“If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist.”
—Seth Godin

5 Out-of-the-Box Writing Prompt Sources

No matter who you are, no matter what kind of writing you do, or how long you’ve been doing it, writer’s block is going to occasionally strike. There’s no reason to kick yourself over it. Sometimes you just get stuck. It’s an inevitable part of the creative process.

Fortunately, you don’t have to just sit there and take it—there’s ways to take matters into your own hands and give your creativity a jumpstart. Yes, I’m talking about writing prompts.

 5 Out-of-the-Box Writing Prompt Sources

In these modern days of the Internets, prompts go well beyond the standard idea teaser written out on a page—your writing prompt options range from turning to your favorite author blog to stimulating visuals on Pinterest.

5 Unusual Writing Prompts Sources

Here are five of the more unusual writing prompt sources I’ve discovered and loved from across the Internet:

1. PS Literary Pinterest Board

This respected literary agency offers a kind public service to authors with its Writing Prompts Pinterest Board. The board offers an engaging mix of story setups, quotes, and visuals sure to get your creative juices stirring.

2. Writer Igniter

This nifty tool lets you shuffle a digital deck of characters, situations, props, and settings to get an eclectic mix of story elements that will demand your creativity to tie together.

And if you complete a story on the theme of “origins” using Writer Igniter by August 31, you can submit to be in the upcoming anthology.

(Full disclosure: I write for DIYMFA, the blog that created Writer Igniter.)

3. #writingprompt

If you’re looking for something more open-ended, log into Twitter and search for the hashtag #writingprompt.

There are tons of writers just like you out there sharing their own style of 140-character prompts all the time. Just browse the feed until you catch that spark.

4. Terribleminds

If you prefer your writing prompts with an excess of attitude, check out author Chuck Wendig’s blog for his Flash Fiction Challenges.

He offers a broad mix of creative challenges to get your next story rolling with ample heapings of his trademark quirk.

5. The Write Practice

At The Write Practice, we think writing prompts are a great way to deliberately practice your writing, and that’s why we include a writing prompt at the end of every post. You can see our 100 best writing practice lessons and exercises here.

Many Ways to Spark You Story with Writing Prompts

All writers face occasional writers’ block. But with so many different options out there, there’s no reason to let the absence of a muse hold you back.

The best way to find what works for you is to give them a try!

What writing prompts do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Naturally, I want you to hop to it and try one of these prompts! Choose one that sounds the most unlike the prompts you’re used to and see where it takes you.

Share your responses to one of these unusual writing prompts in the comments! And if you post your practice, please make sure to give feedback to other writers.

Happy writing!

About Emily Wenstrom

By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.

  • Allyson Vondran

    Using the writer igniter

    The sound of silence caused the assassin to lose his nerve. Torches lined the massive walls, wooden benches filled the hall in neat rows. Mage could feel the cool air through his uniform. Silver eyes scanning the room for his prey as well as any form of a threat. Deeming the main hall safe he moved down the hall, eyes landing on a broken mirror at the end of the hall.

    Mage took a step back eyes wide with shock. The glass was cracked like a spider web causing his image to look broken. His pale white hair fell delicately around his face, eyes hidden by his hood. He could feel his heart beating against his rib cage as he took a ragged breath.

    Glancing around, Mage took a step back. Memories of his childhood caused tears to swell in his eyes. Clenching his left fist he could feel his nails slicing through his skin. With his right hand he grabbed his katana from his back.

    The assassin hadn’t always been so desolate or bitter but the Temple of Hasuna seemed to bring out the worst in people. His father had been an abusive man, something Mage had always blamed on the temple. The men that Mage had once known fell from their pedestals as he learned their true nature.

    A loud crashing noise brought mage to his senses as he noticed a man standing where the mirror had once stood.

    “Son, you’re home at last.”

    Mage twirled his sword clasping both hands on the hilt.

    “Son why are you glaring at me with such hate? Boy I am your father, treat me as such.”

    “Father? I see no father.”

    Mage let out a heartless chuckle as he took his stance, sword pointed directly at the mans heart.

    “Son.”

    “I see a broken man who let his rage kill his wife. A man who beat his own son for the sake of a fairy tale.”

    Mage let his hood fall, revealing what he had become. The marks that were carved into his skin being something that even the most powerful man feared.

    “No, it can’t be.”

    “I’ve been blessed father and not by your silly gods.”

    Mage spoke his words leaving his lips as hardly a whisper. The deadly glint in his eyes causing his father to tremble.

    “In Nyx’s name I vanquish thee.” Mage spoke before driving his sword into his fathers wretched heart .

    • Allyson Vondran

      I think I may have gotten carried away……

      • IMO, carried away is the way to go with early drafts. Always room to go back and polish later.

        • Allyson Vondran

          True! I really did enjoy writing this part though!

    • Christine

      You really did go at it; the creative juices were flowing. This sounds like the second last chapter in a book. We need the other chapters now to fill us in.

      The only edit I’ll offer is with the sentence: His pale white hair fell delicately around his face, eyes hidden by his hood. Omit PALE. If his hair was white it was more than pale. And if his eyes were hidden by his hood, how would you see his hair? It must have been long & hanging down.

      “His nails slicing through his skin” sounds a bit melodramatic—unless he had razor-sharp talons. “Cutting into his skin/hand” I could believe.

