Inspirational Writing Prompts: 7 Inspirational Ideas to Spark Your Creative Writing

by David Safford | 20 comments

It goes without saying that the pandemic brought hard times for most people. At times, you might have felt heavy. And other times, you might have looked for a lift—and turned to writing to create these bright moments. Because of this, you might be interested in some inspirational writing prompts to spark your creative ideas.

Inspirational writing prompts

Here at The Write Practice, we want to support your writing craft and journey. One way we do this is by providing writing challenges to help you practice writing alongside our supportive community.

7 Creative Writing Prompts to Spark a New Story

If you've ever sat staring at a blank page, hoping an idea will appear, you're not alone. A lot of writers wonder what to write about each day. They're itching to put their fingers to the keyboard, eager to snag an idea that really motivates their creative thinking and writing—but nothing is coming to mind. Yet.

Here are seven inspirational ideas to fuel your creativity as you tackle each 1,000 words of the challenge! What kinds of stories will these writing prompts lead you to tell?

Take a look at our list and consider how to write a short story, or the beginning of a scene, inspired by this list of seven inspirational writing prompts. Don't hold back if one of these ideas really takes you somewhere. Make a list of notes and plot out a story—or if you're a pantser, write beyond the 1,000 words and see where you end up.

Whatever kind of writer you are, having a writing prompt that acts as a launchpad to a bigger story is a great tool to store in your writer's toolbox. Circulate back to these prompts on different days, and I bet you'll come up with different answers for each one.

You're only limited by your creative mindset, and I'm so excited for you to use them for what could end up being the motivation for a 90,000 word manuscript.

1. Tell a “True” Story

The truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. Changing names and events as necessary, tell a true story from your own life and childhood about characters other than yourself. As an example, I’m currently workshopping a story from my hometown where a disgruntled employee blew up a gas station.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What crazy character from your own life is empathetic, at least in his/her goals or desires?
  • What happened before-and-after a memorable childhood event? How can I explore the causes and effects that I didn’t witness?

2. “Travel” to an Extreme

With a quick Wikipedia and Google Map search, you can “visit” the South Pole, Mt. Everest, the mouth of a volcano — darned near anywhere. Set a fifteen-minute timer (so you don’t get too distracted) and do some super quick research, and then start writing!

  • Who visits this place regularly as an employee or family member? For whom is this “normal?”
  • What important object or goal would one pursue here? Why?
  • What unlikely or surprising reason might someone travel to this location? Explore that possibility!

3. Explore an Abandoned Location

The world is filled with once-glorious places that have since been abandoned. These incredible locations easily inspire the imagination, and website Bored Panda shares dozens of hi-resolution shots to fuel your pen!

  • What did ordinary life look like in these places before the end came?
  • What did that fateful day bring when everyone had to, or chose to, leave?
  • What happens to when a team of explorers go there today?

4. Change a Law of Physics

Science fiction and fantasy stories begin with one simple idea: The laws of physics aren’t actually laws.

Inspire yourself by asking, what if gravity, light, chaos, color, or practically anything related to a law of the world, was different? Let your story explore the possibilities!

  • Does everyone experience this, or just one person? Is that your hero?
  • What goals would someone want in this different world?

5. The Past, but From a New Point of View

History is usually agreed upon by most of its students. But what about the men and women who lived these events? What about the people who lost, died, or were pushed to the side, even if they were in the moral right?

Give “historical fiction” a twist of your own with this fun spark to your inspiration!

  • Were any of history's villains empathetic? Whose story would be fun to tell?
  • Who was a witness to a famous historical event, and how was his/her life changed by that event?
  • What common, everyday (boring) goals were our great historical ancestors pursuing that might be surprising?

6. Dialogue Piece

Set yourself comfortably in a busy place with lots of conversation, like a coffee shop, restaurant, or waiting room. Listen specifically for a conversation with some conflict in it. Without being conspicuous, take over the conversation with your pen and explore where it goes and why.

  • Why do people speak with certain speech patterns or habits?
  • What motivates people to curse or use certain terms of endearment?
  • What aren’t your characters talking about, but avoiding or disguising?

