10,000 hours

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If you’re low on inspiration and ideas yet firmly believe we’re only writers if we’re actually writing, here are some writing prompt exercises from the illustrious Ploughshares to jumpstart your imagination.

Aerogramme also published a piece recently about taking your notebook for a walk. It’s got some interesting exercises, including picking a painting atBook Pages a gallery and imagining the story that’s contained within it or what led to its creation or maybe a reaction it triggered within a character. They suggest taking a camera in addition to your notebook, then finding a way to use what’s in the resulting image in a writing exercise. They also recommend eavesdropping, which is getting harder and harder to do in these days of iPods and earbuds, as a way to build up reliable dialogue.

Writer and writing coach Sarah Selecky – of Story is a State of Mind – also offers a sign-up for a daily writing prompt service from her website. If you find a daily idea too overwhelming, she’s also got a twice-monthly “story dare” challenge, which is a little more manageable!

I’ve personally been on a kick of dreaming up stories and writing for a few minutes using prompts from This American Life titles. “Same Bed, Different Dreams” is a personal favourite!


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