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101+ Free Creative Writing Prompts for Adults

Shaun Connell
June 15, 2023

When you sit down to write, sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. It can be pretty frustrating when you feel like you are flooded with incredible ideas all of the time except for when your staring at a blank page. Sometimes, we can put too much pressure on ourselves to write something perfect. In many instances, the best thing we can do is just sit down and write without being critical of what's ending up on the page, and creative writing prompts can help you do just that.

Solution Using creative writing prompts can help you do just that. They allow you to focus in on one topic, explore new subjects, find inspiration, and approach familiar concepts from a different angle. It can help you tap into lines of thinking you would otherwise struggle to find and allow you to find new mental paths to explore.

If it's time for you to just start writing, pick one of the creative writing prompts for adults on our list and get going. You never know where it will lead you!

Stream of Consciousness Writing Prompts

When we put too much pressure on ourselves, it can be hard to write anything at all. Stream of consciousness writing prompts can allow you to stop being judgmental and just start getting those words onto the page. You'll probably be surprised what emerges!

Writing prompts can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing, but there's another motivator that can be even more powerful-- money. If you're looking to start making money with your writing, head over to our Freelance Writing Jobs board.

1. Explore Your Earliest Childhood Memory: Take a few moments to search through your memory and determine the earliest memory you have from childhood. Let your thoughts flow freely and write without censoring yourself.

2. Set a Timer For 5-10 Minutes: Write without editing yourself or censoring yourself for five to ten minutes. Don't stop at any point, don't cross anything out, and don't worry about grammar or spelling.

3. Meditate With Music: Set aside twenty or thirty minutes to listen to any music of your choosing-- consider picking a genre or artist that you know evokes deep emotions or creates an imaginative world. Pay attention to your body's sensations and emotions rather than fixating on your thoughts. When you finish, take five or ten minutes to engage in stream-of-consciousness writing.

4. Write Down Your Dreams After Waking: When you wake up, immediately write down your dreams while focusing on the vibe and feeling rather than fixating on specific events. Anything that comes to mind-- including potential interpretations or the meaning behind symbols-- should get written down without being censored.

5. Write About a Moment You Felt Truly Alive: Take a minute to recall an experience or moment when you felt invigorated and alive. Capture the thoughts, sensations, and emotions that accompanied that experience without stopping or being concerned with grammar or spelling.

6. Write About a Secret You've Never Told Anyone: This can be an emotional experience, but one that can be highly useful to the creative process. No matter how benign or mundane, write down everything that comes to your mind about the secret, why you've kept it to yourself, what it would mean if you were to share it now, etc.

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Emotion-Based Writing Prompts

If you're hoping to tap into your emotional voice, try some of these emotion-based writing prompts.

7. Write About a Time You Experienced Extreme Emotions: Bring yourself back to one of the more emotional moments of your life and try to write about your experience with depth.

8. Describe a Recent Conversation: Write about a conversation you recently had and try to describe the unspoken emotions that lay under the surface of the words that were spoken.

9. Revisit a Moment of Intense Shock or Surprise: Think about a time when you were deeply shocked or surprised, focusing on the bodily feelings and emotions you experienced.

10. Explore the Feeling of Jealousy: Conceive of a character that is experiencing extreme jealousy and write a character-driven piece that explores the consequences and complexities of this emotion.

11. Focus on Anger: Create a scene that captures the essence of anger, diving into the thoughts, actions, and motivations behind a character's rage and angst.

Place-Based Writing Prompts

Want to travel without leaving your desk? Try out some of these writing prompts based on describing places.

12. Describe a Place You've Never Been: Think of a place that you've always wanted to go to but never had the chance to visit. Describe the place as if you've been there, illustrating a picture of what you imagine it is like.

13. Write About a Place That Is Important to You: Take a few minutes to write about a place that holds significance to you, including the emotions, associations, and memories.

14. Picture Yourself on a Mountaintop: From the top of a mountain, you're looking over a vast valley. Write about what you see in the view as well as the emotions and thoughts that stir inside you when gazing at the landscape.

15. Visit a Bustling Market in a Foreign Country: Describe the exotic smells, vibrant colors, and lively interactions that you experience walking down the streets of a busy market.

abandoned building imaged in creative writing prompts to beat writer's block

16. Envision an Abandoned Building: Explore a decrepit, abandoned building in your mind and describe what you see, the emotions that are brought up from encountering neglected remants of the past, and the atmosphere of the forgotten space.

Historical Writing Prompts

There are more fascinating stories in history than one could enjoy in a lifetime. Using historical writing prompts can help expand your awareness beyond your current time and place, igniting that creative spark.

