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Creative writing challenges for adults

Creative Writing Prompts for Adults

When you are faced with a blank page or screen, it can cause you to shut down creatively. This is where a list of fantastic creative writing prompts for adults can be super helpful.

How do you use this list? Well, that is up to you!

These topics are also good for teenagers who are preparing to step into adult roles. You’ll find creative ideas about occupations and the real world, right alongside science fiction and fantasy prompts. Take your pick of topics and keep the rest saved for later days when you need some creative stimulation for your writing practice.

Use this list of creative writing prompts for adults to help you brainstorm an innovative idea for your next short story, blog post, personal essay, or journal entry!

30 Creative Writing Prompts for Adults

  1. What was your best year ever, so far in your life? Give a timeline of events and describe everything that made it so spectacular.
  2. If you could visit anywhere on Earth for a one-month vacation, where would you go and what would you do?
  3. Make your own adult-aged imaginary friend. Describe in detail who they are, what they look like, what you talk about, etc.
  4. If you have a pet, describe their day from their perspective. No pets? Choose your favorite animal.
  5. Today is the last day of the planet because a flaming meteor is going to wipe us out at midnight. Describe what the day would be like.
  6. You’ve just woke up to discover that your country has been taken over by robots. They decide that humans need to become the new pets of the world.
  7. You are on a spaceship flying through the universe on your way to Mars to colonize it for humans. Your job is to write down everything you see as the first journalist and report back to Earth.
  8. Starting today your job is to work on a submarine in search of the Loch Ness Monster or proof the monster doesn’t exist. But your day starts out wild when you see a giant eye staring back at you through the windshield under water.
  9. You are climbing Mount Everest and have almost reached the top when an avalanche separates you from your team. You have all of your equipment and aren’t hurt, but you need to get help immediately or you’ll die.
  10. Your goal is to create a weekly menu with meals all of a certain color for each day. On Monday, all meals have to be red, on Tuesday they are orange, etc. Bonus points if you include foods your family will actually eat and enjoy.
  11. You get to meet your hero. Tell what happens during your visit.
  12. You are walking your dog when you see [insert favorite celebrity] walking toward you with their dog. They start yelling at you. What do you do?
  13. You have the technology to invent anything you want to do whatever your imagination thinks up. What is this grand invention, and what happens when you invent it?
  14. For one day only you are the richest person in history. Describe your spending spree.
  15. If you could do one thing to change humanity, what would it be?
  16. You are the leader of a new country on a formerly undiscovered island. What is the culture, i.e., laws, religion, food, language, clothing, etc., like in this country?
  17. You’ve quit your job to live out the rest of your days on your favorite beach. Describe your new way of life and mentality as a literal beach bum.
  18. You get dropped off at a nearby exit ramp and have nothing with you but the clothes on your back and a backpack with a few supplies. Essentially you are homeless. How will you get food, find a place to sleep, etc.?
  19. You go to pick up your child from school, but they never come out. You ask the principal and teachers where your child is and they’ve never heard of them.
  20. Everything you see is in green as if the world is one giant green screen. Think about how you would learn to do things and experience life in this way.
  21. Create the magazine you wish you could find on newsstands.
  22. Budget is no problem. What would your dream birthday look like?
  23. You are living in an alternate universe where you can see everything from the ‘real world’ but you can’t be part of it. It’s like you are a living ghost. How do you get back to normal?
  24. As a zoologist working in a jungle deep in the Amazon rainforest, you discover a new species of life. Turns out it’s actually an alien.
  25. In a room in your house, you find a small claymation stage with people who look just like you and your family sitting in a house just like your own. You can shape the claymation people to look and do things that become your reality tomorrow.
  26. If you could “live” in any book you’ve ever read, what book would that be and which character would you choose to be?
  27. Imagine you are a superhero character from the Marvel, such as Thor, Wonder Woman, or Black Panther. Explore a situation where your skills come in handy.
  28. Quickly write down the first five words that come to mind. Create a story using these as the main ideas.
  29. You sit down in a movie theater to watch the latest flick. Yet what shows on the screen is actually your own life, completely unbeknownst to you.
  30. Open the dictionary at your desk, turn to a random word, and use that as the title of your story or post.

More Writing Resources for Adults

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Getting to Know You (And Me)


Start your story during a team building exercise.

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Set your story in an unlikely sanctuary.

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Write about a character attempting to meditate or do something mindfully.

