Creative Writing Writing 101 2020-02-07 00:00

7 Best Writing Prompts to Break Your Writer's Block


What do you do when you sit down to write and you find yourself staring at a blank page? You rack your brain but nothing seems to come. Here’s where writing prompts come in.

Writing prompts are great ways to get you brainstorming so you can get back to writing. Our top seven writing prompts are sure to provide you with endless ideas.

  1. 1. Inspired by NYC Midnight
  2. 2. Plot Generators
  3. 3. Story Cards
  4. 4. Tarot Cards
  5. 5. Writer’s Digest Desk Calendar
  6. 6. Autocomplete
  7. 7. Google
  8. Get Inspired

1. Inspired by NYC Midnight

I discovered the NYC Midnight contests in 2019. Entering a contest based on prompts seemed like a cool idea. The way the NYC Midnight contest works is that they provide you with three words. This can be a genre, a character, a thing, a feeling, or a place.

For the two contests I entered in 2019, my prompts were:

  • Chauffeur, drama, and nostalgic
  • Thriller, a ring, and a supermarket

You're welcome to use these for your own story. Visit the NYC Midnight website to view prompts that were given to previous winners and use those too.

Create your own prompts by throwing pieces of paper into a hat that contain job titles, genres, feelings, and things. Any word you feel like writing can become a prompt.

2. Plot Generators

Another handy source for prompts that I recently discovered are plot generators. I had no idea these existed. How they work is you go to the website and you can decide what you'd like to choose. There are generators that will create an entire plot idea for you, or you can enter your own variables. Here are three plot generating sites I enjoy with prompts I created at the site.


Upon arriving at the site, I clicked on the “Famous Film Plots” button on the left-hand side. Then I chose “Fight Club” from the drop-down menu and here is the prompt I got.

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soap maker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

The Writer’s Plot Idea Generator

At this site, you can generate character names, plot twists, locations, and more. I chose “plot idea generator” from the left-hand menu, then the big button that says “generate a compelling plot” and got the following.

A junkie has 24 hours to find money to buy a rundown toy factory. The situation is commenced by escaping through the city drainage system.

Warning: These generators are so fun, they could become distractions. Use at your own risk!

3. Story Cards

Story cards are fun and, as a prompt, work similar to the NYC Midnight idea. The cards contain pictures of people or things that can be combined to form a story. You can draw one card or as many as you like.

I have a set of The Insight Story Cards. A bonus is the set contains a guidebook which explains the symbolism of each card. So if you pull a card and you're still not feeling inspired, you can read the guidebook for more inspiration.

4. Tarot Cards

Tarot cards are used in a similar way to story cards. The great thing about tarot and oracle cards is they often contain beautiful artwork. I like to randomly draw a card and write about the story the artwork is telling.

The key to working with tarot or oracle cards as a writing prompt is finding a deck with artwork that inspires you. If you don't like the artwork, you're likely not going to want to write about it.


5. Writer’s Digest Desk Calendar

Every year, Writer’s Digest puts out a desk calendar. The calendar includes writing tips and quotes from famous authors. Once a week you also get a writing prompt. I saved a few of my favorite prompts from the 2019 calendar. Here they are for your writing enjoyment:

  • You’d never believe me if I told you that I -------, but it’s true, and I can prove it.
  • Your neighbor has taken in an unusual pet, and it does something unpleasant to your house. Confront your neighbor.
  • Only two weeks had passed into the New Year and Tim had already broken his first resolution: Don’t kill anyone. Write this scene.
  • You’re about to enter the restaurant when you happen to glance up at a nearby building—and see something happening through the window.
  • Create a character who has an unusual phobia. Write a scene that causes that character to face his fear.

Thank you for the inspiration, Writer’s Digest.

6. Autocomplete

Have you seen the autocomplete memes circulating on social media lately? Grab your phone and just start typing a text for a fun writing prompt.

Here's where typing the letter “B” led me:

Because of my shoe size I don't think I should.

I love this as a starting point: I don't think I should what? It also feels a little like I might be one of the ugly stepsisters from Cinderella, only I'm nice. How do you think that story would turn out if one of the ugly stepsisters was nice to Cinderella?

This was too funny not to try again. This time I started with the letter “M”.

Mr. Gregory said he doesn’t want to go back and read the book.

Hmm, why not? What’s wrong with the book?

7. Google

Of course, there's always Google. There are many websites for writers dedicated to writing prompts. A search for “best writing prompts” generated this list from Self Publishing School organized by genre.

Type “daily writing prompt” in the search bar and you'll find scores of websites providing daily writing prompts.

Get Inspired

With these seven sources of writing prompts, you'll never run out of ideas when you’re stuck. If you're not feeling inspired by your story cards, try one of the plot generating sites. If you ripped off a page of your desk calendar to find a prompt you're not that excited by, try writing a bunch of random words on scraps of paper and pulling them out of a jar.

I hope you have as much fun discovering new writing prompts as I did researching them. Writer’s block is nothing to worry about when you’ve got these tools at your disposal!

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