NOTE: This is a great starter for folks with “writer’s block.” Don’t let the pressure to be “good enough” stop you from creating! Just have fun and try new things!

7. “What if I Lost It All?”

With this prompt, we force a protagonist to take a risk and lose everything. Then, we have to answer, “what then?”

Take a character from a work-in-progress, or quickly dream one up by giving him/her a goal and a problem. Then, immediately describe that character making a choice to pursue his/her goal, and failing.

  • What physical consequences would arise, and how would your protagonist deal with them?
  • What new goal would the protagonist find, and how would he/she begin pursuing it?
  • What other characters might appear in this moment of total loss?

Get Inspired!

There are so many other ways to get inspired, and these seven inspirational writing prompts barely scratch the surface.

So don’t give up on your commitment to the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge! No matter what, dig deep and find something fun to explore and write about.

You’re worth it. Your passion to write is worth it. And to give that passion the writing habit it deserves, you need to complete the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge like a champ.

Because that’s what this is all about: Building a writing habit.

What inspirational idea helps you write something new? Let us know in the comments! 


All of us find Inspiration in different areas of life. Take fifteen minutes to describe something that inspires you, and add it to the Pro Practice Workshop here

Good luck, and happy writing!

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You deserve a great book. That's why David Safford writes adventure stories that you won't be able to put down. Read his latest story at his website. David is a Language Arts teacher, novelist, blogger, hiker, Legend of Zelda fanatic, puzzle-doer, husband, and father of two awesome children.


  1. shanaz hosany

    This was so helpful. Thank you so much! I am going to attempt this – especially to the suggestion of listening attentively to those around in public places. 🙂

    • David H. Safford

      Good luck, Shanaz! I had to do it once for a poetry assignment and found it incredibly different than I expected. People talk FAST. And their conversations don’t always fit neatly into a story. You have to listen and then grab a MOMENT, rather than transcribe the entire thing. Listen for the authentic moment, that true nugget of vulnerability, and let that inspire you. Good luck!

    • shanaz hosany

      I did hear an interesting conversation lately in a coffee shop of somebody talking about a burglary which they fell victim to – then there was a repetitious cycle of them blaming one another. However, I am still yet to hear the perfect conversation which is truly authentic. Thank you so much!

  2. Rod Palgar

    I appreciate it. I am grateful, very useful. Recommended.

    • David H. Safford

      Thanks, Rod! I’m grateful that it’s been useful so far! Happy writing!

  3. Susi

    Thanks, David! I’m always crazy about your articles. If I went to a cafe, all I’d hear would be Spanish cause I’m living in a Spanish country. I could make up what they’re saying, but then, I can do that at home. Some of your suggestions I’ve already used but a couple will really help me bunches, next week!

    • David H. Safford

      I appreciate that, Susi! While you may not understand the Spanish, you may understand the energy or body language! And since Spanish is such an expansive and common language, you could tell part of your story in that language, depending on what you hope to do. Thanks for the comment, and good luck on the 7 Day Challenge!

  4. M.FlynnFollen

    I started to write what inspires me and went a bit longer than 15 mins before i stopped myself. I guess it still does inspire me.

    The candle light flickered and bounced around on the bathroom tiled walls like little streaks of electricity with no conductor. I slowly submerged my shoulders a little deeper in the steaming hot bath and as my lobes met the water I tilted my head back till it touched the edge of the tube and slowly closed my eyes watching the flickers dim through my lashes. I gently inhaled a deep quite breath and my chest rose closer the surface arching my back and held it for a few seconds, I felt the cool air on my breast then carefully, as controlled as i could, let the air out feeling my back lower to the bottom of the tub. I repeated this, the lifting and sinking, the inhale and exhale.

    I found myself barefooted in lush freshly cut green grass over looking a small twisting river over looked by some evergreen picket mountains. Squinting past the warm sun, i saw a white cotton cloud just beginning to crest the peak of a distant mountain, slowly, gently splitting the cloud into two. I stepped forward feeling the blades of grass give resistance before they bent under the weight of my body and continued through the grass to the edge of the river and stepped in the brisk amber water. It was It was moving just fast enough that you had to crouch and lean into the current to not lose your footing. As I got to waist deep i saw vegetal water brought twigs, greens and capsized beetle or two drifting on down steam. I submerged. I came back up hair pasted to my brow and whipped my face then leaned back against the current to let the current flow over the back of my shoulders to the front of my chest and closed my eyes. The sun was just above, mid day and could see the round orange disk on the back of my eyelids.