      • Allyson Vondran

        Thank you Christine! I have a habit of making things seem overly dramatic so thank you for the edits. i will certainly keep them in mind when I write!

  • Christine

    Thanks for the great tips. I checked out various possibilities at Terribleminds, then went to Writer Igniter and got lost spinning those wheels. Wow — that’s LaLa Land for a writer! Oodles of ideas. I started constructing my story based on the prompts: Pawn shop owner; professes a secret love; last will and testament; river rapids.

    But of course it has morphed into a tale of several teen girls going to a pawn shop, where they find an antique watch with a puzzling inscription on the back. Puzzling because the one girl thinks it looks like one her great-grandma had years ago, and one of the names might well be hers, but who is the sweetheart who gave it to her? This must be investigated!

    And this tale is going to take a lot longer than fifteen minutes, but I thought I’d let you know what you’ve got me started on. 🙂 I know the plot’s not a new one, but so what?

    (Note to self: You’re too curious. Avoid writing prompt sources or you’ll be there all day!)

    • Haha, yes, it can be tempting to get lost in the prompts themselves. Glad they got you inspired though! Happy writing 🙂

  • Zoe Beech

    The light flickered tonight because of the rain and all he saw was hazy shadows walking past. Jose snapped his windscreen wipers on harder. Still, the fast gasp of water off his screen didn’t help him see anything.

    If he couldn’t see them, Jose thought as he reached for a beer underneath the seat, then they couldn’t see him either. He loved the sound of the lid opening, the feel of the bottle between his hands. Beer never tasted as good as when he was on duty.

    He switched the car off and slid his chair backwards. May as well, he thought. The windscreen was now all water dancing off his car and he didn’t scan for potential clients walking past. It was peaceful, really. The sound of the rain, and him sitting there all alone with his beer while the night outside pushed past him.

    Perhaps that was why he didn’t notice at first the rapping at his window. Oh shit, he thought, as he threw the beer under his seat and heard it glugging onto the floor. He opened his window, expecting somebody with an uptown accent wanting to go downtown, in less than five minutes. But the figure in front of him didn’t utter a word as the rain fell off her sleeves and into his car. She thrust a letter into his hand and smiled at him with a face that was unaccustomed to smiling.

    ‘It’s going to be OK,’ she said.

    ‘Excuse me?’ She turned away. ‘Look ma’am, where you wanna go? I can go there, I’m on my way.’

    But he was talking to her back, she was gone. He rolled his window up, shaking his head as he looked at the letter. You didn’t get this here. If he was in the Village, that’s another story but not off Madison. Next time he just will tell Dom that he’s not working nights. Too many crazies.

    He looked at the letter. It had been folded into a tiny tight square. She was making a fool of him.
    When he saw the words he threw the letter on the floor, right onto the sopping beer.

    The font was squalid, arrogantly written like whoever wrote it wanted to scorn him. ‘Jose, your son. He’s on the edge of demon ground and you can’t get him out. But maybe Matilda just might.’

    Who the fuck was Matilda and how could she possibly deliver his twelve year old from those seizures?

    • This is a great start, thanks for sharing! What prompt did you use?

      • Zoe Beech

        I used writer igniter. Meant to say thank you for these resources – great tools. .. I haven’t written in who knows how long, so I’m very grateful for your prompt!!

  • These are terrific! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • With Writer Igniter:
      Joseph Pilgreen was not considered an especially gifted photographer, but sometimes, if left to his own devices, he could create something unique and interesting. He gleaned his meager sustenance from disability payments and an occasional portrait, and he spent his days wandering the streets of the small seaside town where he’d grown up. Sometimes he’d sit, for days, on the edge of a seaside cliff, his filthy shirt half unbuttoned, and gaze at the sea, camera at the ready.

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  • LZ

    my favorite kind of prompt is to find a trope (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Plots) either plot or character and flip some aspect of it, either gender, with its attendant shifts in male/female perspective, or plot (change the catalyst or the twist to another choice) or mashup two tropes into one. Then I’m usually off and writing.

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  • Prompt: If I call you darling, will you make me pancakes?

    “If I call you darling, will you make me pancakes?”

    “Hon, you can call me whatever want but it’s two in the morning and breakfast doesn’t start until six.”

    “What if I call you sweetie?”

    “Still not going to happen.”

    “Do you have some batter in the fridge? Maybe you could just throw it in the microwave, see what happens… make a cup-pancake. A pancupcake….”

    “Still no. I’ll get you some coffee though. Sounds like you need it.”

    “Pancakes are non-negotiable then, are they?”

    “They are.”

    “What if you poured some waffle batter into a pan and made me flat, cake-looking waffles?”

    “No waffles until six either, hon.”

    “So I’d have to sit here for another four hours to get pancakes eh?”

    “I’m afraid so.”

    “Hm… going to be a long night then.”

    “You’re planning to sit here all night just to wait for some pancakes? Why do you want them so badly anyway?”

    “The pancakes aren’t important, they’re just a good topic. Everybody likes pancakes.”

    “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

    “It’s two in the morning and I’m sitting by myself in a diner instead of sleeping in a bed. That’s not what normal people do in the middle of the night. I just wanted to talk to someone for a while, feel like I had a friend.”

    “I see…. You know what? Sit tight for a minute, I’m going to get myself a cup. We’ll have pancakes together in about four hours. Sound good?”

    “Sounds great. Thank you. And if I call you dearest, can you shape them like dinosaurs?”

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