Regardless of how much you may love or hate writing, starting a new project is always the hardest part. Sometimes all you need is the perfect prompt to spark your inspiration. Creative writing, whether it be for a book or just a quick scene, is a great way to practice your skills, and these prompts are a great starting point for creating your next writing project.
Writing can be easiest when you don’t take it so seriously. Use one of these funny prompts to create a silly scene that makes you laugh.
- Write the emails between a hero and a villain as they try to reschedule their battle due to a scheduling conflict.
- Write a story about a great historical figure learning how to use the internet. What do they find online when they Google themselves?
- Write about a woman who promised her firstborn child to several different witches. Now that a baby is on the way, she has to deal with a custody battle.
- Write a slow-burn love story that is narrated by a very impatient narrator.
- Recall your most embarrassing memory, and write a funny story about it.
- Create an overly dramatic poem about a household item.
Focusing on a conversation as the centerpiece of your writing can be super fun and impactful. Try using one of these dialogue prompts to inspire your next written conversation between characters.
- “I know what you did.”
- “From the day we met, I knew you’d hurt me eventually.”
- “I’ll come back for you, I promise.”
- “I regret a lot of things. Having this conversation tops the list.”
- “What’s going on?”
- “How should I know?”
- “Now, don’t be mad, but…”
- “I know you don’t have any reason to trust me, but… you need to know something.”
- “Tuesday is always the worst day to rob a bank.”
- “A hero would sacrifice you to save the world. I’m not a hero.”
Fantasy writing gives you the opportunity to create new worlds and realities. Use one of these other-worldly prompts to create a compelling tale or fable that sends your readers to another world of your own creation.
- Your family is chosen for a year-long stay at an outpost on a new Earth-like planet, but the people in charge don’t tell you how the atmosphere there will change you.
- An ominous letter arrives — along with one offering magical guardianship for you and the shop you inherited. More worlds than one are at stake.
- Your best friend at college is a highly intuitive rune-caster, and people seek her out. One querent pays her with a magical pendant that changes both your lives.
- The trees surrounding your new home remind you of something — or rather someone. One touch of your hand on a trunk, and you’re face to face with him.
- Thanks to your quick thinking during a crisis at the village market, you’ve been appointed as the bodyguard for the princess. The job proves more difficult than any mission you’ve ever had — but also more rewarding.
Creating a heart wrenching story is a great way to push yourself to the limits of your emotional writing potential. Try out one of these tragic prompts to create a tale that makes your readers feel something from your words.
- You’re a ghost haunting your own funeral.
- Soulmates exist in your universe, and you are meant to meet your one true love when you turn 18, but your birthday was a week ago and your soulmate is nowhere to be found.
- The main character receives a devastating diagnosis and decides to track down and try to reconnect with their estranged daughter and son.
- Write from the perspective of a dog being returned to the shelter by their family.
- You have a wonderful life and a wonderful family. Then you wake up from your coma and learn to accept that none of it was real.
Sometimes it’s hard to get back into the habit of writing for fun, but it’s important to remember that inspiration is everywhere. Even if none of these prompts caught your interest, you can always find ideas in what you see, hear, and read every day. Just remember to keep your mind open for possible jumping off points for your next creation.
Natalie Edwards | 2023
Procrastination is not laziness. It’s a tool our body uses to avoid negative feelings and discomfort. We can address our body’s instinct to evade by equipping ourselves with more tools to get the results we want (and maybe even enjoy it along the way). It’s possible and rewarding to break the avoidance cycle and create work we are able to produce and proud to share.
Often, when we get an assignment, it can feel daunting, and the end result feels far from reach. We think of completing the end goals and not all the little goals we will get to accomplish along the way. Progress happens one keyboard punch and pencil scribble at a time, so don’t try to tackle it all once.
Break down large or long-term projects into actionable steps. By making smaller goals, you’ll be able to appropriately plan and allocate your time, use checkpoints to gauge your progress, and create momentum with each goal you get accomplished. This is a skill that will help whether you are renovating your house, completing a project for a boss, or writing an essay for class. You can visit the Writing Center and develop the skill of breaking down big goals into ones or get started with a class project using the assignment calculator.
Each time you identify a task, try to identify a resource you can utilize, too. Included in your tuition are library research assistants, academic counselors, Student Accessibility and Support Services, STEM tutors, Writing Center tutors, deans, professors, and more, all ready to offer support.