    • Paul Cormier

      And more???? This is good!!!!!

    • David H. Safford

      Great reflection! Thanks for sharing!

  5. TerriblyTerrific

    Good article. Thank you.

    • David H. Safford

      Thank you! Every time I see your name, I want to say, “But you’re NOT terrible!” 🙂

    • TerriblyTerrific

      Awwwww, thank you!!!

  6. Amy Lloyd

    Anais Nin said, “The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” Similarly, we each perceive information differently. Three people can all say the same thing and the message will be perceived three different ways by every reader. I write to offer my perspective and hopefully a fresh one that may aid in understanding that may have been elusive before. I write about topics I feel passionately about and that I feel are currently relevant. Perhaps an ultimate goal is to inspire action on the part of the reader for something they are passionate about.

    What is something you feel passionate about? How can you write about it in a new or varied perspective? What call to action can you include, however subtly?

    • David H. Safford

      I’m passionate about justice – about people learning to love those who live differently from them. This doesn’t translate well into story. It really has to be boiled down to its essence – a person with a passion – clashing with other persons with very different passions, and them learning to appreciate the other somehow. It’ll take me a lifetime to master this alone!

  7. Melody Martin

    I am working on my third fictional novel. I use real places where I lived, characters I knew places I have been to. The names have been changed but the people are of the same nature as they were in real life. I inject my self and personality into the main character. Although the people in the story may be real the events are purely fictional. A short quip from my last publication;

    I gave Karl a call and asked if he was busy
    today. Karl runs a small electronics shop and fixes Televisions and other
    electronics. He said nope just my normal busy day. Sarcasm always from Karl and
    he was good at it too. I drove over to his house just off Frankfort in
    Carrollton. I walked into the shop and he was like heads first into a TV. He
    saw me and said, here comes the pest, and then he walked over and gave me a hug.
    If Karl was not married I would be thinking something else. What do you need
    Melody? I said well I am on a delicate case and I need a long distance
    listening device…………

  8. Marsha McCroden

    I did take a story from my life. It’s from a cat’s perspective.

    Word Count 965


    Houdini loved his humans. They’d taken him in, fed him, loved him, But he didn’t think “Who was that masked cat?” was particularly cute. At least he was an only cat, not like those cats upstairs. Four in half a house! He’d almost been number five.

    He vaguely remembered his first pet parents. He’d been shown at cat shows and racked up the ribbons and medals. There was even talk of his retiring a Grand Champion. But then there was that train – he’d been put in the baggage compartment. According to the rules you couldn’t stay in your Mom’s cabin – you had to stay in the baggage compartment. They let you out to feed you – when they let people out for a smoke break. The luggage compartment was right next to the door. So he got out to stretch his paws – and the train left without him.

    He’d been on the street almost a year before his people took him in. He heard his Mom say “They probably tell each other there’s a sign on the lawn – ‘Suckers live here’” and he didn’t have the heart to let her know how right she was.

    He’d come over every Sunday. One night She said “Oh, he’s hungry.” and Dad said “We don’t have any cat food.” and She said “But we have your tuna.” Then “Oh, he’s thirsty. Would you get him some milk – not that watery stuff, but the good half and half.” He knew he’d landed in heaven. He’d never leave these people.

    She would try to write and when she threw a crumpled piece of paper onto the floor, hey, new toy.

    One night she was making a special dinner and he smelled raw meat. He wanted some.

    One day a lady looking a lot like his Mom showed up. His Mom was very happy to see this lady. He heard squeals of “Mom!” There wasn’t an extra room, so she wound up on the couch-bed. He jumped up to say hello.

    She was happy to see him, and he stayed.

