I recently attended a writing marathon for the first time. The full day, organised by the Society of Women Writers of WA, consisted of ten 20 minute writing sprints, with a five minute break between each one (and a lunch break). At the beginning of each sprint, participants were given a prompt, which could be a beginning sentence, list of words, a song or an image. I was surprised at how much I wrote, and even more surprised at the way a seemingly random prompt led me to create new ideas for one of my works-in-progress.
Since it’s currently school holidays where I live, it seems the perfect time to encourage your creative juices to flow. And, no, you don’t need to commit a whole day to this; simply choose a prompt and set your time for 20 minutes (or even 10 minutes if that feels more achievable) and start writing.
If you’re a young writer, be encouraged that the overall winner of the writing marathon – the person that writes the most over the day – was a year ten student who outwrote every adult in the room!
Although these will suit writers, many of the prompts can be easily adapted for any creative form you choose.
1. Five Words
Write a poem or story, or create a piece of artwork, that includes the following five words:
Write or create something inspired by the following image:
3. Beginning Sentence
Begin your writing with the following sentence:
I still hadn’t heard from him …
4. People watching
List 10 observations about the people around you: their appearance, body language, facial expression, actions.
Now set the timer. Create a character that uses some or all of your observations.
Write or create something inspired by this image:
Writing is the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations!
Sit somewhere near other people, and write down 10 phrases of sentences you can overhear.
Use some or all of them in your next story.
7. Three Random Objects
Select three random objects – these can be collected from inside or outside.
Set the timer and write a poem or story that includes these three objects.
8. When I was Your Age
Ask a relative about a story from their life when they were your age. No time limit required for this prompt, just your ability to listen. Consider recording the story so you can transcribe it later.
9. Favourite Book or Film
Select a favourite book or film that does not have a sequel. Write the next scene or chapter. In other words, what happens next, after the last page or film credits?
10. Favourite Video Game
Imagine the character from your favourite video game comes to visit you in your world. What happens? How do they behave and cope in your world, and how do they interact with you and those around you?