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Write from the point of view of a character writing a letter to their past or future self.

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Write about a character who decides to give themselves, or someone else, a fashion makeover.

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Think of an item of clothing from your childhood, and write a story inspired by that.

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Set your story at a global fashion event — or a carnival ball.

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Write about a character who wakes up in someone else’s clothes — or utterly weird apparel they don’t recognize as their own.

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Write a story where a particular piece of clothing appears three times.

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Write a story that centres around an Instagram post.

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Write about a character who’s pathologically camera shy.

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A character finds an old roll of film, and takes it to be developed. What do they find?

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Write a story about a wedding photographer.

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Start your story with somebody taking a photo.

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Write a story involving a friendship between two different species.

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Write about a trip to see a natural sight that’s usually only ever seen in photos.

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Start or end your story with a person buying a house plant.

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Write about a character who loves cloud gazing.

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Set your story in the woods or on a campground.

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Creative Writing Prompts

When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter Reedsy Writing Prompts Contest.

Here’s how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.

Interested in participating in our short story contest? Sign up here for more information! Or you can check out our full Terms of Use and our FAQ page .

Why we love creative writing prompts

If you’ve ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so, then you’ve met the author’s age-old foe: writer’s block. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our new directory! If you’re ready to kick writer’s block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.

This list of 1000+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. Which, as all aspiring authors know, is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through by the different genres, which includes.

Comedy — whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.

Dramatic — if you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.

Romance — one of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.

Fantasy — the beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Mystery — from whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it’s time to bring out your inner detective.

Thriller — there’s nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.

Historical Fiction — your chance to transport readers to times gone by.

For Kids — encourage children to let their imagination run free.

Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.

After you find the perfect story idea

Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We’ve worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:

  • How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
  • Best Literary Magazines of 2021 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
  • Writing Contests in 2021 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays and more.

Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine

While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.

  • NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
  • Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.

Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.

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73 Creative Writing Prompts for Adults

Fun creative writing prompts to inspire and educate

These 71 writing prompts are split into different sections for adults and teens and are designed to entertain and inspire you, help you write on specific topics and develop important skills you need as an author.

A good writing prompt will jump-start your creativity, help you come up with new ideas and may even give you the inspiration you need to write a full story. Dive straight in without too much thought. Simply choose the topic that appeals to you, pick one at random and start writing.

If you have a novel, screenplay, or other large project you’re working on, I recommend using a prompt for 10 minutes before moving onto your main project. This will help get your creative juices flowing. If you don’t have an existing project, spend as long as you want on a single prompt, or try a few different ones. Have fun, be free, and trust yourself.

The following prompts also include some for business writing, if you’re looking for ideas to help with your content marketing or creating a blog.

Most of these prompts are written about ‘you’. If you’d prefer to write them in third person, choose a name, and write them about a fictional character instead.

If you’re looking to use these prompts as part of a class, or for a writing group, you might prefer to check out the Creative Writing Exercises for Adults and Teens instead. These include 35 group and solo exercises that are 10-15 minutes each, with more detailed instructions. We also have 42 science fiction and fantasy prompts for those looking for writing ideas with a touch of magic (or technology).

Choose the topic that fires your imagination

So you can plunge straight into the topic that most interests you, these writing prompts are split into the following categories:

Overcoming writer’s block

If you feel blocked, I recommend using one of the following prompts and writing for ten minutes in a stream of consciousness. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends you write 3 pages every morning as your ‘morning pages’. She calls this, “The bedrock tool of a creative recovery.

To write in a stream of consciousness while using a creative writing prompt, simply start writing and don’t stop! If you don’t know what will happen next, write, “I don’t know what will happen next!” Then write what the options are, why one option might be better than another, etc. This kind of spontaneous creativity is an incredible tool to help move your book or short story forward and to overcome writer’s block. If you read back over your stream of consciousness after just ten minutes, you’ll find some nuggets of gold in your writing and may have resolved a difficult decision about a particular piece of text.

All authors face a challenge in getting in touch with their creativity from time to time, so don’t feel that you’re alone.

