Freewriting Prompts

ThiefEchoIllusionSecretWish
ShadowMirrorDevotionBirthFly
HungerPassion Snakes and LaddersUmbrellaStoryteller
CircusForgivenessWhisperDedication Sleeping
SmokeTreasureSilenceThornPerfume
Hide and SeekAwakeningMiracleCurseLantern

I was introduced to freewriting as a creative writing student at CityLit in London. Given a one word prompt and a five minute time limit, we were asked to write down everything that came to mind. The idea is to keep writing, write down every single thought, even if it has nothing to do with the prompt. The prompt is simply a tool to get your thoughts going. 

In my writers group, we start our sessions with a freewriting prompt and spend anywhere from five to twenty minutes on this exercise. We have adapted the exercise to suit our individual needs:

  • Some follow their stream of consciousness. The resulting scribbles are converted into short stories or applied to their novels-in-progress later on.
  • Some see how the word applies to their current novel-in-progress. Where it does not immediately apply to their novel, they find a way to make it fit.
  • And finally, some prefer to research the word before they start writing. 

In the grid above, I have included thirty of my favourite prompts. These words have been taken from book titles, or by opening a book and selecting a word at random, or by looking around the room and selecting an object.

Pick a word from the grid and have a go at freewriting. Alternatively, use one of the methods outlined below to come up with different prompts. Set yourself a time limit and write away.

Methods to come up with prompts: 

  1. Have a look around the room you are in, what do your eyes land on? Perhaps it is a light switch, or a hat, or a door, or a hair on the ground. Pick one thing you see and use that as your prompt.
  2. Have a look through book titles and choose a word or words that catch your eye. 
  3. You can also use pictures as prompts. I tend to use book covers or an image inside a mythology book as inspiration. 
  4. If you are able to, try using other senses to help with finding prompts. The sound of a bell or a clock chiming can act as a prompt, or the taste of chocolate, the smell of petrol, the feel of snow as it melts in your hand, and so on.
  5. Finally, it is a good idea to revisit a prompt you used a while ago, and see if it sparks something new the second time around. 

I hope you enjoy freewriting!

Here are links to some of my freewriting attempts:

Copyright ©2021 Saraswathi Sukumar. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of all material on this site without express and written permission from the copyright owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Saraswathi Sukumar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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