17. Write a Short Story Set in the Renaissance: Follow the story of a young artist as they struggle to navigate the art world and strive to gain recognition.

18. Write From the Perspective of an ancient Egyptian Scribe: Imagine what their daily life would consist of and how they would view the world.

19. Imagine Yourself as Witness to an Important Historical Event: If there is a particular time period that has always interested you, choose a historical event from that time and place. What emotions would be going through your head as you saw the event unfold in front of your eyes?

20. Put Yourself on the First Transcontinental Railroad: In the form of a letter to a loved-one, write about what you see and how you feel.

21. Put Yourself In the Room Where the Declaration of Independence Was Signed: Write a dialogue between two of the major figures present for the signing and try to capture the excitement, tension, and emotion of this historical moment.

22. Write a Letter as a Soldier During WWII: Compose a letter as if you are a soldier-- would you tell your loved one what's really going on or would you try to shelter them from the truth? Would you spill your soul or would be you short and brief?

Writing Prompts From the Natural World

Going for a walk in nature is always good for the soul and for your creativity, but you can also imagine scenes in the natural world to begin your writing process.

23. Pretend You're a Tree in the Forest: How long have you been there? What kind of tree are you? What have you seen in the decades you've been rooted in one spot?

24. Write a Dialogue Between a Mountain and a River:

25. Imagine Yourself Stranded in the Jungle: How did you get there? How are you going to survive? What perilous situations do you encounter?

26. Write About a Character Lost In the Desert: Describe what's going through their mind, if and how they get out of the situation, and the feeling of hopelessness they experience.

man using creative writing prompts to take walk and write poem

27. Write a Short Story About a Person That Discovers a Secret, Enchanted Garden in the Middle of a City: Describe the contrast between a bustling urban center and a peaceful, dream-like natural space.

28. Take a Walk in the Woods and Write a Poem: Get outside and take a walk on a trail. Find a place to sit down and write a poem about what you see, hear, and experience.

29. Describe the Most Impactful Experience You've Had in Nature: What was the most intense, beautiful, or scary encounter you've ever had with mother nature?

30. An Animal Appears and Changes Your Life: What type of animal is it? What do they do? How do you interact?

Memory-Based Writing Prompts

Your own mind has a wealth of content, ideas, and experiences that you can draw upon. Memory-based writing prompts can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone-- not only are you practicing writing but you're also engaging in self-work.

30. Write About a Favorite Ritual or Holiday Tradition From Your Childhood: Explore the fond memories and significance of this event.

31. Recall the Most Impactful Dream You've Ever Had: What symbolism presented itself? How did you understanding of the dream change over time? Did the dream have an impact on your waking life?

32. Write About a Memorable Trip: Where did you go? How did it change you? What was the visceral experience of adventure like?

33. Reflect on a Moment of Achievement or Personal Triumph: What hurdles did you overcome to get there? What would you do differently, if anything, looking back?

34. Write About a Challenging Moment or Obstacle You've Faced: What lessons did you learn? Was there actually a silver lining? How did it help you grow as a person?

35. Remember What You've Learned About Your Family Member's Past Before You Were Born: Write a story about the childhood of a family member from their perspective.

Future Based Creating Writing Prompts

The future is a realm of endless possibilities. This is great fodder for creativity-- choose one of these future based prompts and watch your mind start ticking.

36. The Year Is 2050-- Where Will You Be?: Picture yourself in the future-- how old will you be? What is the world like? Where do you live? What have you accomplished?

37. Write a Dystopian Short Story: Describe the city you live in, what day-to-day life is like, and what hope there is to overcome the circumstances of your reality.

38. Imagine a World Where Communication Has Radically Changed: Advanced technology transformed the way people communicate-- what does this look like? What are the positive and negative consequences?

39. Write a Post-Apocalyptic Story: Society and civilization as we know it has collapsed. What caused it? How many people are left? What challenges do survivors face?

40. Imagine a Future Where a Utopian Society Emerges: What if everything got better from here? What would society look like?

41. Humans Have Achieved Immortality: How would this impact your city, state, and country? What challenges does this pose?

42. Write a Story Where You Time Travel to the Year 3000: What does the world look like in roughly 1000 years? Are there people still on Earth or did they go elsewhere? What technologies exist and what does daily life look like?

Rewriting Prompts

Viewing a familiar story from a different angle is a great way to open yourself up to new perspectives and concepts. These rewriting prompts allow you to take a story you know like the back of your hand and get creative with it.

43: Rewrite a Well-Known Fairytale: Take the perspective of the antagonist and create a sympathetic backstory that helps explain their motivations.