Here are the first set of prompts:

  1. You’re on holiday in a new city and you were walking along talking to a friend, when you suddenly realise they’re no longer with you. What happens next?
  2. You have invented a time machine and set off to the time you would most love to visit.
  3. Think of three conflicts – an internal conflict where the protagonist has doubts, an interpersonal conflict with another character, and an external conflict like a natural disaster, physical barrier, or bad weather. Now write a scene that encompasses all three.
  4. You are sitting, reading about writing prompts when your favourite character opens the door and looks at you. They say, “I’ve been looking for you.”
  5. You are a security guard at a secret lair. It’s a cold winter’s night and there’s a foot of snow. You notice a set of footprints leading straight to you, but you could have sworn that they weren’t there a moment ago.
  6. What’s a flaw that one of your friends has? Imagine if that flaw was exaggerated and create a character around that flaw.
  7. You get a newspaper delivered to your door every morning, then one day it’s tomorrow’s paper, telling you what will happen today.
  8. Think about a favourite book or movie. What was the character’s main goal? Now give that character a different backstory that explains his/her goal.
  9. You are about to fly on a dragon for the very first time.
  10. Everyone has a superpower based on the topography of where they were born (i.e. mountains, deserts, etc.). You are the first person to be born in space.
    (This prompt, copied from Reddit, was the inspiration for a novel, that then became the first in a successful book series).

Prompts to help you write for a young adult audience

These prompts are ideal for teen authors and for those looking to write for a Young Adult audience.

  1. You’re at the best party you’ve ever been to, when your worst enemy walks through the door and heads straight towards you.
  2. One morning you wake up and you can see people’s feelings as halos of colour around them. You discover that a friend has been hiding how they feel.
  3. You’re playing with a toy car when it comes alive and starts driving around by itself. It can only make car sounds, but you have a feeling it wants you to follow it.
  4. Think of 3 animals. A creature has just entered your room that is a magical combination of these 3 animals.
  5. What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited? Your adventure starts there.
  6. A genie grants you three wishes. You wish for an unlimited supply of your favourite food, then for an unlimited supply of your favourite toys. Instead of appearing next to you, they start falling out of the sky. You have one wish left.
  7. Imagine an ant is looking up at you. What would they see?
  8. You’re dreaming of flying and when you wake up, you’re hovering above your bed.
  9. The internet and all the mobile phones in the world stop working. Choose a character and give them a goal. What happens?

Writing prompts for adults

  1. You turn up for a job interview, but instead of being offered a job, you are invited to join an illegal activist group who are fighting to right the wrongs in the government.
  2. You have had a crush on Rowan for ages. One night your car breaks down. Cursing that your phone is out of charge, you hitch-hike home and a car pulls over to pick you up. Rowan’s driving it and is alone. You get in feeling relieved and delighted, only to discover that Rowan isn’t the person you thought.
  3. Write the names of 3 friends or family members who don’t know each other. Now describe a scene where the 3 of them meet.
  4. You are a tree and are scared of losing all your leaves. Autumn is fast approaching.
  5. A rhinoceros is charging down a crowded city street.
  6. You have studied hard to be an opera singer. You are opening the show and forget your lines. In desperation, you sing the song to a different opera. The orchestra know it and play along with you. What happens next?
  7. Look at different clues for a murder mystery, then write a unique clue that could be the first hint to set your detective on the trail.
  8. Write a list of seven exotic or dynamic sounding verbs and number them 1 to 7. Now write a list of seven nouns. Now connect them together by joining the first verb with the first noun, the second verb with the second noun, etc. Choose one of the seven verb-noun pairs to create a piece of fiction.
  9. Choose a sport you love and write a scene about a character starting where they are preparing to perform in the Olympics, or another major competition.

Expressing emotion

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”

Hellen Keller

  1. Describe the emotion the woman in the above image is feeling.
  2. You are tired and arguing with your best friend over whose turn it is to wash the dishes. It gets out of hand.
  3. You receive a letter saying, “We would like to publish your novel.” How do you react?
  4. What was the last strong emotion you felt? If this emotion was a type of weather, what weather would that be? Now place a character feeling the opposite emotion in those weather conditions.
  5. Your teenage daughter gets on the train to go to uni, you wave her off, then stand on the platform as the train pulls away.
  6. Think of an emotion. Now describe how your protagonist’s body reacts when they feel this emotion.
  7. Your white friends have just left the supermarket and the security guard ignored them. You’re black and as you leave, he demands to see your receipt.
  8. A beautiful rainbow shines in the distance, but the storm is headed your way and you’re miles from cover.

Love Stories

Love comes in many forms and is written about in every genre. It goes beyond romantic love, though romance books are the best-selling genre. As so many people have written about love, it can be a challenge to describe love without sounding cliched.