    Next morning she referred to him as “That gorgeous cat. Where did you find him?” and he puffed up. He hadn’t been called a gorgeous cat for months. His new Mom called him honey, darling and beautiful, but not gorgeous. “We found him on the street. He was staying with the people across the street. On their front porch. They liked him but didn’t want him, and we did. The people upstairs have four cats. And they let the cats out during the day and bring them in at night. Disaster waiting to happen.”

    Sometimes his Dad played with a cat from upstairs, but Houdini let him know how he felt about that. He hissed. Loudly. Mom said “He wants to be an only cat.” and Houdini thanked her by making sure to get in her lap again. She was great at petting, great at grooming – he hadn’t had so much attention since his show cat days.

    Whenever someone asked if she planned to show him, she said no. That she was fine with him being a house kitty and she thought he felt that way too. He did, too. Later he found out that she hadn’t even checked the Lost Pets site; she was afraid she might find something. He understood, and jumped up on her lap to tell her so.

    He loved how his new mom had named him. His new parents had taken him to a doctor, and she was going to wash his ears. His Mom asked how and the doctor had droned on about a cat-safe bag. Later one of the aides brought him out and told his parents that he had the dubious honor of getting out of the cat-safe bag twice. His Mom exclaimed “The kid’s a real escape artist! A real Houdini!” and bing! Just like that, Houdini.

    When his Mom went to visit her Mom’s house she left him with Dad. But when She and Dad made plans to move to her Mom’s house, she took Houdini with her. They went by plane. He was used to it – he’d flown before. He had plenty of Frequent Flyer Miles under another name. But first, Mom got him a collar with his name and a bell, and then a cat carrier.

    Aw, that collar was no fun. Any time he moved it rang. “It’s so you don’t get lost” didn’t make any difference. In one airport She said “No. There’s a live cat in there.” At another airport he tried to charm his way out of the carrier, and she wouldn’t let anyone open the carrier. He turned on the charm again on the plane. The people on the plane were happy to see a cat. And so were the employees on the plane. But She wouldn’t let him out of his carrier. Foiled again!

    Her Mom met her at the airport. Said that her sister was at the house. My ears perked up at that. House?? Oboy! New places to explore! Maybe a house with stairs? Carpet? Couldn’t get that lucky.

    Grandmom – that’s what She said “Houdini, this is your Grandmom” – said “All my grandchildren have four feet”. I didn’t understand that remark then and I still don’t. But when we arrived at the house I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is a cat’s paradise. Stairs. Attic. Basement. Carpet. More than one floor. Then I heard the meow from inside. Oh no. Not another cat.

    Sister is a cat lover. But she brought a black cat with her – a female. Not that I have anything against black cats. Some of my best friends are black or gray cats. But I want to be an only cat – I don’t want to share.

  9. Andrew Fain

    I have something here similar to “Past, from a different point of view” about a boy and a soldier during World War II. After getting caught up I kind of doubled the 1,000 word thing, at 2113, but here it is. I called it “Deaf”

    The kid holds his guitar, the sweet last note hanging in the air, bouncing around his small room. He closes his eyes and thinks. Kid may not be the right word though, as he is a month from eighteen. But that’s what he’s referred to at home, and around the town. Kid.
    He sets it down on his bed and stands up, then looks down on it. It’s wooden look and feel, so smooth from use and strings pulled perfectly in tune, no longer sharp to bite into his calloused fingers as they once did.
    He looks at the posters along his wall, men standing in uniform, standing tall. All saluting. Every one of them a loyalist to their country and, as seen in the picture, willing to die for their country. He believes he would be like them, one day joining them. But he’s not eighteen yet. Not yet. He can almost taste it.
    He thinks of his brother, a man now. Was sent out to fight a year prior. The letters had stopped coming two months prior. But hope still holds in him and his mother, as no men in their best suits have knocked on their door yet.
    He stops as he hears a faint knocking downstairs. He groans inwardly and can’t decide if he wants to grin at the irony of it or not.
    He grabs the door to his room and follows the stairs as they lead into his living room. His mother had just opened the door and two men stand outside. Both with plain faces. Both wearing suits.
    “Ma’am,” The man says. But then the screaming started. The kid recognizes the screaming, recognizes it for the split second before he hits unconsciousness. But for that split second, he recognizes it and places it. Not a person scream, no deep throat, not an animal, as it’s much shorter. More of a falling bomb scream. The shrill and, if you knew it was not soon to land on your head, sweet sound of it falling before impact on the ground.