44. Take a Song or Poem and Rewrite It as a Short Story: Expand the themes and imagery from one of your favorite songs or poems by turning it into a short story.

45. Rewrite One of Your Own Pieces From a Different Character's Perspective: Take one of your own pieces of writing and choose one of the secondary characters. Rewrite the story from their perspective, exploring their thoughts, motivations, and emotions.

46. Rewrite a Famous Speech In a Different Genre: Take the content of a political speech and make it comedic, or a famous comedy routine and make it serious.

47. Rewrite a Famous Historical Event With a Different Outcome: What if the Titanic didn't sink? What if the Allies didn't win WWII? What if Louis and Clark never left for their journey?

48. Rewrite a Pivotal Scene From One of Your Favorite TV Shows or Movies: Transcribe or find the script from one of your favorite shows or movies and rewrite it with a different outcome. How would the characters react? How would this change the whole story?

49: Rewrite a Personal Experience In a Different Time and Place: Take one of your own experiences and imagine that it occurred somewhere else in the world at a vastly different time. What would you think about the experience? How would this change the outcomes?

50.  Rewrite the Ending of a Classic Novel: Take one of your favorite novels and create an alternative ending.

Character-Based Creative Writing Prompts

Creating believable characters is an art in itself-- you have to really dive in to what makes people tick and what drives them. Try out some of these exercises to flex your character building muscle.

51. Write About a Character That's an Outsider: Write about the experience of a person searching for belonging in a place they don't fit in. They might experience isolation, display resilience, and sustain a unique perspective that is at odds with their dominant culture.

52. Write About a Character That's Insatiably Curious: Create a character that will stop at nothing to gain more knowledge and get closer to the truth. Write about the adventure of their life and the challenges they face.

53. Write About a Character That Undergoes a Dramatic Transformation: This can either be an emotional or physical transformation. Describe what served as the catalyst for the change, the obstacles the face, and how they make sense of it all.

54. Write About a Character That's Facing a Life-Altering Decision: Describe the internal conflict of a person that has to make a decision that will inevitably change their life.

55. Write About a Character Who Is Torn Between Two Life Paths: Write about a character that is torn between the culture of their parents and going their own way, incorporating the internal struggle they face and the pros and cons they see in both paths.

56. Write About a Character That Has an Extraordinary Talent: What ability do they have and how does this impact their life? What challenges does this actually present? How does it shape their life and relationships?

57. Write About a Character Facing a Moral Dilemma: Explore the ethical considerations they use to make their decision, the conflicting values they grapple with, and what they ultimately choose to do.

58. Write About a Character That Works in an Unconventional Profession: Think of the oddest job you can imagine and write about what how this would influence a character's interactions with others and their own identity.

59. Write About a Character That Has a Hidden Past: What obstacles does the character face as they try to live a double life? Why are they hiding? How do they conceptualize their own past?

60. Write About a Character That Is a Master of Manipulation: Describe the methods, motivations, and consequences of this character's actions on both their own life and the lives of the people around them.

61. Write About a Character Whose Perspective Challenges Societal Norms: Create a character that has a truly unique worldview that is at odds with their larger culture. Write about how they came to this perspective, whether they struggle to be accepted or keep an arm's length from society, and how they influence other people around them.

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Dialogue-Based Prompts

Working on writing believable and compelling dialogue? Try out some of these prompts and see where they take you.

62. Write a Conversation Between a Mentor and Protege: Explore the guidance and wisdom a mentor gives to their student as well as the dynamics within the relationship.

63. Describe a Heated Argument Between a Married Couple: Where are they? What are the true motivations underneath the argument? How does it end?

64. Create a Dialogue Between Two Strangers Stuck in the Same Place: Are they stuck in an elevator? In an airport? What do they learn from one another?

65. Write a Conversation Between Two Old Friends: Imagine two old friends that haven't seen each other in decades and are finally reconnecting after two vastly different life experiences.

66. Create a Dialogue Between Two People That Have Opposing Ideologies: This is a fun one-- pick two opposing ideologies and try and enter both characters to understand what they would say, why, and how the conversation would unfold.

67. Write a Conversation Between Yourself and One of Your Favorite Historical Figures: Who have you always looked up to? What would you say to them if you could, and what advice would they give you? Would they be critical of you or supportive of you?

68. Describe a Dialogue Between a Patient and a Therapist: Imagine the problems that a patient is describing and the emotions, feelings, and experiences that have brought them there. Put yourself in the shoes of the therapist, too, what's their thought process behind the advice or feedback they give?

69. Create a Dialogue Between Two Historical Figures From Different Times and Places: What would Gandhi say to Napoleon? How about Cleopatra and Joan of Arc?