Chunk the time you spend working, with the pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro technique addresses many of the mishaps that sometimes throw us off track: deadlines too far away to incentivize our dedication to the assignment; working past the point of optimal productivity and not being efficient with our time; feeling overly optimistic about how much work you can do and getting defeated when it doesn’t happen.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo who was struggling to complete his assignments. Feeling overwhelmed, he committed to studying with full focus for just 10 minutes. He found a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) to keep track, and so, the Pomodoro technique was created. Here’s how you can do it, too.
- Create a to-do list or identify a single task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (or use this neat website equipped with work sprints and breaks) and focus on the work at hand until the timer rings.
- When the session is over, record what you completed.
- Then, enjoy a five-minute break.
- After three or four Pomodoros take a restorative 15-30 minute break.
Once you have started the pomodoro, the timer must ring. Do not break the session to check emails, chats, or texts. If you have a thought not relevant to the task at hand, jot it down and come back to it later. If distractions crop up, take note of them and consider how to prevent them in future sessions.
To optimize your pomodoro breakdowns, group together small tasks that will take less than 25 minutes to complete so you can do them in one session. Keep a note of the length of time actions end up taking you. You might not get the time break down right the first time you create your pomodoro to-do list! But, over time, you will learn how much time things take and you will be able to masterfully plan your time. For me, this has reduced a lot of stress, because it’s easier to plan pomodoro during your day than thinking of some open-ended completion of an assignment that has no bounds but a far-off due date. You can even use this for tasks you might be avoiding, not related to school, like cleaning up your room or filing taxes. After all, it’s just 25 minutes, the less enjoyable activity will end when the timer rings!
Molly Sherman | 2021
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
A lot of people think of the Writing Center as a place to take papers from your English class. But, as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, we can help with al kinds of assignments! Not only can we help you with your English essay, we have expertise in History papers, presentations, visual texts such as fliers, making videos, and much more.
We can even help you with writing a report for your biology, chemistry, or other science course. Check out Bryn’s Tips for Writing a Science Report and make an appointment with us today!
Use separate section headers!
Introduction or background
- State the need for your project
- Explain the past research and findings
- State the objectives of the project
- State and explain hypothesis (if one exists)
- Explain, in detail, the experiment so that another may recreate it the same way
- Explain which materials and apparatus were used
- Explain what you measured and how, etc.
- Explicitly state the results of the experiment
- Explain why results are important and what they mean
- Explain whether or not the results support any hypothesis presented in the introduction
- Explain error with error analysis and how it affected results
- Where to go from here
- Next steps in experiment or next experiments to follow the previous one
Check your tone!
- Be sure to use a professional and factual voice
- Be as concise as possible
- Refrain from “First… second…” listings and “story-like” or directional language
- Use past tense about findings and methods
- Use present tense for generalizations and future research/conclusion
Share your equations!
- Separate line from text
- Numbered for reference
- Only post the relevant, final graphs
- Be sure to title the graph and label its axes
Let’s be honest, most of us tell ourselves we will definitely start writing at a certain time of the day, and by the time it comes, we find ourselves sitting in front of our computer, staring at a blank Word document (almost blank! It probably has our name on it and an earlier date so it looks like we started earlier than the night before it’s due). After a while, you find yourself writing, but soon enough you are checking Instagram, or texting, or doing anything remotely entertaining to distract you from your work. Sound familiar? So how do you remain focused once you’ve started? Here are some tips!
- Find a good place to write. This may sound cheesy, but I can’t stress this enough. Find a place that’s conducive to writing for you. Some people get severely distracted in loud places, while some others can’t stand to sit in silence. Figure out what kind of person you are and find that place where you’ll be comfortable and feel like you can conquer anything.
- Accept the fact that, yes, you could be doing something more fun, but this assignment needs to get done. Many times, merely knowing that we could be relaxing instead of doing work creates writer’s block, making it impossible to concentrate. Let go of the tension that those feelings are causing and accept the assignment as it is. You’re in college now, you will get through this assignment and many more, so accept it and get to writing!
- Try not to think about how much you have left. I completely understand the feeling of dread you get when you look at how much you’ve written and it’s not even close to the page limit. Don’t get stuck! The more time you think about that, the less time you spend writing. Look at what you’ve written, give yourself a pat in the back for getting something done, and keep going!
- Give yourself breaks. Let yourself get distracted for 5-10 minutes, but stick to a schedule. Write for a while, then give yourself a break. I know turning off your phone sounds like torture, and I know the urge to check all your social media grows by the minute, but if you stick to a schedule you are more likely to get stuff done. You can even use these shorts breaks as a reward. You go, you!
- Get up! Ultimately, if your mind is wandering too much, go take a walk. Get some coffee or water, stretch your legs, and think about something else. By the time you come back to your computer, you are bound to feel recharged and have some fresh ideas.