Before we get to the prompts, here are some quotes about love to inspire you:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Now the prompts themselves from 5 different genres. Choose whichever you feel inspired by!

  1. COMEDY – Choose 2 objects in your house. Write a love poem from one to the other.
  2. ROMANCE – Write a love poem to someone you love.
  3. SELF-REFLECTION – Write a poem to yourself when you were a child.
  4. SCI-FI – Write a poem from yourself 10 years from now to yourself today.
  5. ADVENTURE – Write a poem about an amazing adventure in a place you, or your character, loves.

All the above say ‘poem’, but if you’d prefer to write a letter or short story, go for it.

What if?

Many great story ideas are based on a what if question. What if we’re living in a virtual world? What if you gained a spider’s abilities when one bit you? What if toys came to life when no-one’s there?

Here are some prompts in the form of what if questions. Enjoy!

  1. What if plants robustly expressed their opinions?
  2. What if women ruled the world?
  3. What if money became meaningless overnight?
  4. What if you and your friends murdered someone?
  5. What if a news channel gave a fictional story that became reality 24 hours later?
  6. What if you were an alien and had been adopted by humans?
  7. What if food was replaced by ‘nutrition pills’ to help stop global warming?
  8. What if sound manifested as physical beings?
  9. What if you had a recurring dream about someone, then you met them in real life?
  10. What if characters from history started to appear alive and well in a small town?

Fantasy and sci-fi prompts

  1. Bored with your immortal existence, you are gathered with your godly friends to create the ultimate virtual reality game ever. A game you have called ‘Earth’, but just as your first friend enters the game you realise that the game has a terrible flaw.
  2. You are an orc who wants to do good. You have fled your hometown and arrive at a human village wondering whether you will be welcome.
  3. You character is approaching a castle. What unusual reason do they have to be there? What do they say to the two guards standing outside it?
  4. Evil narcists rule the world, but a wizard is determined to stop them by wiping their memory and the memory of everyone who knew them. This allows them to safely re-enter society. You have just found one of your old diaries and discovered that you were once a warlord who commit terrible evil.
  5. A war between the vampires and werewolves has been going on for centuries in ancient Europe, but you have just found a way to turn the battle. If a werewolf eats garlic, they remain human. You’re about to spread a false rumour that will change history and give vampires the advantage forever.
  6. You are an alien visiting Earth and chose to assume an anonymous form as a dog. Now someone wants to adopt you.
  7. Gravity has just reversed itself.
  8. A wish generator fulfils a wish every time you touch it, but the wish it fulfils isn’t your own.
  9. Look around you and imagine that an object, plant or piece of furniture you can see is enormous. Decide what this object means to a character. Your character is walking towards it.

If you enjoy this genre, then you can discover more sci-fi and fantasy creative writing prompts. These focus on world building, creating exotic characters and developing plots with an out of this world element.

Visual writing prompts for world building

Sometimes an image can be more of a prompt than words. As it’s a different medium, it allows you complete freedom to choose how to write about it. Here are 4 visual writing prompts to help with your world building, along with a suggestion of how to use them for each.

  • You’ve entered this room for the first time. Decide what your purpose was in entering it, then start writing.
  • Imagine a conversation is occurring here between people who work here all the time. Write the conversation, setting the room as the background.
  • I find the following image so evocative, it shouldn’t need a prompt to go with it!
  • Who lives here? Write their story.

As well as visual writing prompts, there are musical writing prompts. Simply take the name of any song below and write a story from it. Focus on sounds in your writing.

Ideas to develop your online business writing

  1. Mix work and pleasure! Write about something you love to do as a hobby in the style of writing that you do for your work. A sales pitch about your favourite holiday destination, or an analysis of the last board game you played, for example.
  2. If you had to choose a single issue that determined how you would vote in every future election, what issue would it be? Why?
  3. Write a short review of your favourite movie and a movie you hated.
  4. Write a short autobiography of your life in the form of an interview, where paragraphs alternate between question and answer.
  5. Choose a random article on Wikipedia and write a press release to promote it.
  6. Search for a topic you’re interested in on Google and look for the questions Google suggests. Choose one and write an article on this topic. You may have to try a handful of different searches to see suggested questions.
  7. What is your favourite book set in a fictional universe? Write a tourist’s guide to one area of that universe.
  8. What was a favourite toy you had as a child? What appealed to you about it? Write a sales blurb for that product with you as the target audience.

To discover more creative writing prompts for adults, please click the image below.