50 Quick Writing Prompts for Journals, Blogs, Fiction, and Essays

Typing on a keyboard.
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Are you stuck for something to write about? Maybe you're scratching your head trying to come up with a fresh idea for a personal essay—a narrative or an extended description. Or perhaps you're in the habit of keeping a journal or a blog, but today, for some reason, you can't think of a blessed thing to say. Maybe you need an exercise to start a short story or need to do some prewriting for plot or character development for a longer fiction piece.

Here's something that may help: a list of 50 brief writing prompts. The items on the list are not full-blown essay topics, just hints, snippets, cues, and clues to prod your memory, kick writer's block, and get you started.

Take a minute or two to look over the list. Then pick one prompt that brings to mind a particular image, experience, or idea. Start writing (or freewriting) and see where it takes you. If after a few minutes you hit a dead end, don't panic: Simply return to the list, pick another prompt, and try again. Inspiration can truly come from anywhere. It's just a matter of freeing your mind from distraction and letting your imagination lead you where it may. When you discover something that intrigues or surprises you, that's the idea to develop further. 

  1. Everyone else was laughing.
  2. On the other side of that door
  3. Late again
  4. What I've always wanted
  5. A sound I'd never heard before
  6. What if...
  7. The last time I saw him
  8. At that moment I should have left.
  9. Just a brief encounter
  10. I knew how it felt to be an outsider.
  11. Hidden away in the back of a drawer
  12. What I should have said
  13. Waking up in a strange room
  14. There were signs of trouble.
  15. Keeping a secret
  16. All I have left is this photo.
  17. It wasn't really stealing.
  18. A place I pass by every day
  19. Nobody can explain what happened next.
  20. Staring at my reflection
  21. I should have lied.
  22. Then the lights went out.
  23. Some might say it's a weakness.
  24. Not again!
  25. Where I'd go to hide out from everyone
  26. But that's not my real name.
  27. Her side of the story
  28. Nobody believed us.
  29. It was time to change schools again.
  30. We climbed to the top.
  31. The one thing I'll never forget
  32. Follow these rules, and we'll get along fine.
  33. It may not be worth anything.
  34. Never again
  35. On the other side of the street
  36. My father used to tell me
  37. When nobody was looking
  38. If I could do it over again
  39. Of course it was illegal.
  1. It wasn't my idea.
  2. Everyone was staring at me.
  3. It was a stupid thing to say.
  4. Hiding under my bed
  5. If I tell you the truth
  6. My secret collection
  7. Footsteps in the dark
  8. The first cut is the deepest.
  9. Trouble, big trouble
  10. Laughing uncontrollably
  11. It was just a game to them.

Still having trouble coming up with something to write about? Take a look at these 400 Writing Topic Suggestions for Paragraphs, Essays, and Speeches or these 250 Topics for Familiar Essays.