70. Write a Death-Bed Conversation: What do two people say to each other when one of them is leaving the earthly world? Is it a parent and child, husband and wife, or a nursing home patient and a hospice care worker? Dive deep into the emotions here and the wisdom that a person can pick up throughout a long life.

Image-Based Creative Writing Prompts

Images are also great sources of inspiration for writing. You can either find your own images or use some of our examples here. Study them for as long as you feel is necessary and refer back to them whenever necessary as you write.

71. Look at an Image of a Beach at Sunset: What does it make you feel? What would you do if you were there? Describe the colors, smells, feeling of the air, and sensations you would feel if you found yourself with the sand between your toes.

72. Examine a Painting of a Cityscape: Try and imagine what is going on in each of the buildings and apartments, what the people on the street are busy doing, and how the landscape changes through the day.

73. Study a 19th-Century Photograph: Whether it's a group picture or a portrait of one person, these old photographs can be awesome fodder for your creativity. Who are the people in the picture, and what do their lives consist of? What are they thinking as the photographer takes the picture?

74. Write About an Abstract Work of Art: Use an abstract work of art to tell a story-- begin by jotting down the first words that come to your mind when you look at it and construct a tale using these impressions.

75. Study an Image of a Winding Mountain Trail: Create a character that is walking up the trail. Why are they there? Where are they going? Where are they coming from?

76. Look at an Image of a Moonlit Forest: Picture yourself in the forest at night, guided only by the light of the moon. How did you get there? Are you trying to get out or are you enjoying a peaceful solo camping trip?

77. Find a Picture of a Field of Flowers: Describe the colors, smells, clouds, breeze, and everything else that would impact your sensations if you were standing in the field yourself.

78. Examine an ancient Artwork: Without doing any research, try and imagine what caused someone to make this artwork and the purpose it might have served. Explore the symbolism and write about what you think it expresses.

79. Study a Candid Image of a Solitary Person: Candid photographs can be a great source of inspiration. Who is the person and what drives them? What is their job and what was their childhood like?

80. Examine an Image of a Waterfall in a Forest: You're a child that is seeing a waterfall for the first time. Describe it from this perspective-- what would you think if you've never encountered such a beautiful feature before?

Experiential Writing Prompts

Moving around or even getting out of the house can be an awesome way to stir up inspiration. Here are some ideas to try out.

81. Go to a Public Place: Whether it's a park, a library, city hall, or any other public place, find a place to sit down and just observe.

82. Gather Household Objects: Without thinking too much about it, collect a bunch of small household objects. Sit down and construct a narrative that involves all of them and see where it leads you.

83. Go For a Bike Ride: Go for a ride and bring your notebook with you. Find a peaceful spot or a bustling urban spot to sit and write what you've seen and experienced along the way.

84. Go to a Museum: Bring your notebook to a museum and find a piece of art that strikes you-- sit on a bench and write a poem about it.

85. Go to a Cafe: Write a short story about the other characters in the cafe-- imagine what would happen if there was an earthquake. How would each person respond? Would they panic or band together?

86. Go Somewhere You've Never Been: Pick out a place on the map you've never been to and write about your experience in extreme detail.

87. Get in the Car and Drive: Just start driving. The first place you feel inspired to stop, pull over and write down what you've been thinking along the way.

88. Take the Bus: Even if you have a car, the bus is an awesome way to explore your city in a different way. Write about what you see out the window or imagine the lives of the other passengers.

89. Go to a Body of Water: Maybe even take a swim! Write a poem about the sensation of water on your skin.

90. Go to the Woods: Find a spot in the woods and sit with your notebook. Write about what these woods have seen since the trees were first just seedlings.

91. Take a Walk: Walk around your neighborhood and find a nice place to sit. Write about the bodily sensations you're experiencing, the smell, the sounds, and the scene.

Creative Writing Prompts Based on Inspirational Quotes

There are tons of great quotes out there, but try one of these to get your creative juices flowing! Write a poem, a short story, a song, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

92. "Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans."

- John Lennon

93. "Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

94. "Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

- Thomas A. Edison

95. “Normality is a fine ideal for those who have no imagination.”

- Carl Jung

96. “Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.”

- Dale Carnegie

97. “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

- Mark Twain

98. “The greatest discovery is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”

- William James

99. “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

- Sir Edmund Hillary

100. “Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.”

- Pythagoras

101. “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”

- Blaise Pascal

102. "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles."

- Sun Tzu

Are You Inspired to Make Money Writing?

If this list of writing prompts have you itching to do more writing, you might consider turning it into a career!

If you're searching for well-paying gigs from great clients, make sure you check out our Freelance Writing Jobs board.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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