Visual, Word & Journal Prompts for 2018

To keep your free writing, life story writing and journaling alive, see below for word and journal prompts, story lines, writing techniques and visual and sensory images that aid the process. Prompts come in from the wild including classes, readings, travels and the world at large. Send me prompts that work for you and I’ll pass them along.  

The format for prompts varies. Scroll down to see some of them including Story Starts, Journaling topics and Images to foster writing. More will be added.  

If you have questions or would like to talk about your writing or journaling, please contact me: (this is not a live link, you will have to paste it in your email.) or call 781.640.9957

 (for more writing approaches, see this site’s heading: Free Writing and its Wild Basics)


Word Prompts:

#1: turbulent / burnt taxi / weird flip / sauce / sip of promise

#2: jack in the box / cottage / broken book / was that a wink? / orange pimple

#3: remembering / buried / bread / torn rug / sit and stew

#4: glue / flawed gem / whisp / those were William’s glasses / steaming

#5: drink / nimble fingers  / grey period / flag of convenience /  dire / statue

#6: blur / black & white / humid / what we write at 3am / musty curtains 

#7: girls talk and talk but are silent / tape / Cold War blues / no school! / fly

#8: What he said… / keeping to the script / one a day / in the lee of the wind

#9: mother’s little helper / clandestine / short skirt / his missing sock / Rte 14 / Adam’s apple on the rise / for the hell of it / hotcakes for Saturday night!

#10: Mort Goodman and the jelly rolls /  corned beef / if you know what I mean / neon signs on all the time

Story Starters: Phrases are clustered together to suggest the outline of a short piece of personal or fictional writing. Create clusters of your own–toss out any that don’t appear to be helping and create new phrases that act like stepping stones leading you further into the story.

#1: coming back / carefully wrapped present / sleepless / waking up to 1982 / strong smell of cumin / her face or someone’s like it / little evidence but a strong suspicion

#2. it arrived on time / thinking too hard and missing the point / expired license / Cheryl’s late husband / money involved / grey green / nightly news / carton of Chinese greens / hot day that day

#3: moonlight cancelled  / on fire / she loved oysters / midnight at Nasir’s / neon sign constantly blinking / reddish luck / she doesn’t look like an actress / over easy / sound of the engine / behind the scenes

#4: back upstairs / Twilight / out of control / 60mph / low or no sense of humor / torrent of mischief / inside her expensive mouth / soft on the outside but brittle and intemperate inside

#5: I’m feeling kind of B± / in the space between feelings / my letter made her change her mind /a key and a leather bracelet of no monetary value / hoping to get her to remember

#6: brushing her teeth with coffee / stranded / in the light of history / October nights / playing at the Regent / caught off guard / waves look cold / how long can you live like that / the light that bursts out from the clouds / November

#7: he sat there staring / broken pages and burning water / TV left on / shoes in place except for her running shoes / computer gone / and debit card / he noticed 3 books missing from the table…what were they?/

#8: left before it was time / hit her head / in the corner / it was 1988 I think / opening the drawer she discovered a new side to him

#9: I didn’t make the FBI list this year / checking out the action down the street / when they released Albert, mom says there was still no good in him / Irish war songs sound like love songs and Irish love songs sound like war songs

#10.where they put him after it was over / in the table of forgetting / living the same movie twice / the moment before falling in love / the first sign of pain / haunting lyrics / the last in the line /

#11. food riots happen in Sudan not in my house / smithereens / last tango on Martha’s Vineyard / she didn’t know what she was doing until the gendarme called her over / Miss Pinkie’s fur was all over the place

Journal Writing Prompts:

These prompts are really questions to help you ease into writing about yourself.  When you feel like it, take 15 minutes to write and reflect in your journal on one of the questions. Write freely–no one has to read  what you write–you can burn the pages if necessary (though I don’t advise it)–the key thing is to get ideas out of your head and down on paper so you can see them in another form than in your head.

1. When was the last time you were yourself?

2. Who are you now that you are no longer the person you once were?

3. What do you not get to say because you don’t have the right environment in which to say it?

4. How long will you continue to do it this way (whatever the this is)?

5. Imagine you are carrying a back pack with everything you are carrying in your current life (responsibilities, joys, sorrows, loves, interests, debts, personal habits, etc,). Take the backpack off and open it.  Take everything out.  Then repack it only with those items you want during the next chapter in your life.  There will be items you feel you still have to carry even though not by choice.  Put those in the backpack while noting your feelings.  Leave as much behind as you can. In your notebook, describe the process and, if you are inclined, write about each of the objects and their history.  What is it like to tentatively consider not putting certain items back in your backpack?

6. Name 2 things your parents longed for and never found or achieved: What impact did it have on their lives and on yours?

7. What 5 geographical places have special meaning for you? Name each and write a paragraph about why they seem to be so valued.  What do they tell you about your future wishes?

8. What does your name mean to you?  Which of your names is key to you? Is there another name you’d like to have?  Is there a name that would make you feel more yourself?

9. You were born into a river of history that contained in it questions, personal stories of family and family friends, stories of immigration and change, religion and culture, class and behaviors.  How would you describe that “river” you were born into and how has it effected you?

Images to prompt your writing:



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