your life. How would the script sound?
- Write a personification poem in which you are a vehicle. Does the vehicle enjoy what it does? How does it feel when it is still? How does it feel when it is moving?
- Think about a negative emotion you felt recently. Describe it, but only in positive terms..
- Imagine the two most unlikely people who could swap roles. What would happen if they had to?
- Write a poem in which you die but discover that dying is not all it seems.
- Write a poem in praise of your favourite food or drink.
- Describe your favourite sound or sounds.
- Describe your most treasured possession. Why do you love it?
- Imagine you are a creator god. What would be your current assessment of your creation?
- Think about repetition. What would you do again and again and again if you had the chance? Why? How does your body feel doing this? How does your mind feel?
So there you go! Twenty prompts in ten minutes. (Yes, alright, I jotted them down in ten minutes and then typed them up — I’m not superhuman!) OK — back to not having a clue as to what to write about…
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