Self-care can take many forms. For some, it might be an indulgent bite of chocolate to reset between Zoom meetings, or a bath salt soak to unwind after a stressful week. For me, it’s opening a newspaper and giving me the space to write freely. That is to say, to put pen to paper with no other objective than to enjoy the delights of my own conscious wanderings in order to create something new. It’s also a useful forum to digest and archive what’s going on in my life and the world around me. It sometimes takes the form of a poem, while other times it’s a bulleted list of scribbles that I can barely read the next day. Because there is no added pressure for these writings to be published or seen by anyone else, I generally come out of the experience feeling lighter and with a sense of personal accomplishment and increased creativity.
But in the attention economy we’re all going through today, finding time for personal writing practice is nearly impossible. Why would anyone ever stop scrolling through the endless wonders of the internet to confront their feelings and become vulnerable? In my humble opinion, there’s a lot to be gained from a little soul-searching once in a while, and who knows? Your writing could unlock a new creative side you didn’t know you had in you.
In honor of National Poetry Month, we hosted a number of premieres write prompts to help you cultivate your own poetic ritual. Try a prompt each day during the month of April in the service of building a new routine, or move on to the poetry prompts that inspire you the most. I pledge to follow my own advice and will also write a poem a day using the ideas below to fuel my creativity. If you decide to join us and want to share some of your writings, I would love to read them (DMs are open). Now onto the creative writing prompts!
Creative writing prompts to spark your new writing practice
- Describe your ideal day, from morning to night. Where are you, what will you be doing and who will you be spending your time with (if any)?
- Write a poem about your favorite dish using all of your senses.
- Write a ghost poem inspired by the lyrics of a song or a line from a book you love. In other words, take the original sentence and use it as the first line of your writing. Then start adding to it until you get back to the start and erase the first line that inspired all the following lines – thus making the inspiration a ghost.
- Describe your favorite color without naming it. Or imagine your aura of color and describe it.
- Come with your six-word memoir. (Fun fact: did you know that a one-line poem is called a single point?)
- Take the reader to a place you can’t wait to visit again, sharing all the sensory details that make it a paradise for you.
- Write about your life if you lived in another period of history. For example, you wake up and it’s 1970, what’s the first thing you would do?
- Face your fears and write about what scares you the most.
- Select a work of art and write an ekphrastic poem about it – that is, a poem that describes the work of art (sculpture, painting, drawing, performance, film or photograph) in effusive detail.
- If you had to host a dinner party, who would you invite, dead or alive? What meal would be served, how would the table be set, and what conversations do you imagine taking place?
- Think of a trip or journey that you have taken several times. Write down your observations and memories of this trip and recreate it for the reader. Then decide which is more important to you, the journey or the destination?
- Find an object in your home that brings you joy and discover why it is so meaningful in a descriptive poem.
- Think about someone you had a bad communication with and explore what would happen if you said everything you wanted to say.
- What is your favorite month and why? Orient it in the season as part of your description.
- Write about the emotion you feel the most and list the situations, people or things that make you feel that way.
- Where do you come from? Begin a poem by exploring and defining your origin story.
- Describe one of your recent dreams in vivid and fantastic detail.
- Explore what you would say to yourself at 13 or some other pivotal age in your youth.
- Write about what it would be like to meet a long-lost love, years later.
- Manifest your future with a poem describing who you will be in 5 or 10 years.
- Think about the best day of your life and write down what made it so magical. Can you capture this feeling in poem form?
- What lessons have you learned from your elders and ancestors? Write about those who still appear for you today.
- Think of all the cities you’ve lived in. Choose one to write about that has had a lasting impact on your identity.
- What is a childhood memory of a time when you were reckless or misbehaved? Write about this experience and what you may have learned.
- Identify your alter ego or someone totally opposed to you and write a poem from that perspective. What would they do that you would never dare?
- What is one of life’s greatest mysteries that you wish you had answered? See if you can find an answer in your poem.
- Write a poem about a beloved character in a book, movie, or show you love.
- Personalize an inanimate object (like a crystal, postcard, or vintage scarf) and tell its story. Where did it go before it got to you?
- Turn something mundane, like a shopping list, into an exploration of poetic writing. How can a few creative adjectives and alliterative details make it shine?
- Pick someone you’re attracted to, even a stranger on the street or in a cafe, and write what you imagine them to be in real life.
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Main image courtesy of Thought Catalog on Unsplash.