100 writing prompts for the new year

Writing is a muscle. The more we use it, the more flexible and strong it becomes. Whether you are writing morning pages in which you do two or three pages of thinking on paper or work with a writing prompt, whether you are outlining ideas or setting down emotions, the more you write, the more your writing voice become more confident. And so will your self-confidence.

New Year is a great time to take stock and move forward. Many of us make resolutions, and that’s fine, but don’t make your list an overwhelming guilt-trip listing all the things you think you ‘should’ do.

Resolving to write

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Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Take time instead to think about the things that will excite you, energise you and interest you this year. And if writing is one of those, give it the space and priority it deserves and needs.

As David Allen says:

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

If you are focussing on writing, you will also need a few other things:

  • an environment that supports you, which will involve putting aside distractions
  • the time to write — regular journaling and a regular writing time will compound into results, so carve out that time
  • support for your writing — now is a good time to think about a course, a writing partner, a mentor — make sure you have something that will help you keep on track
  • some basic self nurture. As Greg McKeown says:

If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.

  • and a plan. Break down your writing goals into small steps and track them as you go. As Antoine de Saint Exupéry says:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Resolving to do things we ought to do or things that others expect of us won’t make for lasting goals. The truth is that if you have no intrinsic motivation you’ll give up. On the other hand, if you choose goals that you are so zealous about that you have to do them, then you are setting yourself up for success. Your goals should be your passions and, if they are, then it will no longer be a matter of forcing yourself on by dogged willpower.

If you are going to prioritise your writing in 2019, give it a chance. Set up your environment and your time, be kind to yourself. And find support.

I’d also advise writers to journal daily. It’s a great way to experiment, thought-dump, capture ideas or try out writing prompts. It’s a place to flex your writing muscle and make it strong. So with that in mind — some prompts to start your writing year:

100 prompts

10 for time

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
  1. Every second felt like…
  2. These are the rituals of my morning…
  3. We played ‘What time is it, Mr Wolf?’ and…
  4. It’s always at twilight that…
  5. ‘Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.’ (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  6. Teatime was once
  7. It was a time of…
  8. If time has wings then…
  9. What was most disconcerting was that it alway occurred at the same time, down to the second, and each time…
  10. ‘The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.’ (Leo Tolstoy)

10 for place

  1. This was a place where the stream ran with tears, the grass…
  2. She was in that liminal space, neither…
  3. The road ahead…
  4. ‘No place… Nothing outside you can give you any place… In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.’ (Flannery O’Connor)
  5. Outside the tent something rustled…
  6. The river snaked beside them as…
  7. The whole town seemed empty…
  8. ‘Love makes you see a place differently, just as you hold differently an object that belongs to someone you love’ (Anne Michaels)
  9. The most beautiful place I’ve ever seen was…
  10. How to describe this city? I can only say…

10 for character

  1. Staring at the screen, she knew that what she had refused to acknowledge these past months was now irrefutable…
  2. ‘There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.’ (Jane Austen)
  3. He had thick dark hair and…
  4. Although she’d left, the room told me everything I needed to know about her…
  5. ‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’ (Charlotte Brontë)
  6. These are the ways I thought I knew him…
  7. The person in the mirror is…
  8. ‘It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.’ (Mark Twain)
  9. …but despite the threadbare clothes he wore the most immaculate shoes I’d ever seen…
  10. She would change character, she decided, that was all…

10 for senses

  1. The light was strange, a glow that…
  2. Peering through the half-open door, he could see…
  3. The scent of…
  4. She reached out and touched…
  5. Cold gnawed and the air…
  6. Every muscle ached…
  7. The shrill cry was…
  8. The taste filled me with…
  9. So quiet that…
  10. I could smell the electricity in the air, taste it on the molecules that entered…

10 for weather

  1. The sky was ashes and…
  2. ‘A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.’ (Marcel Proust)
  3. It seemed the spring would never come that year…
  4. After the storm…
  5. ‘Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love -’ (George Eliot)
  6. It had rained for weeks and now…
  7. There are five magical winds that blow through…
  8. A thick fog clung to the earth, shrouding…
  9. ‘Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place n the iron dark of the world.’ (Cormac McCarthy)
  10. It was the hottest summer afternoon….

10 for movement

  1. One step, then the next, that was…
  2. As the dancers whirled in…
  3. ‘I move, therefore I am.’ (Haruki Murakami)
  4. The wings rose first, then…
  5. It seemed as though the bus would never reach…
  6. ‘There comes . . . a longing never to travel again except on foot.’ (Wendell Berry)
  7. The only time I took a sleeper train…
  8. Something moved on the horizon…
  9. ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.’ (Friedrich Nietzsche)
  10. The movement was unlike any other…

10 for memory

  1. ‘I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.’ (Virginia Woolf )
  2. It’s so long ago now…
  3. When he left…
  4. ‘Touch has a memory’ ( John Keats)
  5. It was the winter when…
  6. I don’t remember this myself, but my grandmother told me…
  7. He no longer remembers…
  8. Someone was telling a story and…
  9. ‘…nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.’ (Milan Kundera)
  10. These are the things I’ve forgotten…

10 for emotion

  1. Hubris, he thought, surveying…
  2. The tears didn’t come until…
  3. The questions come at night and then I feel…
  4. She was sitting on a train at the end of an ordinary day when bliss seized her…
  5. ‘Sometimes because I’m sad I do crazy things — like shouting in the shower…’ Michael Rosen, The Sad Book)
  6. Rain pounded the earth. Head down, she walked, feeling..
  7. ‘“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ‘ (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry )
  8. This was the most frightening moment of his life…
  9. He knew he had to say no, but the thought of doing so filled him with…
  10. When I think about my family, I feel…

10 for story

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Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
  1. What was lost was…
  2. Whispers, it was only whispers and shadows, and yet…
  3. It was a Saturday, or maybe a Friday, early evening and…
  4. I knew it was a lie from the beginning, but…
  5. ‘If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.’ (Virginia Woolf)
  6. The day after the funeral…
  7. My parents bedroom was…
  8. There seemed to be no way out…
  9. It started like any other day…
  10. ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’ (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

10 for imagination

  1. It was when the silence fell that…
  2. He could make out only shapes…
  3. ‘Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.’ (Jonathan Swift)
  4. It was the things that went unsaid that…
  5. The cat dreams of…
  6. ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ (Pablo Picasso)
  7. Deep in reverie, I…
  8. Tomorrow will be…
  9. It was no ordinary mirror…
  10. What are you doing here?

Here’s to a year of writing flow and extraordinary creativity.

Call to become your story

Thank you for reading — sign up to my email list and I’ll send you a free PDF on writing and the writing life as well as a fantastic special offer for my new suite of online mini-retreats, Diving Deeply into Your Story. While you’re there, download my free course, Giving yourself time to become a different story.

If you would like to explore becoming your story further, I’ll be launching the first in a series of mini-courses to inspire, encourage and support your writing through the seasons of 2019, Diving Deeply into Your Story, begins at the end of January with a 4-day intensive online journaling retreat: Writing the green blade.

Written by

Editor, author, feminist & part-time nomad. Helping others develop their writing life and practice. Blog @ https://janfortune.com/

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