The only writing prompt you’ll ever need

man using laptop on table against white background

Happy Friday, dear reader! I hope you have something fun and exciting planned for this weekend. Maybe you’ll get some writing done! I know that now that you’ve realized there’s no such thing as writer’s block and you’ve set the intention to schedule a time to write every day that you’re well on your way to finding your groove. Well done!

But what if you sit down at your preselected time to write and nothing comes?

close up of hand holding pencil over white background
Maybe because you’re using a colored pencil instead of a regular one?

There are few things more frustrating that sitting down to write – being ready to write – and the words don’t flow. Forget flow, they don’t even come. You’re sitting there, staring at the page, waiting for the Muse to show up. You get so frustrated you start reading old receipts you have piled up around your desk and start wondering why CVS receipts are so long. So you look it up, but then get lost in a reddit spiral and before you know it, the day has passed and your fingernails have grown and now you’re wondering what the record length is for fingernails and then…

Stop right there.

You spent all this energy preparing yourself to write that you forgot to plan what to write. Well, fear not, fellow writers. With just ten minutes and the following prompt, you’ll be so in your groove that you’ll think you’re in Earth, Wind & Fire.


In this moment, I am…

That’s it. Five lil words that will set you on your way to writerly bliss. Seriously, this can get you going in any direction.

“In this moment, I am struggling to come up with something to write about.” Then you write about why you think that struggle is true.

“In this moment, I am stuck on this story problem.” Write down why you think it’s a problem and don’t stop until you come up with a solution, even if it’s one you don’t like.

“In this moment I am overcome with ennui.” That sucks, but describe it. Get into it. Use your writing to feel your feelings. This is your art, after all, and art needs emotion.

It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be from you. Once you’re ten minutes in, you won’t even remember the first few minutes, and chances are ten minutes won’t be nearly enough.

Close out your browser, set a timer for ten minutes, turn off your phone and start writing. I’ll do it now with you. Here’s my ten minute session.

In this moment, I am sitting on the back patio. I can feel my butt wettening from the chairs soggy from yesterday’s rain. It came down in sheets, and I remarked to [my roommate’s girlfriend] that it looked like we were living in a hurricane. The neighbor is playing music that wouldn’t sound out of place at a cantina. There are so many flies and ants that it makes it look like the ground is moving. The sun is peeking over the house. I can already tell it will be a hot day. I hope it doesn’t rain later, but as I’m planning on biking today, it probably will. I remember the time I was living on the Mount and I was biking up McArdle and the downpour drenched me. I was easily 10 pounds heavier; my shoes left little puddles when I walked. I still have those shoes – I call them my blue-footed booby shoes. Two flies land on the covered fire table. What deviosity are you planning, fly, rubbing your hands while the other mounts you? Another comes and ruins their buzz. A car starts somewhere. I look up and see the ovoo mound I made at the beginning of the week when the anxiety came to sit with me. It’s been an off week, but that could simply be the result of actively changing myself into a better version of me. Two flies light on this page, perhaps seeking credit for my mention. @flys. I wonder what an insect’s social media would look like. Don’t bees communicate thru dancing? I miss dancing – maybe I was a bee in another life. Speaking of dancing, I —

And then my timer went.

It didn’t feel like ten minutes. It didn’t even feel like time was happening, although I was aware of events happening around me; I was documenting them. I could have kept going for hours. Was there any substance to that? Maybe not, but the point wasn’t to get to substance, the point was to get writing. Upon reflection, I now know that wettening and deviosity aren’t words; I clearly meant dampening and deviousness. And now I’m aware of the waggle dance, probably the only dance that won’t be trending on TikTok anytime soon.

Your move, Charli D’Amelio

With this exercise, I was also able to reflect on how I felt at the beginning of the week. Maybe I was feeling anxiety about starting a YouTube page, of putting more of myself out there. These words are one thing, but now my face is out there, too. For someone who was staunchly against social media for several years, it’s quite a shift. But we only grow when we step outside our comfort zones.

Now, say you sit there for ten minutes and all you write are the lyrics to a Coldplay song over and over and over again, then yeah, maybe the Muse is busy shoving jade eggs up their cosmic vagina that day. That’s fine (not the vaginal eggs bit); sometimes the Muse doesn’t show up when you want. Go for a walk, do your laundry, contemplate why tf no one has cut footage of the bee’s waggle dance to Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle“, clean out that one drawer with 900 triple-A batteries, bottle caps and twist ties. Just be sure to have your notebook and pen handy for when the Muse does show up.

And if the Muse doesn’t show up today, remember, tomorrow will be different.

Happy writing, and happy weekend, dear reader!

be kind | be well | be yourself

PS: If this prompt didn’t do it for you, here’s 500 more.

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