- Visit the Writing Center! Just saying, if you come see us, you’ll have little choice but to focus on your assignment—at least for that hour.
Sometimes writing is a struggle for all of us, and that’s okay. But learning how to concentrate on your writing will help you in the long run. It may not be easy at first, but I’m sure you’ll get there. Good luck!
Mirii Rep, Writing Center Tutor
I get it. Just because I’m a Writing Center tutor doesn’t mean I don’t understand that sometimes essays can be boring. And when they’re boring, it’s easy to put off writing the paper until the last minute, which invites a whole host of problems.
My fellow students, it doesn’t have to be this way! Together, we can come up with ways to conquer the mountain that is an essay with a boring assigned topic. Try these four tips for success:
Tip One: Visit the Writing Center!
I know, I know, shameless self-plug here. But here’s the thing: we’re here to help you, and we can do that at all stages of the writing process! Need to brainstorm? We’ve got some storm clouds* for you. Need an outline? We’ve got pen and paper. Need to find a way to make your topic interesting? We can totally do that with you! We have tutors available in all subjects, not just English. If you’re finding a science paper boring, come visit one of our tutors that’s in the science program! They’ll be happy to help, and hearing someone who’s passionate about the subject might just help spark some ideas.
Tip Two: Find Something Interesting About It
Find something within your topic that sparks your interest. Maybe there’s a thread of a story you read for your English class, the one you have the ten-page paper on, and you want to explore that one thread further. Maybe there’s a throwaway comment your teacher made during math class about the history of pi, and you find that fascinating, and now you get to write a ten-page paper on that. Maybe you can take the period of history that you’re supposed to be writing about and find one interesting person whose past you want to explore further. The possibilities are endless!
Tip Three: Surrender
Sometimes, in spite of all of the attempts to engage with the topic, there’s just nothing that can be done to make a boring topic more interesting. And that’s okay! That doesn’t mean that the essay you write is going to be a bad one, it just means you’ll have to use different strategies. The fact is that we write better when we’re interested in the topics we’re writing about, but it doesn’t mean an uninteresting topic is un-writeable. Instead, take a breath, plan, and write.
And remember, no matter how boring you think your topic is, we’re here at the Writing Center, ready and willing to help you out. We won’t complain about the topic, but we will walk you through planning, pre-writing, research, or any other stage of the writing process you need help with.
*Please note, the Writing Center does not actually contain storm clouds, nor do we encourage the use of storm clouds inside. Lightning is a dangerous, people.
Have you ever finished a paper and felt like you just can’t look at it any more because you’ve been staring at it for so long? Using a text editor or generator is one exciting way to get a fresh look at a paper. There are an endless number of free online programs that can help you reassess a piece that you’ve written, whether it’s a blog post, a poem, a short story, or a research paper. Two types of programs that you can run a text through, whether in its entirety or in part, are:
- Word cloud generators
- Up-goer five text editors
Each of these programs can give new perspectives on a piece of writing that may seem stagnant.
Word Cloud Generators
There are a variety of free word cloud generators available on the Internet. Some of these include Jason Davies Word Cloud Generator, Wordle, WordItOut, and Tagul. Below is an example of a world cloud created by running the text from our tutor bios through the Tagul generator. The larger a word appears, the more it has been used in the entered text. As you can see from our word cloud, the tutors are a bunch of people who have majors and minors and who love to write and to spend their time on a variety of activities (apparently our preferred pet is a cat). Because of this feature, making word clouds can be a fun way to see which words appear most frequently in your text. Perhaps you will realize you have been subconsciously using a word more than you should. Maybe you will be able to see that your text has focused more on an idea than you originally thought you would (which means you should schedule an appointment at the Writing Center to adjust your thesis statement accordingly!). Either way, using a word cloud generator is a great way to get a new look at your writing.
Up-Goer Five Editors
There are also a number of text editors that are referred to as “Up-goer Five Editors.” After copying and pasting text into these kinds of editors, they will essentially highlight or underline any words that are NOT one of the thousand most commonly used words in the English language. This seemingly absurd concept was first made popular by a group of scientists who made a comic attempting to explain the Saturn V moon rocket using only the “ten hundred” most common words – hence the name “Up-goer Five.” In this way, it can be a very useful tool for highlighting jargon. While discipline-specific terminology is wonderful to use with targeted audiences, general papers or presentations are a different case. Works that are shared with a general audience should avoid these words – or actively define them so that audience members can understand the progression of ideas. It is important to remember, however, that a limit of only the thousand most common words is a little bit overkill, so please proceed with caution (all the underlined words in the sentence were highlighted by Up-Goer Five text editor)!
— Jason Swartz, writing tutor