    He wakes up, hearing lost, sight lost, and all feeling in his body with them. He tries to move his arms, legs, eyes, anything. But all that meets him is pain and agony. He doesn’t know how long he tries, or how many times he passed out while trying, if at all. For there is no way to tell the passage of time, as he cannot see or hear.

    He awakes to a dull ringing. In his room. He sits up, his eyes taking everything in. They burn. They burn like he just woke up. No more, nothing worse. He shrugs as if to test if it were all a dream. It was too real for a dream. He sees nothing out of place, suggesting it was. He gets to his feet and tries to find something that would tell him if it were real or not, but everything he sees now and saw then only suggests reality. He turns to his bed where his guitar should have been. He shrugs at his stupidity. If it were a dream it would not be on his bed, as he remembers it.
    He sees it leaning against his dresser, an odd spot. He’s never put it there, but instead leaned it up against the foot of his bed. He leaves it as it is and rubs his head, an odd headache creeping in. As if he hadn’t had enough sleep.
    He stumbles sleepily to his window to look out at his neighborhood, to take in the familiar trees and open fields, the paved road and the people milling about with nothing to do. To find rubble.
    Everywhere he looks there lies black chars of wood, brick, metal, and occasionally, a body. He steps back, tripping on his sheets and tumbling onto the bed, before hitting the wood flooring.

    He wakes up in the very position he passed out in. He carefully pushes himself up into a sitting position and looks out his window again, but as his angle only capable of seeing the blue sky. Such a faultless blue sky. The view from yesterday still clear in his head, he starts to cry. Burning tears rolling slowly down his cheeks as everything registers. Slowly. He cries until the sky changes from its deep light blue to clear black night.

