Top 10 Writing Prompts of 2018

Each week, I post a different writing prompt at And each week a collection of lovely writers responds to them. Here were some of our best writing prompts of 2018.
Publish date:

Each week, I post a different writing prompt at And each week a community of lovely writers responds to them. Here were some of our best writing prompts of 2018, judged by participation and popularity among our team. Click on the title of each prompt if you'd like to share your response in the comments of a particular prompt, or respond in the comments on this post.

And enter your email below to subscribe to the weekly Writer's Digest newsletter (it's free!) to get a writing prompt in your inbox each week.

1. Custom Etymology

Write a story or a scene about someone inventing a new word—or, alternatively, giving an existing word a new meaning.

2. Unexpected Inking

You are showering one morning when you notice a tattoo on your body that you're quite sure you don't remember getting. What is it, how did you get it, and what does it mean?

 Writer's Digest 2019 Daily Calendar: Inspiration, Writing Prompts, and Advice for Every Day of the Year

Writer's Digest 2019 Daily Calendar: Inspiration, Writing Prompts, and Advice for Every Day of the Year

3. Handwriting Anatomy

Consider your handwriting, or a character's handwriting. What significance does it have, and what does it say about the type of person you/they are?

4. Musical Incantation

You're absent-mindedly singing to yourself, when suddenly the topic of the song comes true.

5. Thou Mayest

Write a scene or story about a character who has committed a misdeed—a crime or a more minor indiscretion—and must decide whether to face the consequences and make amends for the act, or to conceal or avoid it.

6. A Book of Chance

Go over to your bookshelf, close your eyes, and pick up the first book you touch. Open the book to a random page, read the first full sentence on that page, and use it as the inspiration for a story or scene. Include the original line at the beginning or end of your response.

7. Madder Libs

First, think of…

  • a word you use too much.
  • the name of a city you’d like to visit.
  • an unusual color.
  • a hobby.
  • a physical quality a person might wish for.
  • an animal.
  • a famous author.
  • a verb ending in -ing
  • a number.
  • an adverb.

Then, use at least five of these in a story or scene that also includes the phrase “What is that?”

8. Things We Lose

This prompt is simply a line from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Do as you please with it—incorporate it into your story, use it as inspiration, turn it on its head, make it into an anagram—anything you’d like: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

9. Unfairy Tales

Write a scene that involves a fairy tale trope turned on its head or otherwise deviating from typical expectations. For example: A princess who’s cruel to her kind stepmother; a golden goose that lays explosive eggs; a big, frightening wolf who really just wants a friend.

10. The Color of Ideas

Choose one to three colors from the color associations chart below. Note the different meanings. Create a character or place associated with each color. Profile the character(s) or setting(s), or write a scene about them.

Image placeholder title

Discover more exciting interactive prompts in The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded: 400 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing!

 The Write-Brain Workbook, Revised & Expanded: 400 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.