Several years ago, when I was assigned to teach creative writing, I decided to start each creative writing class hour with 10 minutes of writing. It took a couple of semesters to get this portion of class down to an explainable science, but now that I’m retired, I miss that discipline.

Recently, I have revisited my own use of writing prompts as a writer.

I began giving a prompt because I had too many students who would stare at the blank page and say, “I don’t know what to write.”

In the recent months, I have found myself staring at the blank page wondering what to write about.

I began giving a prompt because the negativity of some of the writing didn’t seem to push my students as writers. They would complain about teachers, classes, school, homework, friends, parents.

In the recent months, if I have gotten anything down on paper, it hasn’t made sense. It’s been a stream of conscious rambling.

I began giving a prompt because it pushed for fiction. Since a teacher is a mandated court reporter, I told my students that if they wrote about illegal activities, abuse, or suicide that I was expected to turn them in so that they could get any help they needed.

OK, yeah, this doesn’t apply to me or my writing at this time.

I didn’t discourage students from keeping their own private, at home journals about their lives.

I began giving a prompt because I found it forced my students to move outside their comfort zone and outside their teenage world.

As I return to prompt writing, I am once again stepping outside my comfort zone of writing. I’m finding some interesting viewpoint and ideas are finding their way onto my spiral pages.

I set the timer to ten minutes and wrote with my students.

WHY? As a writer, I didn’t/wouldn’t expect my students to do something that I couldn’t/wouldn’t do. For me, it brought out many “Where did that come from pieces?” that might make some good short stories.

Unfortunately, I did have some students who had not chosen this class. “Make the best of it,” I would tell them. “You never know how this class might help you in the future.”

These are the students who would write one or two sentences in the first minute, close their spirals, and disturb others.

SOLUTION: I expected my students to write at least 20 lines (not sentences) in 10 minutes. Then they had to tear out the page and turn it in for points. Lines were counted and points were assigned. Then, if my other reading did not seem insurmountable, I read about 1/5 of them each day.

I created a power point for the full semester. On Mondays, the prompt was a story idea. On Tuesdays, it was to incorporate the 5 words I gave them. On Wednesdays, I put up a picture. On Thursdays, the prompt was something personal like “What was the best birthday present you ever received?” (Yup, I got kids who said they couldn’t remember. So I often had to add something like, “Or if you can’t remember, write about the present you would most like to receive.”). And on Fridays, I gave them the beginning line of a story.

Now, I get a set of four prompts in my email and I set aside time to write to at least one of them.

Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group


there are other places to get prompts

Writer’s Digest

Think Written: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts on Tumblr

Journal Writing Prompts on Daily Teaching Tools

Creative Writing Prompts

Now, I need to set my timer and begin writing to my morning prompt.

What’s your favorite prompt site or generator?



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