    He gets shakily to his feet and creeps to his door. It stands closed. He opens it and peeks down the stairway. Unchanged. He moves down them silently, just as he had moving to the door itself.
    He turns around the railing to his left and sees the remains of the front of his house. A gaping hole in its place. For a moment he questions how his house is still standing after such a hit. His body and mind go numb as he spots three heaps of cloth. Instead of checking them, instead of calling someone, instead of passing out for a change, he walks. He walks past the piles, past the outer walls of what was his house, and then past the paved streets he had played along all his life. Walked until he is in a grassy field. A grassy field that goes on for a quarter of a mile, before it is split by trees, and then moves onto another field. He doesn’t question who’s it was once. Instead, he walks through it all, everything too numb to think.
    “Stop!” Someone screams behind him. “Stop!” He yells again as the boy keeps walking into oblivion. The man rushes out to him, yelling all along the way.
    “Stop!” The boy continues on, not hearing him. His body numb and his senses lost. He looks to his pocket. A bulge lies there. An interesting bulge. His pocket is heavy. This all filters through his head slowly, like it is swimming though a thick soup to get to him. He pulls it out.
    He gapes at the pistol that sits comfortably in his hands. Of course his father had taught him how to use one, then his brother once more before he left. Then again by his mother. He doesn’t recall grabbing it, and why it was the one thing he chose, as opposed to food or water, or his guitar.
    “Stop!” The man yells once more. Sprinting to catch up, his rifle held loosely in his left hand.
    The boy looks at its sleek blackness and vaguely wonders if it’s loaded. As it is pretty useless when there is no ammo.
    The man stops, spotting the weapon, and brings the rifle to his shoulder.
    “Put the gun down!” He yells. The boy comes to the feeling that he had stopped. He was no longer walking. Such an odd thought to have, to realize you have stopped.
    He looks at the soft dirt beneath his feet, the even softer grass as it sways softly in the wind. He doesn’t have any shoes on. Another thing he should have grabbed as opposed to the gun. A gun is not practical. Even in a war. Especially in a war.
    “Come on kid, put the gun down.” The man says, taking a slow step forward. The boy moves his toes, shuffles the dirt over them, and they cool his foot. He realizes it’s hot outside. It’s a hot day. The warmth on his skin is great. Reminds him of when he used to ride his bike around, around with his friends. Hot and cold days alike. Though the cold dirt never felt as great as this.
    “Kid, drop the gun. Now.” The man says slowly, taking another careful step.
    The boy notices the gun again. The metal is cold. Cold and sleek. And deadly. Maybe that’s why he grabbed it. Because for his next action he doesn’t need shoes, or food, or water. He only needs a gun. A gun and ammo. And a nice view.
    The boy lifts his arm slightly, testing the weight of it. It should be heavy enough to hold ammo. His brain too numb to remember how to check if it were loaded or not. Weight will do for now.
    “Don’t,” The man says, taking a step back, his rifle pressed hard against his shoulder. His teeth are clenched and his eyes looking through the iron sight, the barrel of it pointing squarely at the boy’s back. A droplet of sweat runs down his brow and momentarily blurs his view. He doesn’t risk wiping it away for fear of the still armed young man in front of him. A muscular young man.
    The boy lifts the gun farther, oblivious to the man behind him. Stuck in his own thoughts and unsure actions. His body seems to be making decisions and leaving his brain out of the loop. But he can see where it is going anyways, and doesn’t intend to stop it. At least, he thinks so.
    “Kid, I can only give you one more chance, I don’t want to do this. Put the gun down.” The boy raises it to arm level before stopping. Without lowering it he turns around, wanting one last view of his town. The town he grew up in and treated him greatly with kindness and a memory that every hometown should have. Even if he must see it through charred remains and destroyed rubble. Every town should have a last look by someone who had loved it and grew up in it, just as a man deserves a last wish. And while the boy is still just that, a boy, he is no less worthy of the wish. It’s then that he sees the man.
    The boy registers slowly the sight of the man, his face moving just as slowly into surprise as the sight. The man standing there, a rifle pointing at his chest, sweat running down his head and through his clothes. The rifle in fair care and obviously used constantly. The man is still in civilian clothing, yet sports an officers cap and a military grade weapon. The holster of his sidearm holding another military grade weapon, paired with a military grade knife. The man was definitely a soldier. A scared soldier. A soldier scared of a muscular boy. A soldier scared of a muscular boy with a gun.
    The boy sees the lips of the man yelling one last warning shout. His body posture unsure of its next move. The boy also sees the hammer of the rifle slam down, and the smoke rise from the barrel. Then feels himself slowly doubling over as pain explodes in his gut. But he comes to a strange realization, through all of the pain and confusion, that he hears a dull ringing somewhere in the background. A dull ringing he could not hear a second ago.
    The boy looks at the sky, the same blue sky he had seen the day before. Or, at least he thinks it was the day before. The pain flowering. He doesn’t know what happened to his pistol. Dropped it probably. The ground is still soft, the dirt cool on such a nice day. The grass still swaying slightly, but with a rustle. A rustle. A rustle? He thinks for a second, the ringing still there, yet, behind that, there is a swaying, the swatting and ticking of branches hitting branches, and grass rustling against grass. And stomping and swearing of the soldier. The boy thinks it suddenly odd that he can suddenly hear, and why he could not earlier. But finds it pleasant. He focuses on it instead of the pain enveloping from his gut…
    The soldier drops his rifle and lifts the boy’s head. He cradles it carefully, tears running slow and hot down his cheeks. The boy was just that, a boy. Young and once full of life. He was also armed and pointing it at the soldier. A split second decision and it was his life or the boy’s. He had a country to protect.
    The soldier cradles the boy’s head slowly, thinking of his own son, back home. On his side of the war. His own family. They would be about the same age. In fact, after seeing his room, and his guitar, the two probably would have gotten along. Maybe.
    The soldier sits there for hours, before he realizes he can’t see his hand in front of his face, and his eyes are stuffy and red. He gets to his feet. He looks at the boy’s corpse. One last tear drops slowly off his chin and onto the boy’s palm. He picks up his rifle and heads back to camp.

  10. RAW

    All good ideas Dave! (Keep em coming!)



  1. Writing Links Round Up 3/12-3/17 – B. Shaun Smith - […] Writing Prompts: 7 Inspirational Ideas to Spark Your Creative Writing […]

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