Some of my most frustrating moments as a writer are when I’m motivated, but not inspired. Sometimes I’ll go back through stalled drafts, or surf the web for ideas. But you might find that a good old-fashioned writing prompt might be what conjures your muse. Below, I’ve included a working list of writing prompt collections that I’ll continue to update. For now, check these out:
The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing by Monica Wood
- From the publisher’s website: “Offering an incredible spectrum of writing prompts, photos, and advice, The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration provides readers with the same unique and stimulating approach to writing as the first title. A browsable, engaging, and charming book, this follow-up will appeal to readers of the first title, as well as writers discovering Wood’s trademark approach for the first time.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
What If: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays
- From the publisher’s website: “What If? is the first handbook for writers based on the idea that specific exercises are one of the most useful and provocative methods for mastering the art of writing fiction. With more than twenty-five years of experience teaching creative writing between them, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter offer more than seventy-five exercises for both beginners and more experienced writers. These exercises are designed to develop and refine two basic skills: writing like a writer and, just as important, thinking like a writer. They deal with such topics as discovering where to start and end a story; learning when to use dialogue and when to use indirect discourse; transforming real events into fiction; and finding language that both sings and communicates precisely. What If? will be an essential addition to every writer’s library, a welcome and much-used companion, a book that gracefully borrows a whisper from the muse.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach by Bobin Behn & Chase Twitchell
- From the publisher’s website: “A distinctive collection of more than 90 effective poetry-writing exercises combined with corresponding essays to inspire writers of all levels.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
The Writer’s Idea Book: How to Develop Great Ideas for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Screenplays by Jack Heffron
- From the publisher’s website: “It’s a question that plagues every writer. And once you’ve got an idea, what then? Ideas without a plan, without a purpose, are no more than pleasant thoughts. So how do you come up with those ideas, and how do you turn them into writing that will engage your reader? The Writer’s Idea Book is here to help you find the answers. Utilizing more than 400 prompts and exercises, you’ll generate intriguing ideas and plumb their possibilities to turn them into something amazing.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction by Fresh Boiled Peanuts
- From the publisher’s website: “Go ahead. Play with matches. Not the usual advice, is it? But doing so will help you find inspiration, overcome writer’s block, and develop a writing habit–forever. Sounds like a big promise, right? But it’s true. Inside, you’ll discover more than 1,000 writing prompts designed to get your creative fires burning. Consider each prompt a “match” of sorts, capable of starting anything from a tiny blaze (a short story) to a raging inferno (a novel). You’ll also find guidelines for using these matches to boost your creativity in fun, unexpected ways, along with dozens of inspirational quotes from some of the world’s greatest writers. So open the book. Pick a match. Starting a fire has never been so easy.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
1200 Creative Writing Prompts by Melissa Donovan
- From the publisher’s website: “If you’re looking for writing ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Perfect for writers who are feeling uninspired or who simply want to tackle a new writing challenge, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts has something for everyone. Whether you write fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, you’ll find plenty of fresh ideas inside this book. The fiction prompts cover a range of genres, including literary, mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, horror, romance, historical, humor, satire, children’s and young adult. Poetry prompts offer poem starters, subject matter, word lists, and imagery. The creative nonfiction prompts will inspire journal sessions as well as ideas for writing memoir pieces, personal essays, and a bunch of prompts to help you explore your own writing goals and practices. This book doesn’t come with rules. Use a fiction prompt to inspire a personal essay. Use a creative nonfiction prompt to inspire a poem. Combine prompts to come up with interesting and unique story ideas. As long as you engage your imagination and have fun, it’s all good!” Read reviews on Goodreads.
642 Tiny Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto
- From the publisher’s website: “The next installment in the bestselling series presents 642 writing prompts in an irresistible new format. Delightful and thought-provoking, this book is perfect for stumped writers, journalers, or any creative type needing a tiny flash of inspiration.” Read reviews on Goodreads.
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